Surfers are aware of the best models of boards on the market but choosing between a hard and an inflatable one can be hard even for the most experienced ones. There are some differences between the two types and finding the perfect one is a matter of research and testing. We will make things easier for you by showing you some of the essential aspects of the two types.
Inflatable SUP boards
Surfers who want to learn how to maneuver and control a board will feel more confident with an inflatable model that is easier to handle than a solid fiberglass. The lower weight makes this type more user-friendly and it’s definitely more appropriate for beginners. The rigidity, however, is comparable with the fiberglass competitors as the design and materials used in manufacturing the board have been improved lately. You can nowadays enjoy inflating models that feel as rigid and stable as a solid board and that can be hit by rocks and even ran over with a car without showing signs of wear. There are many advantages brought by the inflatable boards as well as a few minor downsides.
This is one of the best parts of owning an inflating model, the fact that you will be able to take it with you anywhere with more ease. Since you can deflate it in minutes to the size of a sleeping bag, you can easily carry it around with minimum effort.
The fact that it can be inflated doesn’t mean it’s more fragile and prone to damage than the solid version thanks to the quality military-grade PVC used in building it. You can use it for many years of windsurfing or paddleboarding and it will remain as stiff and strong as it was the first day you bought it.
Once you are done with it, you won’t have to find a large space to store it because it can be easily deflated and kept in a carrying bag. You can even keep it in the car without the need for roof racks and you will always have it on hand for a quick surf session.
The way it feels and acts on the water is comparable to the solid board that provides stability and balance. You can use it on flat water, rivers, lakes, or oceans, and you can even try some more complicated schemes and it will provide the same safety and reliability you would expect from a hard model.
Another great advantage is the lower price that enables you to enjoy excellent quality without breaking the bank. Inflatable boards come at a fraction of the price of solid ones and you can find complete packages that include a pump and accessories for a fun and safe day on the water.
The only drawback we could spot is the inflating that takes some time, around 10 minutes depending on size and model. This means you will have to put some effort into getting it up and ready to use but you can count it as a pre-surf workout.
Solid SUP boards
This type is perfect for advanced surfers who want to pull off more complicated moves and are used to controlling a heavy and bulky board. It’s more stable and it offers a great balance for skilled moves, not to mention it reaches higher speeds. It’s made of fiberglass that is very rigid and very string so it’s more durable and has a longer life expectancy. As the other version, this one has its good and bad sides and it’s up to you to decide which ones weigh more.
No doubt about it, the hard model is more solid and durable due to the fiberglass that offers it resistance to shocks and impacts. It’s two times more durable than the inflatable one and it doesn’t change shape while in use.
Nonetheless, how it feels on the water is superior to any inflating board, especially if you are an experienced surfer. It can be used on any type of water and it offers stability even on the highest waves. It’s incredibly faster and more suitable for advanced surfing movements.
No prepping is necessary since your board will be ready to use at any time. You won’t have to carry a pump around and there is no need for a repair kit since it’s not likely to get damaged easily.
You will be having a hard time storing a hard board because it’s bulky and heavy and it can’t be shrunk to a smaller size. If you don’t own a garage, you will probably have to keep it under the bed or behind a closet where it won’t get in your way.
The hard board is anything but easily-portable so you will need some strength to carry it around. It weighs a few dozens of pounds so it’s not very comfortable to move, especially if you want to explore more spots in one day. You will likely need a roof rack to transport it with your car and straps to get a good grip on it.
If you are not willing to spend a lot of money on your surfing gear, you will not be tempted to invest in a solid SUP board that can reach costs of thousands of dollars. However, the extended lifespan and the great performance are worth the money for experienced and passionate surfers.