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Paddle boards are a popular form of water transportation, and they come in all shapes and sizes. One of the most common types is an inflatable paddle board – but what does this mean and are all paddle boards inflatable?
Not all paddle boards are inflatable, inflatable boards are one that have been made by compressing material into a cylindrical shape, then inflating it to create buoyancy. They are often lighter than other varieties because there’s no need for materials like wood or fiberglass to keep them afloat.
This article will explore why inflatables are liked so much along with some of the benefits and drawbacks of owning an inflatable paddle board, so you can make your decision!
What’s the difference between inflatable paddle board and regular?
When choosing to look at inflatable versus standard paddle boards you want to understand the differences between both types. Standard paddle boards are not the same as an inflatable paddle boards in a few ways.
Inflatable paddle boards are much lighter and easier to travel with but with all this benefit they come at the cost of durability and longevity.
Additionally, they require some form of air pump to blow up before use so you need to have a pump that’s either included or can be rented with your board from most shops.
It is worth noting if you’re planning on traveling with one of these that having a pump is virtually essential since there will often be no where to get gas in remote areas.
Inflatable paddle board has a high pressure laminate construction which makes it light weight but also sturdy enough to use under all conditions without fear of cracking or breaking apart.
During normal use scenarios such as waves, rocks, you may fear the damage but inflatables are perfect for traveling because there is no “storage” required all you need to do is just deflate when done.
Top-of-the-line models offer additional features like rods for increased stiffness along with built in fins for tracking straight down the line as well as foot straps under larger inflatables for better balance during paddling (these do come at an added cost).
Your standard paddle board is made from plywood reinforced with fiberglass and resin with foam that runs on top of the plywood to provide buoyancy and textured coating which provides enhanced grip.
The trade off is that these boards are heavier, more expensive, and less portable if you need to take them somewhere else or travel with it often (e.g., airplane).
Are inflatable paddle boards good for beginners?
For a new paddle boarder an inflatable paddle board is a good way to start. They are much easier to transport and store which aligns well with a beginner and a lack of long board space for storage.
For a beginner you need to take in to account a few things:
- What are you going to be using it for?
- How frequent are the trips?
- Are there any physical limitations that need to be accounted for like being overweight or elderly?
If your goal is simply leisure, inflatable paddle boards can work well. If you travel frequently and don’t want/need something heavy, an inflatable paddle board could also work out well.
But if you’re looking for more of a workout with paddles then we recommend getting a hardboard instead since they will provide better stability allowing for more rigorous workouts.
And finally, if you plan on staying at home every day and just use your paddle board occasionally but still want the best possible experience, then an inflatable paddle board is a good option.
What do I need to know before buying an inflatable paddle board?
There are some things to consider when you are looking to purchase an inflatable paddle board that will ensure you get the results you expect:
- How much can you afford (materials, accessories)?
- What are your needs?
- What is your size and weight?
The last thing to think about before buying an inflatable paddle board is how often will it get used so you spend an appropriate amount.
It’s also important that you know who would use it most because if its a child then they might not have as much strength for paddling or balancing on one leg.
If someone has balance issues then they may need more support in order to stay upright while using the SUP.
You should also figure out where this board will go since some are designed for lakes only while others are meant for waves!
Benefits to an iSUP
The main benefit to an iSUP paddle board is that they are more portable. They can be deflated and stored in a backpack or bag, instead of requiring a large vehicle to transport them.
They also tend to be lighter than hard paddle boards which means that you won’t have as much difficulty carrying them wherever you want them.
There are many people out there with back problems and disabilities that find inflatable stand-up paddle boards easier because they don’t require as much strength or balance control when balancing on the board while paddling.
The number one reason why inflatable stand-up paddle boards are so popular today is that they are less expensive than other options.
Drawbacks to an iSUP
The main drawback to an inflatable standup paddle board is that it’s not as rigid as traditional sup. Traditional SUPs are made of PVC or epoxy resin, so they can be used in rivers and oceans without fear of the board cracking from being bent too much.
Inflatable paddle boards are more flexible because they have air inside them, this helps make up for their lack of rigidity, but also expresses itself in a lack of stability.
If you plan to stand on your inflatable SUP while paddling out into deeper water, make sure to get one with a higher weight capacity than what you weigh!
The last thing to think about is that they are made with softer material for the exterior which will wear down quicker. Also, the softer material used for an iSUP exterior could cause problems if exposed to saltwater over time.
How long does an Inflatable SUP last?
The durability of inflatable standup paddle boards is usually based on the amount of use and care given to them. Therefore, how long they last depend largely on what you are using them for:
- If you want your paddle board to last a little longer then make sure to treat it like an investment; take good care of it by rinsing it off after use with fresh water, storing it in a cool dry place, and staying away from sharp objects that could puncture the material.
Take into consideration where you will be traveling with your inflatable when looking for one because some materials are more resistant to salt water than others.
Can I leave my inflatable SUP inflated?
If left inflated at all times, the air inside will leak out gradually. Once enough has leaked out that the pressure from outside becomes greater than what is inside, then your board could collapse.
It is also bad for the board to stay inflated for long periods of time. The air inside is under pressure, and that will eventually cause the board to bend or warp from the stress.
If you are leaving your inflatable sup inflated for a short period of time (up to 24 hours) then use an automatic pump with a gauge attached so that you can maintain optimal psi inside your board.
For longer than 24 hours I would recommend deflating it down as far as possible before storing it away in order to prolong its life span.
Final Thoughts on Inflatable Paddle Boards
If you’re considering purchasing an inflatable paddleboard, we hope this article has helped clear up some of the questions that were holding you back.
All boards are not created equal and there is a big difference between an inflatable SUP and a regular one – so do your research before making any purchases!
We think it’s important to remember that all paddle boards can be helpful for beginners too. It may just depend on what type of water conditions (flat or choppy) and skill level you prefer to work with.
Whatever your preference, feel free to let us know in the comments below which type of paddle board feels right for you!