When starting paddle boarding you will quickly realise that there are two main different types of paddle board, these are inflatable paddle boards and hard paddle boards.
How can you decide which type of paddle board is best for you? There are 5 main areas to consider.
Inflatable paddle boards tend to be better for all-round leisure purposes whereas hard paddle boards are best for competitive and performance based activities for example, racing, surfing eetc. Inflatable paddle boards are lighter and more stable than hard paddle boards, making them easier to use, inflatable SUPs can also be wider than hard paddle boards meaning they offer even greater stability.
How much storage space does your home have? This is going to be an important consideration when deciding between an inflatable paddle board and a hard paddle board. If you have a small home with no garage or minimal storage space then it is best to have an inflatable paddle board. Inflatable paddle boards, as you may have guessed, can be deflated and then stored in much smaller spaces. Hard paddle boards have to be stored as they are, this means that you will need space to store a board up to 12ft long .
Inflatable paddle boards tend to be more accident friendly than hard paddle boards. Therefore if there are a few bumps and scrapes during transportation and storage then it shouldn’t damage the board as inflatable paddle boards tend to be very durable, this also makes them better for paddling in rocky rivers. Hard boards on the other hand because they are very rigid, tend to be more prone to damage. If they happen to be dropped there is a much higher chance that they will scratch and chip resulting in repairs being needed.
When it comes to paddle boarding performance, hard paddle boards are much more optimised for speed and stamina. Firstly the nose is slightly pointed meaning that it can cut through waves a lot better than inflatable SUPs which have a mostly rounded nose. The displacement hulls allow the hard oard tos handle waves and wind with greater ease than inflatable ones so they can maintain speed easier travelling faster and further.
Inflatable paddle boards are usually cheaper than hard paddle boards meaning that they are better for beginners, or those who just want to take part in paddle boarding leisurely. Hard paddle boards are more expensive than inflatable ones but this price tag comes with the increased agility allowing you to partake in more serious and performance based activities such as races.
Overall an inflatable paddle board is better if you are going to be using it for recreational activities, or if you do not have much experience and are just beginning to get involved with the sport. Hard paddle boards are better if you are aiming to use a paddle board for more competitive activities, these are also better if you have more storage space.