Inflatable vs hard stand-up paddleboards

closeup of a sandy paddleboard and leash

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Sure, hardboards won’t fit in the trunk of your sedan, roof racks and tailgate pads are cheap and easy to install. Inflatables, on the other hand, collapse into a roller backpack; toss it in your car, pull out a pump, fill with air, and you’re set!

Some things to consider when you’re choosing between a hard and inflatable board:

Portability – Inflatables are the easiest to transport, you don’t need a large vehicle because when deflated, they roll up to the size of a sleeping bag.  Another perk, you can easily fly with them when you go on holiday (whenever that opens back up to us).  Check the bag and you can avoid paying airline fees and high rental costs at your destination.

Roof racks and tailgate pads are inexpensive if you want to load a hardboard onto your vehicle. And if you’re more of a “load and go” type of person, this might be your best bet; no need to inflate and deflate at each destination. 

Storage space –  If you live in an apartment, home with no garage or don’t want to see your board hanging on the wall or from the ceiling, an inflatable will be your best option, you can store it basically anywhere.

Hardboards can be stored in your garage or at the cottage year-round, even in Edmonton winters.  We have ours hanging above our vehicles with bungee straps, also making it easy to load and unload whenever we take them out.  Display them on a wall or hang them from the rafters; they look pretty cool.

Durability – In general, inflatables are more durable and easier to maintain than hardboards.  If you drop any kind of inflatable by accident, it won’t ding and may barely scratch.  Inflatables are great to share with friends and family without worrying about them getting damaged.

If you drop a hardboard, there’s a chance it will be damaged and may need repairs.  Some hardboards have kevlar sides and tops that are strong enough that you can take a baseball bat to them or drop them from head height without any damage.

Performance – Hardboards definitely offer optimal performance compared to inflatables. They’re more agile, have better glide and are easier to catch waves with.  They are your best option if you want to go on long-distance expeditions, race, SUP surf, or use with a wing.

That being said, good quality inflatables are super rigid and aren’t too far behind epoxy boards when it comes to speed.

To break it down, you might want an inflatable board if you:

  • have minimal storage
  • travel and want to take your board with you
  • are a first-timer or on a budget
  • are adventurous and need a durable

 

You might want to consider a hardboard if you:

  • plan on using it on local waterways
  • want to catch waves, catch some waves or use a wing
  • are a “load and go” type of person
  • want optimal performance, agility and speed

 

At the end of the day it comes down to personal preference and you can’t go wrong with either, as long as you choose a quality board that matches what you’re looking for.

Don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions!

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closeup of a sandy paddleboard and leash

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