If you’re considering buying an inflatable SUP (iSUP) and want to do your homework on whether it’s going to be high maintenance or not, look no further. In this article, I’m going to break it down into sections for you, so you can get a fair idea on what these awesome toys need, and how to properly take care of your new favorite plaything once you’ve invested to ensure maximum longevity and durability.
We start with transporting, unpacking and inflating, followed by best practice while using your iSUP, and then a bit about deflating and packing your inflatable SUP up. From there we head to cleaning, storage, and general maintenance information. By the end of the article, you should have all the information you need to make an informed decision on which SUP to buy.
Your Vanhunks iSUP comes in a backpack with a repair kit, a two-way pump, the SUP fin, and the fin-plate and screw. You’re probably going to want to unpack it, inflate it and try it out in the pool as soon as you get home… don’t worry, we’ve all done it! Buying an inflatable SUP is super exciting, and it will bring out the inner child in just about anyone. It’s one activity that is always filled with joy and has the ability to turn a major frown upside down in no time at all!
Inflatable SUP: Pressure
To begin with, know your iSUP holds a maximum air pressure of 14PSI/.965 bars. I’m bringing this up because the weather has a lot to do with what you should watch out for and how to temper the air pressure based on the temperature you’re out engaging with. Most people inflate their board to around 10-12 PSI.
The higher PSI will help if you are riding in cold or choppy water. If you’re out on a super hot day, remember the heat is going to increase the air pressure in the board, so you’re not going to want to pump it to max to allow for the temperature aspect that comes into play. Especially if you’re leaving your iSUP on the beach and the sand is scorching hot. Let a little air pressure out so the seam integrity doesn’t become threatened because of over inflation.
On a cold day, the air temperature will decrease the air pressure so you’ll need to pump your iSUP up a little more every few hours. Don’t stress though; this doesn’t mean you have a hole or puncture. It’s just science doing its thing.
Of course, in Florida, you’re not really going to run into a cold day much since we’re in a tropical region, so 10-12 PSI will be enough. If you are trouble standing on the board and can’t get a good sense of balance, you might want to check that you haven’t under inflated it and put a bit more elbow grease into it by blowing it up some more. It’s not supposed to be a mission to stand on. Inflatable SUPs are really stable and easy to stand on, so if you’re battling, that could be the reason.
When you take your iSUP out to inflate it before use, make sure you’ve got it on a clear surface with nothing sharp. Check for broken glass, gravel, nails, and clear the area of anything that could compromise the safety of your inflatable SUP, and don’t pump it up on rocks. Although you may not be used to carrying a SUP at first, do your best not to drop it. If you feel like it’s getting too heavy, rather put it down gently before it gets to the point where you drop it.
If you inflate your iSUP at home, we advise not transporting it at full pressure. A speedy and bumpy ride over to the water could result in damage to the iSUP if the air pressure is too high. It could pop at the seams or the inflate valve cap could burst off.
Inflatable SUP: On Your Way To The Water
Whether you’re riding in the ocean or on a river, always rest your iSUP ‘face down’ (the top part with the deck pad), not the bottom. Putting it ‘face up’ puts the fin at risk of bending and that’s not going to be useful for smooth, straight sailing. Placing your inflatable SUP face down as soon as you get to the bank or shore is needed anyway so you can insert and secure your fin before going out.
Another vital aspect to be aware of is that your Vanhunks iSUP is made from military-grade PVC, which means it’s as tough as it comes, but unfortunately, PVC is negatively affected by the ultraviolet (UV) rays continuously being thrown down from the sun. Left unchecked over the years these rays will decrease impact resistance as well as strength and flexibility. On top of that, your iSUP will get actual ‘sunburn’ and discolor if not protected from the sun. So if you’re on the beach all day, cover it with a towel. Another great idea to ensure your iSUP has enhanced longevity is to get hold of some Aerospace Protector and just spray it on your board twice a year. It’s like sunscreen for outdoor gear prone to getting sun damaged.
Definitely don’t drag your inflatable SUP to the water either. It’s tough and made well, but if it catches sharp or rough stuff you’re going to catch some scuffs on your board. iSUPs aren’t that heavy though so you should be able to carry it to the water without a problem.
When You’re Done
Once you’ve had your fun for the day and are ready to go home, start the packing up procedure by putting your inflatable SUP face down again, and unscrewing the fin screw to remove the fin and the little fin plate. I highly recommend attaching the fin plate and screw back onto the fin once you’re packing up and tightening it sufficiently so that you don’t have to go looking for the tiny, but essential pieces. It’s not uncommon to stick them in your pocket or bag and then forget about them and lose them. If you have lost your fin plate or screw for your iSUP, let us know. We keep spares.
After you’ve taken the fin off, you can flip the board over again and begin the deflation process. If I have people with me, I rope them in to assist me with deflation in the air so I can fold my iSUP up off the ground and not get sand all over it. If I’m on my own, I’ll release the air as instructed in the inflatable SUP guide we have available online, and then fold the board up from the opposite end, where the fins and leash are and chuck it in the backpack.
There’s a bit of a debate going on as to whether rolling the board or folding it is better. Most people roll their inflatable SUP up while others fold it because they think it will further protect the integrity of the seams, whereas rolling it up could wear the seams out quicker.
When You’re Home
Back at your house, there are a few things to keep an eye on. Unpack your iSUP and roll it out on the grass or paving and make sure the valve cap is closed again. Give your SUP a good rinse with some fresh water, especially after you’ve come off the ocean and the beach. Make sure to rinse your leash and paddle too. Dismantle the paddle if it’s adjustable and rinse out the shaft of any debris, sand or salt while you’re at it.
This is not that big of a deal if you SUP every day, but if your gear is going to stand for long periods without use, you definitely want to make sure salt crystals aren’t going to grow and make the paddle adjustment mechanisms stuck. By the way, if that does happen, vinegar works wonders to help it come unstuck with some soaking. Sometimes, in regions with a high content of salt in the air, humidity causes the salt to crystallize and make board bag zippers and other metal stuff solidly stuck. It just needs to soak for a while.
After you’ve rinsed your iSUP, check the valve area for debris and remove it. Valve debris can cause air to leak out and also water to leak in. Check your inflatable SUP to see if it’s taken any water in, and if it has, you can use a vacuum to get the water out. If it’s a lot, you may need to take it in to get drained if you don’t have the right equipment. This shouldn’t really be an issue, however… Just check there’s no debris in the valve and everything should be fine.
Give it a good dry off with a clean towel, and if there are salt marks you can use a soft cloth with some mild detergent to get them off. Be careful not to use a roughly textured sponge, or it could scuff and scratch, especially on the deck pad area which can be a bit sensitive due to the EVA used to manufacture deck pads.
Using a mild detergent is also going to prevent bacteria and mildew growing on your iSUP and the deck pad if it’s going to go long periods of time without any action.
Storing your inflatable SUP
You’re more than able to store your iSUP inflated, but we do insist you get into the habit of making sure it’s properly dried off to avoid mold and mildew growing. Definitely store your inflatable SUP out of direct sunlight as the rays from the sun can make the vinyl brittle and it can crack and peel after years of being submitted to the harsh UV rays, as we mentioned earlier in this post.
A cool space indoors is better, and you may already have a board rack to stand it up in, but if not there could be a cool DIY project in there somewhere. If you’re not pumped on making a board rack, we recommend laying the board lengthways down so it doesn’t have far to fall if it does decide to come tumbling over. The simplest solution is to lean the board up against a wall. You can do so by putting the SUP down on its side or tail, but never put a board down on its nose.
Storage is even easier if your board is back in its bag all snug with the pump, fins and repair kit; and we’re sure you’re going to enjoy the quality and craftsmanship of your Vanhunks inflatable SUP because it’s not a ‘run-of-the-mill’, ‘Made in China’ product. It’s been designed and created by the rider, for the rider and features premium quality materials for a top-quality, perfectly crafted SUP. The crafters used Korean drop stitch with German glue for sealing the seams and military grade PVC to ensure durability, quality, ease of use, and style. We’ve used the very best glue to seal our seams ensuring that the seams are unlikely to open, even at 30 PSI.
Drop stitch construction is what allows an inflatable SUP to maintain its shape when it is inflated to high pressure. Each needle sews a continuous, evenly spaced thread stitch, back and forth between the two pieces of woven fabric, locking them together into an incredibly strong unit. Without drop-stitching, the board would bulge out in the middle like an over-inflated air mattress. With drop stitching, you get hard-shell performance along with easy transportation and storage.
Your Vanhunks iSUP boasts dual layer PVC with a high-quality drop stitch (Koreans are amazing at everything, in my opinion). If you’re shopping for a board and the second layer of drop stitch is below 0.5 you better off on a lilo. Generally, the cheaper the board, the thinner the second layer of PVC. Some manufacturers save costs by printing directly on the drop stitch. These boards are cheap and nasty and will discourage you to ever SUP. It will be a very disappointing SUPing experience.
If you find an iSUP that’s less than $700, DON’T BUY IT! Chances are high the quality has been compromised in favor of cheaper manufacturing costs. Granted, there may be some outliers, but definitely approach cheap boards with caution. Good inflatable boards are not cheaper than hardboards.
Anyway, enough with the technical talk. I think I’ve given you enough to sit with and take into account for you to decide whether you feel iSUPs are high maintenance or not. Let me know if you have any questions, and let me know where your favorite spot to use an inflatable SUP in Florida is!
Happy paddles friends.