Inflatable stand up paddle boards are designed with a certain PSI in mind – most are somewhere between 15-18 PSI although quality iSUPs, made from top grade Dropstitch material (like McConks) can cope with more air inside. Lesser quality inflatables not so much. If you try and force too much air inside they simply pop, or the Dropstitch comes away from the PVC deck and hull internally.
We’re pretty sure you’ve discovered this for yourselves but when you go past a certain amount – usually around 8 PSI or so – it actually becomes harder work getting your board to its correct pressure. This is especially the case if you’re using a manual pump. The resistance is greater therefore it takes more force to inflate.
Using a quality dual iSUP pump will help although there’ll still be force needed on your part. And it’s vitally important to inflate correctly. The main reasons being, if you don’t deflection becomes greater and performance on the water, such a tracking and glide, becomes inefficient and/or less resulting more effort and less enjoyment on your part.
Deflection is the amount of bend an air filled board will show. This bend is usually around the mid-point of the board where a rider stands. With too little air deflection is exacerbated and your board will resemble a floating banana. Your SUP’s ‘cockpit’ area will sink below the water line and the nose will raise and begin pushing water. Around the tail fins will be elevated and not engage correctly. The whole experience will be underwhelming and not that enjoyable.
As mentioned above your stand up paddle board will be supplied with a quality pump – at least if you purchase one from McConks. Electric versions are available to take some of the inflation hassle factor away but these should be considered carefully. The wrong type can actually damage your board. (Check the McConks SUP shop for what we recommend).
Ultimately for the best SUP experience possible you should know how much air your iSUP needs (many brands print this info on or next to the valve) and get the correct PSI inside. Once inflated it’s fine to leave, if you choose to do so. Again, with a McConks SUP, we’re confident it can stay inflated, without loss of integrity, for considerable lengths of time because of its quality build, should you choose not to deflate at the end of every session. Our boards live on the top of our van for much of the season. Which brings another question – why inflatables at all? Well, they’re just so much more rugged and robust than hard boards. And when you’re messing around with kids on rivers, shingles beaches, rocky shores etc, then that ruggedness is essential!