If you’ve come across this article, I imagine you’re already aware of how cool inflatable surfboards are (link to da surf engine article). However, there are different types of inflatable surfboards out there that I’ve tried or have come across, so I wanted to provide my perspective on them. The main ones I’ve seen so far are Mountains to Water, Bodyglove, and Hydroforce (from Bestway).
I avoid writing the “best XYZ products” type of reviews as I believe it all comes down to what you are looking for, when making the purchase to buy something. Therefore, I’m just going to provide some basic thoughts on things you should look for:
You want an inflatable surfboard that can at least inflate to a 15 PSI, even up to 20 is the best/ideal for maximum stability
To take advantage of the ultimate portability of an inflatable board, the bigger the better. However, if you have a small car and can’t fit a smaller board inside it and don’t want to strap boards on top of your car, fun board sizes of around 7-8 feet can be super fun as well.
A few inflatable surfboard manufacturers exist and a majority of the inflatable surfboards are in the 8’0 range (BodyGlove, HydroForce), however Mountains to Water offers a funboard size of 7’3” and a nose rideable inflatable longboard at 9′”. I really love the longer option Mountains to Water has (that you can pick up here on SurferShops.com) and it’s super easy to knee paddle on as well as just sit down on with your legs out as it is super stable in the water due to its length and thickness.
Width and Thickness
The widest I’ve seen inflatable surfboards go is 24.5” (for the two taller models for Mountains to Water). This width, combined with a longer board type, is what helps better balance the board and enable you to knee paddle or even do both SUP paddling and surf paddling for smaller kids. It’s still easy to surf paddle at that width. I wasn’t able to knee paddle on the Bodyboard inflatable board which is only 8’ long and 24” wide.
The thickness also helps with stability and ease of paddling into waves., however the thicker it is the less nimble the board will be for turns, etc. The Mountains to Water styles are all 3” in thickness and I’ve had no problem turning on those boards. The Bodyglove option is a bit thinner, at 2.75” thickness and surfed similar to me, but due to it being a bit thinner was not nearly as easy to knee paddle on.
Some inflatable surfboards come with fins permanently attached (BodyGlove, Hydroforce) which makes it convenient not to have to re-attach the fin every time you unpack and inflate it. However, the drawback is that it’s harder to get them rolled up tight and put back into the bag when they have fins stuck on them. Mountains To Water has one single fin with their inflatable boards, and although it was a bit of a challenge at first figuring out how to attach the fin, I’ve got the hang of it now and the surfboard is much easier to fold up and put back in the bag.
Air plug position
The air plug can be on the nose or tail of the board. I haven’t noticed a difference on placement, it just depends on your preference.
However, BodyGlove’s air plug has a nifty reminder on it to keep the valve up for inflating and down for deflating which comes in handy if you’re forgetful like me (or you could just write on the board yourself to remind yourself.
Since you can’t really wax an inflatable surface, having the grip material placed where your feet are positioned is key for stability. What’s super cool on a lot of inflatable surfboards, is that the tail has a bit of a raised kicktail to help give you a bit of leverage pushing on your toes to help your pop up!
Having a quality pump is essential for ease of inflation. I would also recommend that a board comes with a bag that is easy to fit the inflatable surfboard into as well, as it definitely helps with transporting it easier from place to place. The last extra would be a leash. Having all 3 of those accessories is all you really need to get going.
Obviously cost comes into mind when making a decision on what inflatable surfboard to buy. Bodyglove’s is the most expensive going for around $699 on their website (although if you have a Costco membership you can get them cheaper there or used ones on Ebay). However, the Mountains To Water inflatable surfboards are priced at $375.
Have fun inflatable surfboard shopping, they’re definitely a great investment to make and a type of board I recommend being in your quiver, especially for travel and easy transportation for you long boarders out there!