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Learning Differences in Inflatables vs Hard Paddle Boards

There are many kinds of paddleboards for different purposes. Among them, two are inflatable and hard paddleboards. You can either get hard paddle ones made of fiberglass or wood.

Or you can go with an inflatable option. You must be wondering which one would be best for long-term use along with the difference between inflatable and non-inflatable paddle boards.

Inflatable and hard paddleboards differ in performance, weight, utility, and durability. Hard paddles are better than inflatable ones in some cases. But they lose in terms of flexibility, utility, and convenience.

Paddleboards are ridiculously expensive. It’s always better to understand the pros and cons of both types before buying one.

Let’s dig into the differences between inflatable and non-inflatable paddleboards and discover why people prefer inflatable ones over non-inflatable ones.

Inflatable VS. Hard Paddleboards

There are many differences between the two types of paddleboards. I will select some of the most crucial aspects and elaborate on them. That will give you an in-depth idea about the two.

That will make it easier to choose in the future. Without further ado, let’s get right into it:


Maintenance is one of the most crucial parts of keeping any kind of gear. You will inevitably need to do it. The gear will lose its functionality otherwise. So, something easier to maintain is preferable to something that takes a lot of care.

Inflatables are much easier to maintain compared to non-inflatable ones. A good inflatable can last you a lifetime if you maintain it properly. The regular maintenance procedures include cleaning and deflation before storage.

Hard paddle boards need more thorough care. It’s not rare to see some nicks after bumping into something while solid. This damage builds up over time. You might need to reapply the protective coating once it wears off.

Price to Performance Ratio

Price is one of the more important aspects when comparing two things. In the case of paddleboards, there is a clear defining line.

Inflatable paddleboards are mass-manufactured products. The overall cost is lower than a hard paddle of the same quality. You can be sure of getting the biggest bang for your bucks with an inflatable.

The crafting process of the non-inflatable hard paddles is too tedious. It also takes a lot of time for the adhesives and resins to solidify. This production method increases the overall price of non-inflatables.

Transportation Difficulty

Most people aren’t lucky enough to live near beaches. I have to drive 10 hours every time I want some fun on my paddleboard.

You need an overheard carrier to transport a hard paddle. Sticking to inflatable ones is best if you don’t have that option.

Transportation is important for this sort of gear. You need appropriate supplementary gear to move them without damage. There are special roof racks for paddleboards too.

Inflatable ones are much better in this regard. You can carry them inside a backpack. It’s hard to beat this level of convenience. That’s because the performance is rather similar.

Resilience and Durability

Which one is more durable? That is an important question. Many people would decide which is better based on the answer. The hard paddleboards are inferior to their inflatable brethren. That is in terms of durability and resilience.

I bet you weren’t expecting that answer, were you? You see, the inflatables are not ballooning with a flat shape. They are made of the toughest flexible material.

The insides are held together by innumerable strings. It gives the board a much sturdier texture than you would expect. The outer layer of PVC is extremely durable too.

These boards won’t get damaged because of their flexibility. They also can withstand a collision with rocky shores.

Inflatable ones ignore minor bumps without any damage. Non-inflatables will at least get a few nicks from a similar experience.

People complain about their inflatable boards being too flexible. They say the middle sinks when they stand. The problem isn’t with the board.

These people do not properly inflate the board. It is a rather common mistake people make. A mistake you can easily avoid by reading the user manual.

Weather Resistance

Which board is better for riding in windy conditions? The answer would be hard paddle ones. The inflatable boards are affected might more by strong winds. They are also inferior when it comes to surfing.

The solid weight is much better for balancing in unfavorable weather. At least compared to the air-filled inflatable boards. It is one of the sides where non-inflatables reign supreme. The non-inflatables hard paddle boards perform much better in rough seas.

It doesn’t mean the inflatables are bad, though. They still perform splendidly in adverse conditions. Just not as good as the non-inflatables.

Overall Performance

Overall performance of both types of paddleboards is similar. Both types are well-balanced, sturdy, and functional. The competition is solely based on added convenience.

You could use both types for racing, yoga, surfing, traveling, and other activities. Inflatable ones are better for traveling and yoga as they are more resilient. The inflatable surface is more suitable for yoga. The non-inflatable ones have a more slippery surface.

Hard paddles are also slightly better for surfing and racing. They are thinner and have more weight to cut the waves. They can reach a bit higher speed. The difference is not too great, so you need not worry.

Why Are Inflatable Paddle Boards More Popular?

The main factor behind the popularity of Inflatables is their sheer convenience. There’s also the matter of superior price-to-performance ratio. These qualities, combined with the novelty, make them a prime choice for first-time buyers.

The popularity of inflatables is so high that many ask why most paddle boards are inflatable? Most paddleboards aren’t inflatable. It’s just that inflatable ones are more popular, so you get to see them more often.

Novelty factor

Paddleboards reached their current state after a lot of evolutions. The older paddleboards used to be wooden, and fiberglass came after that. The inflatable paddle boards came much later when the related technology evolved.

That is why older paddleboard users started testing the inflatable ones. They soon fell in love, and that inspired a trend. That’s when inflatable ones became the new normal.


Convenience is the key to modern progression. The inflatable paddle boards are more convenient than the hard paddleboards. This one aspect led to a mainstream preference change.

The inflatable ones are easier to clean. You can store and transport them much faster. They also provide a solid footing for pets. The surface isn’t as slippery as the non-inflatable hard boards.

The only inconvenient part about them is the inflation process. It takes roughly half an hour to inflate. That little inconvenience is nothing compared to all the helpful features it provides.


You would think that the inflatables would lose out in terms of performance. That should be natural considering how many additional benefits they give. But it turns out they do not lose out much.

The performance of inflatable paddle boards is nothing to scoff at. High-end inflatables have performance comparable to high-end non-inflatable ones.

They are fairly similar in this regard. So, it makes little sense to get a hard paddleboard if you can.


Now know what the difference is between inflatable and non-inflatable paddleboards. They both perform similarly in terms of speed, stability, and durability. But the inflatable ones have a clear edge regarding utility, convenience, and additional features.

If you are just starting to look into paddleboarding, we have a wide selection of guides to help you find the best option to suit your needs; check them out here!

I hope you found what you came here to learn. Thanks for stopping by.