Can You Surf On An Inflatable Paddle Board?
The short answer is, yes. You can catch small waves with any paddle board, but if you want to do some carving and ride larger waves you are going to want something more specialized. A solid paddle board is going to give better performance than an inflatable but not everyone has the room or a way to transport them. This is where inflatable paddle boards are perfect, you can still surf while having the option to throw your board in the trunk of your car when you are done.
When purchasing a surfing inflatable paddle board there are a few things that are going to be important. First, you want a shorter board, less than 10 feet. You want a thinner board than the standard 6-inch, this makes maneuverability better and less likelihood of catching the rail (side of the board) on the water and flipping over.
Honestly, I’m pretty excited about these inflatable paddle boards, catching waves is so fun on a paddle board and ISUP’s can be taken on a plane as a carry-on making them very convenient for wave chasers.
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A Closer Look At Each Surfing Inflatable Paddle Board
The Aqua Marina is 9 feet 9 inches which is a great length for board control while riding a wave. It’s 30 inches wide and 4 inches thick. The thickness is where this inflatable paddle board becomes an excellent surf and travel ISUP. The weight capacity is 205 lbs and the PVC is double-layered.
The weight of the paddle board and all its accessories is only 27 lbs which pretty good for a board that is almost 10 feet. You can hike to remote beaches and take this board on a plane.
An impressive feature is the 3 removable fins. Normally, you want one long center fin when surfing so you can turn the board easily while surfing a wave. Some people prefer the 2 extra fins to help with keeping the board straight. With the 3 removable fins, you can try out both ways without having to buy anything extra. Leave off the side bites and try one long center fin, or leave them on and try all 3. You have a lot of options with this paddle board.
There are 7 total D-links on the board making it seat compatible if you want to turn it into a kayak. The D-link on the tail is for a coil ankle leash which you are going to want if you take this board out on the ocean. There is no leash included but there are lots of good ones you can buy.
The footpad covers a good amount of the deck and there is no bungee system on the nose which is a good thing for surfing. There’s nothing to get in the way if you need to move to the nose.
The Aqua Marina Inflatable Paddleboard comes with a hand pump, a paddle, and a carry bag. Everything you need to get started.
While this is not a dedicated surfing inflatable paddle board it’s going to perform better than the standard thick long paddle board most people buy. It’s a very budget-friendly ISUP and a good option for beginner paddle boards and surfers.
- Double Layered PVC
- 3 Removable Fins
- Less Rigid Than Alternatives
- Low weight capacity
One of the best paddle board companies out there is iRocker and their 10 feet all-around inflatable paddle board is the perfect board for those who want to have the paddle board that will do it all. It’s 10 feet long for easy control when riding a wave. 32 inches wide for fantastic stability and higher weight capacity. The only drawback for the surfing aspect is it’s 6 inches thick.
Nobody builds boards as sturdy as iRocker. Most high-quality inflatable paddle boards double layer the PVC but iRocker takes it a step further and quadruple layers their ISUPs, and the board still somehow only weighs 24 lbs.
See Also: Best Slim Inflatable Life Jackets (PFD)
The weight capacity is 370 lbs. You can spend the day surfing then go for a paddle with multiple people and a dog if you want. It has a 3 removable fin set up which makes it possible to surf and use this board for any other kind of paddle boarding activity.
Included with the inflatable paddle board you get a triple-action hand pump (the best hand pump you can buy anywhere). A fiberglass paddle, that floats, with rubber on the blade so you can paddle and don’t have to worry about damaging the sides of the paddle board. The carry bag/backpack is very high quality and is comfortable to wear no matter how far you need to walk, and there’s an ankle coil leash included as well.
While the iRocker All-Around ISUP is not going to be the very best surfing ISUP it will certainly be good for catching a few waves. You get the highest quality materials and accessories and high weight capacity. It’s the board that does and has it all.
- Short For Maneuverability
- Super Durability
Now we’re getting into the specialized surf inflatable paddle board’s, and I like this one. The rogue is 9 feet long, 30 inches wide, and 4 inches thick. The max weight capacity is 265 pounds with a rider weight capacity of 198 pounds.
It weighs 20.28 pounds, has two angled stabilizer fins for better control on the waves, and a slide-in center fin. This is more of an intermediate to advanced board because the pointed displacement nose is going to sit more in the water for a faster ride but a more unstable one.
The Rogue has a raised kickpad. The foam footpad is bumped up on the back of the board making it so you can have more control when popping the board up over waves and maneuver better when surfing. The kickpad is not something you have to have, but if you plan on surfing bigger waves it’s nice to have.
It has a pointed nose for picking up speed and a double-layered PVC construction for rigidness and durability. This board is only 4 inches thick and you have a little more control, much like a traditional surfboard.
Included with the inflatable paddle board is a backpack/storage bag, a dual-action pump with pressure gauge, a coil leash, a repair kit, and an adjustable paddle.
To see the Redder Rouge in action check out this video.
The Redder Rogue ISUP is one of my favorites. It’s very specialized for surfing and it doesn’t break the bank. It’s going to take some time getting used to, especially if you haven’t surfed on a paddle board before, but with the double PVC, it can take a beating. A kickpad is an excellent feature that I personally prefer. All in all, when it comes to surfing this inflatable paddle board is a performer.
- Dual Layered PVC
- Maneuverability-friendly Design
- Not Beginner Friendly
- Less Rigid Than Alternatives
The Whopper Zen by Starboard is 10 feet long, 35 inches wide, and 5.5 inches thick. This is a fantastic specialized surfing inflatable paddle board and because of the length and width, you are going to be able to use it for other activities.
The max weight limit is 264 pounds. It has the 3 fixed fin style which means you can get out on the water faster and not have to worry about a slide in fin falling out if you get into the shallows. This board weighs 20.5 pounds.
This inflatable paddle board is going to be rigid, not only is it 5.5 inches thick it also has a triple-sandwich rail laminate that acts as a dual stringer. Stringers are used on surfboards to make them stiffer in the water. There are two stringers on the bottom of the board as well as on the sides and they use a double-layered 2000 denier deck on top of all of that.
The Whopper Zen also has a kickpad, something you would expect from this level of an inflatable paddle board.
Included with the Starboard Whopper Zen ISUP is a backpack/storage bag with wheels, a dual-action hand pump with pressure gauge, a repair kit, and a leash that is not rated for surfing but will work on flat water and touring. Unfortunately, this does not come with a paddle.
This is going to be one of the most rigid inflatable paddle boards you will ever stand on. There is so much put into it to make it feel solid. I like how they have made it perfect for surfing while including some extras to make it great for leisure and touring.
The Starboard Whopper Zen is perfect for every level. The width, stringers, and length are all things that will make surfing easier for beginners who want to learn on a real inflatable surf paddle board and also more advanced riders who want performance.
- Very rigid
- High-Quality Materials
- Beginner Friendly
- No Paddle Included
The Whip is the ultimate inflatable surfing paddle board. It’s 8 feet 10 inches long, 29 inches wide, and 3.93 inches thick. These measurements result in a very controllable, fast board. It has a weight limit of 200 pounds and a removable FCS center fin. Having a stiff center fin helps when surfing, so Red Paddle Co. uses FCS fins. FCS is a fin company that is one of the best in the business.
Along with all this, the board weighs only 16.28 pounds which is very light, so definitely a great option for travelers.
Red Paddle Co. uses its own patented MSL fusion to make its inflatable paddle boards, the dual layers are stronger, more rigid, and wrinkle-free. A very cool feature that is unique to this board and company is that they use RSS battens. There are pockets laminated to the sides which hold 2 battons, these act as stringers for making it very stiff even though it is thin. And of course, it has a kickpad.
Included with this board is a backpack/storage bag with wheels, a dual-action hand pump with a pressure gauge, a repair kit, and a waterproof phone case.
The Red Paddle Co. Whip is my favorite inflatable paddle board for surfing. It’s built very well and has some neat design features. Thin is better for surfing and it’s one of the things that is usually given up when it comes to inflatables because it’s hard to make the board thin and rigid. The Red Paddle Co. has solved this problem with its unique battons. This board is going to be easier to handle on the waves than any other inflatable paddle board and you easily travel with it thanks to its lightweight.
- Specialized Stiff Fin
- Battons For Rigidness
- Thin Rails
- Short Length
- Repair Kit, Waterproof Phone Bag Included
- Single Fin
- No Paddle Included
My Choice For Best Inflatable Surfing Paddle Board
I have to choose this board as the best option on today’s list, it’s just the best inflatable paddle board for surfing in my opinion. It’s rigid for how thin it is, there’s a kickpad, and the level of control you will have makes it possible to catch even bigger waves than other ISUPs can.
It’s a beautiful board with a flawless finish and insane durability, they even say they ran it over with a tractor and it still performed like new. It’s light too, you can take this board all over the world, and it will perform almost like a solid board.
Even though they only have one fin they made sure to include the best fin available for inflatable paddle boards. This is for sure my number one pick.
What To Consider When Buying A Surfing ISUP
Length – The length of the paddle board you should buy for surfing depends on what size you are and what you want out of your board. The shorter you go, the easier maneuvering and sharp turns will be. If you are a taller person or just a beginner who can’t stand up on a short narrow board, there’s nothing wrong with getting something a little more manageable for you.
Hull Type – Most paddle boards for surfing have rounded planing hulls for riding on top of the water for a stable smooth ride. Some boards do have the pointed displacement nose like a touring board. This makes riding waves a little more advanced. It sucks the board into the water giving you faster speeds but less stability.
Kickpad – When paddling out into the waves with an inflatable paddle board you need to be able to pop the nose of your board up over the waves to get past them. A kickpad is when they raise the end of the footpad making an edge much like a skateboard. You can use it to kick up the nose of your board. It also helps to keep your back foot in place.
On an inflatable paddle board pretty much all control comes from your back foot since the rails are nonexistent. If your board doesn’t have a kickpad it isn’t the end of the world and you can still surf, but having one helps.
Board Stiffness – The biggest challenge when surfing with an inflatable paddle board is the board wobbling because it’s not solid. Many companies have come up with ways to overcome this. To make a board stiffer the thickness of the board is often increased, but when it comes to surfing you want a board that is as thin as possible. Having a thin board gives increased rail control and less likelihood of catching the side and rolling over.
By using dual PVC layers manufacturers have been able to increase rigidness. Going even further some companies have added a sort of stringer to the board. Stringers run lengthwise on surfboards to increase their rigidness and help the board to flex a controlled amount. Stringers on surfboards are usually made out of some sort of low-density wood. On an inflatable paddle board, stringers are often made of carbon fiber, they need to be strong when inflated but also foldable.
Companies like Red Paddle Co. have come up with their own patented battons. They are long strips that slide into laminated pockets on the sides of their boards. They are advertised to make the board up to 40% stiffer. A pretty cool idea if you ask me.
Frequently Asked Questions About ISUP Surfing
Can You Surf with an Inflatable Paddleboard?
Yes, you can. For surfing big waves you need to get an ISUP specifically for surfing but for small waves even normal ISUPs can be pretty fun. For more information about surfing with a paddle board check out this article.
What is the Difference Between Paddleboarding and Surfing?
Surfing is using waves to propel you forward and paddle boarding is using a paddle to move you forward. While you can surf with a paddle board it isn’t as easy to paddle board with a surfboard. For more information check out this article.
Should I Have an Ankle Coil Leash When Surfing on an Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard?
Yes, you definitely should. Falling off your board is a big part of surfing and you need an ankle leash to keep your board from going off into the ocean. If you don’t have a good coil ankle leash there are some really great options you can check out here.
Can Surfing Inflatable Paddleboards Be Used for More Than Just Surfing?
Yes, they can! While they may not be as good for still water as lake paddle boards they are still good for paddling around. The only things they won’t be good for are things like yoga, fishing, and beginners (unless you bought the beginner surfing ISUP then you will be fine).
Should I Wear A Life Jacket When Paddleboarding and Surfing?
A lot of pros aren’t seen wearing life jackets while surfing but the biggest difference between them and us is they have spent countless hours in the ocean swimming and surfing. Bad things can happen if you are swept off your board and don’t know what to do when you are being spun around in a wave. I’ve even heard stories of people not knowing which direction to swim and they end up swimming to the bottom.
If you aren’t a fan of big bulky life jackets don’t feel bad you are not alone. There are some really great options out there for people like us. They make belts that go around your waist and inflate when you pull a tab to become a life vest. For more information on these check out this post.
For more information on the United States Coast Guard’s rules for wearing life jackets when paddle boarding check out this post here.
Are There Better Hand Pumps For Paddleboards?
A lot of times the single-action hand pump that came with your board is not going to be your friend. They do the job but it takes a long time and you’re tired and sweaty before you even get to paddle boarding. The good news is they make way better hand pumps and even high-pressure electric pumps that can inflate your board from start to finish. You don’t have to spend a lot to get a better paddle board inflation experience.
If you have any questions or tips on ISUP surfing leave a comment below. For more answers to common questions check out our FAQ page.