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Are Inflatable Paddle Boards Any Good?

Are Inflatable Paddle Boards Any Good?

Are Inflatable Paddle Boards Any Good?

Whether you are interested in buying your first paddle board or want an upgrade for your existing one, one thing that may be on your mind is whether to get an inflatable board or the traditional hard board.

You are probably wondering if inflatable paddle boards are any good as compared to the more common hard  paddle boards. And the answer is simple; yes!

Inflatable boards, also known as iSUP’s, come with quite a number of advantages over the fiberglass or epoxy paddle boards.

Using Inflatable Paddle boards

The greatest argument against using iSUP’s is that they are not stable enough to allow one to float. However, high-quality inflatable paddle boards are made using a technique known as the ‘drop stitch technology’. Simply put, the bottom and the top part of the board are connected by small fibers that are woven into the inside known as drop stitches. Whenever air is pumped into the board, the small fibers stand up and almost interlock as the board begins to take shape. The fibers also make the board more rigid and stiffer as more air is pumped. This is the reason you will feel as though you are standing on a hard surface. Depending on the quality of materials used, an iSUP can become just as rigid as hard paddle boards.

Although, they were initially used for white water paddling only, iSUP’s can now be used for just about any form of SUP. Whether it is flat water cruising, surfing, or racing, you can use your inflatable paddle board without any inhibitions.

Of course, it goes without saying that you will have to inflate your iSUP before you can use it. If you bought a good quality inflatable paddle board, then it came with a hand pump which will make inflating an easy job for you. Cheaper boards will usually come with a foot pump or no pump at all. To make inflation easier, I suggest getting a quality pump, in case your paddle board did not come with one, or it came with a crappy one.

The amount of air pressure your board can take will affect its performance. Inflatable paddle boards that have a lower inflation capacity will feel soft, and will not perform as well. To get the best out of an inflatable paddle board, be on the lookout for those that can handle more air pressure. The capacity of iSUP’s is usually measured in units known as psi. The best-performing ones have a psi of at least 15.

The Advantages of Inflatable Paddle Boards

With a high-quality iSUP that has a psi of around 17, you can achieve about the same performance as with a rigid hard paddle board. However, there are several factors that could make you choose the inflatable over the traditional hard board.

  1. Easy transportation

Inflatable paddle boards are quite easy to transport. When deflated, they can fold to about the size of a sleeping bag which you can then easily fit in a large backpack.

When it comes to the rigid hardboards, you will need to have an SUV or a truck so as to transport it.

The best part about having an iSUP is that you can easily take it with you on the plane without paying surfboard fees as would be the case with rigid paddle boards.

You can even take your inflatable paddle board with you on a cruise ship! There really is no limit when it comes to traveling with your iSUP.

For paddlers with smaller frames, you may be happy to know that inflatable boards are much easier to maneuver in the water. Getting the board into and out of the water is not as hectic as when you have a hard paddle board instead.

  1. Convenient storage

If you have had a rigid paddle board, then you know how hectic storing it can be, especially during the off season. They take up so much space and require you to have sufficient storage area such as a spacious garage.

Inflatable paddle boards, on the other hand, are quite convenient when it comes to storing them. When deflated and rolled up, you can store your iSUP under your bed or tuck it into your closet. You can even leave it in your car trunk! Most of them come with their own carrier bags, so that should not be a problem.

The only thing to be mindful of is if the iSUP is dry whenever you are rolling it up for storage. Rolling up an iSUP when it is still wet could generate unpleasant smells that could make it uncomfortable to use the board the next time you unroll it.

  1. Durability

What most people find hard to believe is that inflatable paddle boards are just as durable as rigid ones. In fact, you may be surprised to find out that they can actually be more durable.

High-quality iSUP’s are better than rigid boards, especially for white water paddling and paddling in rock rivers. This is because whenever you inflatable board hots the rocks, it will simply bounce back. Hard boards may not handle the impact and may end up cracking or even breaking entirely. The same applies to when you drop the board on a hard surface.

It is important, however, to note that when purchasing inflatable iSUP’s, you should look for high-quality ones. Be on the lookout for the inflation capacity of the inflatable paddle board you intend to buy. Lower quality inflatable boards will not be as durable and may end up damaged within a couple of uses.

Unless you intentionally jab your inflatable paddle board using sharp objects, you are likely not going to need repairs.

  1. Softer surface to land on

Let’s face it, no matter how good you are at paddling, there are times when you fall when doing stand-up paddling.

Although inflatable paddle boards can be just as rigid and stiff as hard paddle boards, landing on an iSUP when you fall will have much less impact. For children or even paddling beginners, this is a great advantage as they will fall a couple of times. Several falls on a fiberglass paddle board will leave your body sore which is not the case for inflatable paddle boards.

  1. Cost

If you are working on a tight budget, then inflatable paddle boards are the best option for you. They are much cheaper than hard paddle board even for boards that are of the same size. Even if you get a high-quality iSUP, it will still be at a cheaper price as compared to the hard rigid paddle boards. They are an especially great option for first-time paddlers.

  1. Easy to repair

I have already pointed out that inflatable boards are less likely to require any repairs. However, in the event you need to do some repairs, it will be quite easy for you to do so.

Every inflatable board comes with its own repair kit. Should you get a small hole on your iSUP, you can easily repair it yourself. Most kits usually come with patches as well that allow you patch up tears. However, and damages to the seam should be brought to the manufacturer’s attention as they may be covered by the warranty.

With inflatable paddle boards, it is also easy to assess damage to it. A damaged board will deflate and you will immediately notice. The same cannot be said for hard paddle boards. The rigid boards can take in water when they are dented and you may not realize unless they take in too much water. You may even have to air out the paddle in the sun for a couple of hours before you are able to repair it.

Inflatable Paddle Boards; Are They Worth It?

The answer is yes. Inflatable paddle boards are totally worth every penny. The convenience they bring is just too much to ignore. The fact that they offer just as much rigidity as hard boards while at the same time offering a couple of more advantage is what makes them a great option. I personally think they are better than the hard paddle boards, especially for cruising in lakes, rivers and even for calm surfs. Check out this complete iSUP guide for more information about inflatable paddle boards!

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