There are many reasons to choose an inflatable SUP over solid boards. They are great for beginners and handle well enough in the water for a good time. They are lightweight, easy to handle, and only need a carry bag to transport. They are also quick for getting you into the water since all you need is a pump!
But.. Can you leave it inflated for a short period? How about indefinitely? What are the consequences of keeping your SUP board inflated for a long period?
Can You Leave a SUP Inflated?
The short answer: Absolutely. Although if you want to preserve the longevity of your inflatable SUP, you want to deflate it after use. The reason for deflating is to avoid damages to PVC plastic when it is at its maximum stretchiness.
There are 4 potential problems when you leave your SUP board inflated:
- Sun exposure damage
- Moisture build up
- Wear out
PVC material (the outer layers of your inflatable paddleboard) are quite resistant to UV rays. However, it isn’t perfect at blocking it completely. Over time, the bond that keeps the material together wears thin and weakens under the sun. This can cause the seams to break or make the PVC material prone to puncture easier than if it weren’t exposed to the sun.
Moisture build up can also cause an inflatable board to be prematurely rendered useless. The air you pump into your board will always contain moisture. This moisture allows bacteria to thrive. In turn, the bacteria can weaken the adhesive and material, causing deformities in the plastic and weaken the exterior’s durability.
Puncture is the last concern. Often times, inflatable SUP board users don’t think twice when placing their inflated boards against tree trunks, on the ground with peddles, rocks, and twigs, or drag the board along the sandy floor of beaches. Although the inflatable board is much tougher than it appears, over time, we wear out the plastic, causing it to thin out, and ultimately get punctured.
Keeping it inflated also wears out the useful lifespan of the exterior PVC plastic, especially when it’s stretched for a long period of time. We mentioned heat playing a role in causing the plastic and inflated air pressure to expand. When left in the sun on a hot day, they can explode. (But this is super rare!) The plastic is stretchy, but continuous stretching eventually erodes its stretchiness.
How Should You Care For Your Inflatable SUP?
If you intend to use it frequently over several days, it’s fine to keep your SUP inflated. We do recommend deflating after you are done, or releasing at least 20% of the air during long periods of use. This ensures the PVC layers are not overstretched, especially when the sun and heat increases the air pressure inside the chambers.
You should also avoid setting your inflatable paddleboard on the ground or laying it against a tree. Wind can topple your paddle board and the bark on a tree trunk or the sharp peddles or twigs can catch onto and damage the exterior. The ideal placement is on a smooth flat surface or completely deflated and dried entirely.
How Long Will an Inflatable SUP Last?
SUP boards, when properly maintained and cared for, can last between 1 to 3 years. We often hear iSUPs lasting only one year because of improper handling, care, or an accident. Otherwise, when used in the water, there is no reason for your iSUP to become unusable. Be sure to let the air out, dry it off, roll it up, and store it away in a safe place after use! Avoid over pumping your paddleboard with air, too.
How Do You Store an Inflatable SUP?
Most inflatable SUP sellers provide a carry bag for safe storage. All you have to do is dry your paddle board completely to prevent moisture damage or mold forming, deflate your gear, roll it up, then slide it into your carry bag. You can then store the carry bag in a dry and cool location such as inside a closet or in a basement.
If you want to keep your SUP board inflated, most users either keep it in their home laying sideways or standing up inside their garage. On outstandingly hot summer days, you should bring your inflated SUP into your home.
You should avoid leaving your inflated SUP board outside. Sun damage, wild animals, and the wind can wear out the PVC layers. This can cause prematurely render your paddleboard unusable.
When you have no plans on using your inflatable SUP board for a long period, deflate it! Dry it off first, then roll it up to store in a carry bag. Your inflatable SUP is very durable, but when you keep it inflated for a long period, damage can occur, rendering your board useless.
It sucks to pump your paddle board every time you use it, but if you want to use it for more than a year, deflating is necessary.