Why You should have an Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board

Standup paddle boarding offers a unique water experience unlike any other. And like any sport, your soon-to-be-hopeless-devotion to it will depend on which board you use, where you plan to go and how you get there. So I thought I’d take this opportunity to discuss which stand up paddle board might be best to keep you on the water. While you might be leaning towards the traditional, rigid construction, you might seriously consider an inflatable stand up paddle board first. Here’s why.

Why stand on liquid?

You may very well have arrived at the sport of stand up paddle boarding from another water activity. You may have been a surfer looking for a way to get to breaks away from the maddening crowd. Or perhaps you now find yourself farther from the beach than you’d ever thought you’d be and instead of open ocean, you now have rivers and lakes. You might have been a kayaker at some point and crossed over because stand up paddle boarding gives you a better perspective of the waterways you favor. Or you might be like the vast majority of us, discovering the experience of standing on liquid on vacation. One thing is certain, once you try it, often after seeing someone else glide past, you’re hooked. You want one. But which one?

Which standup paddle board suits you?

Paddle boards come in two basic types: rigid and inflatable. Both have their plusses and minuses as well as numerous sub-categories of design. Rigid boards require storage space, transportation considerations and a level of care numerous beginners are not willing to make. Inflatable stand up paddle boards however might be an excellent first choice for those new to the sport. They are also worth considering for the rigid board enthusiast as well.

Aren’t inflatable paddle boards less durable?

Let’s discuss why you might think these inflatable paddle boards are less durable than the rigid variety. You might be surprised.

  • Construction: Rigid boards are generally made with a foam core like most surfboards. Inflatable boards use a core of air. Rigid boards are available in fiberglass, epoxy and carbon fiber, each with its own care considerations. Inflatable boards use a UV resistant, military grade rubber (like the Boardworks Shubu).
  • Storage: A rigid board needs to be stored in a cool, dry place. Inflatable boards can be stored in a closet.

  • Transportation: Rigid boards are best transported on a roof rack inside a protective bag. Inflatable boards can be thrown in the trunk with the rest of your gear. Rigid boards are often difficult to transport over long distances (air pressure can create issues for rigid boards on planes). Inflatable boards can be checked like luggage. (Protective bags for rigid boards are sold separately; the Shubu comes with a bag.)

  • Care: Rigid boards can be damaged by sun and water and must be inspected regularly for dings and dents. Inflatable boards actually tend to take a bit more abuse and survive quite nicely from season to season with little in the way of care.

  • Portability: Rigid boards can be unwieldy for smaller body frames and difficult to handle on hikes to a favorite spot. Inflatable boards generally weigh around twenty pounds.

  • Use: Rigid boards aren’t advisable for use in whitewater situations. Inflatable boards are.

  • Performance: Rigid boards will be the better performer, hand’s down. It can be customized to your specific needs and goals. Inflatable boards might be a lot of the things mentioned above, and you might find it suitable for some racing situations, but its overall performance may not be the first consideration.

Why should you have an inflatable standup paddle board?

If your budget is limited, an inflatable board might be the best choice among the two types of boards. Rigid boards have transportation and storage considerations that might be beyond most average budgets. Inflatable boards tend to last longer, are better over a variety of water conditions and have a better resale value. Owning an inflatable board for the family or friends to use is one of the biggest reasons why rigid board owners generally purchase an inflatable stand up paddle board.

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