Inflatable Paddle Board (SUP) Verses Rigid/Solid SUPs- The big question!

Any time on the water is a good time, so once you know this activity is for you the question rises. Which board am I going to purchase? What board is best for me? Whether a seasoned paddler or a newbie frothing to get onto the water, everyone one has an individual preference. So I’m going to point out some of the preferences paddlers look for when purchasing a new board. Lets get to it,  in one corner we have the iSUP and in the other, the Hardboard… Ding Ding Ding.

Inflatable SUP  &  Rigid SUP Diagrams

board-digram_solid_12   board-digram_solid_1

Until this summer when I took an iSUP to Greece, hardboards were my favorite.  I always thought of inflatables as toys, or a child’s version of a SUP. However, taking one abroad and paddling on it every day, this bit of kit seriously proved me wrong. Rapidly increasing in popularity, the last generation of inflatables have been pushing the limits. Enhanced construction methods have lead to more rigid structures, as well as removable fins which increase performance. Just check out team rider Adam Short for instance, he is currently on an expedition to paddle the River Nile on a Fatstick iSUP - these boards are hard core and a tough competitor.

The following addresses my main Pro’s for purchasing as iSUP...
Storage: Fits in a rucksack, fits in a case to take on holiday, fits in the boot of your car, fits in a cupboard. Storing an iSUP is a massive bonus.
Durability: Inflatables are so durable. On an iSUP, hitting a rock or general dings from transporting and maneuvering the board have a much smaller chance for any significant damage.
Price: It is commonly expected that inflatables are considerably more affordable compared to hard boards, this isn't a set rule. However, Fatstick iSUPs are less expensive which makes another argument for being the best board to start out with.

To make this bout fair, below are some Cons for iSUP’s…
Air: Inflating does take some time. As does deflating. Some people find iSUPs difficult to pump up and reach the suggested PSI with the included hand pump. Since reaching that PSI is essential for performance, an electric or foot pump might be a wise purchase.
Stability: iSUPs are less stable than hardboards. Especially with stronger wind or choppy water, an inflatable will definitely offer more of a challenge.
Performance: Especially for optimal performance when surfing or racing, a hard board is more effective in those environments. The more tapered rails are better geared for waves and because of the material, hard boards are more responsive.

That's my take on the battle between iSUP’s and Hardboards. Hopefully it answers some of your thoughts if you are undecided which one to go for.


This handy little post was written by our Team Rider Sam Rogers, thanks Sam!