Inflatable SUP versus Solid SUP

Is an Inflatable SUP Better than a Solid SUP?

So here’s the dilemma: You’ve narrowed it down to a Tahoe SUP 2014 Alpine Explorer Inflatable SUP Board and the Stand On Liquid Sunburst SUP Board. And now, you want to know which is better? Although that is not the right question you should be asking, because both boards are awesome in their own way. The question actually boils down to you, where you plan on using the board, and how. So here’s a comparison of the two boards, more or less side-by-side.

Tahoe SUP Alpine Explorer Inflatable Paddle Board

Tahoe SUP Alpine Explorer Inflatable Paddle Board

First, let’s discuss you. If you are just starting out, the natural line of thinking suggests that you are looking at this purchase as the first and last. It probably is not. The reasons are relatively straightforward. If you like speed, a simple day on the lake is not going to satisfy that need to compete in a race like environment. You may get your technique down, work on your physical strength and endurance and even win a few races on this first board. But ultimately, you will think upgrade. So you may not know what you’ll want until your experience grows.

In this case: either board will do just fine to get you completely hooked on the SUP experience.

SOL Sunburst SUP Board

SOL Sunburst SUP Board

Second, let’s discuss where you plan on using the SUP board. Most everyone contemplating a SUP purchase has a rough idea of where they’d like to go with it. If your neck of the woods is predominantly flat water, open ocean or simply surf, either board will work great. But the solid SOL Starburst might give you a little bit more stability and durability than the inflatable Tahoe. In those situations, there is not a high degree of likelihood that you’ll encounter underwater hazards. You could and you might, but it will be more accidental than anticipated.

But if the intention is to run those spring rapids, as many SUPers in the Pacific Northwest do, the inflatable board will be your best choice. It is not indestructible but it is much more forgiving with this sort of activity that your solid SUP. In almost every instance, the reaction of the board, the durability, stability, and even the tracking of these two boards are nearly identical. But put it in a river and the fact that it is just slightly less rigid make the inflatable SUP a better choice.

Also, because they inflate, the boards are easy to pack and walk away from the end of your river run, allowing you to hike back upstream. This means all of you can run the river on your SUPs without that friend who drew the short-stick as the designated driver meeting you downstream.

In this case: Rigid or solid boards are best when there is deep water; inflatable boards are best when there is shallower, faster moving water.

And lastly, how do you plan on using your SUP board? If this is a sport that you would like to pursue in many different liquid environments, the inflatable board might be the best choice. It does travel well, is lighter weight, and if damaged, costs less to repair.

Most inflatable boards, including the Tahoe comes with everything you need except the water. On the other hand, the Sunburst is one of the best touring boards around and if your most enjoyable outing involves friends, sun and open water, you could not do better than this board.

In this case: Using a SUP like the Tahoe gives you access to more dynamic days on the water. Using a Sunburst SUP will give you just as much fun as an inflatable board, just without the rapids.

This comparison may seem like a draw. But I’d be willing to wager that you will eventually end up with both kinds SUP Boards and that’s the kind of draw we can all live with!

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