2023 starboard best inflatable touring stand up paddle boards

When To Choose an Inflatable or Hard Paddle Board


GreenWaterSportsLLC 203307 Inflatable Hard Board Blogbanner1

When it comes to choosing between an inflatable or hard paddle board, there are many things you need to take into consideration. The equipment seems interchangeable, but one option is better than the other for specific SUP boarding adventures, such as surfing. Ask yourself the questions in this article to help you determine which paddle board you should use.

Are You Participating in a SUP Race?

What do you plan on doing with your paddle board? Are you going on a leisurely adventure or planning to enter a race? When you’re entering a race, there are several conditions you must follow to qualify. Board length needs to fit the class you are racing, but there are no limitations on using a hard or inflatable paddle board.

Are You Traveling With Your Gear?

As you can imagine, traveling on an airplane or in a car with a hard paddle board is very difficult. On the other hand, inflatable stand-up paddle boards can easily compact and roll up, so they’re easy to travel with. Plus, the inflatable versions don’t take up excess space. If you’re a frequent traveler and like to bring your gear, you need an inflatable SUP board.

Is This Your First Time Paddle Boarding?

When you’re looking for your first paddle board, choosing an inflatable or hard paddle board is simple. The inflatable version is much easier for beginners to use because they’re more stable and provide a softer landing if the rider was to fall. Do not graduate to hard epoxy SUP boards until you know and understand the water sport.

Do You Want Optimal Performance and Agility?

When it comes to optimal performance and agility, hard paddle boards are the choice for you. For example, you might need better agility for SUP surfing, and a hard board can provide this! However, only use one if you’re in the intermediate to expert skill level. Inflatable paddle boards are more for all round paddle sessions and general use cases.

The bottom line is that inflatable paddle boards are better to use in general because they’re lightweight, stable, durable, and can be used in a variety of settings. However, if you plan on surfing, racing, or optimizing your performance, hard epoxy boards are the right choice. Consider what you plan on doing with your SUP board before purchasing one type over the other.

Join over 25k+ subscribers and sign up to our newsletter to receive news and deals...

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.