How to Store an Inflatable Paddleboard

Should you deflate your paddleboard before storing it or just store it as is? What's best? Those are some of the questions we're going to cover in this article.

An inflatable stand-up paddleboard is a great investment if you want to spend your time exploring your local lake, river or whitewater park. They’re easy to transport, durable and relatively inexpensive.

However, if you don’t know how to store your inflatable paddleboard properly, you may find that you’re replacing it for a fresh model, more often than you should. Knowing the best way to store your SUP will make transporting your board easier, and increase the life of your stand-up paddleboard.

In this article, we’ll discuss the best ways to store your inflatable paddleboard, and give you some handy tips and tricks to make storing your SUP convenient and protective of your board.

9 tips to store an inflatable paddleboard

inflatable paddleboard besides a normal paddleboard
Image credits: Marco Verch

We’ve found that most inflatable paddleboards don’t come with the best storage instructions. And honestly, how you store your stand-up paddleboard can vary based on where you live, how often you’ll be using your SUP and where you are able to store your paddleboard.

There are lots of suggestions on the internet, and many of them are helpful, but there are also lots of options that aren’t really very useful or based on actual experience. Also, much of the information out there is for solid stand-up paddleboards and they have very different storage requirements than the inflatable version.

To help you better decipher the information out there about storing stand-up paddleboards, we’ve put together a list of 9 handy tips for how to properly and safely store your inflatable stand-up paddleboard.

  1. Rinse off your paddleboard before anything else
  2. Skip the soaps
  3. Don’t go scrubbing
  4. Dry, dry, dry
  5. Sun is not your friend
  6. Not too hot, not too cold
  7. Inflated or deflated – either is fine
  8. Flat is best
  9. Don’t forget the fins

Let’s dive straight into the first tip on the list.

1. Rinse off your paddleboard before anything else

Every time you are finished using your SUP, you will want to rinse it off with clean water, before putting it in your car or up for storage. This is a good practice to get into because removing dirt, rocks, or other debris from the surface of your SUP will allow you to pack up your board without causing damage to the materials.

This isn’t a difficult process. You just need to spray down your board with clean water before rolling it and packing it back into its container. Pay close attention to the areas around the valve stem and deflation valves so that they are protected from sand and debris and continue to work properly for a long time.

2. Skip the soaps

Your inflatable stand-up paddleboard doesn’t need soap. As a matter of fact, soaps can damage the materials that your SUP is made from. When you are cleaning your SUP before putting it away for an extended period of time, remember, you only need to rinse off sand, plant material and other debris to properly protect your board from damage, mold and odors during storage.

3. Don’t go scrubbing

Even when your board is really dirty, the last thing you want to do is use abrasive surfaces and harsh cleaners on your inflatable stand-up paddleboard. When your board is really dirty, use a soft bristled brush or microfiber rag to wipe down your board. You can even wait for dirt and mud to dry and use a broom to sweep debris from the surface of your SUP. Remember, being gentle is a good practice when cleaning your inflatable stand-up paddleboard. You don’t need to scrub to get it clean. Scrubbing can weaken the materials and shorten the life of your SUP.

4. Dry, dry, dry

Believe it or not, one of the worst things for your inflatable stand-up paddleboard is moisture. This may seem counter intuitive, but when it comes to storing your SUP, even a little bit of moisture can be a bad, bad thing. 

When you’re done using your paddleboard, rinse it off and then give it a good wipe down before you deflate it and pack it into your car. Always dry it off before you deflate and transport. It doesn’t need to be a perfect wipe down, but remember that moisture can still weaken the materials that your board is made of if you aren’t using it frequently.

When you are ready to pack up your SUP at the end of the season, this is the time to really focus on good cleaning and drying. Make sure that after cleaning and rinsing your board, you dry it thoroughly with a soft, absorbent cloth like a bath towel or microfiber towel. Avoid using sun or heat to dry your SUP, as this can damage it as well.

And when it comes to storage locations, make sure the spot you store your deflated stand-up paddleboard is dry. Because, you know…during storage, moisture is your board’s worst enemy.

5. Sun is not your friend

So, it seems weird to say this, just like it was weird to mention that moisture on your board during storage isn’t good, but the sun is not your inflatable stand-up paddleboard’s friend. In fact, storing your inflatable SUP in the sun can be incredibly harmful to your SUP.

Like with many other products and materials (like your skin) UV rays from the sun can damage the materials that your SUP is made from. UV rays can dry out your board, causing it to be brittle and crack. Obviously, a cracking inflatable SUP is probably not going to hold air very well. Make sure that wherever you decide to store your SUP, it is free of direct sunlight.

6. Not too hot, not too cold

Another key to properly storing your inflatable SUP is temperature. We already know that you should store your board in a dry place, away from the sun, but you should also store your inflatable stand-up paddleboard in a place that doesn’t have temperature extremes or drastic temperature swings.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to search out a climate controlled storage locker for your SUP, your basement, closet or even your garage (yup, your garage) will be great for storing your inflatable SUP. 

Ideally, your inflatable SUP should stay in the temperature range of 40 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. It should also not be exposed to freezing temperatures or extreme heat. Both of these conditions can damage your SUP.

7. inflated or deflated – either is fine

We talk a lot about deflating your inflatable SUP before storage. But this is mostly because deflating your SUP at the end of the season, and before you put it in storage, saves space. Honestly, how many of us have tons of extra storage space?

However, the reality is that you don’t have to deflate your inflatable SUP before you put it in storage. If you have the space and can store your fully inflated stand-up paddleboard in your garage, spare room or closet, there’s really no good reason to take the time to deflate your board.

A few things to remember about leaving your board inflated. 

First, avoid sharp objects. The benefit of deflating your board is that it’s protected from sharp things. An inflated SUP in storage is more vulnerable to sharp objects.

Second, if you can, lay your inflated SUP down flat for storage. This will prevent warping or other deformations that may occur if you store your inflatable SUP standing up.

Finally, don’t stack heavy things on your board. This can damage your board and cause creases and dents in your board that will impact the balance.

💡 Note: We’ve written an entire guide on how to fully deflate your paddleboard if you’re not sure how to do it.

8. Flat is best

If you’ve deflated your board for storage, rolling it up can be a less than idea option for storage. Sure, rolling your board is fine for temporary storage and for transportation. Rolling makes your inflatable stand-up paddleboard compact and packable.

However, at the end of the season when you’re ready to store your inflatable stand-up paddleboard, storing it flat or loosely folded is the best way to protect your inflatable SUP from moisture, temperature fluctuations and sharp objects. It’s also another good way to make sure that your board is completely dry during storage.

9. Don’t forget the fins

One of the easiest ways to damage your inflatable stand-up paddleboard during storage is to pack it up with the fins still attached. Most boards come with easily removable fins that can be tucked in the board’s packing bag or set on top of the board during storage.

Also, removing the fins before you clean your SUP prior to storage will allow you to get dirt and grime from the fin box before you tuck your inflatable stand-up paddleboard into storage for the winter.

3 issues that affect an inflatable paddleboard’s lifespan

man with orange paddleboard under arm
Image credits: Wikimedia

1. Grit and grime

Dirt, sand, algae, bacteria, and salt (for your ocean paddlers) are really your board’s biggest enemies. These tiny particles get in between everything and can cause increased wear to the surfaces of your inflatable stand-up paddleboard. Even when your board is in storage, these little, abrasive particles can slowly rub away at the materials your board is made from, creating weak spots that can eventually cause leaks or blow-outs on your board. To avoid these abrasive objects, and to increase the life of your board, make sure you are raising your board off well at the end of each use and certainly before you roll your board up at the end of the season for storage.

2. Too much sun

Sure, sunny days are the best days to be out on the water. The sun makes breezes off the water warm, and your board can be a great place to catch a few rays (with sunscreen included, of course). However, as much as you love the sun, it’s not great for your board especially under extended exposures. Make sure you store your SUP in a spot that is far from direct sunlight and heat. This will keep your board safe from the damaging effects of UV rays.

3. Time

Unlike a fine wine, time is not going to improve your inflatable SUP. Over time, every board will crack, leak, and lose its shape, making it necessary to find a replacement. However, you can keep time and the eventual need for a new board at bay, for a while at least, just by taking the necessary steps to protect your board.

How do you store an inflatable SUP short-term?

For most of us, the idea of long-term storage of our inflatable stand-up paddleboards isn’t on our minds. Many dedicated paddlers will travel or invest in cold weather gear just to spend more time on the water, even when it gets cold. 

However, that doesn’t mean that you’ll be out on your board every day, so some good practices in short-term storage are good to develop.

Getting your board ready for short term storage isn’t that difficult. But it does take a bit of added time and effort. The basics to this process include rinsing your board thoroughly, to remove dirt, grime, and sand. Then using a soft cloth to dry your board, and to collect any remaining debris. 

Then fold loosely to condense to a smaller space, while also giving your board the ability to breath and dry. This process will require you to deflate your board, but in the end, it’s worth the extra time to get the longest life from your inflatable SUP.

How do you store an inflatable SUP for winter?

woman with paddle board in snow
Image credits: Holly Mandarich

Long term storage, like what you would do at the end of the season, takes a bit more work than short-term storage. While you can skip the “details” when prepping for short term storage, it’s the seemingly mundane steps in prepping your SUP for storage that can make long-term storage feel more tedious.

Remember, cleaning is the first key to properly maintaining your SUP and preparing it for long term storage. Make sure that you rinse well at the connection points between the fins, leash hook, and fin boxes. 

Removing the grime will protect your SUP over the winter. Dry well, so that bacteria and mold can’t grow on your paddleboard over the winter, and if possible, store your board in a cool, dry spot where the temperature is relatively steady.

Tasks that you’ll want to complete before long-term storage, that you won’t need to do for short term storage include deflating your board and folding it gently. This allows your SUP to breathe and dry even while it’s in storage. 

Also, make sure that you remove the fins and leash from your board, prior to long term or winter storage. These features can cause damage to your board (deflated or inflated) if they are stored with the board.

Ideally, you’ll want to store your board inflated over the winter, but this isn’t always practical for many SUP owners. So, make sure you clean and dry your board and then find a storage spot that is free of sunlight, fluctuating temperatures and other factors that can decrease the life of your SUP.  

Final thoughts

When it comes to properly storing your inflatable stand-up paddleboard, the process that works best is the process that works best for you. 

Do remember to always clean, dry and carefully deflate your board before storing. These simple actions will significantly increase the life of your stand-up paddleboard.

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Jason Gass

When I'm not working, I spend most of my time camping, hiking, and road-tripping with my wife, my daughter, and my two dogs.