The Best Way to Inflate a Paddle Board (Simple Steps to Follow)

You like the convenience of using an inflatable paddle board over a hard board. Should you want to inflate your board before you go out on the water, you can. You also have the freedom to pump up your SUP at your location. Still, when it comes to how you inflate your paddle board, you’re a little torn what the best method, and just, What is the best way to inflate a paddleboard?

The answer has to be, the quickest way with the least effort.

What is the best way to inflate your paddle board? You have 2 options that both Have pros and cons to them.

  1. Manual Pump can be used anywhere but takes effort to use.
  2. An Electric Pump required no effort on your part, but you do need to be near a mains source to power it.

You might be a fan of electric pumps yourself, or you could even like manually working with a hand pump. Either way, this article is for you. In it, we will go over the various steps to inflate a SUP board using both an electric and hand pump. We’ll even tell you what to do to deflate your board should you want to.

Inflating a Paddle Board Using a Hand Pump

A hand pump is your first option for inflating your paddle board. This is a rather uncomplicated method, as you get with the pump a pressure gauge, a washer, and a hose. Once you connect the hose to the pump, you have to manually add air pressure to your paddle board. You do this via a plastic handle that you pump up and down.

As the inflatable paddle board begins filling with air pressure, you may find that pumping more air into the SUP board becomes extremely difficult. This isn’t you just getting tired out. There’s more resistance to each pump you make once the board fills past a certain point. That can make finishing quite an ordeal.

Hand pumps have some upsides and downsides. Starting with the good stuff, filling your inflatable SUP board using a hand pump is a good form of exercise. You can also inflate your board to the precise pounds per square inch (PSI) or pressure you want and nothing more than that. Best of all, hand pumps are extremely portable. Since they’re not electric, you can use them anywhere: at home in the garage, on the beach, or any other place with sturdy ground.

As for the downsides, those exist, too. Hand pumps are a pain to use, both literally and figuratively. Like we said before, it’s possible to exhaust yourself before you even grab your SUP board to paddle. You may have a harder time out on the water because you tired your arms out prematurely.

If you’re insistent on using a hand pump for your inflatable paddle board, follow these steps.

  • Step 1: Take your inflatable paddle board out of the travel bag. Unfurl the deflated board completely.
  • Step 2: Check the pin in the valve. This is often yellow. Is the pin upright? If not, you want to set it that way now. Otherwise, all the air you put into the board through pumping will come hissing right out again when you stop. You’d then have to start all over again.
  • Step 3: Take the hose that comes with your hand pump and connect it. One end should attach to your hand pump and the other to your PSI gauge. Without this, you have no means of tracking air pressure as you inflate your paddle board.
  • Step 4: Double-check that both ends of the hose are attached super tight. Like a valve pin that’s not upright, you can otherwise lose a lot of air.
  • Step 5: If your pump valve has a protective cap, you want to remove this now. With your washer, rinse away debris or dirt that may linger under or on the cap.
  • Step 6: Keeping your hose straight (no tangles or sharp angles, please), grab your pump handle using both your hands. Depress it by pushing down on the handle completely, then let the handlebar come back up.
  • Step 7: Repeat this as necessary. If you want to get to 10 PSI, you’d need to manually pump between 100 and 125 times. If you want to fill your SUP board to 12 or even (or in the case of my iRocker) 15 PSI, you’ll have to pump 125 to 175 times.

Tip: As we said before, it gets a lot harder to pump the further you go. You’ll especially notice how challenging it feels if you’re aiming for around 15 PSI. Given that that’s the recommended max limit for most inflatable paddle boards anyway, that resistance is a good indication that you should stop pumping.

  • Step 8: Take the hose off from your hand pump, putting the protective cap back on.
  • Step 9: Disconnect the other side of the hose and pack up your gear. Get ready to ride!

Remember that paddle board pump gauges can malfunction, so you may have to do a little repair work to make sure you have the right pressure. Here are some tips on fixing a broken gauge.

Inflating a Paddle Board Using an Electric Pump

Your other option for inflating your paddle board is to use an electric pump. Once you go electric, few SUP lovers ever return to their hand pumping days of yore. With an electric pump, you get the pump itself, a PSI gauge, a hose, and a washer. You connect everything pretty much the same way you would with a hand pump.

That’s where the similarities end. When you have an electric pump, you don’t have to do much of anything in terms of work. There’s certainly no manual pumping, although you must have a source of power to use your electric pump. Most SUP riders use their car’s cigarette port, and you can do the same. Just make sure you disconnect everything when you’re done or you could accidentally end up draining your car’s battery and stranding yourself!

Like with hand pumps, there are both pros and cons to using an electric pump. Starting with the best stuff first, can we reiterate that you don’t have to do any of the pumping yourself? That means you won’t have to worry about getting tired before you take your ride. You’ll have full energy and be raring to go!

Also, while you can always stop pumping at a certain PSI with a hand pump, some electric pumps let you set your exact PSI. Depending on the model, your pump could even turn off after reaching that pressure so your board doesn’t overinflate. Another great perk is the inflation time. You can often fill your paddle board fully in about 10 minutes with an electric pump. If using a hand pump, it’s all about how fast you can push. It’ll probably take you longer than 10 minutes, though.

The SereneLife Premium Compact Digital Air Pump Compressor is a great way to get your SUP up and ready to go quickly. Amazon reviewers agree. Designed with all the features needed for inflating a stand up paddle board, it has a preset pressure shut off to prevent over inflation.

That said, not everything with electric pumps is perfect. Compared to hand pumps, which are mostly quiet, electric pumps make a lot of noise. Also, like we said, you must connect your electric pump to a source of power for it to work. That’s not the case with a hand pump.

When you go to fill up your inflatable paddle board using an electric pump, make sure you follow these steps for success.

  • Step 1: You want to begin as you did with the steps for inflating your paddle board with a hand pump. Take your deflated board, unfurl it all the way, and then lay it somewhere flat. The top side of the board should be facing up.
  • Step 2: Again, check on the pin in the valve, which is still yellow. Flip the pin so it’s upright if it isn’t already set that way.
  • Step 3: Your electric pump comes with a hose, so you’re going to want to connect that to the paddle board’s inflation side. Double-check that you’ve attached your hose to the right side and not the deflation side by accident. Otherwise, your paddle board will not inflate!
  • Step 4: Like you did before with the hand pump, it doesn’t hurt to check that both sides of your hose are securely attached. Some electric pumps will lock if you twist the hose towards the right.
  • Step 5: If your electric pump allows you to, then set the PSI to the desired level.
  • Step 6: Watch your pressure as the paddle board fills. It’s possible for some pumps to fill even more air than the PSI limit you set, so you don’t want to completely ignore the reading on the pressure gauge as you go.
  • Step 7: Let the electric pump automatically fill your inflatable paddle board. As mentioned, you might have to wait about 10 minutes for this, sometimes more, sometimes less. Don’t panic if the board feels like it’s inflating very fast right away, as that’s normal. Inflation speed will slow down somewhat after 10 PSI.
  • Step 8: Stop inflating once your air pressure reaches 15 PSI, as that’s the highest pressure limit set by most electric pump manufacturers. Most of the time, your board should be fully inflated at 12 PSI anyway.
  • Step 9: If it’s not, then a few pumps with your hand pump can get it higher, such as up to 15 PSI. There’s never any need to inflate beyond that point, well, unless you want to end up with a popped paddle board.
  • Step 10: When you’re done with the electric hand pump, turn the hose in the opposite direction than you used to lock it, so left. Take the hose off both ends, put the protective cap back on, and pack up your pump.

How to Deflate Your Paddle Board

There are two schools of thought for inflatable paddle board owners. Some like to deflate their SUP board each time they’re done using it. This way, they can roll it up, stash it in the carrying bag, and toss it in the backseat or trunk of their car.

Others like to treat their inflatable board like any other SUP board, keeping it inflated for as long as possible. They store it somewhere secure at home or in their garage where it won’t pop. Then, when air depletes, which it naturally will, they top off the board with more.

Whether you belong to the first school of thought or the second, it’s still a good idea to learn how to deflate your paddle board. You’ll certainly have to do it at some point, so you might as well get familiar now.

Here are the steps to follow.

  • Step 1: If you own an electric pump, deflating your paddle board is as easy as filling it. Remember before how we said there are two openings in your SUP board, one for inflation and the other for deflation? You want to attach your hose to the deflation side now.

This does the opposite of filling, sucking up the air from your inflatable paddle board. Within several minutes, it should deflate on its own.

  • Step 2: Don’t have an electric pump? No problem. You can deflate your SUP board without one, but do expect it to take longer. This time, you want to open the valve and set it so it’s not upright. Air will begin coming out. To speed it up, gently press on the board with your feet or hands. Make sure you don’t push too hard or you could pop a seam.
  • Step 3: With your paddle board now deflated, it’s time to roll it up. To start, you want to be at the board’s nose. It’s okay if there’s still some air in the board, as you will force it out as you go.
  • Step 4: Roll your SUP board more, aiming for the action mount as you do so. You can kind of gather the mount with the rolled-up inflatable material and wrap it, since it won’t fold nice and neat on its own.
  • Step 5: The paddle board’s fins can also pose another challenge, as they won’t integrate with your rolled-up board either. Like you did with the action mount, you want to work around the fins.
  • Step 6: The valve will start making noise when you reach the board’s tail. That’s just a sign the air is coming out, so don’t panic. It’s a good thing.
  • Step 7: With your board now rolled up, you can stash it back in the carrying bag you brought it in. Use the cinching straps to keep the board in place. It’ll also stay flatter with the straps.

Related Questions

How long can you leave an inflatable SUP board inflated?

Let’s say you don’t want to deflate your inflatable SUP board. Realistically, how long can you go without doing so? For the sake of your board, not more than a couple of days. If you have your riding schedule planned out and you know you’ll be out on your inflatable paddle board almost every day, then there’s no sense in constantly deflating and re-inflating. That’s a waste of your time.

However, if you’re not going to ride for a while, then it’s best if you deflate the paddle board. At the very least, let out 20 percent of its air. Then keep it somewhere out of the elements, including sunlight. Read more on whether or not to leave your inflatable SUP pressurized long term.

Can you put a dog on an inflatable paddle board?

If you want to bring your canine companion on your paddle board, can you? Should you? Theoretically yes, you can. That said, if you’re taking your dog for a SUP ride for the first time, we don’t recommend using an inflatable paddle board. Your pup could freak out and their nails may potentially puncture the inflatable material.

Instead, it’s much better to start with a non-inflatable board and then make the switch once your dog has become more adjusted to SUP riding. You’ll also want a life jacket and a few other accessories.

How do you store an inflatable paddle board in the winter?

Few SUP boarders enjoy winter riding, unless of course you live somewhere warm. If you’re like the rest of us with bitter cold winters, it’s good to know how to store your inflatable paddle board.

You can deflate the board if you want or leave it inflated. Definitely don’t roll your inflatable paddle board up or stash it in a bag in the winter though. Why? The cold can cause fold and crease marks that won’t go away.

Finishing Line

The good news here is that inflating and deflating your board isn’t much of a chore. I prefer powered compressors for boards and all the towable tubes used for boating. I keep one on the boat or in the car with a 12V connector, and we have 2 electric pumps at home. Once you’ve picked your pump and practiced a few times, you’ll be ready to head out and have some real fun.


Articles contain affiliate links to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. The site is also an affiliate for other brands covered in our the content. We may earn a small commission when readers purchase through these links at no extra cost to the buyer.

Carlo Raffa

Carlo Raffa is a blogger, stand-up paddleboard enthusiast, water lover and local to Brighton city in the South of England. Paddle boarding is my escape and this is only the starting point. Being a larger guy at 260lbs I am finding it very good exercise as well, especially for building core muscles. This is something that believe it or not cycling 16 miles a day at 6 miles per hour doesn't seem to be doing. Paddle Boarding allows me to just grab my board and walk right through the busy bar filled beachfront between the two piers in Brighton and head straight out of shore. It's not long before the shouting and cheering of our buzzing beach fade into just the lapping waves and the people to just small dots of the Brighton shoreline.

Recent Content