Why Hike Or Travel With An Inflatable Paddle Board (ISUP)?
Before lightweight inflatable paddle boards came along, secluded lakes with no roads leading to them were difficult to get to and enjoy fully. Now it’s possible to hike or walk long distances with a board in your backpack and get to unexplored areas. Being out on a clear mountain lake and exploring every inch of it is something not many people get to do. It does take more work, but it’s usually worth it.
A rule of thumb for backpackers is to never carry more than 20% of your body weight in a backpack. Because of this, I have chosen boards that do not weigh more than 20 lbs. This allows a little extra weight for the pump, paddle, and other gear without risking going over 20% body weight for most people. If you are a bigger person or an experienced backpacker, then you can take a heavier board, but it’s important to know your limits. Carry what you are comfortable with so it will be an enjoyable experience the entire time.
When picking a lightweight inflatable paddle board, you want something that can still handle your body weight and be manageable on the water. There are children’s paddle boards that weigh less but are short, narrow, and not suitable for adult paddlers. The boards on today’s list are at least 10 feet long and have weight limits of over 200 lbs, making them solid choices for serious paddle boarders.
Note: Scroll left/right on tablets and phones
A Closer Look At Each Hiking Paddle Board
The Roc ISUP is a very popular inflatable paddle board, with good reason. The board only weighs 17.5 lbs but is still made with a triple-layer of PVC. This is one of the most durable lightweight paddle boards you can buy. It is 10 feet long, 32 inches wide and 6 inches thick. The weight capacity is an incredible 275 lbs.
The inflatable paddle board style is all-around which is what you want for hiking and traveling because you never know what kind of water you’re going to run into. The fin set up is a long removable center fin and 2 non-removable stabilizer (side bite) fins for more stability and help with keeping the board straight when paddling.
There’s a 6 D-link bungee system on the nose and a D-link on the tail.
Along with the inflatable paddle board, you get an aluminum paddle that floats, a single-action hand pump, a coil ankle leash, a waterproof bag, and a backpack.
The Roc ISUP is incredible because of how many layers it has while still being so light. It’s more rigid than single-layered inflatable paddle boards and better for tall or heavy people. The only slight drawback is the quality of the backpack. It works great to store your board but it can be a little flimsy for hiking. It does have a waist strap so if you decide it’s good enough, go for it. If you want another option frame backpacks for camping work really great. A lot of times they can expand to large sizes and fit a paddle board and all the accessories.
- Very lightweight
- Extremely Durable
- High Weight Capacity
- Included pump is a single-action
- The backpack is not very sturdy
The Swonder is a little longer than some of the other inflatable paddle boards and also one of the heaviest. It weighs 20 lbs, measures 10 feet 6 inches long, 32 inches wide, and 6 inches thick. It’s a great beginner board or one for larger people.
It has a weight limit of 255 lbs and uses the 2+1 fin system with permanently attached side bite fins and a removable long center fin.
It’s only made with a single layer of PVC, but they use drop stitching much like the other boards to create a durable rigid product. A few unique things are they included foam protectors for the side bites when you roll up and store the board.
See Also: Best Slim Inflatable Life Jackets (PFD)
They include a handle on the nose as well as in the center of the board for more comfortable transport when inflated. The hull design is the hybrid touring/all-around style. It’s going to be better than the standard all-around boards for fast paddling.
Included with the inflatable paddle board is a single-action hand pump with a pressure gauge, a paddle, a coil leash, and a backpack. The backpack is a little higher quality than some of the cheaper ones I’ve seen. It’s more durable and more comfortable to wear when packing the board around.
The backpack is a definite plus for the Swonder as far as taking it on hikes, airplanes, or public transportation. It’s a little bigger than the other boards on this list, and the company states that everything packed into the bag weighs 30 lbs total, which is something to think about if you are a smaller person.
- Good quality backpack included
- High weight capacity
- Heavier than the others
- Included pump is a single-action
The yoga inflatable paddle boards are good for hikers, and there are a few reasons why. First, they are designed for ultimate stability while still being short. The Peak Yoga ISUP is only 10 feet long, 32 inches wide, and 6 inches thick but it has a high weight capacity of 275 lbs.
The paddle board weighs 18 lbs, which is impressive since it is made with two layers of PVC. It is super durable and a great board for not only hiking but everyday use as well.
The shape makes the Peak Yoga one of the ultimate all-around inflatable paddle boards. It has a wide planing hull and extra tail width for stability, even for tall people. There’s one removable center fin that creates less drag when paddling making it suitable for exploring any size of lakes.
Included with the inflatable paddle board is a dual-action hand pump with a pressure gauge, a paddle, a coil leash, a waterproof phone case, and a backpack. The backpack is one of the best you can get included with the purchase of an ISUP. It has waist straps much like a serious hiking backpack to take the weight from your back to your hips. There is a side pocket for a water bottle as well, which is a nice feature and perfect for hikers and travelers.
Peak Paddle Boards is a very well known paddle board company that has been making boards since 2004. The Peak Yoga ISUP is an excellent lightweight inflatable paddle board. It’s very durable and perfect for any hike. It also comes with higher-end accessories which you will come to appreciate when you carry around and inflate the board.
- Dual-layered PVC
- Great backpack for hiking included
- Comes with a dual-action pump
- High weight capacity
- Smaller bungee storage than others
The SereneLife Thunder Wave is 10 feet long, 30 inches wide, and 6 inches thick. The weight capacity is 275 lbs and the board weighs 19.6 lbs. It’s another inflatable paddle board that is almost 20 lbs, it’s slightly heavy but not too heavy.
When it comes to stability shape is important. The Thunder Wave is 30 inches wide almost the entire length of the board. So even though it’s not as wide as other boards the fact that it’s wide over most of the board help make it very stable. The nose is a hybrid all-around/touring board.
There is a 4 D-link bungee system on the nose, 4 D-links on the sides, and one on the tail. The board is seat compatible and there is an optional seat you can buy separately to turn the board into a kayak.
There are 3 fins. A removable center fin and two non-removable stabilizer (side bite) fins. The 2+1 fin structure helps the board glide straight through the water, it’s especially helpful on choppy water like the ocean and when you want to paddle fast.
Included with the inflatable paddle board is a single-action hand pump with a pressure gauge, a coil ankle leash, an aluminum paddle, a repair kit, and a storage bag/backpack. The backpack isn’t the best for hiking long distances because it doesn’t have waist straps. Using a camping frame pack works really well as an alternative because they are normally large enough to fit an ISUP and they are made for packing heavy gear.
SereneLife makes budget ISUPs that are durable, have almost everything a high-end paddle board has, and have a great design. It’s a little heavier than some of the other inflatable paddle boards on the list but it’s still a good choice for hikers and travelers because of the multi-use design.
- High weight capacity
- Included Backpack not good for hiking
- single-action pump
The FunWater ISUP is another affordable paddle board, but it’s super light weighing only 17.6 lbs.
It’s an interesting design, it’s 10 feet 6 inches long and 6 inches thick, and the overall width is 33 inches. It sounds like its really wide but it’s actually pretty narrow and that’s how it can be so light. It starts out narrow at the tail, slowly gets wide until about 2/3 the way up then it starts to get narrow again and finishes with a pointy nose.
It’s like a really wide touring inflatable paddle board. This will be awesome for people who have some experience with paddle boarding or balance activities. If balancing is not your thing or you are really tall this might be a tough board to stay standing on. That being said I think anyone can learn to balance on any kind of paddle board but I thought I’d point it out so you know what you are getting into.
The weight capacity is very high at 300 lbs. There is a 6 D-link bungee system on the nose and a D-link on the tail.
There are 3 removable fins that are the perfect set-up for this shape of ISUP. You’re going to be able to get going pretty fast with ease.
It’s made with dual-layered PVC, so durability won’t be an issue.
Included with the inflatable paddle board are an aluminum paddle, a single-action hand pump, a coil ankle leash, a waterproof phone bag, and a storage bag/backpack. Much like the other budget-friendly boards on this list the backpack is a little flimsy and doesn’t have a waist strap so you may need to use a camping frame pack to hike around with it. The included bag should be fine for travel by plane though.
The FunWater is a unique board for how short it is. It’s going to be excellent for speed paddling and touring and especially good for smaller people. You get a lot of bang for your buck and it’s so lightweight you almost have to bring it with you everywhere you go.
- Touring Board Design
- For more advanced riders
- Flimsy Backpack
My Choice For Best ISUP For Hiking & Travel
Peak has done an incredible job with this ISUP, and it’s the ultimate lightweight inflatable paddle board for taking on a hike or travels. The backpack has that important waist strap that will save your back after miles of walking, and it’s somehow made with two layers of PVC while weighing only 18 lbs. The weight capacity is high, and it’s very stable for being only 10 feet long. This is the best option for a hiker because it’s a fit for all skill levels, body types, and can be used for many activities including fishing.
What To Consider When Buying An ISUP For Hiking & Travel
The Backpack – Almost every ISUP comes with a sort of storage bag that usually doubles as a backpack. Because you will be hiking or traveling it’s important to get a board that has a good quality backpack. The distance you will hike makes a difference as well. If you are planning on 3 miles or more you are going to need a bag with waist straps to displace some of that weight onto your hips. And if you want to go far, you probably need a specialized backpacking pack with a frame that you can put your board in.
Weight vs. Body Size – You should never carry more than 20% of your body weight in a backpack. For example, if you weigh 195 lbs, which is the average weight of a man in America, you can carry up to 39 lbs. If you weigh 166 lbs, which is the average weight of a woman in America, you can carry up to 33 lbs.
Distance – Three miles might not sound far if you are used to walking on a road, but a mountain trail makes things very different. The incline can be steep at times as well as the decline. Make sure you know what kind of path you will be taking and the obstacles that might be along the way.
Never bring a paddle board that is too heavy on a long, challenging trail. ISUPs fold up into a rectangle and can change your center of gravity making you off balance. Remember to do what you are comfortable with and be kind to your back and feet.
Total Gear Weight – I talk a lot about how much the board itself weighs but you are always going to need a paddle and a pump. Make sure you consider everything you are bringing to figure out if you need to make any changes to stay below the weight that is comfortable for you.
Frequently Asked Questions About ISUP’s For Hiking & Travel
Can I bring my inflatable stand up paddle board as a carry-on on a plane?
Most of the time you can. Some paddle boards are smaller and weigh less than others. Light paddle boards like the ones on this list should be able to be taken on a plane as a carry-on.
What other options do I have if I don’t want to bring a bulky life jacket or vest on a hike?
There are slimmer personal floatation devices out there that hardly weigh anything. Here’s a list of some of the best ones out there.
Are small hiking/travel ISUPs good for other ISUP activities?
Yes, they are. If you made sure to get one that was the proper size for your body type then you should have no problem using your hiking paddle board doing other things.
Have any tips about traveling or hiking with an ISUP? Leave a comment below. Also, feel free to ask any questions or check out our FAQ page.