Should you be purchasing an inflatable SUP board today? Many paddlers ask themselves this question, especially when looking at stand up paddleboards for the first time. Comparing inflatables to a hard SUP can be a difficult answer to find.
Some experienced paddlers say that they would never use an inflatable SUP. You’ll find other experienced paddlers say that they would never use anything but an inflatable SUP. Who is right in this scenario?
In many ways, both groups of paddlers are correct. There is a time and place for an inflatable SUP. There are also times and places where using an inflatable SUP would be inappropriate.
Inflatable Boards Are Perfect for General Paddling
If you’re a weekend paddling warrior with no intentions of touring or racing, then an inflatable SUP is the perfect investment. It’s an affordable way to get out onto the water without worrying about the pets or the kids ruining your expensive fiber board.
Transportation is also an advantage that the inflatable SUP is able to provide. A hard board that’s 12 feet in length is going on top of your vehicle. An inflatable SUP can be folded up and transported in the trunk of an average car. You can also pack an inflatable board into a standard backpack to go paddling in a favorite spot without the hassle of carrying a massive board.
Inflatable SUPs are also a lot easier to take with you on a vacation. Put them into your checked luggage and you’re ready to go.
Budget Concerns Are Often the Top Consideration Factor
The bottom line typically involves price. A hard SUP is going to cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. An inflatable SUP is going to be much less than this.
Because of this fact, you’ll find that inflatable SUPs tend to hold their value better than comparable hard boards. Although they are inflatable, they stand up to wear and tear pretty well, even if you’ve frequently used your board for 3-5 seasons.
But with that in mind, folks who are tough on their boards are going to want to avoid using an inflatable SUP. Most damage occurs during transport, but some coastlines have plenty of hard objects that could puncture even the toughest inflatable. If you’re paddling down a river or visiting the monoliths along the US West Coast, then a hard board is probably a better choice.
Try Out Both If You Can for Best Results
If you’re not sure about whether an inflatable board is right for you, then find a local rental outfitter who can offer you the chance to try out both. Get a feel for what each type of board can do. You might just discover that purchasing both styles of board is the right decision to make – if you can afford both boards anyway.
Inflatable SUPs are a good investment for beginners and casual paddlers. Experienced paddlers also enjoy their versatility. Only one question remains: which board is going to be the best inflatable SUP for you today?