9 reasons - INFLATABLE VS. RIGID PADDLE BOARDS – CHOOSING THE BEST FOR YOU.
When it comes to buying a stand-up paddleboard (SUP), the number one question on most peoples’ minds is choosing an inflatable or rigid paddleboard.
The answer to this question might seem pretty straight forward-besides, they both work, right? Wrong!
Both rigid and inflatable paddle boards have their perks and cons, and the choice as to which one among them is best rests solely on you, the paddler.
That being said, after thorough research and testing, we found that inflatable paddle boards have far more advantages than their rigid counterparts. Here are nine reasons why you should consider getting an inflatable paddle board next time you're out paddleboard shopping.
1. Over time inflatable paddle boards have become more durable than epoxy ridged SUPs.
Let's face it. Epoxy-rigged SUPs are pretty susceptible to damage. Now and then, you'll get a ding or hole on your board that'll cost you an arm and a leg to repair. But with inflatable paddle boards, you can say goodbye to all that.
Recent advancements in technology and manufacturing practices have made inflatable paddle boards some of the most durable and efficient paddleboards on the market.
Many people who paddle on rivers where impacts with rocks and other shrapnel are common choose inflatable paddle boards as their go-to choice.
2. Falling is inevitable, and when you do on an inflatable, it doesn’t hurt as much.
Regardless of your level of experience, you’ll always fall off your board at least once or twice.
Now, imagine falling off, then hitting your head on a rigid board. Sucks, right? It might even leave you with a scar or ruin a perfect date when you’re trying to show off your skills to your would-be partner.
On the other hand, inflatable boards are so soft that you won’t even feel a thing when you bump into them.
3. Fatigue is reduced on a softer surface; think of standing on a soft mat.
Have you ever stepped on one of those soft floor mats used in commercial settings? If you have, then I don’t need to tell you how much they reduce fatigue.
The reduced contact pressure offered by inflatable paddle boards makes your feet feel more comfortable and relaxed. They are also suitable for your knees, back, and neck.
4. Lighter boards like inflatables get used more.
The heavier the paddleboard, the more effort it requires to move across the water. Inflatable paddle boards are much lighter than rigid SUPs of the same size, hence their popularity.
5. Traveling with a SUP or blow-up board can easily be checked on an airplane.
Rigid SUP boards are enormous. You can’t roll them up and stick them in a bag. This makes them particularly costly and cumbersome to travel with.
Most people who use rigid SUPs have to hire a new board when they get to their travel destination since they can’t bring their board.
On the upside, human ingenuity has granted us the pleasure of owning paddle boards that you can roll up and stick into a bag when checking in for airplane travel. They are also very light, so you don’t have to pay extra for luggage.
6. Rigid boards or hardboards take up a lot of space.
Storing a rigid SUP can be pretty daunting. They can take up an entire wall, and in some cases, they require a higher ceiling.
On the other hand, inflatable paddleboards can be rolled up and stored in small storage spaces. You can even store an entire fleet of inflatable paddle boards in a small closet.
7. Inflatables Perform Better in Varied Settings.
Inflatable paddle boards have come a long way from being substitute or trainer paddleboards.
The inflatable boards available on the market today are nearly as rigid as epoxy and fiberglass paddleboards and can even perform better in a wide variety of conditions.
Inflatables can be used anywhere from flat water, small waves, and even whitewater paddle boarding.
They owe this to the improved buoyancy that enables them to handle more weight. They are also 20% larger than rigid SUPs, making them more stable and generally safer than rigid SUPs.
8. Inflatables are Perfect for off-boat Exploration.
Depending on your boat's size, you can take it literally anywhere across the seven seas. However, sailing across the open sea isn't enough for a complete adventure.
It would be best if you had something that can take you through shallow waters and narrow places like mangrove canals. And what better tool for the job than an inflatable paddleboard?
You can pack your inflatable paddleboard in a bag to save on space and inflate it once you get there. Inflatable paddle boards can open a whole new world of freedom while offering you far more stability and convenience than rigid boards.
9. Inflatables can’t Damage your Yacht.
A few things in this world are more frustrating than a scratch or dent on your new yacht.
Unfortunately, just about everything you bring onboard poses a risk to your yacht's perfect paint job and finishing.
Fortunately for you, you can now take paddle boards off the list. Unlike rigid SUPs, Inflatable paddle boards are super soft and pose no risk to your yacht.
Heck! You can even throw it around the boat, and it won’t make a single dent.
Inflatable paddle boards last very long. A regular inflatable SUP can last a minimum of five years with proper maintenance.
The most significant factor that affects the durability of an inflatable paddleboard is its construction. Inflatable SUPs with multiple PVC layers provide more excellent resistance to abrasions and punctures.
You can improve the durability of your inflatable paddle board by;
•Cleaning it before deflating
•Not leaving it outside for too long
•Avoid dragging it on bare ground
The best way to determine an inflatable paddle board's durability apart from its construction is by checking its warranty. More extended warranties offer proof of the manufacturer's confidence in the SUP.
An important point to note here is that the more you use your inflatable paddleboard, the more it is susceptible to damage; hence the shorter it will last.
Yes! And the best part about it is that it doesn't cost that much to repair an inflatable paddleboard.
The most common damage to inflatable SUPs is puncturing. On the bright side, most inflatable SUPs come with a patch kit as part of the purchase.
If your inflatable paddle board gets punctured, all you have to do is clean the punctured area with acetone or a wet rag with soap. Clean it again a couple of times, waiting for about five minutes before the next cleaning.
Next comes the tricky part. You will need to apply at least three glue layers to the patch and the punctured area.
Wait about five minutes after applying every layer, then when you’re done applying the glue, secure the patch and hold it tightly for a couple of minutes, and you’re done!
Like any other inflatable thing out there, inflatable paddle boards lose some air when left unattended for some time. In most cases, the air loss is not attributed to punctures but rather air expansion.
When left inflated under the sun, the high temperature causes the air within the SUP to expand, and if it’s full, then some air escapes. Inflatable paddleboards can also lose air naturally through rigorous use.
It is, therefore, necessary to check the air pressure of your SUP before taking it out onto the water.
PSI (pounds per square inch) refers to how much air you can add to your inflatable paddleboard.
If you add too much air, you risk popping your inflatable SUP, and if you add too little, then your inflatable paddleboard will be a bit flimsy.
So, that brings us to the question, how much air should you add?
The recommended PSI for inflatable paddle boards is 10 to 15 PSI. On average, about 12 PSI would do great, but if you want your board to be supper rigid, then you can go up to 25 PSI but not higher than that.
Inflatable paddleboards are generally more buoyant than rigid SUPs. This gives them a certain level of increased stability, but their stability ultimately comes down to their design.
Wider inflatable paddle boards with specialized designs on the underside can provide more stability than your average rigid board, making them easier to stand on.
But, the question of which is more stable has no definitive answer since the size, material, and design play a significant role in determining the general stability of a SUP.
Storing your inflatable paddle board properly can increase its longevity tremendously. It can also save you a lot of time when you want to head out. Here’s a couple of tips on how to store your inflatable SUP properly;
1. Avoid storing it in areas where it is in contact with abrasive materials. Abrasive elements like sand, salt, and dirt can cause undue damage to your inflatable SUP.
You should, therefore, clean up any grit that might be left on your board before storing it. As mentioned earlier, you should avoid dragging it through course ground.
2. Don’t store your inflatable SUP in direct sunlight. Ultraviolet rays from the sun can cause discoloration to your inflatable paddleboard. It can also damage the PVC material and cause glued parts to become undone.
3. Clean it before storing it. It would be best if you always rinsed your inflatable SUP with fresh water before storing it. Getting rid of dirt and grit can help prolong its lifespan. It also eliminates the need to clean it when you’re heading out.
Yes! Inflatable paddleboards are both rigid and responsive enough to ride waves. However, some models are better suited than others to handle waves.
You should also note that inflatable paddle boards handle small waves better than big waves.
You can race and compete on an inflatable paddleboard, but not all models are designed for racing. Numerous manufacturers are making inflatable SUPs that move faster and track better than your average rigid SUP.
Inflatable paddle boards designed for racing are generally longer than your average inflatable SUP. They also have a pointed nose, a narrow back end, and in most cases, the board itself is a bit narrow.
If you are looking for a SUP for leisure paddling, inflatable paddle boards are the best choice. This is due to their numerous advantages in stability, durability, versatility, weight, and injury prevention.
There are also some unique models that work great for wave riding, although they are typically designed to handle small waves.
If you are looking for a SUP for racing, then rigid paddle boards are the best way to go. This is due to specific technical attributes that give them better speed, stability, and maneuverability.
However, in general, inflatable paddle boards offer more versatility in terms of portability, safety, and ease of maintenance.
Although inflatable paddle boards had just hit the market the other day, they are becoming more popular among SUP enthusiasts. They have some pretty impressive attributes that, in some cases, outweigh those of rigid SUPs.
Although we've only discussed nine, there are tons of other reasons why you should choose an inflatable paddleboard over a rigid (hardboard) paddleboard.
The few that stand out are their excellent stability, durability, portability, and ease of maintenance.
So, if you like paddling in remote waters, where you need to carry your board for a considerable distance, then I don’t have to tell you which among the two is best.
After buying your inflatable paddleboard, ensure that you follow proper maintenance guidelines to make sure it lasts as long as possible.
It is also advisable that you always bring a patch kit with you whenever you go paddling. After all, you wouldn’t like a small puncture ruining your day, would you?
We’ve answered most questions regarding inflatable paddle boards, but you can always reach out to us whenever you need some advice or clarification. Good luck shopping and have fun out there!