Why Hike Or Travel With An Inflatable Paddleboard (ISUP)?
Before inflatable paddleboards came along, secluded lakes with no road 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 board, you want something that can still handle your body weight and be manageable on the water. There are children’s paddleboards 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 paddleboarders.
Finding a lightweight paddleboard for hiking or traveling is easier if you’re ok with a single-layered board. I don’t usually recommend them for every day paddleboarding, but for a hiking board where weight is a big factor, they are perfect. They are still very durable, and although not as rigid as boards with multiple layers, they still perform very well.
All Lightweight Paddleboards On The Table
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A Closer Look At Each Hiking Paddleboard
The Ancheer is the lightest of all the boards on this list weighing only 17 lbs. It’s 10 feet long, 30 inches, wide and 6 inches thick, making it perfect for beginner paddlers as well as more advanced ones. It’s got an all-around design which is essential for a hiker in case you run into any rivers you might want to try out. The max rider weight limit is 240 lbs.
A big part of what makes the Ancheer ISUP so light is the fact that it only has one layer of PVC. To help keep its rigidness, they use drop stitching on the inside to create a dense core that is rigid and lightweight. The board has a 2+1 fin set up which means 2 secured small fins (side bites) and a long removable center fin. This helps keep the board moving straight when paddling through water and offers a little more stability for beginners.
Included with the board is a paddle, coil leash, a single-action hand pump with a pressure gauge, a repair kit, and most importantly, a backpack. You can always use a different more specialized pack if you are planning on going very long distances, but it’s still nice to not have to buy anything extra. The backpack that comes with this is one of the simpler ones, and it has mesh vents along the sides so the board can dry while transporting. It’s a rectangle with backpack straps. It might not be very comfortable for long hikes but will do the job for shorter walks.
The Ancheer is the simplest board on today’s list, but for that reason, it is the lightest. It still has some length to it and has a reasonably high weight capacity. There are no extra D-links along the sides so it isn’t compatible for a kayak seat, but there is a 4 D-link bungee system on the nose for storage and a handle in the center for easy carrying when inflated.
- Very lightweight
- Good length
- Included pump is a single-action
- The backpack is not very comfortable for long hikes
The Swonder is a little longer than some of the other 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. They also 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 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. This is a definite plus for the Swonder as far as taking it on hikes, airplanes, or public transportation. It’s a little more substantial, 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 paddleboards 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 board itself weighs 18 lbs which isn’t bad because 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 boards, and it has the wide planing hull and extra tail width for stability even for tall people. It has one removable fin that creates less drag when paddling making it suitable for exploring any size of lake.
Included with the 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 a board. It has waist straps much like a serious backpackers 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 paddleboard company that has been making boards since 2004. They have created an excellent lightweight paddleboard made with dual-layered PVC and perfect for any hike. It also comes with higher end accessories that are worth it if you’re an avid hiker.
- Dual-layered PVC
- Great backpack for hiking included
- Comes with a dual-action pump
- High weight capacity
- Smaller bungee storage than others
The Nixy ISUP is the longest and widest board on this list but still not the heaviest. It weighs only 19 lbs but measures 10 feet 6 inches long, 33 inches wide, and 6 inches thick. It has the highest weight capacity of 300 lbs. They use a fusion laminated drop stitch technology that creates an extra layer, so it’s light like a single layered board but durable like a double layered one.
This is also the only board on this list that has 3 removable fins. It’s better for fast paddling and even easier to roll up because there are not small fins in the way. This is more of a touring ISUP because of its pointed nose and thin tail. It’s going to be a little more of an intermediate skill level board but can be used by beginners with a bit of practice. It also has D-links along the sides which makes it compatible for a kayak seat.
Included with the board is a dual-action hand pump with a pressure gauge, a paddle, a coil leash, and a backpack. The backpack, while very nice, is one of the main drawbacks to this board. It’s got wheels on the bottom of it like a suitcase, which is fantastic if you are taking it through a parking lot or traveling by air, train, or bus, but not so convenient when hiking with it on your back. The backpack is hefty, and everything stored in it is going to weigh 37 lbs. The solution to this is to buy a lighter backpack, but it’s going to cost a little more.
- Very lightweight paddleboard for the size
- High weight capacity
- High durability
- Dual-action pump included
- The included backpack is heavy
- Small bungee storage
This is the second yoga board on this list, and much like the Peak it is 10 feet long, 32 inches wide, and 6 inches thick. It weighs 2 lbs more than the other one at 20 lbs but is also made with dual-layered PVC. The weight capacity is 240 lbs, and it has one removable fin.
The nose and tail are wide for superior stability, and the EVA footpad is extra large. The bungee system is a tiny 3 D-link one which is unique to this board. It’s a lot like the Peak board, but they use a different method when building it called “Airtech Fusion-lite Construction.” It makes the board a little heavier but more durable and rigid.
Included with the board is a dual-action hand pump with a pressure gauge, a paddle, a coil leash, and a backpack. The backpack is very high quality and has a waist strap, making it more comfortable to carry long distances. It also has the side pocket for a water bottle and can easily fit all the necessary items and then some.
Isle is another reputable company that started in California in 2004 that dominates the ISUP market. They make quality boards with high-end accessories. Their yoga board is well made and going to be one of the most durable on this list. While a little heavier, sometimes a long lasting product is worth it, depending on how you plan on using it.
- Very stable for its size
- Extremely durable
- Dual-action pump included
- Great backpack for hiking and travel included
- Heavier than other boards with a similar build
- Tiny bungee storage
The Nixy ISUP is a well-constructed board that has high-quality materials and an excellent design. It’s one of the best lightweight boards you can buy. It has a few key downsides that don’t make it the best. The first being the backpack that is just too heavy to take hiking or traveling for the average person. If you are willing to purchase a different backpack, then this board might be just perfect. If you are a small person, the board itself does weigh 19 lbs, and every pound counts on a long hike. With the super high weight capacity, you could use this as a tandem board for two small adults and share the load while hiking. There are a lot of options, and if you are looking for extreme durability, then this is the right board.
It might seem odd that I have chosen one of the less well-built boards as the better option, but it weighs only 17 lbs while still being over 10 feet long. That is what makes this a great board to take on a hike or travel the world with. Chances are you won’t be using it every day if it’s for hiking so even though it is only made with a single layer of PVC it’s going to last for a long time. I have owned my fair share of single-layered boards that were not for daily use, but have held up well for weekly outings on rivers and lakes. The backpack comes with isn’t terrible either which is surprising for this range of paddleboard.
Peak has done an incredible job with this ISUP, and it’s the ultimate lightweight paddleboard 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
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 all that 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 paddleboard that is too heavy on a long, challenging trail. ISUPs folds 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.