INFLATABLE VS. HARDTOP

|| Set yourself up for Success||

So you have finally decided to invest in a paddleboard, congrats! But now comes the biggest question. Do you get an inflatable or hard top? The more you research the more overwhelming it can be. Well don’t worry anymore because we are going to break down the most basic questions you need to ask yourself:

How will you transport your board?

How will you store your board?

What kind of budget are you looking at?

What kind of durability are you looking for?

How do you want your board to perform?


TRANSPORTATION

How are you going to transport your new board? The perks of an inflatable paddleboard are being able to deflate it and store it in any type of vehicle. If you do not have the access to throw a board on top of your car, then consider buying an inflatable. With the right accessories, you can quickly inflate and deflate your board without having to buy racks for the top of your car. Another perk is the ability to travel; you can go hiking, camping, and even fly with your board and all the accessories. 

On the other hand, if you have the ability to strap your paddleboard on the top of your car you might want to consider a hard top SUP. Maybe you don’t want the hassle of inflating and deflating your board and that’s okay! If you are looking to quickly grab your board and hit the water then consider investing in a non-inflatable for easier transportation.

STORAGE

Next, comes the question, how you going to store your board? If you have limited storage space at home then a hard top board might not be a good fit. You will need at least a 12ft storage area to properly store your SUP without causing any damage. The advantage of an inflatable is its ability to collapse into the size of a large sleeping bag.

However, if you do not have limitations of storage space, then you are in luck! Having a large amount of space at home to store your SUPs gives you the option of having an inflatable or a hard top. Having a hard top and ample amount of storage space gives you more time to hit the water without having to spend time inflating and deflating your board.

BUDGET

Let’s get straight to the point, paddleboards aren’t cheap. It is important to keep in mind that the more you spend on your board the better quality it will be. Inflatables tend to be cheaper but that doesn’t mean you won’t find pricey boards as well. Stray away from any inflatables that are hollow, as you can imagine this affects its durability and performance. An inflatable is a good option if you are just starting out in this sport and need something to get you started on the water.

If you are looking to actually invest in a board that is going to last you a while then consider getting a higher quality inflatable or new hardtop. Do keep in mind that if you spend anything less than $400 on a SUP, look for any damage on a hardtop. For an inflatable look to see what material it is made of. The last thing you want is to jump on your board and it feels like you are on an air mattress. So set yourself up for success!

DURABLILITY 

The biggest difference I would say between these two types of boards is going to be durability. Inflatables were first created to go down rivers, so as you can imagine they are very durable. The material they are made of allows rocks and debris to practically bounce off the bottom of the board. If for any chance your board is picked up by wind or you drop it, you don’t ever have to worry about damage. 

If you decide a hard top SUP is better for you, then make sure to keep in mind that you need to take proper care of your board to ensure you do not ding the surface. Hard tops are primarily made of fiberglass which can be great on the water but also means you need to take extra good care of it. If for some reason your board experiences a crack on the surface, be sure to repair it right away to avoid any water getting into the board. For more tips about repairs, visit our next article!

PERFORMANCE

You might already have in mind what type of board best suits your lifestyle, but there is just one last question you want to ask yourself, how will I be using my board?

Hard tops are great for paddlers who want to use their board for oceans, lakes, racing, long distances, and even surfing. 

If you are only looking to paddle on lakes, rivers, or even have family and friends with you, then inflatables are a better option.


OVERALL

You want to buy an Inflatable SUP if:

  • You have a smaller car or limited storage space
  • Want to travel with your board
  • Are looking for a more durable board

You want to buy a Non-Inflatable SUP if:

  • You are looking to grab your board and go
  • Have ampul amount of space at home to store your board
  • Looking to surf, race, or paddle long distances

——> Now that you’ve considered your options, make sure to read our follow-up posts about choosing the best style/size board for your budget and lifestyle and this one all about purchasing an inflatable SUP.

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