Are inflatable paddle boards any good for beginners? As a hard board brand, our gut reaction is to say that inflatable paddle boards are terrible. However, that would be dishonest. A better answer would be “it depends”.
Like every product, inflatable paddle boards can be of poor or high quality. Inflatable boards have a wide price range. You can purchase an inflatable for as little as $250 or as much as $2500. The boards at the lower end of the price spectrum should be avoided.
STIFFNESS IS IMPORTANT
When inflatable paddle boards are designed, a key objective of the builder is to make the inflatable as stiff and rigid as a hard board.
A paddle board’s rigidity is its key to success. A hard, rigid board glides through the water with ease, and is easy to paddle. For beginners, stability is more important than glide, and rigid paddle boards offer better stability than a soft paddle board.
As a beginner, you should look for a paddle board that is very rigid and stiff. You will be able to stand easier, and you will be able to move forward and gain speed more efficiently.
DO INFLATABLES PROVIDE GOOD RIGIDITY?
All inflatables try to be as rigid as a hard board like a Wappa. Unfortunately, unless you are spending more than $1500, it’s unlikely that you will experience stiffness similar to a hard board. Cheaper inflatables are less expensive because they don’t have the same number of channels and baffles that give the board the stiffness it needs to be beneficial for a beginner paddler.
Inexpensive inflatables can lead to a frustrating afternoon on the water. Without stiffness, the board may start to bend a little under the paddler. This creates board instability and all but eliminates glide. A beginner on such a board, can quickly become frustrated. Balance is difficult to obtain, and the paddling experience is suboptimal.
If you are learning to paddle board, try to learn on a hard paddle board. Hard paddle boards have the rigidity required for excellent beginner stability, and they glide easier through the water. Better stability and better glide equate to a better experience, and more fun on the water.
So, to answer the original question, “Are inflatable paddle boards any good for beginners?” Yes, they can be. Just make sure you spend the money and get the stiffest inflatable available. If you cheapen out and get an inexpensive brand, you’ll likely experience much more frustration than you would on a better-quality inflatable or hard board. If you can’t afford the best inflatables, it’s best to stay away, and purchase a hard paddle board instead. It’s just a better experience.
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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