Inflatable vs. Hard Paddle Board – Which is Best?


Quick Answer: For all-around leisure paddling, inflatable SUPs are much better overall, due to advantages in durability, portability, weight, versatility, and injury prevention. But if you are buying a board mainly for SUP surfing or racing, certain technical attributes of hardboards make them worthy of consideration.

Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Boards, once considered a novelty among SUP boards, have evolved over the years and have become the new normal and the starting point when shopping for a paddle board. Here are seven comparison points to guide your decision on whether to purchase an inflatable SUP or a hard board, and then we will answer some more specific questions:

  1. Inflatable paddleboards have been proven over time to be more durable than epoxy SUPs. Quality inflatables are made from military grade materials that are not subject to the vulnerabilities of hard boards – dings and holes that require expensive repairs. This is why inflatables far outnumber hard boards on rivers, where impact with rocks is a factor and why SUP schools and rental agencies are increasingly opting for inflatable fleets to minimize board damage from careless handling by students and renters.
  2. Inflatable SUPs don’t hurt as much when you fall on them. Falling onto a hard board can hurt. An inflatable paddle board is much easier on the body of the rider and anybody else the board might come in contact with.
  3. A softer deck reduces fatigue. Standing on an inflatable SUP is similar to standing on one of those expensive rubber mats used in commercial settings to reduce fatigue. Your feet will be more comfortable and relaxed due to the reduced contact pressure, and the benefits travel up your body to your knees, back and neck.