Inflatable vs Solid Stand Up Paddle Boards: Which’s The Ultimate Buy?
What is better to invest in between inflatable vs solid stand up paddle boards?
When you have decided that you are going to get into this exciting sport of stand up paddle boarding, you will have to choose between an inflatable paddle board vs solid board. Well, at least, that is what it comes down to.
There are hundreds of paddle boards in the market. However, beginners do not know what to pick between inflatable SUP vs hard boards.
Of course, each has its benefits. However, it is best to choose one that will meet your stand up paddle boarding needs for a long time into the future.
So, what is really involved in choosing the best inflatable paddle board or a solid board? That is what we are going to find out here.
What is solid SUP board?
As the name suggests, this is a hard material stand up paddle board. However, there is some serious engineering going into this board.
For instance, the main or the base material is foam. However, the foam is then enclosed in solid material.
And right there is where the differences start setting in. For instance, some solid SUP boards can be made of bamboo, some of fiberglass and some of wood.
On the same note, some are made of innegra and others. Manufacturers are getting more creative.
We are likely to see more evolutionary material being used to make these boards. Of course, boards made of the robust military material called Kevlar are already quite popular.
The reason for including foam as the core material is to create buoyancy. This is what enables the board to float. Therefore, the more the volume of the foam, the more the hard board is going to float.
Also read: Best SUP life jacket reviews
On the same note, the hard SUP boards are finished with an epoxy coat to make them waterproof.
You don’t want water getting into the foam, wood, kevlar, fiberglass or whatever other material you have used.
You could also check out the Easy Eddy 3-Piece Modular Paddleboard. It is a high quality solid paddle board, that doesn’t disappoint.
What is an inflatable paddle board?
Also referred to as iSUP (with the small i standing for inflatable), these boards will require you to inflate them with a pump.
Don’t worry that they will be too soft because they can be quite rigid. Obviously, the material and the construction is different from that of the hard SUP boards.
For instance, the iSUP have PVC layers joined with fibers connecting the top layer and the bottom layer. In addition, there is a valve to attach a pump and inflate the board.
The level of inflation depends on the board but usually, it is about 15psi. Check what the manufacturer of the inflatable paddle board says. 15PSI is going to give the board the rigidity that it needs to support your full weight.
You can order the ADVENOR Extra Wide Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board on Amazon.com at an affordable price.
Inflatable vs solid stand up paddle boards: Which is safer?
However, they also have serious risk factors, actually more than land sports. However, a great part of your safety depends on the gear that you choose.
In that case, what is safer between paddle board inflatable vs hard board?
Well, experts say that the hard SUP boards are the safest. If you are a beginner, you might consider choosing a solid one instead first.
Once you have gained some skill, perhaps you could then go for the inflatable SUP board.
Why is the rigid SUP Safer?
The use of foam in the hard SUPs makes them the king when it comes to safety.
You see, foam cannot escape. In case of an accident, for example, a collision with something, the worst that can happen is a dent.
In the extreme case scenario, the board could break into two, but the pieces will still be intact and you can hold onto one and float.
However, the more complicated construction of the inflatable SUPs makes them more prone to accidents.
For instance, the two PVC layers making the iSUP are joined by fibers and seams. Now, if one of the seams breaks, all of the air escapes leaving you with a deflated piece of PVC.
Now that we have mentioned air, you know that it can escape from the smallest of spaces. Therefore, it might not be possible or the inflatable to hold air from morning to evening. It must escape!
Please note, even if it is safer, you will still fall into the water. Therefore, learn how to get back on a paddle board after falling.
Inflatable paddle boards vs solid: Portability
When it comes to paddle board storage and transport, the inflatables win hands down. Actually, when you buy yours, it comes with a duffel bag.
When it is not in use, you can deflate it, dry it up and then stuff it in the duffel bag for storage and transport.
Considering that some SUP boards can be as long as 14 feet, foldability is indeed a good idea.
On the other hand, you will have a dash of trouble transporting the solid paddle board. You will probably require a truck with a rack to transport it to the beach. It weighs much more than the inflatables.
With the epoxy SUP, just get it out of storage, dust it up and you are ready to go. Of course, you have to check the leash and the leg clamp. You can then load it up for the trip to the beach.
On the other hand, inflatable sup boards require a little bit more preparation. For instance, you should check them up for damage, check whether the pump is working and then load them into your car trunk.
However, when you get to your best stand up paddle boarding destination, you will need to inflate the board. Most of them come with a manual pump.
With this pump, you can have it inflated in 10 minutes, probably less. However, you can also hook it up with an electric pump.
Maneuverability: Epoxy stand up paddle board vs blow up SUP board
By maneuvering, we mean steering, handling and control in the water.
Once again, here, the stand up paddle board non inflatable win hands down. they glide easier on the water. In addition, they handle the waves much better.
Another thing that you will love about the hard shell paddle boards is that they move faster, especially when you are using a paddle. Therefore, if you are an SUP racing enthusiast, you need to get this paddle board.
Durability: Solid vs iSUP
Most people ask: are inflatable paddle boards durable or is the non inflatable stand up board going to last longer?
Well, with good care for both of them, they can last a long time. However, when you consider the regular abuse that comes with this sport, the inflatables can last a longer time than the rigids. There is a good reason for that too.
In addition, inflatables do not sustain as much damage over rocks, logs and other things that you might encounter when doing white water SUP.
On the other hand, the SUP would sustain serious dents and breakage if you hit a solid object.
If this is a concern for you, you know, if you live in a small apartment, you might want to go for the iSUP. It is easy to roll into a small size when you are done. You can then store it in its duffel bag and you are done.
However, the solid SUP board requires more space. It requires that you find a good space for it in your home. These boards can be huge, especially if you are into SUP racing.
When people ask: are inflatable paddle boards worth it? They are mostly asking about the price. They also ask the same regarding the epoxy SUPs.
The truth is that the inflatable are more popular as compared to the hard SUPs. Therefore, if you are on a budget, try the inflatables first.
To compare the cost between these two SUP boards, you can check the price here.
Solid SUP Board vs Inflatable SUP: Pros & Cons
Let’s take a quick look at the benefits that you are going to enjoy from these boards. They are as follows:
Solid SUP board pros
- Sleeker style with narrower tail
- They are less flexible so they can move in water faster without need for correction
- They are more professional
- They will float even when damaged
Solid SUP board cons
- More expensive
- They can break easily when you fall onto them
Inflatable board pros
- They are best for beginners
- They tend to last longer than the solids
- Occupy minimal storage space
- Easy to travel with
Inflatable board cons
- They tend to be slower due to need for correction when paddling
- Air escapes easily
Inflatable vs solid paddle boards FAQ
Choosing between an inflatable and a solid paddle board is hard for a first timer paddle boarding enthusiast.
Watch the video below to see some differences between solid and inflatable paddle boards:
These frequently asked questions and their answers might help you some more:
Are hard paddle boards more stable?
This is one of the myths you need to get over. A solid paddle board is not more stable than an inflatable, in any way.
In fact, the stability of the iSUP depends on the thickness. Typically, between a 4 inch or 6 inch paddle board, the latter will be more stable in the water.
The stability of a hard or inflatable paddle board depends on many things, not just the thickness. For instance, it depends on the width. Wider boards have more contact with the water, so they offer more stability.
The rail construction can also make a board more stable. The design of the rails of the inflatable SUP board make it more stable.
Okay, so thicker inflatable boards are more stable … what about the stability of a hard board and inflatable board that are of the same size?
The hard paddle board would be more stable because it is heavier. For this reason, advanced paddle boarding enthusiasts prefer the solid boards.
Is it harder to balance on an inflatable paddle boards?
How well you can balance on a paddle board depends on your ability and skill. If you have great skill on the water, you will maintain superb balance on the hard or inflatable board.
But for a beginner, the inflatable board would be easier to balance on. It responds more to your movements than a hard board would. This gives a small, but an edge all the same.
Many things apart from the paddle board make and design determine your balance. For instance, if you experience wobbly legs while paddle boarding, you will not maintain a proper balance.
Are hard paddle boards faster than inflatable?
Solid paddle boards will always be faster in the water than the inflatable stand up paddle boards.
They are also easier to play tricks, their weight makes them more stable on the water and they cut through the water more efficiently.
All of these things make the hard boards such as the three-piece Easy Eddy paddle board faster and easier to control in waves.
Please note that the size of the board matters a lot when it comes to speed. Therefore, if an inflatable SUP board is longer and thinner than a hard paddle board, it will be faster.
Why is my paddle board so unstable?
The stability of the paddle board depends on many things. Here are the most important ones:
Your skill – If you do not have enough paddle boarding skill and experience, your paddle board is going to feel unstable in the water. As you gain more skill, you will be able to maintain more stability on the SUP.
The size of the paddle board – You should choose an inflatable or solid paddle board that is commensurate with your size and weight.
The rule of thumb is that a person who is 5 to 6 feet tall should get a board that is 10 or 11 feet long, and up to 34 inches wide.
A wider paddle board, say, of 34 inches would be more stable than one that is 32 inches wide.
The narrower boards are best for speed because they have less contact with the water, hence less friction.
The build quality of the SUP – If the build quality of the SUP board is compromised, it can be hard to balance on the water.
Inflatable boards can have a problem with the seams. While you can repair inflatable SUP, it is not possible to correct structural problems.
Also know there are SUP brands to avoid altogether because of their quality problems.
Between the inflatable vs solid stand up paddle boards, you can now choose the one that will meet your needs in the best way possible.
If you are a beginner:
Choose the inflatable board because it does not sustain damage easily. In that case, when you fall across or on it, you will not break it.
However, remember, when you fall from your SUP board, try to fall far from it, into the water.
If you are an advanced SUP enthusiast:
Go for the rigid stand up paddle board. It is faster, easier to control and it makes you look like the pro that you really are.
Both boards require some maintenance to enhance their durability.