by | Jun 5, 2019

As technology and development in inflatable and hard boards change this is something to review every few years as it used to be very clear that hard boards rule the waterways and inflatables had no place and no rivalry to the hardboard but today things are very different. let’s dive into the reasons for and against you may want a inflatable or hard stand-up paddle board

What’s the difference in volume with a hardboard and inflatable

if you’re just starting out in stand-up paddle boarding you’re likely to rent or get a lesson on an inflatable, for beginners this is a great place to start is usually and inflatable is more stable very flat a wide surface with high volume.

Amount of storage needed

Your first paddle board may also be a inflatable sup,  they can be deflated and rolled up and put into a backpack size carrier the paddles also can be unassembled to  take up less space so when it comes to storage the inflatable wins this round.

Storage good practices

Always store a  hard paddle board in its bag  this will reduce UV damage or anything knocking the board will be protected the same goes for inflatables but there may be  deterioration if rolled up for too long you may find if your board has been rolled up for a long period of time when you pump it up it has warped or stretch slightly.

A soft vs hard deck

If you’re a beginner and still getting your balance on a stand-up paddle board and then likely enough you’ll be falling in the water or on the board frequently one benefit the inflatable has is if you fall off the board or onto the board it’s softer and less impact on your body then a hard sup

What is more durable

Inflatable boards more durable in a sense that if you were to collide or hit obstacles then more likely to bounce off with less damage.  Banks rocks other boards or even falling on the board can all be things that damage a sup inflatable absorbs all of these with little effect on the board.

can I travel with Stand-up paddle board

Although you can take hard boards on a plane because of the size no matter how are you packet there is always a risk of it getting damaged where as an inflatable you can just put in as luggage and not worry about damage,  there is also the additional cost of sports equipment for a hardboard, ideal travel board

There are different length limits for sports equipment so it’s best to check with your airline before you go and book and check in advance


when it comes to performance

Performance Although inflatable technology materials have come a long way the improvements the hard boards are still unmatched proof of this would be if you were to watch any sup competition.  and see how many people are using inflatables over hard boards

The design of a hardboard can be far more technical more performance shapes can be mate when your shaping a board of foam and fiberglass/ carbon fibre think of it like the chiseled physique and the tubby brother.

There is limitations to inflatable stand-up paddle boards accurate rail profiles  channels on the bottom of the board more pressure through the fin True performance sup

What’s more Efficient

Hardboard if designed correctly will be far more efficient than inflatable everytime you paddleboard a certain amount of the energy will be absorbed into the board and the rest will propel you forward with a hardboard nearly all of your thoughts on your paddle is pushing straight through to moving the board forward.  With inflatables far more energy is being absorbed into the board so over time you will tire far quicker on an inflatable sup over distance. Best board for distance and Efficiency

What is stronger? hard boards or inflatables

For inflatable sup to get its strength it needs to be thick more material more air more fibres this is why you don’t see thin profile inflatables without them bending in the middle with the hardboard naturally it has far more rigidity and can use far better materials like carbon fibre, wooden stringers and layering technology of glass. For this reason you can stand much lower on the board and this provides once again a more efficient paddle stroke and paddle position your centre of balance is much lower so more Force can push you forward .

What is faster to get in the water

Hardboard has no setup time as soon as you get to the beach is ready to go no 10-20 minutes of pumping up, unravelling assembling it’s always ready to go I’ve heard inflatable sup enthusiasts say “well I can just leave mine inflated” if that’s the case then you have room for  a hard board

what about repairs

Repairing a laminated hardboard is a lot easier than most people think as long as you know the material your board is made from a safe bet is two part epoxy epoxy won’t effect polyester polyurethane boards but polyester resin will affect and an epoxy board.  inflatables similar to if you’ve ever had a bike puncture just needs a patch and some strong glue always test for air leaks before you set out

Foil fins and sup foil

This is specifically something that can be used on hard boards I have not ever seen a full on an inflatable simply because a large amount of pressure goes through the thin box and that kind of strength you will only get with the hardboard although it may seem kind of niche it’s a fun option

Beginner boards

Like many of the points above a beginner board will very much be dependent on how comfortable you are on each board I would always recommend 8 hardboard as it gives you a upgrade path to improving and you’re already one step ahead when it comes to upgrades if you are likely to use a bored only a summer or holidays and trips and inflatable may best suit you

Ultimate / pinnacle boards

For ultimate surf race downwind touring or all-rounder it’s going to be a point for the hard boards here laminated hardboard with a fiberglass carbon or other will always have a clear lead an advantage over an inflatable

Ultimate racer  / Ultimate racer 14  foot / Ultimate Surfs Up

maintenance or upkeep on stand-up paddle boards

With hard boards it’s simply taking out of the bag and checking over for any damage before you jump in the water and after a paddle it’s good practice to rinse off the sort of any board

For inflatables similar un-rolling your board checking for punctures making sure it’s correctly inflated And rinsing off before it goes in a bag

Buying advice

Before purchasing your first stand-up paddle board consider what you’re going to use the board for and try out both inflatable and hard boards most places will hire boards or even lessons you will have the choice sometimes of a hardboard or inflatable have a go on both and make up your own mind. our recommended first time sup

final thoughts

Each person reading this will have their own winner as it depends completely on your circumstances if you have an apartment or a small amount of  space to store a board or you just recreationally use a board for a summer holiday then a inflatable might make more sense to you

where as anyone who has been on a hardboard after using a inflatable will realise almost instantly how much better faster and more efficient 8 hardboard feels under your feet more responsive in all conditions, all-round improver board

Me and my brother when creating our boards have toyed with the idea of making inflatable paddle boards and With all the same reasons above and deciding to go with performance Hard boards for this reason it was very obvious the better choice to us and our customers. for more information why we only make epoxy boards see this article

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