At some point along the way, iSUPs were branded as pool toys and not worth using. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Most of the boards made are very durable, and they perform exceptionally well. iSUPs are also made from some tough and lightweight materials and are very portable.
Inflatable SUP boards often come with a way to store and transport them; most often, its a backpack. They hold the pump, paddle, fins, and leash on top of the board. Many of the bags have wheels to drag the board behind you if your hands are full or if you’re transporting more than one board.
Or maybe you live in an apartment, and you’re low on space. If you don’t have room to store a 15′ hardboard, then an iSUP is perfect for you. That fifteen-foot board will fit in a bag that’s ~3 feet tall. Another thing that makes an inflatable board great is that you can fit a few of them in the trunk of a car. You don’t have to buy any expensive special equipment, and when you get home, they can fit easily in a closet. You can’t do that with a hardboard.
This list could go on forever so the last thing we’ll mention is that inflatable boards can be the more adventurous option in that you can reach more remote locations and hard to reach areas to paddleboard. This gets you away from the crowds and onto less congested waters. Once you find where you want to paddle, you unpack the board and inflate it next to the water’s edge Check Out Nixy’s Landing Mat
In a lot of ways, an iSUP is more durable than a hardboard. This is especially true with SUP boarding on a river or any shallow water with rocks. The inflatable board will rebound off the rocks while the hardboard will get some dents and cracks from continued abuse.
If the board is punctured, they are much cheaper to repair if the rip doesn’t happen at the seam. It only takes a little glue and a PVC patch, which the manufacturer provides in most iSUP packages. Although with normal use, it is unlikely that you’ll puncture a board with multiple layers of PVC.
Many companies use multiple layers of military-grade PVC, and that makes these boards extremely durable and rigid when inflated. There are demonstrations of people driving trucks and jeeps over their boards and then using them out on the lake. The military initially developed this sturdy construction to deploy vehicles and personnel from sea to land quickly. They were designed to be hard to tear and puncture.
If you’re not a professional paddle boarder or not considering entering a SUP race then you’ll find very little difference in a hardboard vs. an inflatable. Now there is a difference in performance when comparing a hardboard to an inflatable. But, the difference is not as impressive as you might think. An iSUP can still maneuver well, gain speed, and give you a fun day out on the lake.
Many iSUPs have a lot of the same features that a hardboard has. There are touring boards with pointed noses that are long and thin that give you a great glide and speed. There are all-around boards with rounded noses and are wide to give you a platform to balance on. Some have rockers, while others don’t, and it all depends upon your preference.
For more info on that check out our buying guide!
You’ll also find iSUPs to be more stable and easier to use than hard boards. Many of them come with a 6″ thickness that gives the board more volume. When a board has more volume, it has an increase in max weight capacity and a more stable ride. The slight flexibility of the PVC material also helps you not to get bucked off in the chop.
Inflatable paddle boards are worth it in that they can do almost anything a hardboard can do with some stark advantages. An iSUP is more portable, durable, and they perform great. I was pleasantly surprised when I tried my first iSUP and I really think that you will be too.