Inflatable vs Hard Paddle Boards: what to consider when buying a Stand Up Paddle Board

Four affordable Inflatable Paddleboards for around 300 U$D

With the stand-up paddle fever around the world, the whole family is practicing the sport, and iSUPs or inflatable SUPs have been gaining a lot of strength for obvious reasons. But if you have doubts when choosing between a hard paddleboard and an inflatable stand up board, this website will clarify it for you and make it easier to choose!

Anyone looking for performance on the race paddling and or waves, the rigid board is be the best choice without any doubts. It is possible to do races SUP and surf waves with inflatables, but if we compare the performance of one and the other, rigid boards will always win in performance and that point is indisputable.

But if you are looking for a board to have fun, to paddle with the family, to use in small waves, or to carry in your boat, there’s no doubt that the inflatables will serve you very well. The obvious positive points of inflatables is the issue of space and transportation. For those who do not have space to store a larger board, either in the garage or even cannot fit in the elevator of your building, the inflatable solves that problem. Once deflated, and folded inside the backpack, it fits anywhere!

Transportation can also be an issue. Placing the board on top of your car if you don’t have a truck is a real pain. With an inflatable SUP you can put it in the trunk of any car without having to tie it onto a rack. Inflatable boars also allow you to reach isolated places easily carrying the board in a reinforced backpack, leaving both hands free in case of a trail or something.

Some points to consider when choosing your paddle board:
1. What kind of SUP or paddler practitioner are you?
2. How are you going to transport your Stand Up Boards?
3. Where will you store your SUP?
4. How much are you willing to spend?
5. How careless are you with your equipment?

If you are looking for a board to have fun, to paddle with the family, to use on weekends, or to carry in your car, there’s no doubt that the inflatables will serve you very well.

There’s an inflatable for white water and even for surfing! The different types of paddle boards.

At flat water like lakes and dams, rivers and even at sea, you have the option of a more appropriate stand up inflatable board! The surf paddler usually has a rigid performance board and an inflatable SUP to cross rivers when the water is calm. The race competitor has his carbon boards for racing or doing a few miles on the river, but he does not want his kids and / or his dog jumping on his race board and that’s why they can keep an inflatable Stand Up to use along with family.

If you think you’re serious about SUP and attending speed competitions or surfing competitions, you’ll probably need a regular board, other than that and if you are just getting started at paddleboarding, all other activities on SUP can be done with an inflatable board.

1) How do you plan to transport your SUP?

Carrying an inflatable Stand Up board is definitely easier than a “normal” board. You do not have to have a rack in the car, not even have a pickup truck nor a van. Just deflate, pack it in your backpack and put it in the trunk of the car. Whether you want to paddle out of the country or on long trips, with air and ground transportation, an inflatable SUP will work just fine. No worries if your board will return from flying the way you did! No worries about excess baggage charges as well. Dispatch it as ordinary baggage and that’s it. Also, with your board in a backpack for your secret SUP refuge, it is much easier to walk with it than with a hard board.

2) How do you plan to store your SUP?

Storing boards is an important issue and often the deciding factor between an Inflatable Sup and a rigid SUP. Ideally you should try to store your boar in a cool, dry place. With a solid board this means you need a garage or cabin (unless you want a huge board in the middle of your living room!). However, an inflatable SUP can be stored almost anywhere, even in your wardrobe!

If storage space is a problem for you, the decision is taken: Inflatable Stand Up Boards or NO SUP!

Girl on an inflatable paddle board. Drawing inflatable paddleboard far away.

3) How much are you willing to spend?

How much do you want to spend? You will find that an inflatable SUP costs less than a hard SUP (surf, hybrid or race) of equivalent size. You will also find that most inflatable boards of the same age will have a similar price. This happens because they are all more or less in the same state of conservation. Inflatable SUPs are difficult to wear and look good for up to two or three years of frequent use. The secondhand market of rigid boards is more established and so you will have more choices. However, the price of the regular board can vary drastically even between identical boards, due to the varying states of conservation that each board can present.

4) How careless are you with your equipment?

If you’ve been careless enough to run over your board in the parking lot, the inflatable SUP was made for you! And when it comes to durability the inflatable board wins by far. Most of the damage done to the board occurs during the transportation or while putting the board on top of the car. If you are not careful with your equipment and if you are going to take the family, the dog and or even has a lower stature that makes it difficult to transport the regular board, choose an inflatable.