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Inflatable vs. Hard Paddle Boards - Which One is Better?

Views: 500     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2022-06-24      Origin: Site

Inflatable vs. Hard Paddle Boards - Which One is Better?

Stand up water paddling is a popular sport that has been around for ages. The sport hugely takes over the water world by providing a healthy, fun outdoor experience. Most people describe their experience of SUP water sports as a huge blast. However, this can turn out differently depending on how you go about it, starting with what type of paddle board you choose.

Choosing between an inflatable or hard paddle board can be challenging since they have their share of distinct qualities. Whether you select an inflatable or hard SUP largely depends on qualities such as speed, maximum weight capacity, portability, and tracking, among other important performance criteria.

It's easy to get lost in the technical jargon, so to make it easier for you to decide, here are some critical benefits offered by each of the two boards. Hopefully, after reading this article, you will make up your mind about which board suits you. 

Inflatable  SUPs


Inflatable 3.2m SUP for All Skill Levels Stand Up Colorful Paddle Board

Inflatable SUPs are made of  PVC plastic layers that are joined together top to bottom by woven fibers throughout the board. They typically weigh about 18 to 28 pounds, and their portable nature allows them to fit in a duffle bag. Inflatable SUPs are equipped with a valve that the user can attach to a pump(which usually comes with the inflatable SUP )  to inflate the board.

The board becomes rigid once inflated, which usually requires about 15psi. Most inflatable SUPs come with built-in fins; however, some come with detachable fin boxes that have replaceable fin options. Compared to Hard paddle boards, inflatable SUPs are generally lighter and cheaper.

Why and when to use Inflatable SUPs?

The most significant difference between inflatable SUPs and hard boards is their portability: an inflatable SUP can fit in the trunk of most automobiles. They're wonderful for long drives and even better to carry when flying, especially when the room is minimal. Lugging around a large board bag is a hassle.

They're particularly great for upright paddling in shallow waters, especially on rapids or river excursions where rocks and rock bottoms are a huge possibility. Inflatable SUPs are far more robust compared to hard boards and can take a lot of beatings in the rapids.

Hard paddle boards

Hard paddle boards are also known as solid stand up paddle boards, and they are typically made out of different materials such as kevlar, foam, wood, and fiberglass. Finally, they are finished with multiple coats of epoxy resin which hardens the board, ensuring buoyancy and its watertight nature. An air vent is added on the deck of most hard boards to protect the epoxy resin from delaminating.

Layups, such as plastics, are readily available and typically less expensive; however, they do not always deliver a similar level of performance. Aside from the size, design, and a few other considerations, it's critical to verify if the board is light enough to handle, has adequate buoyancy, and has a thick immaculate finish to guarantee it'll be impervious to light knocks.

Why and When to Use a Hard Stand-up paddle board

In general, hard SUPs outperform inflatable SUPs in terms of responsiveness and performance, especially downwind. This is due to their stiffness and design, which generate high performance. Hard   SUPs are undoubtedly the best choice for SUP water sports and racing. Inflatable SUPs may be a superior solution for whitewater paddling, speed downwind, and maintaining control on tight bends.

Head-on comparison of Inflatable vs. Hard Paddle Boards

Now that we understand what both boards are, it's time to compare what they can offer. As stated above, each type of board has unique qualities that affect the overall performance on the water.


Inflatable SUPs are the most convenient to transport. Once deflated, they can be rolled and tucked to fit in a large duffle bag. They also offer the added advantage of being easy to fly with when going on vacations. Users can just put it in a carry-on bag and check it to avoid incurring surfboard charges. On the other hand, it will require a big car or a car rack to haul a hard SUP board. Furthermore, because hard SUPs are heavier, they are more difficult to transport to and from the sea.

Storage space

It's vital to think about how much storage room you have when picking between an inflatable and a hard SUP board. An inflatable SUP will be the best alternative if you stay in an apartment without a garage or limited storage space. You can store the board almost anywhere with inflatable standup boards as long as it's deflated.

When buying a hard SUP board, think about how you'll store it during winter or when it's not in use. You can keep it in your basement, but you'll still need enough clearance and space to get the board ( which usually measures 9 to 12 ft ) inside or outside your house.


Hard SUPs are less durable compared to inflatable boards. It will not break or scratch if you accidentally drop an inflatable SUP. However, if your hard SUP board falls, it's possible that it'll be destroyed and will require repairs right away. An inflatable board is the best solution if you desire a carefree board. Inflatable paddle boards are ideal for whitewater and rough river paddling because they are more durable.


Hardboards outperform inflatable SUPs in maneuverability, speed, and control, while inflatables provide more stability and weight support. Hard boards are faster, glide superior, and keep their velocity longer than inflatable SUPs. This is due to the fact that a large majority of inflatable SUPs have strong planning hulls that have the same thickness level from tail to nose.

However, the light wind might have a tremendous effect on inflatable SUPs, making it difficult to use them. While there is also a slight performance loss on hardboards when facing the light wind, hardboards are far better at handling windy conditions compared to inflatables.


The type of activity or water sport you wish to conduct with your SUP will largely determine which type of board suits you. An inflatable is the best option if you're looking for a more recreational, easy-to-use board. A hardboard will be a great pick if you want something geared for high performance and have room to store it. At Buy4Outdors, we have a range of boards you can choose from when you consider going on your next water excursion.

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