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Inflatable SUPs winning hearts, and respect

Gear Review by Cyril Burguiere, Boardworks Team Rider

I got on the inflatable SUP band wagon this year and I’m actually asking myself why it took me so long. I love my inflatable toys! It’s true that the first generation of inflatable SUPs paddled more like a floppy inflatable mattress than a real SUP. But with the many improvements in the last couple of years, mainly in thickness (6” vs. 4”) and inner tension reinforcements, today’s inflatables are more rigid and have better shape, thus making them genuinely enjoyable to paddle.


Granted, inflatables will never replace my carbon race board and epoxy SUP surfboard, but they have taken a major place in my SUP quiver. I now have the Boardworks Raven 12’6” SHUBU (aka. show up and blow up), as well as the Boardworks Mod 9’6” SHUBU. I prefer an inflatable for the following scenarios:

  • Fun to mess around on and I hear from others they can actually surf. I caught a few bumps on a windy lake

  • Great for beginners due to stability

  • Great for river running and bouncing off rocks

  • Perfect for really long endurance paddles – (I have been doing a lot of this lately… 4 hour one-way paddle, deflate to backpack, train ride back home)

  • Check it as regular luggage on airplane

  • Since these boards fold into a backpack and weigh less than just about any hard board, you can pack them into mountain lakes and hike-in only beaches with relative ease. Multi-sport? Yes! SUP/bike, SUP/ski, boat/SUP, SUP/train

  • Perfect for leaving in the trunk of the car (or skybox) to be prepared for anything on a family trip, camping trip, car breakdown, or any other trip where SUP might not be the main focus

  • Don’t have to have a restaurant window seat with view of your car, worried somebody might steal your board off the rack

  • Makes a great inflatable mattress for that multi-day SUP adventure

  • Durable (VERY durable – I have a crazy story about how I put my inflatable through the test with some heavy and sharp floating ice slabs and it didn’t tear or pop, but I’ll spare you the details as I am embarrassed I put myself in that situation in the first place…)

  • Fin can detach/reattach with an easy snap – great for those shallow rivers, or dealing with colliding ice sheets (yeah, I’ll save the details, again…)



If you are serious into race or SUP surf performance, you need to spend a lot of time on that particular performance board. But to me, inflatables have a legitimate place in my training. They have provided variety and fun (especially with the family), both crucial facets of any successful training regimen.

I’ve even wondered… if I wasn’t so competitive, would I be happy with JUST an inflatable? Maybe. I can’t imagine myself giving up my performance boards, but my wife, kids and a few work colleagues seem to think it is all they need. Check ’em out. I think you’ll find they earn more respect than you might initially think they deserve.

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