The reliability of inflatable paddle boards has been proven over time. People love them, but they still have questions. You can’t be too safe when it comes to water activities.
The thought of your SUP board losing a lot of air while you’re paddling is scary. It will start performing poorly and it may not even be able to hold you and your gear.
You may also be wondering whether you can go for weeks or even months without reinflating your board. Having to inflate and deflate your inflatable SUP every time can be tiring.
Hence the question: do inflatable paddle boards lose air?
Yes, they do. And here is how it happens.
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What Causes an Inflatable SUP to Lose Air?
All inflatable SUPs lose air. This may happen slowly over time or quickly. If it is the former, you have nothing to worry about. If it is the latter, something is wrong and you need to take a look.
1. Normal Air Pressure Loss
The air inside your inflatable paddle board will find a way to escape through the materials and seams.
If you keep the SUP board inflated and use it every day, you may not be able to tell. The air loss happens very slowly. It could be days or weeks before you notice a difference in the pressure level and performance. This will depend on the model though.
Temperature changes also cause a change in the pressure inside your stand up paddle board.
This is normal pressure loss and it shouldn’t be a cause for alarm.
Always check the pressure before going out and see if you need to top it up to the recommended psi.
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Inflatable stand up paddle boards are built using dropstitch and PVC material. They can take a beating without getting so much as a scratch. This is why they are used for whitewater paddling.
Inflatable boards don’t get dented as easily as hard boards.
Quality inflatables have more PVC layers and are made using advanced technology. This makes them extremely tough and hard to damage.
But they are not totally indestructible. It is still possible for your iSUP to get punctured by sharp objects.
When that happens, air starts escaping from the paddleboard through the hole or tear. The rate at which it escapes depends on how big the tear or hole is.
If you suspect that your SUP is leaking, paddle to shore and take a look.
The good thing about inflatable paddle boards is that they are easy to repair. They come with a repair kit in the package.
You can do it yourself or take it to a pro, depending on the size of the puncture.
If you don’t know where the leak is coming from, spray soapy water on the board. You will see bubbles where there is a puncture.
Here is a video showing how to identify and repair a leak on your paddle board.
3. Faulty Valve
This is another issue that causes an inflatable stand up paddle board to lose air pressure. But you don’t need to panic because it is super easy to fix.
You may receive a board with a loose valve from the factory or it may loosen after a while. When this happens, you will notice a leak around the valve.
The repair kit that comes with your inflatable SUP includes a valve wrench.
Now, there is a part of the valve that is inside your iSUP. Reach under the board and grab that internal part through the SUP material. It can be a little tricky, given how thick the material is, but it is doable.
You have to do this; otherwise, you will just be spinning the valve inside the paddleboard.
Once you have gripped it nicely, insert the valve wrench into the top part and tighten it by turning clockwise.
Be firm but gentle. You don’t want to over-tighten and cause more issues.
Pump up the paddle board to see if air escapes. You can use soapy water to be certain.
Here is a video explaining how to fix a leaking SUP valve.
4. Broken Seam
The top and bottom layers of an inflatable paddle board have to be glued together at the sides.
Seam issues are not unheard of, as far as inflatables are concerned. This is one of the downsides of having an iSUP. It is not something you have to worry about with a hard paddle board.
Luckily, the problem is not common and you can easily fix or prevent it.
Maybe you bought a new inflatable board and realized it has a faulty seam. In that case, contact the seller and send it back in exchange for a new one. It is better to incur the shipping cost than to be stuck with a bad board.
The glued seams can also weaken over time. To prevent this, avoid leaving your paddle board at max psi over long periods.
Don’t store your iSUP under direct sunlight because extreme heat weakens the glue too. Heat also causes the air inside the board to expand, stressing the seams.
Like the other issues above, a leaking seam can be fixed at home, especially if it is a small section. Alternatively, have a professional do it for you.
How Long Does an Inflatable Board Hold Air For?
This is an important question, especially for paddlers who love going on long paddle boarding trips.
You will be relying on your SUP for transport. You wouldn’t want it to lose all the air before you get back.
There is no definite answer to this question, unfortunately. It depends on the specific model. Some stand up paddle boards can lose only 1 to 2 psi in months, which is impressive. Others may lose up to 4 psi in a week.
If you are going on a long trip, bring your hand pump or electric pump just to be safe. Check the psi every time before you go paddling to avoid an unpleasant surprise.
So Should You Leave Your Paddle Board Inflated?
One benefit of hard paddle boards is that they don’t need inflation and deflation. You can get your board and head straight to the water.
Having to inflate your SUP every time is anything but fun.
You can leave your inflatable paddle board inflated. The next time you want to paddle, take it out, check the pressure and be on your way.
However, you need to be careful. Leaving the SUP inflated can cause some damage. When the heat levels rise, the air inside will expand.
If you store your paddle board outside on a very hot day, it can explode. And it is not just the cheaper models that can pop. Always release a little pressure when storing an inflated board and keep it away from the sun.
Or just deflate the SUP, roll it up into the size of a sleeping bag, and throw it into its storage bag. You won’t have to worry about pressure changes.
Note: rinse your paddle board with fresh water and let it dry before putting it away.
Final Thoughts: Do Inflatable Paddle Boards Lose Air?
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Yes, inflatable paddle boards lose air slowly over time and this is normal. They may also lose air rapidly if there is a puncture, leaking valve, or faulty seam. In this case, find the leak and fix it.
iSUPs are easy to repair and you can find pretty much everything you need in the repair kit.
If you’re thinking about getting an inflatable board, go for it. They are reliable, durable, and fun.