Is a Hard Paddle Board More Stable Than an Inflatable?
Stability is an important characteristic of almost all paddle boards, and especially so, for newer paddlers who are first time purchasers. A stable paddle board enables the inexperienced to gain experience and confidence quickly. Most importantly, stability provides enjoyment to all paddlers.
With two different paddle board technologies dominating the market, a common question of first-time buyers is if a hard paddle board is more stable than its inflatable counterparts?
PADDLE BOARD STABILITY EXPLAINED
Stability can be defined as the state or quality of being stable, or having a firmness in position.
In practical terms, a stable paddle board is one that provides good balance to the paddler on the water, so that the paddler can stand on the board in water chop while it’s moving slowly or not at all. A stable paddle board will provide a solid surface and be wide enough to allow the paddler to stand naturally balanced.
INFLATABLE PADDLE BOARD INSTABILITY
Shoppers looking for the most stable paddle board should not consider inflatables.
Inflatable paddle boards do not offer the same level of stability as hard paddle boards for two primary reasons. They support the rider with air, and they have flat bottoms.
Board stability is directly related to its rigidity. Inflatable paddle boards are essentially plastic bags that are held rigid with air pressure. If the pressure isn’t sufficient, an inflatable paddle board becomes less rigid and soft. A hard paddle board keeps its rigidity at all times. Standing on a hard paddle board is like standing on a sidewalk. Standing on an under pressured inflatable is like standing on a mattress.
Simply put, an underinflated paddle board will be less stable than a hard paddle board because it will be less stiff.
ADVANTAGES OF HARD PADDLE BOARDS
When it comes to stability, hard paddle boards have many advantages over inflatables.
Hard boards will always provide more solid footing and better balance than inflatables due to the fact that they are naturally HARD AND SOLID and will never get soft.
Hard paddle boards can also have their bottom shaped to provide better stability and flow through the water. This is something inflatables just can’t do.
Because they’re rigid, hard board bottoms can have a rocker and concaves similar to a catamaran which enables the water to flow easily past the board. Easy water flow improves glide and stability. Inflatable paddle board designers do not have the option to create rockers or contoured bottoms on their boards. The outward force of air pressure construction, makes it impossible to create concave shapes. Concave bottoms improve water flow and improve stability and perform better in choppy water.
The contoured and concaved bottoms on hard paddle boards offers better stability on choppy water and swells. The flat bottoms on inflatables just don’t perform as well in these real-world conditions.
Simply put, the concave bottoms on hard paddle boards are more stable than the flat bottoms on inflatables.
To be fair to inflatables, flat bottoms are actually very stable in calm flat waters and do provide better stability than rockered and concaved hard boards. Outside of this perfect water condition, inflatable paddle boards offer inferior stability.
Shoppers looking for the most stable type of paddle board should purchase a hard paddle board. Being a solid surface, the rigid sensation felt through your feet naturally improves your balance. Hard paddle boards last for years and the natural stability of these boards will keep you loving the sport for just as long.
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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