Are inflatable paddle boards better than hard paddle boards?

Posted by Raft Finder on

Which one is better - Inflatable or hard paddleboards? There is an essential ongoing debate on whether inflatables offer the same benefits as hard boards. It brings a lot of confusion since there are a lot of perspectives regarding the two boards. But one thing is clear: inflatable boards have come a long way and are equally better or outperform the hard boards. Here are some of the advantages;-

1. Easy storage and transportation

It's relatively easy to store inflatable boards since they require a small space. Once you deflate Inflatable boards, roll them up and stick them in the trunk or bag. With the current storage limitations, having something that can fit any car size is convenient. Certainly, large sporting equipment can restrain ownership of such equipment. The ability to deflate comes in handy since you don't have to buy a car rack when traveling with your SUP.

2. Durable and strong

Most inflatables are made out of military-grade materials, and unlike hard boards, they are not affected by hard rocks impact. Unless you try one, you wouldn't know how strong and rugged they will hold up over time. Technology has enabled them to have the ability to hold their sturdiness. Tears or leaks are possible if you abuse them by bumping them over sharp objects.
Unfortunately, dings and holes on hard boards require pricey repairs, so people prefer inflatables over hard boards on rivers. Indeed, rentals agencies prefer leasing out inflatable boards to avoid board damage from careless handlers.

3. Offers softer landing from falls

Inflatable paddleboards are suitable for beginners since they tend to be long and wide. However, they are also popular with riders of different skills sets. Their soft surface provides a cushion if you fall, thus preventing injury.

4. Lightweight

One person can easily transport inflatable paddleboards since they weigh between 15 to 35lbs. Most of them have backpack carry bags which means they can be carried using one hand. Other bags come with wheels which offer better mobility as the bag can be rolled like a suitcase.

5. Rigid and strong

It's as rigid as a hardboard once you inflate the inflatable board to its maximum PSI. Indeed, it doesn't look like it's an inflatable board. However, they are excellent at reducing body fatigue due to their soft surface. The softness protects you from getting hurt by the rigidity of the board.

6. Versatile

Many types of inflatable boards can be used on different types of water, courtesy of the growing industry. The variety of boards includes whitewater, fast touring, surfing, and race-specific boards. It doesn't matter what kind of board you choose; anyone of any age can use the boards. Many inflatables that are six inches thick are stable and are suitable for paddling with kids and dogs. Indeed they can be used on whitewater rapids, winding rivers, flat water lakes, ocean bays, and surf.

7. Reduces fatigue

Standing on an inflatable paddleboard is like standing on fatigue-reducing rubber mats. They offer a reduction of contact pressure, which benefits your knees, back, and neck. Therefore it provides more comfort and relaxation to the body.

9. FAQ

a) Are inflatable paddle boards repairable?

Yes, they are repairable. There are self-repairing patch kits on the market, but the best repairs should be done at a professional repair shop. But nowadays, you won't need patch kits if you purchase a performance-level inflatable board unless you use them carelessly or have a significant collision with a sharp rock in the river.

b) What PSI should I inflate the inflatable paddleboard to?

15psi to 17 psi is adequate for a high-end SUP board to reach optimal rigidity. These PSI levels are adequate for the majority of the boards. An increase in the PSI beyond that won't necessarily offer rigidity improvement but will cause harm by putting the board under stress.

c) What's the life span of inflatable paddle boards?

Quality is the sole determinant of the life span of your board. Hence inflatable paddle boards can last between 2 to 12 years. If you buy an inflatable paddleboard made from military-grade materials, it will serve you for more than a decade.

d) Is it possible to surf on a SUP?

Yes, you can surf on any SUP; however, performance will be based on board design, rigidity, and shape.

e) How do you choose an inflatable SUP to buy?

You should choose inflatable paddle boards that offer ultimate versatility. Touring paddleboards are suitable since they provide good tracking and long-distance speed. Select lighter boards and Inflatables suitable for whitewater or surfing. Moreover, choose inflatables ideal for paddling with your kids or dog.


Getting an inflatable paddleboard is like buying yourself a portable companion. You don't have to worry about the size, and the soft board reduces fatigue and prevents injuries if you fall. Go ahead and get one; you won't be disappointed as it can handle almost any type of water or situation.