Inflatable Paddle Board Vs Hard: When buying a new stand up paddleboard, many new paddlers are faced with the dilemma of choosing from among the thousands of boards on the market today.
One of the biggest questions I receive is how to choose between an Inflatable SUP and a Solid SUP. There are many factors to consider when choosing between Inflatable paddle board vs hard construction materials. Just as not all cars are built equally, not all Stand Up Paddleboards are built equally (even within their respective categories).
Some Inflatable SUPs are better in some respects than Solid SUPs and vice versa.
The form of a solid board is where this sport has its roots. Stand Up Paddleboards have evolved from the world of surfing which started as a wooden board and progressed to a foam core covered with a fiber glass outer shell and some even more advanced composite materials in the past decade.
Stand Up Paddleboards have followed suit and with the previous technology of surfboards as a foundation, Solid SUPs are built of so many materials from foam, fiberglass, Kevlar, plastics, and wood.
All of these different construction techniques affect how well the board reacts in the water from its flotation, stability, and tracking. Another factor to consider would be the durability of your SUP.
A fully foam board has the potential to become punctured allowing water to seep into the foam making your board heavier and heavier over time. A fiberglass board is susceptible to dings, dents, and scratches.
While most of these defects can be cosmetic, fiberglass boards can also be punctured allowing water to seep into the core causing increased weight and eventually delaminating from the core. Kevlar boards are a much stronger board, but can often come at a high cost.
Solid SUPs, in large, are very durable and will last a lifetime if taken care of properly. As mentioned earlier, not all boards are created equal. Just because it is a solid SUP does not guarantee it will be durable.
Once you have made the choice between Inflatable and Solid, we strongly recommend reading the individual reviews for each board you are considering.
As Solid SUPs have come a long way in such a short time, so too has the market of Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboards. Most Inflatable SUPs these days are extremely rigid with very little sagging if any at all.
When inflated properly, many Inflatable SUPs react in the exact same way a Solid SUP would react in the water. Inflatable SUPs tend to be a little lighter than many Solid boards because they are composed mostly of air.
An Inflatable SUP is susceptible to a puncture, but make no mistake, this is not your raft that you blow up and take to the beach. Most Inflatable SUPs on the market today are very puncture resistant. They also allow users more versatility, as they can be inflated and deflated fairly easily.
Due to their small size when deflated, they store and travel very easily. These boards can also take a different kind of beating that many Solid SUPs cannot endure. When a Solid board may become dinged from running into a dock an Inflatable board tends to bounce right off with no damage.
Inflatable Paddle Board Vs Hard: Closing
Some of the largest factors for deciding between a Solid or Inflatable SUP have nothing to do with the board itself. You should consider your transportation, practical uses, launching locations, the frequency of use, users, and pricing when reviewing Stand Up Paddleboards. Then as you choose between Solid and Inflatable, follow through with research on the individual boards you may be interested in.
Good Luck and Happy Paddling.