Beginners Guide to Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard (iSUP)
In the world of water sports, the inflatable stand-up paddleboard (iSUP) has gained popularity for its versatility, portability and user-friendly convenience. This guide will help you understand what an iSUP is, the types of iSUPs available on the market, their construction materials, inflatable technology works, and how to choose the right iSUP based on your activities and skill level.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- What is an iSUP
- iSUP Construction
- iSUP Materials
- Types of iSUPs
- Essential iSUP gear
- What is an iSUP?
iSUP stands for 'inflatable stand-up paddleboard.' Unlike traditional hardboards, an iSUP can be inflated to provide a stable platform where users/paddlers can stand and use a paddle to paddle across the water. These versatile boards can be used for a wide range of activities, including leisure paddling, surfing, touring, racing, yoga, and even fishing.
The standout advantage of an iSUP lies in its convenience: when deflated, it can compactly fit into a backpack or a car's trunk. This portability makes iSUPs an ideal choice for those on the move, blending the thrill of paddleboarding with the ease of travel.
- iSUP Construction
There are three prevalent iSUP construction techniques in the market right now: Double Layer, Fusion, and Single Layer. Double Layer boards emphasize robustness and offer the most longevity; Fusion blends modernity, weight, and performance; while Single Layer offers simplicity and affordability. Each type caters to unique paddling needs and preferences.
Double Layer Construction iSUPs:
- Often described as a traditional gold standard, it's a labor-intensive method ensuring longevity.
- It features a thicker deck (2.2mm) compared to fusion (~1.4mm) and single layer (~0.7mm).
- Process: Starts with a 0.7mm base, adds a 1.4mm PVC tarpaulin layer to both sides, then two PVC rail layers, and concludes with the addition of graphics and attachments.
Fusion Construction iSUPs:
- A cutting-edge innovation designed for efficiency, blending performance with modern manufacturing techniques. Most of our Jimmy Styks boards are fusion construction iSUPs.
- Offers an optimized balance of weight, rigidity, and durability, with a lifespan competitive in today's market.
- Process: Begins with a robust pre-laminated 1.2mm fusion form, followed by precision hand-glued PVC rail layers, then beautifully finished with vibrant graphics and top-tier attachments. This streamlined process ensures consistent quality and a product tailored for today's paddler.
Single Layer Construction iSUPs:
- An early, simplified production method for iSUPs, which gained traction with the introduction of thicker iSUPs.
- They typically offer basic rigidity due to their thinner deck.
- Process: Uses a 0.7mm base, then two PVC rail layers, and finishes with the addition of graphics and attachments.
- iSUP materials
- EVA (Ethylene-vinyl acetate) Deck Pad: Found on the outermost layer of iSUPs, EVA is a soft and flexible rubber-like material. It provides a non-slip surface, ensuring stability and grip, especially when the board is wet. It's comfortable to stand on and minimizes the chances of slipping.
- PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) Tarpaulin: A robust and durable material commonly used in iSUP construction. When we refer to the 'deck thickness' in terms of PVC, it's the thickness of this tarpaulin material that's being discussed.
- Drop Stitch Material: Integral to the iSUP's rigidity when inflated. Drop-stitch technology means thousands of polyester threads connect the top and bottom layers of the board. These threads pull tight when inflated, enabling the board to maintain its shape and firmness.
- PVC Rails: These are layers glued around the perimeter of the board to provide structure and seal the edges. In the construction process, an inner rail is first glued around the perimeter, followed by an outer rail. Overlapping at the seams provides added durability.
- Other Attachments: These can include D-rings for attaching items, fins for stability and steering, graphic elements for aesthetics, and more. They are typically hand-glued onto the board after the main construction is complete.
- Types of iSUPs
iSUPs are designed with a variety of shapes and lengths for specific use cases. The design intricacies, from the board's contour to its overall size, are made to enhance performance and suitability for its designated activity. Here are the different types of iSUPs.
- All-Around iSUPs: All-round boards are versatile and designed for paddleboarders of all experiences. Ideal for beginners and casual paddling, these boards prioritize stability with their wide and thick dimensions, typically ranging between 31”-34” in width and 4”-6” in thickness. Their broad nose and tail enhance balance, ensuring an easy enjoyable experience on the water.
- Touring iSUPs: Touring boards are crafted for long-distance, flatwater, and open ocean paddling. Typically longer than all-round boards, they range from 11’-14’ in length and 28”-32” in width. The longer and narrower a touring board is the harder it will be to balance on. Designed for those looking to cover greater distances, their streamlined shape optimizes speed and efficiency.
- Yoga iSUPs: These boards are usually symmetrical and wider to provide a stable platform for practicing yoga or fitness routines.
- Hybrid iSUPs: These are innovative designs that combine the functions of different watercrafts. These iSUPs can be converted into an inflatable kayak (iKayak), offering the user multiple ways to paddle across the waters.
- Essential iSUP Gear
When it comes to iSUP, it's not just about the board. Equipping yourself with the right gear ensures safety, maximizes performance, and enhances the overall experience. Here's a breakdown of the essential iSUP gear:
Paddle: Most paddles come adjustable, allowing for a tailored fit to the paddler's height and the specific activity. Depending on your preferences and needs, you can choose between aluminum and carbon fiber paddles:
Featuring an anodized finish, aluminum paddles are built to resist wear and tear. This makes them ideal for newcomers or those who paddle recreationally. They come at a more budget-friendly price than carbon fiber paddles. However, their slightly heavier weight makes them more suitable for shorter, less intense paddling sessions.
Carbon Fiber Paddles:
Carbon fiber paddles stand out for their lightweight composition, which allows for long paddling sessions without too much fatigue. This lightness leads to more efficient strokes. Perfect for those who value performance, these paddles combine both strength and flexibility for the long haul.
Inflation Pump: A high-quality pump, either manual or electric, is needed to inflate your iSUP to the recommended PSI. Some pumps come with a built-in pressure gauge to ensure optimal inflation.
Leash: A leash connects you to your board, ensuring it doesn't drift away if you fall off. There are coiled and straight leashes available, depending on preference and the type of paddling.
- Personal Flotation Device (PFD): A life vest or inflatable belt pack is essential for safety, especially in deeper waters or when paddling further from the shore.
- Waterproof Dry Bag: Perfect for storing personal items like keys, phones, snacks, and extra clothing. It keeps your belongings safe and dry.
- Board Bag: A protective bag is beneficial for transporting and storing your deflated iSUP, safeguarding it from potential damage.
Fins: Many iSUPs come with detachable fins that help in tracking and stability. Having an extra set or knowing how to adjust them can change your paddling experience, especially in different water conditions.
By equipping yourself with this essential gear, you can ensure a safer, more enjoyable, and optimized iSUP experience.
If you're still uncertain about which iSUP is the perfect fit for your needs, don't hesitate to reach out. Our dedicated team is here to provide guidance and answer any questions you may have. For inquiries, call us at 1-800-678-7873 or drop us an email at email@example.com. We're always eager to help you embark on your next paddling adventure with confidence!