If you’ve opted for an inflatable paddle board you will get to the point when you have to inflate it for the first time! Now, I have bad news - you’ve basically got to take a massive breath and start blowing…
Come on, if that were the case I don’t think paddle boarding would be as popular! Joking aside, while you don’t need to bust your lungs, it is important to understand how to inflate a paddle board and I explain this simple process below.
Inflatable Paddle Boards - An Introduction
iSUPs are made from reinforced PVC and have advanced stitching so that an air core can be formed inside. The airflow is controlled by a valve and it’s your job to pump air into the valve to inflate your board - easy!
The benefit of an inflatable paddle board is portability, convenience, and flexibility. When not in use, you can roll it up and fit it inside your iSUP backpack which makes for amazing transportation compared to hard boards.
Because of the portability, you can use them anywhere too and you aren’t reliant on having a vehicle that can carry your boards.
What You’ll Need to Inflate/Deflate Your Board
Before we get pumping, we need our equipment list! Luckily, when looking at how to inflate a paddle board, you essentially need one of two items:
- Hand pump
- Electric pump
That’s it! Hand pumps are cheaper and don’t require an electrical outlet, but there is more manual work involved and they can be slower to inflate.
In contrast, electric pumps are easier to use, and require no effort, but are usually more expensive and may need an electric outlet such as your vehicle’s cigarette lighter.
How to Inflate Your SUP
Now comes the fun part of how to inflate a paddle board. I have created a simple step-by-step guide below, but please be aware that there could be variances depending on your pump, and the position of the vale on the board.
- Remove your iSUP and any accessories from its storage bag.
- Find a flat surface without any rocks (grass is great).
- Unroll the iSUP completely on the flat surface.
- Unscrew the valve cap and make sure the valve pin is accessible.
- Insert the air pump hose into the valve (you may need to twist it to lock the connection).
- Attach the other end of the hose to the air pump unit.
- Turn on the pump (or start pumping) and start inflating.
- When the ideal PSI is reached, turn the pump off (or stop pumping).
- Disconnect the hose and pack away the pump.
An ideal PSI for your iSUP is between 12-15 and this should give the best performance. If you are using an electric pump, it can be ideal to increase the PSI to around 9-10 and then manually pump the remainder to prevent potentially putting in too much air.
How to Deflate Your Paddle Board
How to deflate a paddle board can be done manually and using your electric pump as many pumps have a deflate option too. Below, I have outlined a step-by-step guide for manually deflating your iSUP:
- Rinse your paddle board to remove any dirt and sand.
- Dry your paddle board completely.
- Remove the valve cap.
- Push down on the valve pin (you may also have to twist it to lock it in the deflate position).
- Once the board has sufficiently deflated, start rolling it up.
- Roll from the nose with the fin box facing outwards.
When you first push down on the valve pin expect an epic hiss! Usually, you have to twist the pin too so that it stays in the deflating position. Once the air is completely out, you should have a nicely rolled board that can fit in your storage bag.
How to Store Your Paddle Board When Not in Use
For storage when you are finished paddle boarding you have flexibility with your iSUP. It can be stored either inflated or deflated but there are a few basic tips to remember:
- Remove the fins before storing.
- Don’t store in direct sunlight.
- If storing deflated, lay your storage bag flat to reduce pressure.
- Make sure your iSUP is completely dry before storing.
- Rise any dirt and debris off the board before storing.
I always rinse my paddle boards before storing them but then make sure they are dry. The PVC boards are durable, but leaving them damp could cause damage eventually.
Don’t leave the fin attached either as this could get broken or even snap off. Lastly, laying your storage backpack on its side reduces the pressure and potential damage on your iSUP rails.
Take a Deep Breath and Start Blowing!
Imagine if you had to inflate your paddle board with lung power! Luckily, this isn’t the case and as you can see, inflating and deflating your SUP is easy. Once you have done it a few times, I promise it will become like a second nature to you and you won’t even have to think about it! Just make sure you check the pressure, and that your board is stable enough for buoyancy.