5 Reasons Hard Paddle Boards Are Better
Anyone shopping for a paddle board, have asked themselves if hard paddle boards are better than inflatables. Hard boards are more expensive than inflatables, so they have to be better. Right?
Yes, hard paddle boards are better than inflatables. They are superior to inflatables in everything that makes a paddle board important. The only thing that an inflatable beats a hard paddle board at is price. If you only have $300 and want a new paddle board, then an inflatable is for you. Otherwise, shoppers should stick to hard paddle boards. Here’s why.
Inflatable paddle boards are dangerous. In 2022, government consumer protection agencies from the United States and United Kingdom issued three recalls for inflatable paddle boards.
The recalls were issued due to a sudden risk of drowning. The seams of inflatables may suddenly split causing the board to rapidly deflate and sink to the bottom. The glue holding the seams together gives out.
Every inflatable paddle board is held together by glue, and the paddler depends on that glue to stay afloat.
Hard paddle boards aren’t held together with glue. Built from either plastic, epoxy/fiberglass or carbon fiber. A hard paddle board will never suddenly sink to the bottom. It could split in half and still provide support to the paddler. Hard boards have a foam core that offers permanent support. Inflatables have a balloon like air core that offers temporary support.
Every inflatable paddle board strives to be as stiff as a hard paddle board. That’s the whole point of inflatable paddle board technology. It’s trying to duplicate the hard paddle board experience.
A stiff paddle board is a key fundamental to its functionality. Stiffness is what enables a paddler to stand easily on a board, and is directly related to a paddle boards stability. Afterall, it’s easier to stand on a floor than it is a mattress on a bed. Stiffness, also affects how a paddle board moves through the water. A boat moves through the water easier than an inflatable dinghy.
When it comes to paddle board stiffness, hard paddle boards are the standard. Simple as that.
WHICH SURFACE PROVIDES BETTER STABILITY?
EASE OF USE
It’s much easier to use a hard paddle board than an inflatable. Hard paddle boards are instantly ready to hit the water! Take it off the roof rack or out of its storage spot at the cottage and you’re ready to go. At the end of the day, it takes two minutes to strap the board to the rack or return it to its storage spot.
Inflatables on the other hand, don’t have it so good. To start the paddling day, the board has to be unpacked, unrolled, inflated, checked for leaks, checked for proper pressure. Once all that’s done, the paddler can finally get to the water.
At the end of the day, the inflatable has to be dried, deflated, folded, rolled and repacked. By the time that happens, the hard board owner is already gone.
Glide can be described as the ease that a paddle board travels through the water. Paddle boards with good glide will travel further on the same energy than ones with poor glide. A paddle board’s glide is largely determined by the shape of its bottom.
Hard paddle boards typically have a concave or double concave bottom. Concaves helps to channel the water as from the nose to the tail as the board travels. This helps to increase speed and lift. Concave bottoms improve board performance and the paddling experience.
Inflatable paddle boards have a flat bottom and are incapable of being concaved. Flat bottoms can be fast and provide good stability provided that the water surface is calm and glassy. Once the water gets choppy, flat bottoms become very unstable and slow.
Again, hard paddle boards prove that they are better than inflatables. The flat bottom of the inflatable is fine close to the shore, or when the water is perfect. However, in the vast majority of conditions, the concaves provided by hard paddle boards will make for a better experience. Not only will paddlers experience better lift and speed, they will be able to paddle in choppy conditions, and will have the option to paddle as from shore as they desire. Hard paddle boards can easily handle open ocean environments.
Inflatables seem appealing because you can just throw it into the trunk of your car when you want to go paddling. That’s a great idea if you have a full size SUV, or a truck, but if you have a car, then the inflatable isn’t looking so good. A typical inflatable storage pack is more than three feet long, almost two feet wide and just over one foot tall. That’s takes up a lot of space in a vehicle.
People have even been known to purchase a roof rack and cargo box to either carrier the inflatable, or the other stuff required for a day of beach fun. For many people, the point of getting an inflatable was to avoid the investment into the roof rack. If paddlers are prepared to get a roof rack to help transport everything they need, they should get the superior hard paddle board to strap to the rack. Save space in the vehicle to transport other stuff and save money by not purchasing the cargo box in the first place.
While inflatables may seem like a good idea and a great value, they aren’t. They don’t offer as good a paddling experience as hard paddle boards, and they too have their own transport issues. Most importantly, inflatable paddle boards do not offer the safety of a hard paddle board. An increased risk of drowning is directly connected to inflatable paddle boards. This risk does not exist with hard boards. So, why would anyone take the risk and purchase an inflatable?
The Wappa Blog
Written by Wappa's founder Layne Pennell, the blog's aim is to educate and share his love of stand up paddle boarding with anyone interested in SUP.
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