SUP: Inflatable vs. Solid Paddleboard

Should you buy an inflatable or a solid paddleboard? Let’s take a look at the advantages of each to help you make your decision…

SUP inflatable vs solid paddleboard

A good paddleboard is a significant investment. One of the choices you have when thinking about which one to buy is whether to buy an inflatable board or a solid board.

Each has distinct advantages. Considering these will help you make your final decision.

Let’s start with inflatables…

Inflatable SUP Boards are Convenient

Inflatable SUPs transport and store easily. You don’t need a special rack for your vehicle, and they can deflate and roll up when you’re not using it. If your living situation leaves you with little storage space, a packable board is the perfect solution.

You can check it on an airplane, fit it in a backpack, carry it on your motorcycle or bicycle. Combine an inflatable board with a 4-piece paddle like Aqua-Bound’s Freedom or Lyric paddles and you’re set to go almost anywhere you can pack it.

Inflatable SUP Boards Offer a Softer Landing

Inflatable SUPs are a bit softer than solid boards. This is especially great for beginners (including children) who often fall a fair bit as they learn SUP techniques.

If you plan to paddle with your children or dog, inflatables offer a bit easier surface than solid boards, too—for sitting and for dog-claw gripping.

Inflatable SUP Boards are Still Tough

A high-quality inflatable paddleboard—like a solid board—will last for years if you take care of it. They can be used anywhere a solid board can be used, including rivers with rocks. Since they’re covered with layers of durable PVC plastic they’ll take a beating.

Solid paddleboards also have their advantages:

Solid SUP Boards Offer Better Maneuverability

There’s no doubt about it—a solid board (also called rigid or hard) will respond better, especially in waves and choppy water. They’re also a bit more stable in adverse conditions.

If you want to be to use your board to surf, compete, do tricks in the waves—more than just paddle on flat water—you might be happier with a solid board. Although inflatables can handle most of those situations, you’ll still get better maneuverability from a solid board.

Solid SUP Boards are Ready to Go

While it only takes about 10 minutes to fill an inflatable board with a hand pump, it still needs to be inflated before use. A solid board is ready to go as soon as you take it off your vehicle or get it out of your garage.

If you’re going to keep your board at a cabin or always use it in water with vehicle access, you’ll save time and hassle with a solid board.

Solid SUP Boards are Always Rigid

If an inflatable board isn’t pumped up to the right PSI (pounds per square inch), it’ll sag a bit in the middle. Of course, you won’t have to worry about that with a solid board.

Once you’re in the world of paddleboarding you may even find you want both types of boards. Then you’re free to use the best one for the best paddling scenario.

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