Paddleboards are becoming increasingly popular, likely due to the sudden influx of Instagram influencers enjoying a morning paddle and yoga session in remote destinations. But whether you’re in Bali, Indonesia or North Carolina, there’s nothing better than paddle boarding.
Not only is it a fantastic method for exercising, but it can also help to reduce stress and facilitate relaxation, meditation, and yoga. When combined with a friendly face or a furry pal, paddle boarding quickly becomes the best way to start your mornings. The great thing about this sport it how affordable it is, given that access to most water comes free of charge.
A quality board will last you for years, even if it’s inflatable. The key is to take good care of it, particularly when you’re inflating it or packing it back into your vehicle. Very little damage can occur in the water, but on land, punctures are a real risk that you need to avoid to save yourself money in the long run.
There is an ongoing debate over whether inflatables can match with hard boards. However, for many of us, the convenience, weight, and portability of rubber rather than a hard epoxy material is a huge benefit. For this reason, inflatables are the fastest growing sector in the community.
But what board should you buy? There are a bunch of products to choose from, with an ever increasing number of brands. In this guide, we’ll be taking a look at some of the most recognizable companies, what they offer and why you should pick a product from these brands.
How We Chose Our Rankings
When we’re comparing brands, it’s important that we consider a wide variety of the different products they offer. To do so, we assess using the following criteria:
To begin, we look at the reviews that people are leaving online. By doing so, we can get a much wider understanding of what customers think. From there, we begin to narrow down our selection and rank the remaining brands based on the score they receive in each of the categories listed above.
The Best Inflatable Paddle Board Brands
Atoll is thought of by many as one of the leaders in the industry, especially when it comes to inflatables. They aren’t cheap, not by a long shot, but they offer a level of quality and customer service that is nearly unparalleled in this market. For us, Atoll is a company that can be trusted, regardless of which of the products you choose. The same isn’t true for other brands.
Even some of the more recognizable national businesses don’t consistently release top tier products. One model might be exceptional, and the next is disappointing. Atoll is head and shoulders above many competitors, with an intense focus on customer satisfaction, which is what has allowed Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft to excel.
The Atoll 11’ ISUP is the most well-known product that they have released. In our opinion, it’s the best inflatable paddle board. Not only is it durable and stable, but it also offers excellent value for money, despite having a higher price tag than many alternatives.
Being 6-inches deep and 32-inches wide, it’s the ideal size for the vast majority of riders, even those up to 350lbs. It’s hard to know precisely where the sweet spot lies, but it seems that this size would be adequate for a vast array of users.
Typically, the reason why people dislike the size of the board is that it’s either not buoyant enough or too heavy. But being large and yet incredibly light, the Atoll is an all-rounder. It’s made using PVC, and a lightweight aluminum alloy, which makes it 40 percent lighter than similarly sized boards. Therefore, it’s buoyant enough for all, while still being lightweight.
The Atoll comes with everything that you need to get onto the water, including a pump, carry bag, fins, leash, and a paddle. Unlike most boards which require screws to install the fins, it simply clicks into place and screws in tightly with no tools or installation necessary. It should also fit the vast majority of aftermarket fins for greater customization.
Atoll is so confident in their products that they offer a 2-year money-back manufacturer's warranty on their boards. Therefore, if there is a fault in the design, you can send it back and expect a full refund or replacement. Atoll is known for its excellent service, which should give you confidence.
While Atoll sits at the top of the market, SereneLife is for a different customer base. Rather than focusing entirely on quality, they try to strike the right balance, to sell an affordable product to the middle and low market. At half the price of Atoll products, they aren’t half the quality, making SereneLife excellent value for money, particularly for beginners.
If you’re looking to enter into the sport and aren’t quite sure whether it’s for you, a SereneLife board is a great option. Without a huge financial risk, you can enjoy a quality product that with proper care can last you for years to come. Primarily, the difference between SereneLife and Atoll is in the build. The latter uses more expensive components.
Rather than fabrics and cloth, Atoll uses PVC and lightweight aluminum which is rather expensive. However, it would give you greater rigidity and durability, more like a traditional paddleboard than an inflatable. Whereas SereneLife is more focused on keeping costs down so that they can sell an affordable product to consumers.
Regardless, it’s important to recognize that SereneLife strikes the perfect balance for those on a budget and is one of the best inflatable paddle board brands in the industry. If you can’t afford an Atoll product, SereneLife could be a great fit for you. ISLE and Tower are other alternatives but are once again more expensive and not as good value for money.
Another great thing about SereneLife is that their boards tend to come with a full package of goodies. Just like Atoll, you’ll find that you can get a carry bag, pump, leash, fin, and paddle for a fraction of the price of other brands. When you consider these extra items, the value proposition is even higher and gives you incredible bang for your buck.
Arguably one of the most underappreciated brands in the space, iRocker offers exceptional customer service as well as an undeniably great product. Cheaper than Atoll and more expensive than SereneLife, they offer a middle-tier price point with a premium level of product. While the boards might not be anything special, the accessories are.
Most companies offer terrible pumps and carry bags, whereas iRocker recognizes that these are arguably just as important as the board itself. If customers are frustrated with getting to the water and inflating the board, they won’t use the product. Hence it’s awesome that iRocker prioritizes these smaller features and items.
According to many of the customer reviews we read, iRocker products are amazing. Most customers felt that the boards were great value for money, particularly the 10’6” board and the 11” big daddy, both of which come with a bag of goodies. To us, these are great options for anyone in this price bracket which is serious about enjoying this activity.
Similar to SereneLife, ROC is a middle-tier brand that tries to give you value for your money. Their products are consistently priced within a few bucks of SereneLife, making them somewhat interchangeable depending on your preferences. Very broadly, SereneLife tends to have a younger feel to the brand, which ROC is closer to a mountaineering brand image.
In our opinion, ROC is a good brand and can be trusted to sell reliable, durable and decent quality items which will fulfill their promises. According to many of the reviews that we read, customers feel like ROC offers good value, especially given how expensive many paddle boards can be.
ROC doesn’t offer a vast variety of different models, which might be frustrating for some. While higher-end brands tend to have multiple sizes to choose from, particularly for those of varying weights, ROC does not have the same flexibility. But, the generic size they offer is ideal for those up to 275 lbs, although probably not great for those over this weight limit.
On the flip side, they do give you multiple color options of much of their gear. The boards tend to be in blue, black, green and pink, which is a nice twist given that most brands only offer a single color and very occasionally an alternative. However, it would be nice if ROC prioritized their accessories more.
For example, the pump they provide alongside the board is poor. SereneLife uses a double-valve pump system which means that you can inflate with half the work at double the speed. Therefore, it’s a huge advantage. Likewise, a more comfortable and stylish travel bag would be appreciated by those who are hiking to the lake or ocean.
ISLE fits into a weird place in the market. They don’t sell cheap products, but in the mind of many consumers, they struggle to compete with the quality and service of Atoll. The product that they offer isn’t dissimilar to many cheaper alternatives, which might make some less likely to stretch their budget when they could save money with SereneLife.
However, where ISLE sets themselves apart is with their accessories. Unlike ROC which has dull accessories which could be private label, ISLE has branded versions of everything, with unique twists to improve on basic designs. Their leash, for example, uses long coils to make it retractable, rather than a long wire which you can trip over and injure yourself.
Perhaps one of the less tangible downsides to ISLE is the designs that they offer. The products that they retail aren’t particularly beautiful or attractive. They tend to be basic, with large splashes of color rather than unique or exciting designs. For this reason, they seem to have an older customer base when compared to SereneLife and even ROC.
On the flip side, ISLE is a real surf company who prioritizes board quality. If you step onto a ROC board and then an ISLE board, you’ll instantly notice a difference in stability, durability, and rigidity. It’s much closer to an epoxy fiberboard, giving you a solid surface which doesn’t flex or feel soft under your feet. For advanced riders or those in waves, this is a huge plus.
Tower is a similar brand to Atoll, with the only obvious difference to customer lying in the designs which each company offers. However, our experience and research lead us to believe that the vast majority of customers would find Atoll to be the premium company. The reason for this is because of their exceptional customer service and dedication to satisfaction.
Tower is known for offering what we call a ‘hard’ experience, which is that the inflatable boards feel like the real thing. You’re never going to create an ISUP that is identical to an epoxy alternative, but Tower might be as close as you’ll get. With tough inner linings, it can inflate to a high PSI and therefore offer greater rigidity than the competition.
Where Tower lets itself down is with the durability of the accessories they combine with the board. Many customers have complained about broken pumps, particularly on the 10’4” ISUP. Given that the pump is critical to the use of an inflatable product, you would imagine that companies would invest more in stocking reliable and durable items.
Buyers Guide: How to Choose a Paddle Board
When you’re deciding on a paddleboard, you need to consider the amount you’re willing to spend, your size and the skill level that you possess. More advanced surfers can opt for boards that are much smaller than usual, whereas most people will need a larger board as their body weight increases to stay buoyant.
Arguably, the price is the most significant component. As you increase your budget, the quality of brands also improves. While not always the case, you tend to get the value for what you pay. For those who weight more, it’s particularly important that you invest in a sturdy and thick board that will give you enough balance and buoyancy to enjoy the sport without discomfort.