How to Inflate a SUP – My 5 Step Method

How To Inflate Paddle Board

Inflating a stand-up paddle board is not hard, and all you need is a pump and some elbow grease. Or you can make it even easier and use an electric SUP pump.

Here are the steps to inflating a SUP and a few tips to make the process go more smoothly.

Inflatable SUP valves

Before explaining the inflation process, I quickly want to touch on how the high-pressure air valves work on SUPs.

All SUP valves are some variant of the Halkey Roberts valve or an H3 valve, both of which use a spring-loaded pushpin to set whether you are inflating or deflating.

Inflation: When the spring is in the UP position, the valve will keep the air from escaping; however, it will allow you to pump air into it.

Deflation: When the spring is in the DOWN position, the valve is fully open, and the air inside will escape.

Steps to Inflating Your Paddle Board with a Hand Pump or Electric Pump

Now let’s have a look at how to inflate your SUP with a manual hand pump, or even an electric pump.

Step 1. Lay it out

Remove the board from the bag and fully unroll it to lay flat on the ground.

Step 2. – Prepare valve

Remove the valve cover, and make sure the pushpin on the valve is in the up position. This indicates that the valve is closed and will keep all of the air from escaping when you’re done pumping.

This step is IMPORTANT! If the pushpin is left in the down position as you pump, the pump hose might blow off as you reach higher pressures, or you’ll lose a lot of air pressure when you detach the hose.

Step 3. – Find out target pressure

Check your paddle board for what pressure you need to inflate it to. The target pressure will be marked somewhere around the air valve, usually in PSI.

Step 4. – Pump it

Insert, then twist the hose into the valve firmly, and start pumping.

If you are using a manual hand pump, use the low-pressure mode first. The pressure needle will not move until you get to around 4-5 PSI, so don’t worry if you don’t see any movement at first.

As the pressure in the paddle board increases and pumping gets hard, change the pump setting to the high-pressure mode. This moves less air with each pump but makes it easier to pump.

If you are using an electric pump, set your target pressure, press start, and grab a coffee. The pump does everything for you.

Step 5. – Finish up

Once you’ve reached the desired PSI, remove the hose from the valve with a firm twist, and place the valve cap back onto the valve.

Tips for Inflating Your Paddle Board

  • Using a manual pump to inflate your paddle board is hard work. Take a break if you need to as you approach the higher pressure range.
  • Of course, you can make things easy on yourself by getting an electric SUP pump like these.


Inflating a SUP is not rocket science, but you may have a few questions if you’ve never done it before. Here are a few answers, please let me know if you have other questions.

To what pressure do you inflate a paddle board?

For a beginner board, you usually inflate it to around 12 PSI, and you might go up to 15-18 PSI for a more advanced iSUP. The exact target pressure of your board will vary depending on the type of paddle board you have. It will be written on the board valve or in the instruction manual.

Can I use an air compressor to inflate my SUP?

Yes, you can use an air compressor to inflate your paddle board, but it’s not recommended. The reason is that most air compressors put out way more pressure than you need to inflate a paddle board, and this can over-inflate your board and damage it.

Can I use an electric pump to inflate my inflatable SUP?

Yes, you can use an electric SUP pump to inflate your inflatable paddle board. It will make the job much easier, especially if you need to inflate more than one SUP.

Can you over-inflate a paddle board?

Most modern air valves have a safety mechanism that does not allow overinflation. Regardless, it would be best if you did not inflate your paddle board past the recommended air pressure.

How hard is it to inflate a paddle board?

It’s not hard, but it is work and you will break a sweat by the end. If you’re using a manual pump, use the low-pressure setting at first and then switch to high pressure as you get closer to the recommended PSI. This will make pumping easier.

How long does it take to inflate a paddle board?

If you use a manual pump, it will take around 10-12 minutes to inflate a SUP. If you use an electric pump, it takes around 9-10 minutes.

What should I do if the hose comes off while inflating my paddle board?

If the hose pops off while you’re inflating your paddle board, you didn’t twist it into the valve hard enough, or because the pushpin on the valve is in the down position. Make sure to check these before you start pumping.

Are you new to the world of inflatable boats? Then my Getting Started Guide is for you. You’ll find tips, tricks, and how-to articles to start off right.

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