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Choosing Your SUP: Inflatable vs Hard Boards Video Explainer

Ruben from SUPboarder discusses the key considerations for choosing between an inflatable or hard composite stand-up paddleboard (SUP), focusing on general all-around boards.

Key Points Discussed:

  1. Storage and Transport: Inflatable SUPs are more convenient for those with limited storage space or who rely on public transport. They can be stored in small spaces and are easier to transport, especially for those without a car or roof rack. Hard composite boards are suitable for those with storage space and easier access to water bodies.
  2. Carrying and Handling: Inflatable boards are generally lighter and easier to carry, either inflated or in a backpack. Hard boards have balanced carry handles but can be more challenging to handle due to their weight and size.
  3. Durability and Maintenance: Inflatable boards are more durable and require less maintenance. They are less prone to damage from impacts and are easier to manage for families or those rough on their equipment. Hard boards, while offering better performance, need more care to avoid dings and scratches.
  4. Performance on Water: Inflatable boards offer greater initial stability, making them suitable for beginners. Hard boards, with their refined shapes and less flex, provide better performance, especially in surfing and choppy conditions. They react quickly and offer a more responsive experience.
  5. Ease of Re-mounting: Climbing back onto a hard board is easier due to its lower thickness and rounded rails. Inflatable boards, being thicker, pose more of a challenge for re-entry, especially when wearing a buoyancy aid.
  6. Weight and Flexibility: Hard boards are generally heavier but offer less flex, which is advantageous for performance. Inflatable boards have improved significantly in stiffness but still exhibit more flex under heavy foot traffic.
  7. Setup Time: Hard boards are quicker to set up, requiring only fin and leash attachment. Inflatable boards take longer to inflate, which can be a consideration when paddling with friends.
  8. Lifespan and Resale Value: Hard boards, though more expensive, have a longer lifespan and retain their value better over time. Inflatable boards are more affordable but may depreciate faster.
  9. Environmental Impact: Consider the environmental efforts of the brand, like packaging, materials and eco-initiatives.
  10. Personal Preferences and Use Cases: The choice depends on individual needs, such as ease of transport, storage, performance requirements, and the type of paddling (family fun, touring, surfing).

Research what you may want and need, talk to other paddlers before making a decision, there’s always a compromise between convenience and performance when choosing between an inflatable and hard composite SUP, so don’t over think it. Remember, the goal is to get outdoors and have fun!

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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.