For some reason this site receives a high level of traffic on anything related to Inflatable SUPs. Ever since I posted an article last year about Inflatables and whether or not they were worth purchasing (http://www.supgladiator.com/2011/07/05/the-case-for-purchasing-an-inflatable-sup/) I have had tons of traffic coming from the search engines on this topic. Unfortunately there wasn’t a ton to talk about until recently. A year ago, there were only a handful of boards on the market, and many of them looked more or less the same. There wasn’t much in the way of differentiation between the brands. That seems to be changing now. Yolo, 404, Starboard, and Naish have all recently entered the market, and I hear Riviera is coming soon too.
404 Inflatable SUP
Just judging from what I can see from the photo, I like the look of the green and white color scheme. Looks clean. I am not sure what to expect performance wise, but I doubt it varies too much from some of the others listed here, but once I have a chance to talk to Danny or the Riviera guys, I will let you know what to expect.
Do yourself a favor though and skip the aluminum paddle and get a carbon fiber 3 piece somewhere. I got an aluminum paddle with my SHUBU and it is horrible. Aluminum paddles are just plain heavy, and you will notice that immediately upon using one, especially if you are used to a carbon fiber paddle. That said, Danny Ching has a great Carbon Fiber paddle if you need one. I just don’t know if he offers a 2 or 3 piece.
Yolo Inflatable SUP
The crew at Yolo has done a nice job with this red and gray beauty. I have yet to ride it, but it appears to have larger fins that what came with my SHUBU, which I view as a good thing. The SHUBU is a pretty good board all around, but even with the big center fin, it doesn’t track real well. If having 3 larger fins can help that, I am all for it. Guess we will have to try it to find out.
Aside from liking the fin set up, I really like the overall look and feel of this board. I have seen other photos of it, that look even better than this one. At 11 foot, its right at the optimal size for most people. Give it a serious look if you are in the market.
Price is $995 and availability is now.
Starboard has launched their Astro Series of Inflatables recently. I really like them. They probably did the best job of anyone of staying true to their brand with regards to look and feel. These boards look just like the rest of the Starboard line up. You almost can’t tell its an inflatable.
Price wise they come in a little higher than the Yolo, and a little lower than the Naish (at least the 6” versions) at $1199. I can tell you the Starboard deck pad is among the most comfortable out there, so if you are going to be on it for any length of time, keep that in mind. Aside from the aesthetics of the board, It sure appears like they really went high performance on the shape. Many inflatables don’t have much variation on the rails and nose design. This one looks like they spent some real time trying to do something special.
Naish Mana and Nalu Air
Next up is Naish’s offering. Naish’s differentiation seems to lie with their 6” thickness, as opposed to the standard 4”. They claim this makes their boards the firmest and most stable.
This board pictured here is nice looking but it is on the higher end price wise at $1299-$1399 (for 6” models). Once you get into that price range, hard not to also take a look at ULI. They are also at the higher end pricewise, but many people feel they are the best. I can’t say for sure either way, as I have yet to ride either one. At a minimum, now you have some choices at the upper end.
Naish does offer a cheaper product, at $899 (4”), which I have a feeling is a sister product to the Boardworks SHUBU. They look very similar, plus the pump, center fin, and backpacks look identical. If so, some might go this route, as Naish is a more well known brand, and that would likely matter to some people, especially for resale. Plus I think the aesthetics of the Naish are a little nicer.
Hopefully among this group you can find something that fits your needs. Ping me with questions and I will do what I can to answer them, via the comments box.