How to choose between hard or inflatable SUP?
One of the essential things that can impact your paddle boarding experience is the kind of paddle board you are using. With the popularity of this sport, many manufacturers of paddle boards have appeared in the market, and all are making a variety of products.
So, taking the decision often becomes difficult when you have a huge variety available and do not know what sets each item apart. To help you make a better decision, we have thoroughly analyzed different features of inflatable SUP and hard SUP, which are the two most common forms of SUP. Let’s read their characteristics properly then make a knowledgeable decision by buying the most suitable paddle board.
Inflatable stand-up paddleboards are manufactured up of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic. While the name indicates, they are inflated with either an electronic or a manual air pump. They possess valves through which air is filled inside the paddle board.
You can deflate inflatable paddle boards. That is why they are all packed in a small-sized case, and their total weight may vary from 18 pounds to 28 pounds. Once they filled with the air, they become surprisingly very tight and stable. Most of the inflatable SUPs come with fixed fins, but some also have replaceable fins.
Inflatable SUPs take very little storage space.
Deflate them after using. Roll them, and pack in their bags. Place this small bag anywhere easily. Keep it in the backseat of your car or in your small-sized storeroom. You will also not have to pay the airport fee for carrying an oversized item.
If you live in a small apartment and have a storage issue, you should consider inflatable SUPs as they take less space and are light in weight.
As inflatable SUPs can be deflated and packed in small cases, so taking them from one place to another becomes very easy. If you are traveling to another city, then you will not have to hire a large-sized car to take the paddle board. You can simply place it in the back-seat of your vehicle.
Similarly, if you are going on a plane for vacation, you can keep it in your bag and will not have to pay the extra charges for carrying a large paddle board. Another thing that makes it very portable is that it is light in weight as compared to the hard paddle boards. So, you can easily tolerate their weight and take them from place to place without any trouble.
Inflatable SUPs are a good choice to have a carefree paddling experience. As they are made up of plastic, they do not get scratchy or dents easily. You can use them in the rough water without worrying about damaging them.
And even if they get damaged, they will take less time and resources to be repaired fully. Inflatable SUPs usually come with repairing kits that have standard tools required to fix basic issues. So, you can take them in the white waters and enjoy your paddling more than ever.
Standing on the inflatable SUP feels like standing on a yoga mat. It feels good to your feet, that is why you do not get tired of standing on the board for long. Beginners often fall on the board while trying to maintain balance. Falling on inflatable SUPs does not hurt knees which can make your paddling experience more enjoyable.
Weight of an inflatable SUP is determined by its size and the construction material. The larger the board is, the heavier it will be. Still, they are light in weight which makes their transportation quite feasible. The average weight of inflatable SUPs is 21 pounds.
Inflatable SUPs usually have more volume, and their weight carrying capacity is also more. Due to these reasons, they are considered more stable and user-friendly. Beginners who are learning the initial steps will find it more convenient as it will give them more area to maintain their balance and practice paddling.
Inflatable SUPs show good performance, but as they are light in weight, they do perform as well as the hard SUPs do. They do not take harsh turns as good as the hard SUPs do. So, if you are looking for a SUP for racing, surfing, or covering long distances, then inflatable SUP may not be the best option.
However, they show great performance when they are used for recreational purposes.
This kind of SUP is generally more affordable. You also do not have to rent a tuck etc. to carry them so with an inflatable SUP you can save transportation money as well. People who are not sure whether they will keep practicing paddle boarding or not should buy inflatable SUPs.
Different construction materials are used for making hard standup paddle boards. The most common materials include foam, wood, plastic, and fiberglass. These materials are then covered with epoxy resin to keep them protected and secure.
It comes in different sizes and shapes. You must consider its dimensions carefully so that you buy a paddle board that meets your needs well. Let’s understand it better by examining its different features.
Hard SUPs cannot be deflated like inflatable paddle boards. They maintain their shapes. Due to this reason, they take more storage space than the inflatable paddle boards. Keep them indoors like in garage or storeroom so that they do not get damaged by changing weather conditions or sun.
Hard SUPs are a good option for those who do not have a storage problem.
It is hard to transport hard SUPs from one place to the other. You will have to hire a truck or a large car to take them to your SUP destination. Taking them through plans will also cost you more as you will be charged its separate fee. That is why it is not convenient for those who do not want to spend their money on transportation of their paddle boards.
Hard SUPs can be more sensitive than inflatable SUPs. If you drop them by accident, they will more likely get some scratches or even dents. Due to this reason, you cannot take them in the white water as well. They can easily get damaged there. Repairing them also takes more resources, time, and money.
So, overall, hard SUPs are considered less durable than the inflatable SUPs.
As the name shows, they are hard or solid which means standing on their hard surface can tire your knees, legs, and feet after a short time. If you are a beginner, falling on the board and even in the water will become very common for you. But if you are planning to learn standup paddle boarding on the hard SUP, then you may have your knees bruised soon.
Hard SUPs are heavier in weight compared to the weight of inflatable SUPs. Their weight depends on their construction material and dimension. Larger the board is, the more its weight will be. Children and women often face difficulty in carrying them to the beach or their destination. Consider this kind of SUP if carrying heavy weight boards is not an issue for you.
Hand SUPs are stable but not as much as the inflatable SUPs are. Their weight carrying capacity is also a bit less. As compared to the inflatable SUPs, hard SUPs usually have less volume, which decreases their stability more. Due to this reason, hard SUPs may not be a good choice for beginners.
Performance-wise hard SUPs are better than the inflatable SUPs. You can make turns more easily if you are paddling on a hard board. They are more agile so show more resistance to moving wind and water. All of these factors collectively increase their overall performance. People going for a race, tour, or surfing should take hard SUPs.
The cost of hard SUPs can vary from one manufacturer to the other. Cheap quality hard SUPs are inexpensive. But if we compare the overall cost of hard SUPs, then they are more expensive then the inflatable SUPs. Generally speaking, their price can vary from $700 to $1,500.
The Bottom Line
Inflatable and hard SUPs have their own pros and cons. If one is advantageous in one situation, then the other is more useful in another situation. It will help if you consider different factors like the purpose of use, cost, ease of transportation, storage availability, etc. before choosing any one of these.
Now that you have learnt the difference between these two kinds of paddle boards, we hope that you will make a more knowledgeable and wise decision.