When it comes to helping people get out on the water, standup paddleboarding is leaving other paddlecraft in its wake. The reason: a shallow learning curve (just hop on and go), letting you instantly channel your inner Laird Hamilton. The only drawback is their size. But all that’s changed with a slew of inflatable standup paddleboards nearly as high-performance as their hardshell cousins.
The secret: drop-stitch construction, incorporating millions of tiny threads holding the top and bottom together when inflated. Simply pump them up to the desired PSI, paddle away, then roll up for easy storage in your car, garage, closet, or even office cubicle. Here are some of our favorite inflatable standup paddleboards that you’ll be seeing everywhere this summer—all vetted and wetted on the slow-moving, meandering Yampa River and beautiful Lake Simon in northwest Colorado. Time to get pumped.
Best Inflatable Standup Paddleboards
1. Hala Rado
Hats off to Hala Gear for this versatile all-arounder, which is especially suitable for expedition paddlers who want to dabble on both flat and whitewater. Measuring 10’10″x35″x6″, it’s beef-cake stable while blending whitewater features like welded seams for durability, a Progressive-River Rocker profile, and retractable 9-inch StompBox2 fin system. The StompBox fin is especially innovative, providing spring-loaded retractability whenever you hit a rock. No more Supermanning face-first into the water. All this makes it a great choice for longer paddles where rapids are followed by stretches of flatwater. For the latter—and general lake or ocean bay touring—a long waterline gives it fast hull speed that maintains momentum after just a couple of strokes. Want to head out overnight? The board’s hefty weight capacity of 325 pounds and large, easy-to-rig deck make it perfect for camping and gear-heavy trips—or paddling around the lake with Fido or the kids. We used it on a mellow flatwater stretch of river and moved our cooler and portable BBQ to a beach on the far side. Available as a complete kit, it comes with a lever-lock adjustable carbon paddle, rolling backpack, hand pump, fins, and repair kit—plus a five-year warranty.[$1,399; halagear.com]
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