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7 Misconceptions About Inflatable Stand-Up Paddle Boards

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The most crucial piece of equipment for paddle boarding is the board. The type of board you choose can influence how fast you go, how far you go, how much cargo you can fit, how easily you can balance and maneuver, and so on! Every board has its own unique qualities, but there are three “main” types of boards that paddle boarders can choose from.

The three main types of paddle boards are the hard epoxy board, the soft top board, and the inflatable stand-up board, or iSUP for short. Of these three, iSUPs have the worst rap—but is it deserved? The short answer is not exactly. There are a lot of myths surrounding iSUPs, but many of them are misinformed or flat-out false. In this article, we debunk seven common misconceptions about inflatable stand-up paddle boards and explain the truth.

“They’re Only for Beginners”

iSUPs are an excellent board option for novices, but that doesn’t mean that intermediate or advanced paddlers can’t use them! Ultimately, the board you should use comes down to how and where you plan to paddle board. iSUPs are ideal for use in bays, lakes, rivers, and mild ocean waters; but if you’re planning to do a long-distance paddle through turbulent waters, then yes—a hard board may be the better choice.

“They’re Hard To Inflate”

A common reason paddle boarders are hesitant to use iSUPs is that you have to inflate them before each use and deflate them once you’re done. While this does sound like a hassle, we promise you—it isn’t as bad as it sounds! The average iSUP only takes five minutes to inflate and deflates even quicker. To inflate your board, just connect the pump to the valve, pump until you reach the recommended PSI, and then disconnect the pump and close the valve. It’s that easy! Deflating your board is easy, too. Remove the fin, twist open the valve, and let the board slowly deflate. Once most of the air is gone, grab it by the nose and roll the nose to the tail (towards the valve) to get rid of the rest of the air.

The time it takes to inflate your iSUP really isn’t that significant. It might take a paddle boarder with a hard board five minutes to unstrap their board and take it down from the roof of their car. This means that ultimately, it will take hard board and inflatable board users the same amount of time to hit the water.

“They’re Made From Cheap Materials”

This is one of the most common misconceptions about inflatable stand-up paddle boards. And it’s easy to see why: other inflatables like beach balls are made from cheap materials, so we automatically assume all inflatable items are flimsy and easily broken. But iSUPs are much sturdier than they look. They’re made from high-density PVC with drop stitch technology, and not the cheap plastic used for most consumer goods.

“They’re Not as Durable as Hard Boards”

Actually, iSUPs are just as durable as hard boards—if not more durable. They don’t dent or scratch easily, and unlike hard boards, falls don’t damage them. If you were to throw a hard board off a cliff (don’t try this at home), it would, at a minimum, wind up with a few dents and scratches. Throw an iSUP off a cliff, and it’ll just bounce.

It’s true that iSUPs don’t fare well against sharp, pointy things, but neither do hard boards. So long as you don’t purposely and repeatedly ram your iSUP into sharp rocks on the water, it’ll hold up just fine. The average iSUP will last 5+ years, though, of course, this depends on how often you maintain it and use it.

“They’re Costly”

In most cases, iSUPs cost a few hundred dollars less than hard boards. This is part of the reason they’re recommended for beginners: they’re reasonably priced, so if you only plan to paddle board casually or wind up not liking the sport, it’s not that much of a loss.

That said, the price of an iSUP varies based on its quality and features, so not all iSUPs will be cheaper than a hard board. Sturdier, well-made boards will obviously come at a premium, but this cost is worth it for those who plan to paddle board regularly. Premium iSUPs are still cheaper than top of the line hard boards.

“They Don’t Perform Well”

Hard boards are easier to maneuver and have better gliding, tracking, and speed. But that doesn’t make iSUPs worse—it just means that iSUPs excel in different areas than hard boards. Each type of board has its pros and cons. iSUPs might not be as fast or catch the waves as well as a hard board, but they’re ideal for whitewater paddling. They’re also more stable, allowing you to easily surf, fish, and even practice yoga on them.

“You Can’t Use Them in Salt Water”

It’s true that hard boards tend to be better for ocean paddle boarding, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use an iSUP in salt water. If you want to use iSUPs in the ocean, stick to paddling in shallow, calm water—unless you’re a more advanced paddle boarder, in which case you may have an easier time in rougher waters.

Don’t worry about the salt and heaving waves harming your iSUP: they don’t pose a serious risk to your board. That said, you should wash your iSUP with fresh water after each venture into the ocean; salt can damage your board over time if you never wash it off and let it accumulate.

There are quite a few misconceptions about inflatable stand-up paddle boards, but as you can see, not all of them are true. iSUPs are a durable, high-performance, inexpensive, and multi-use alternative to hard boards that all paddle boarders, whether novice or advanced, should try. Who knows; iSUPs may even become your new favorite kind of board!

If you’re searching for a new inflatable stand-up paddle board, Green Water Sports has the high-quality boards you need. As passionate paddle boarders ourselves, we want to provide other fans of the sport with premium equipment they can trust. Shop for iSUP and iSUP accessories with us today!

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About the author: Julian Kidd
I have been an avid stand up paddle boarder since 2009. I retired from a decade of professional kiteboarding to focus on SUP. Green Water Sports grew from this love of all things SUP. As well as being a keen paddle boarder, I'm a football fan, closet petrol head, web tinkerer, husband and father.