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FAQ: Can You Surf On An Inflatable SUP Board?

Posted by Jordan Curet

Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) is a popular water sport that involves standing on a large, stable board and using a paddle to propel yourself through the water. While traditional SUP boards are made from hard materials like fiberglass or carbon fiber, there is another option on the market: inflatable stand-up paddle boards. Inflatable SUPs are made from a flexible, durable material that can be inflated with a pump, making them easy to transport and store, but can you surf on an inflatable stand-up paddle board (iSUP)? The answer is yes, but there are a few key considerations to keep in mind.

First and foremost, it's important to choose the right inflatable stand-up paddle board for surfing. While any iSUP can technically be used for surfing, some are better suited to the task than others. Specifically, you'll want to look for an iSUP with a pointed nose, a thin profile, and a rocker (curve) in the bottom of the board. These features will help the board cut through the water and turn more easily, allowing you to ride the wave with greater control. The newly released 8’10” Compact Surf SUP is what surfers dream of!

It's also a good idea to invest in a good quality paddle that is lightweight and easy to use. When surfing on an iSUP, you'll be using the paddle to help you catch and ride waves, so a high-quality paddle is essential.

Once you have the right equipment, it's time to hit the water and start surfing. Those new to SUP surfing should know that the technique is slightly different than traditional surfing. Instead of lying down on the board and paddling with your hands, you'll be standing upright and using a paddle to catch and ride the wave.

To catch a wave, paddle towards the beach and position yourself so that the wave is coming from behind you. As the wave approaches, start paddling hard and use the paddle to help you catch the wave. Once you're up on the wave, use your feet to steer the board and ride the wave as far as you can.

It's important to remember that stand-up paddle boarding is a physically demanding sport, and surfing on an iSUP can be even more so. To stay safe and have fun, it's important to be in good physical condition and to start with small, manageable waves. As you gain experience and confidence, you can gradually work your way up to larger, more challenging waves.

One potential advantage of surfing on an iSUP is that inflatable boards are generally more stable and forgiving than traditional hard boards. This can make them a good choice for beginners or for people who are new to surfing. However, it's important to note that inflatable boards are not indestructible, and they can be punctured or damaged if they are not treated with care.

Another key consideration when surfing with an iSUP is safety. As with any water sport, there are inherent risks involved, and it's important to take precautions to minimize these risks. This includes wearing a board leash, a personal flotation device (PFD) or life jacket where needed, staying within your limits, and always surfing with a buddy.

In conclusion, it is possible to surf with an inflatable stand-up paddle board. While iSUPS are not as fast or agile as the highest performing hard boards, they can still be used to catch and ride waves, and have plenty of fun. With the right equipment, technique, and safety precautions, you can enjoy the thrill of surfing on an iSUP. Just remember to start small, be patient, and have fun.


This article was written by Julian Kidd, the owner and CEO of Green Water Sports. Julian has been paddling, kitesurfing, windsurfing and sailing most of his life. Originally from Australia, via the Caribbean, he now resides in the US and is always keen for a paddle board session. SUP wave riding is his passion but he’s keen to explore new locations with the go-anywhere portability and convenience inflatable paddle boards offer.