Inflatable Boards – Can I Leave My Paddle Board Inflated?

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Inflatable paddleboards are great! Their ease of storage, portability, and relatively low price have helped open the doors to the sport of paddle boarding to millions of people. However, inflatable boards come with somewhat of a downside, that being that they actually need to be inflated and deflated every time you want to use them. While getting hot and sweaty pumping up your board, you may have thought to yourself “can I leave my paddle board inflated?”

The answer is yes, you can leave your paddle board inflated. However, it is important that you do not leave your board in direct sunlight or anywhere it may be subject to extreme high or low temperatures. You should also release some air to prevent over-expansion damage and reduce the wear on the seams.

Over-Expansion – A Paddle Board Killer

Over-expansion is a lesser-known, but more often than not, a board ending condition caused when the internal air pressure becomes to high. The reason it is so fatal for boards? Because high pressures can permanently stretch the PVC or cause the seams to burst. In most cases, it is cheaper to buy a new board than to try and fix over expansion damage, which will never be quite the same.

As far as I’m aware, no manufacturer accepts over-expansion damage as a valid reason for return under warranty, so it will need to be paid out of your own pocket.

What Causes Over-Expansion Damage?

There are two main ways that people damage their boards through over-expansion. Over inflation and heat expansion.

The first, but a less common way is quite simple; pumping more air into the board than it can safely hold. All boards have a recommended pressure range and maximum pressure. It is vital that you know what your manufacturer has set as the board’s maximum and stay under it when inflating.

The second, but significantly more common form of over-expansion is caused by heat expansion. We should have all learned in school that hot air expands. The same is true inside your inflatable paddle board. If you inflate your board in the morning, you will be filling it with higher density cool air. Come the afternoon and the heat of the day, the air inside your board will expand, increasing the pressure acting against the sides of the board.

Leaving your board in direct sunlight will vastly increase the temperature increases and in addition to the increased internal pressure, the high heat will make the PVC softer and more stretchable and the glues less effective. All of these factors combined can be a recipe for disaster! This is particularly common for boat owners who leave their paddle boards inflated and tied to the side of their boat in summer.

How Can I Avoid Over-Expansion Damage With My Paddle Board?

Fortunately over expansion damage can be easily avoided by taking a few simple steps.

  1. Don’t inflate your board to its maximum pressure. Your board will have a recommended PSI range given by the manufacturer which will be normally 3-4 PSI less than the maximum. Inflating higher than the recommended pressure will often make little difference to the stiffness of the board, and will give you little safety room for any heat expansion.
  2. Keep your board out of direct sunlight. Leaving your board in the sun will make it significantly hotter, especially for darker colored boards. The direct UV light will also fade and degrade the board faster. Of course, you can still use the board in the sun as it will be cooled by the water.
  3. Release a small amount of air when you are not using your board. Not only will this help prevent over-expansion, if you are leaving the board inflated for several days or weeks, it will also reduce the stress on seams and the PVC.

Can I leave My Paddle Board Inflated For Storage?

Yes, leaving your board inflated for storage isn’t a problem. As mentioned before, you will want to release some air from the board to reduce the wear and stress on the seams. Leaving your board inflated for storage will actually help stop creases forming in the PVC material. Over longer periods of time in storage, your board will lose air slowly. You will need to occasionally top it up to prevent it from becoming saggy.

Before storing your board, you should wash it and allow it to completely dry. Ensure that you store your inflated board flat to avoid creases, and wherever you choose to store it is dry and away from heat sources such as radiators, boilers, and the sun.

Learn more about paddle board storage: How To Store A Stand Up Paddle Board.

How Long Can I Leave My SUP Inflated?

As long as you leave your paddle board in a dry place, out of direct sunlight, and away from extreme high or low temperatures, you can technically leave your board inflated indefinitely, or at least until it slowly deflates naturally.

Is it Better to Deflate My Paddle Board or Leave it Inflated?

The choice to deflate your board or leave it inflated is largely down to your personal preference and circumstances. If for example, you live in a city apartment and have to take your board on public transit to get to the water, then it would make a lot of sense to deflate and pack your board away after each use. However, if you live on the shore of a lake or the sea, you may not consider it worth packing away every time.

It is important to point out that deflating and rolling your board up does impact the lifespan of the PVC, although a good board will be able to go through the cycle of inflation and deflation hundreds, if not thousands of times. Given the choice, leaving it inflated is better for your board.

A Final Thought

If you don’t have the option of leaving your board inflated and are looking for a quicker and easier way to inflate and deflate, consider an electric paddle board pump that can do all the hard work for you.

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