Inflatable or Hard Paddle Board – Which to Choose?

Posted on Oct 15, 2017 in Activity

Nowadays, the market is overfloating with a broad array of amazing stand-up paddle boards. There are so many good models that it’s quite difficult to choose only one model. Deciding whether you want an hard or inflatable stand up paddle board is a big choice, in fact, this is the topic of discussion between many professional paddlers. It’s very hard to find a good answer and choose between these two models. While some people say an iSUP is the way to go, other prefer to paddle on hard boards. Therefore if you want to compare these two models and decide which one is better, below you can find some helpful information.

Inflatable stand up paddle boards

With so many types of inflatable boards on the market, it’s quite difficult to make the right decision. Inflatable boards have PVC exteriors with drop-stitch construction. At first glance, there is no difference between a hard SUP and an inflatable one because the inflatable model can be as rigid and strong as an epoxy paddleboard. Additionally, it’s good to take into consideration that most of these models are equipped with pumps and storage bags. Considering that they come with some distinct pros and cons, take a look at the following lines.

Easy to transport

As compared to the solid models, the inflatable boards are much easier to transport. When deflated and rolled up, most models have the size of a sleeping bag which perfectly fits in your car. Unlike the epoxy boards which require a roof rack and tie-down straps, an inflatable board deflates quickly and rolls up easily. Since they have the size of a sleeping bag, they are very easy to transport as well. With most hard boards can be a pain to get on and off the roof and carry them to the beach, especially if they are very heavy. However, this is not the case of an inflatable model which is very easy to use as well.

Durable

You might think that an epoxy board is a better option because of its durability. But if you think that an inflatable board is a better choice because it is much easier to transport, you should know that it is durable and stable as well. It comes with a great construction, being made of heavy-duty urethane. This type of board is the best option for most rivers because paddling over rocks and other obstacles can damage other types of boards.

Good price

The inflatable models are more affordable than the hard ones. Most iSUPs cost $500-$1000 while the epoxy boards generally start at $1000 and go up quick. Stand up paddle boarding is a fun activity and we all know how exciting can be to paddle with another person. This means that the reasonable price of these boards can be very attractive if you are planning on purchasing more than one.

Solid stand up paddle boards

As compared to the inflatable paddle boards that are made of heavy-duty urethane, the hard boards feature an EPS foam core that is wrapped with fiberglass and epoxy. This durable and lightweight construction is more affordable than the carbon fiber construction. However, the carbon fiber is also an option worth taking into consideration, but it is more expensive. Below, you will find some of the most important benefits of a solid paddle board.

Performance

In comparison to an inflatable board, the hard model is much faster and provides a better performance on the water. They glide faster and with less effort than an inflatable model. Therefore, if paddling fast and far are your priorities, a fiberglass or epoxy board is exactly what you need. It is a great option for increased speed and glides over long distances. To better understand the difference between the two models, some experts have made a speed comparison chart which includes the following information:

  • at a relaxed pace, an epoxy SUP (12’6) went 3.96 mph, while an inflatable board with the same dimensions went 3.78 mph.
  • at an intense pace, an epoxy board (12’6) went 5.21 mph while an inflatable SUP (12’6) went 4.88 mph.

All in all the hard paddle board is 6% faster than the inflatable model.

Stability

The solid paddle boards come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes, so it’s quite impossible not to find one that suits your needs. They are rigid and provide a stable feel especially when paddling through waves.