Over the past few years, the popularity of paddle boarding has skyrocketed and it’s easy to see why. Not only is it easily accessible for the masses and suited for all levels and ages of people, it is also a fun and great way to stay healthy and in shape. With this popularity, the stand up paddle board market can be a little overwhelming with various types, shapes and materials. This is why we have simplified it and outlined our top reasons why you should buy an inflatable paddle board, complete with a buying guide.
Inflatable stand up paddle boards are much lighter than their solid counterparts, making them much easier to carry and move around. This makes them ideal for paddling rivers and canals, especially if you need to pass through locks. The lighter weight also makes them more suitable for more off the beaten path locations where you would need to carry your board or lift it in and out of the water frequently. If you’re walking a longer distance, you can pack it down into it’s backpack and pump it when you reach your destination! Depending on the size and materials, inflatable paddle boards weigh between 15 to 25 pounds, whereas a standard solid paddle board weighs 30lbs upwards.
As the paddle boarding world has grown rapidly, and continues to do so, the diverse options and types of paddle boarding have grown too. There are wide ranges of inflatable options like all rounder boards, which are generally thicker and wider. This makes them stable in a variety of water conditions, like flat-water lakes and rivers, choppy ocean, in the surf and even white-water rapids. These features also make them easy to paddle, ideal for beginners but also more advanced paddlers pushing themselves in different conditions. Some all round inflatable boards even offer a windsurf option with a mast foot fitting, so you can mount a windsurf sailing rig. In a nutshell, you really can have one inflatable paddleboard for all possibilities from paddle board yoga, flat water touring, surfing, open ocean paddles or just to enjoy with the family.
Nothing justifies a purchase quite like being able to say, “It’s for the family”. Following on from our versatility point, inflatable paddle boards are incredibly stable so they are easy to use for all levels, ages and sizes. Along with ease of use, inflatables are much safer than solid boards. Although, when fully inflated, inflatable boards offer a hard board like rigidity, they still have some ‘give’. That cushion helps to comfort falls and prevent injury in case you get hit, or accidentally hit someone else. Also, the materials used for inflatables are usually less slippery and more comfortable than hard boards.
Will it last me is a question that crosses all of our minds when it comes to spending money. Inflatable paddle boards are inherently durable as they bounce rather than bump, making them more forgiving. For white-water paddling and similar conditions, it makes inflatables perfect as there can often be slightly rockier and shallower areas. Of course, you still need to be conscious of sharp objects both in and out of the water, but compared to hard boards that ding, scratch, chip and crack with relative ease, inflatables are the more rugged and durable option. Leaks and tears can happen, but handily, most SUPs come with a small repair kit that is quick and easy to use. Durability also depends on how you take care of your board, but fortunately, inflatables are pretty low maintenance. As long as you give it a fresh water rinse after use, let it fully dry and don’t leave in direct sunlight or in a hot or damp area, your inflatable paddleboard should last a long time with very little wear or tear.
Convenience is key and, in addition to being low maintenance, there are many other factors that make inflatable paddle boards so convenient. Most come with a roll bag or backpack that the board can fold down in to, which is surprisingly small, making it much easier to pack away and store when not in use. This impressively small pack down also means it will fit easily inside the car, so you remove the hassle of roof racks and lifting boards on and off the top of your car. We once witnessed someone arrive at the beach in their tiny Smart Car with their paddleboard strapped into the passenger seat!
As we mentioned above, when travelling by car, inflatable paddleboards fit inside, saving much time and bother. When it comes to travelling by plane, it’s quite the headache to even try and fly with a hard paddle board. As inflatables pack away so small and weigh around 20lbs (9kg), you can put them inside your suitcase or check it in as a second bag without the large price tag of oversized or sports baggage. With paddle boarding becoming increasingly popular along with people wanting to travel to exotic paddle locations, companies are constantly reducing the pack away size of their inflatable paddle boards. Some newer models have a carry bag with similar measurements to hand luggage carry on bags!
Generally speaking, inflatable paddleboards are cheaper to buy than hard paddleboards. Not only that, but on the whole, the repairs are cheaper too. Most come with their own little repair kit so you can fix the smaller repairs at home! Inflatable paddle boards also hold their value due to their strong durability, so whether you want to upgrade, try something new or move down a more specialized route, you won’t feel like you’re losing out.