Should I buy a Compact SUP? | the pros and cons of compact inflatable paddleboards

Pros

  • Lightweight. These are some of the lightest boards around, so are perfect to fly with and carry on longer walks to the water
  • Compact (obviously). Fitting in a small cabin size bag, these are easy to sling on your back on a bike, take on public transport, or as cabin baggage on a flight.
  • Extend your adventure range. The two facts above mean that you can get more places with your SUP and explore different locations
  • Available at a range of price points (from Red Paddle compact at £1300, to the Aztron Nova at £350)
  • Many happy customers – just ask a question about compact inflatable SUP on any sup group, and you’ll get a lot of fans

Cons

  • Reliability. This is relatively new technology, and there are reports that the rate of failure of compact paddle boards is higher than normal fusion SUP. Failures along the folding seam, and along the rail seams are higher than would be expected. Obviously brands aren’t keen to offer up their stats on how many returns and failures there have been, so this cannot be verified. Although this article from a manufacturer explains why they’re not making compact SUP yet.
  • Rigidity. Reports about the stiffness of compact inflatable SUP are somewhat mixed. Although reported static deflection tests seem to wield average values, some riders report that there is too much dynamic flex when paddling which unacceptably increases effort and feel. Many riders however find them perfectly fine, and don’t feel any difference when compared to a more normal fusion inflatable paddleboard
  • Paddles. The more joins the greater the play. And the cheaper the kit, the cheaper the connections. The idea of a four or five piece paddle that fits in a bag is great. The performance doesn’t yet live up to the idea.


Red Paddle Compact 9’6

We think: A premium product at a very premium price. Given the known challenges with the construction of compact SUP, we’d rather buy from a company with the QA and customer service of Red Paddle via a main retailer like SUP inflatables. Common to all 4 or 5 piece paddles, a little more give than we’d like. Neat little package as long as you can stomach the price and manage the smaller board

What they say: Every now and then there is a big leap forward in inflatable SUP technology, and this is one of those leaps. A brand new construction that’s being introduced by Red Paddle Co allows this 9’6 x 32″ inflatable paddleboard to pack down to half the size as a conventional inflatable SUP. If you’re looking for the ultimate SUP for travel, this is it.


O’Neill compact inflatable

We think: Good price point. Remarkably similar to Red’s offering, just cheaper. Single chamber pump makes inflatable a bitharder work

What they say: The NOVA 10’0″ Compact SUP promises a thrilling journey with its brand new concept. Transforming the typical SUP to less than half of its traditional size without compromising performance. With a LITE version of Aztron’s signature Double Chamber technology, the NOVA 10’0″ is jsut (sic) as up-to-par with any other all-round SUP, being absolutely more rigid yet remains lightweight for easy transport.


Aztron Nova

We think: Excellent price point. Like all 4 piece paddles, a little more give than we’d like. And concerns about the longevity of a double chamber compact board. It doesn’t use a standard valve to prevent ‘overinflation’ – this is a little worrying!

What they say: The NOVA 10’0″ Compact SUP promises a thrilling journey with its brand new concept. Transforming the typical SUP to less than half of its traditional size without compromising performance. With a LITE version of Aztron’s signature Double Chamber technology, the NOVA 10’0″ is jsut (sic) as up-to-par with any other all-round SUP, being absolutely more rigid yet remains lightweight for easy transport.

Conclusions: Would we buy a compact SUP?

If we had unlimited budget, already had a decent inflatable SUP for different environments (eg. a touring board for longer paddles, a whitewater SUP and a surf SUP), the we would definitely buy a compact SUP just for the one of two occasions a year we would use it. Whether we went for a budget, premium or mid range would depend on how much money we had available!

But, we absolutely wouldn’t buy a compact inflatable SUP to be our only SUP.

And if we were only considering a compact SUP because our current inflatable paddleboard board was a little on the heavy side, we would probably decide to upgrade to a lighter fusion non-compact board. There are some really well priced, reliable and robust inflatable paddleboards for less money than the premium compact boards.


Transparency:

We get no commission for referral to the external links posted here, and the retailers have not contacted us to ask for their products to be linked to.


Leave a review

If you’ve got a compact SUP, and either love or hate it, why not leave a review below, or leave a comment.

eg. Ride 10'6
Username
eg. 2018
Product type iSUP
Value for money
eg. Red Paddle Co
eg. 2019
£895
e.g £895
Would you buy this product again?
The good...?
The bad...?
The indifferent...?
Where did you buy from?
New or second hand
Customer service
Use this space to tell us more
Please insert product website link

How much experience have you got? I'm Kai/Sonny me! The best there is!
Upload a video or file
Please enter your email (we promise not to spam you)

Leave a Reply