Inflatable stand up paddle boards — also called iSUPS — are a lot of fun. Inflating them is another story, especially if you’re using a manual pump.
You’re definitely not the first person person to hope it’s OK to leave an inflatable SUP inflated, but it’s a good thing that you came looking for more information rather than just going ahead, because the answer definitely isn’t always “yes”.
Why Wouldn’t You Leave an Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board Inflated?
There are two main reasons not to leave your inflatable SUP inflated when you’re not using it.
Inflating an inflatable paddle board causes pressure to build up on the inside, a metric that’s measured in PSI. This is exactly what makes an iSUP float and functional, of course, but the pressure also causes the material with which your inflatable paddle board was manufactured (in most cases, PVC) to gradually stretch and wear out.
Leaving your iSUP inflated when you’re not using it will reduce its functional lifespan. The bad news here is that the longer you leave your inflatable paddle board inflated, the faster it will wear out.
That’s not the only thing you have to consider, though. Transporting or storing a still inflated iSUP makes it much bulkier (something you may be OK with), but also more vulnerable to punctures. Your iSUP may snag on something as you carry it to your vehicle, for instance.
If keeping your inflatable paddle board in top condition for as long as possible is your main priority, we’re sorry to break it to you, but deflating it after every single use is your best course of action. We all know that that’s not the only thing we care about, of course, so that brings us to another question.
If you’re going to leave your inflatable SUP inflated, ready for the next time you feel like hitting the water, what’s the maximum safe time to do so? How should you store your already inflated SUP?
How Long Can You Leave Your Inflatable SUP Inflated?
That depends. Not all inflatable stand up paddle boards should be treated equally for the simple reason that quality can vary quite a bit. High-quality iSUPs are usually the more expensive ones, made by well-known brands.
These can be left inflated for slightly longer because the plastic they’re made of will also be better. Cheap budget iSUPs typically have a shorter lifespan because they are made with lower-quality materials and their construction may also be a little less durable. These iSUPs shouldn’t be left inflated for any length of time.
To be on the safe side, and to do everything you can to ensure that you can enjoy your inflatable SUP for a really long time, it’s best to deflate it after every single use. If you are just dragging your SUP out of the water to have some lunch, and you’re going right back out after, that’s just fine.
Leaving your inflatable SUP inflated for a day or two, or even up to a week, will also be OK if you have a high-quality board. Don’t make it any longer than that, though, because your SUP will suffer.
How Should You Store Your Inflated iSUP?
Paddle boarders who have already decided to leave their inflatable SUP inflated for a day or two can still take steps to protect its structural integrity and lifespan. Here’s a look at the ideal way to store an inflated SUP for a short period of time:
- Clean your inflatable stand up paddle board every time, even if you’re not going to be deflating it. Because salt water and dirt can both damage the material, rinsing it with clean fresh water is the least you can do.
- Allow your inflatable SUP to dry before storing it. Moisture and humidity attract mold and will wear your board out that much more quickly.
- Don’t expose your inflatable SUP to direct sunlight for too long. Get it off the shore into a shady or covered spot, and ideally lay the SUP out flat on a sawhorse where it will maintain stable air pressure. If you are bringing your iSUP indoors, do not store it vertically!
- Remember that inflatable paddle boards are expensive and SUPing is incredibly popular right now. If you leave your iSUP laying around near the water, while you go off to chill, there’s every chance that your inflatable SUP won’t be there when you get back. Theft is a real risk.
- If you’re transporting your inflated SUP to a new location, like your truck, maybe have someone spot for you so your iSUP doesn’t snag on anything sharp.
The Final Verdict: It’s Not Really OK to Leave Your Inflatable SUP Inflated…
…and yet, we fully recognize the fact that many folks are going to be doing it anyway. Your iSUP will almost certainly be just fine if you leave it inflated for a day or two, and even up to a week, so long as you have taken other steps to protect it, like cleaning it by rinsing your SUP off with fresh water, and keeping it out of the sun.
Keep doing this for a few days at a time, though, and your paddle board will have to be replaced sooner than would otherwise have been the case, and that’s sad. Are you OK with decreasing your inflatable SUP’s lifespan just a little bit, just so you don’t have to go through the pain of inflating it every time? Only you can answer that question.
If you do choose to go this route, remember to top your SUP up before you go out on the water again, and still deflate it when you’re not planning to use it for longer than a week.
Finally, few paddle boarders have any real problem with deflating their iSUPs. The real issue is inflating it. Investing in an electric pump makes this process a whole lot easier, and you may just decide that it’s a worthwhile investment.