Is a Hard Paddle Board Better Than an Inflatable?
Is a hard paddle board better than an inflatable? YES! There is no denying it. In virtually all areas, a hard paddle board outshines its inflatable counterpart. As a manufacturer of hard paddle boards, the reader might be skeptical of this answer. So, let examine the reasons for hard board superiority.
Every inflatable paddle board is held together by glue. That’s right… GLUE! Split seams are a major issue for inflatable paddle boards. To illustrate this, there are over a million Google results for repairing split seams for inflatable boards, and several repair options are available for sale on Amazon.
The simple fact of the matter is that hard paddle boards do not have seams. This issue simply doesn’t exist for hard boards.
Because inflatable paddle boards are held together by glue, there is a greater likelihood of drowning by people who use them. The seam glue may split at anytime causing the inflatable to suddenly sink, leaving the paddler with no support. If the paddler was to far from shore, there will be nothing buoyant to help the paddler swim to safety. Drowning may occur.
While this issue may be easily dismissed, the reality is that it is possible. The United Kingdom’s Office for Product Safety and Standard even issued two product recall for inflatable paddle boards for that very reason.
A hard paddle board will never suddenly deflate and sink under your feet. There simply aren’t any seams to break apart like an inflatable. In fact, if a hard board split in half, the paddler would still have a buoyant object to help support their weight as they worked their way to shore.
99% of all inflatable paddle boards perform worse on the water than their hard board counterpart. The one percent that performs as well cost as much or more than the hard board.
All inflatables strive to be as rigid as a hard board. That is their goal - to imitate the standard. Rigidity is a key aspect to a paddle board’s performance. A rigid board glides over the water better. In practical terms, that means it takes less energy to move the same distance on a board with better glide. Rigidity also aids in stability. It is much easier to stand on a rigid and solid surface than on a flexible surface. After all, it is much easier to walk on a sidewalk then it is a mattress.
Paddle board glide is also affected by a board’s bottom shape. All inflatable paddle boards have flat bottoms. On the other hand, the majority of hard boards have concave bottoms. Concave bottoms are designed to improve glide. These bottoms are shaped by machine or hand. It’s difficult to blow up a balloon with a concave in it. That’s why inflatables have flat bottoms. Inflatable SUPs can’t duplicate the improved performance supplied by concave bottoms.
EASE OF TRANSPORT/ SET UP
Owners of hard paddle boards often give a little giggle to themselves when they see inflatable paddlers at the beach.
Life as a hard board owner is simply easier. Let’s compare a hard board and inflatable SUP owners typical experience.
To transport a hard board to the beach, it takes about three minutes to strap the board to your vehicle’s roof rack and even less time to remove it from the rack. Yes, it takes even less time to throw an inflatable’s backpack into the rear of a vehicle, but that is where the inflatable’s advantage ends.
Once the paddlers arrive at the beach, the hard board owner simply has to remove the board from the roof rack, attach the leash to the board and his ankle and head straight into the water. The inflatable owner, has to unpack and unroll the inflatable. Pump it up. Ensure the proper pressure is obtained and attach the fins. After all that, the leash can finally be attached and the paddle session can begin.
At the end of the day, the hard board owner rinses his board to remove the sand from the beach and spends three minutes strapping the board to the rack and is gone. Meanwhile, the inflatable owner has to wait for his board to dry. Remove any debris. Deflate the board. Roll it up. Repack the backpack and then toss it into the back of the vehicle. That is certainly a lot more effort to go paddle boarding for the inflatable owner.
Yes, you will need a rack if you own a hard paddle board, but many inflatable owners end up buying racks and cargo boxes, because their inflatable’s pack takes up so much room in their vehicle, that they don’t have room to transport other beach essentials. Either way, you may end up purchasing a roof rack.
NO WEIGHT DIFFERENCE
A quality hard paddle board will weigh the same or even less than its inflatable counterpart. Many shoppers believe that inflatable are lighter and easier to carry. That simple isn’t true. Inflatable just have a handle at the nose so you can pull your board to the water. A quality paddle board is well balanced and easy to carry.
After examining the reasons for hard paddle board superiority, it is apparent that inflatable boards are inferior in every tangible way. Yes, they are less expensive than a hard board. In that case, the old saying is certainly applicable here, “you get what you pay for”.
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.
board performance explained
board care & maintenance
SUP for women
want a deal?