Best Inflatable Paddle Boards For Every Experience Level

When shopping for an inflatable paddle board, Kidd says the four main things to consider are length, width, thickness, and volume. “These will dictate what style of the board it is, how it will paddle and track, how stable it will be, and whether it can carry you.”

Length: As far as length is concerned, most paddle boards are around 10 feet long, though some (especially ones built for tandem) can run a little longer. According to Kidd, the length of a board governs how it turns and how well the board will track (aka, go in a straight line). “Longer boards will paddle straighter and glide better while shorter boards will be easier to turn,” he notes.

Width: Most paddle boards range between 30 and 35 inches, though the common sweet spot is between 32 and 34 inches. “With is one of the major factors in the stability of the board,” Kidd explains. “It also affects the overall speed of the board,” he adds, noting that narrow boards are fast but not as stable, while wide boards are much more stable.

Thickness: It might not seem like thickness is a big deal, but it’s worth considering because, when coupled with the volume, Kidd says board thickness will control how stiff the inflatable board will be and how much weight it can carry.

Volume: “The volume is measured by how much water it would displace if completely submerged,” says Kidd. With that said, the volume gets a little tricky, and with an inflatable board, Kidd notes that it’s basically about how much the board can carry. If you’re concerned about how much weight a board can hold, most companies note the weight capacity, which is the same thing.

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