Inflatable Paddle board vs Solid

One of the first decisions you will need to make when you want to buy your first paddle board is whether to go for a solid paddle board or an inflatable one.

The truth is that both paddle board options have their distinct advantages and downsides. It is up to you to choose your preferred choice based on several factors such as speed, tracking, portability, and storage space, and many other factors.

Which one would you prefer?

To help you choose a side in the debate about inflatable paddle boards vs. solid paddle boards.

This comprehensive guide delves into the details of each type of paddle board and why each type stands out.

Let's get started.

What Is Solid Paddle Board?

Solid paddle boards, also known as hard paddle boards, are made from materials like fiberglass, plastic, wood, and Kevlar, all protected with layers of epoxy resin.

The foam core helps create buoyancy, while the materials (Kevlar,Fiberglass, Bamboo veneer) make the board durable and rigid. The epoxy resin finish coat helps to harden the board further and ensure it doesn't leak in water.

But all solid boards are not the same. Boards made from fiberglass are expensive and durable, while plastic boards are cheap and short-lived.

Why Choose Solid Paddle Boards over inflatables?

  • Hard boards offer higher performance than inflatables
    One area where hard boards shine more than inflatables is on speed and maneuverability. While inflatables tend to be more stable and take in more weight, hard boards perform much better on the water.They tend to be faster and you can easily maneuver than with inflatables. This is because most inflatable paddle boards tend to have wide planing hulls that are standard from nose to tail, compared to the hard boards' streamlined design.Many hard boards are built narrower and have a pointed shape. Precisely, they have fine-tuned nose and tails and a widened center. This allows paddlers to cut through the water with less effort while still adding more volume in the center for stability.Furthermore, hard boards can take more design and shape options than inflatables, thereby making them great for different sports.
  • They are great for surfing
    Again, because of their maneuverability and fine-tuned ends, hard boards tend be better for surfing than inflatables. While an inflatable can be designed to surf in small waves, serious surfers tend to prefer hard board as they are more rigid and can withstand strong waves. In addition, you will get a better, smoother glide with a hard board than an inflatable.
  • Hard boards are easier to manage
    You don't need to worry about inflating or deflating your hard board; you just get in and out of the water as you wish. With inflatables, you need to carry your pump always to inflate before beginning paddling.
  • Hard boards resist wind better
    It can be hard to use an inflatable board when there are moderate or strong winds. A hard board enables you to maneuver with ease regardless of the tides. This is amazing because you don't always have to wait for the perfect weather to go surfing.

Downsides of Using Solid Board

While they are a great option, they fall short in some aspects;

- The take more storage space, which makes it harder to travel with

- They are also heavy to carry, and you are likely going to need help taking one to and from the water

- They tend to scratch more easily and could break if they fall on a hard surface

- They require more expensive repairs than inflatables

When to Go for a Solid Paddle Board?

Solid paddle boards deliver better performance than inflatables, particularly when surfing or paddling in lakes and local beaches, and areas with rapid winds.

If you are into surfing or looking for something that can produce the best performances regardless of the weather, a hard board is the way to go. It's the ideal choice for pro paddlers who want to surf and cruise really well.

What Is an Inflatable Paddle Board?

Inflatable paddle boards, also known as Inflatable SUPs ( ISUPs), are made from layers of PVC plastic that are woven together using fibers. ISUPs feature a valve that you attach to a pump when inflating it. These boards weigh anywhere between 18 pounds and 28 pounds and usually require a pressure of 15PSI for them to be fully inflated.

Once inflated, these boards can be stiff and unbending, thanks to the rods that run along the rails. Many inflatable paddle boards come with flexible or attached fins to help with speed and maneuverability. They are a bit lighter and cheaper than most solid boards.

Why choose inflatable paddle boards over solid boards?

  • They are easier to transport and store
    One of the reasons many people prefer inflatable boards is their portability and ease of storage compared to hard boards. When deflated and folded up, most inflatable paddle boards tend to be about the size of a suitcase, thereby making it easy for one to carry them in the trunk of the car or even by air.In terms of storage, your entire inflatable board kit will fit in any garage or closet, making them great for students and those living in small city apartments.
  • They are more durable than hard boards
    If you happen to drop your solid paddle board or accidentally run into a rock, it will likely chip or scratch. This means you have to repair it, which is usually expensive.However, inflatable paddle boards are almost unbreakable and will withstand dropping impact better than solid boards. Inflatable boards are constructed in layers of military-grade PVC woven together with a tight drop stitch core.
  • More stable
    In addition to being stiff, they offer greater stability which makes them ideal for many beginners. When you are getting started, you don't want to panic on water, which is why inflatables are a better choice for those looking to learn how to paddle.
  • Great for recreational paddling
    While hard boards tend to offer smoother paddling for pro paddling enthusiasts, inflatables are better for general recreational activities. With their greater stability, you will have an easier and more fun time paddling for fun. Besides, their softer feel makes them great for people who are into yoga.

Downsides of an Inflatable Paddle Board

On the flip-side;

- They are a little difficult to maneuver

- Not as fast as solid  paddle boards

- They sag or sink in the middle

- Inflating the vessel may take time, hence a little bit inconveniencing

When to Go For an Inflatable Paddle Board?

The biggest difference between solid boards and inflatable boards is in portability and storage.

In most cases, people looking to travel with their boards will be more suited for inflatable boards than hard boards. This is because inflatables can roll up to a packable size, thus can easily fit in the trunk of your car.

What's more, most inflatables come with a carrying case or backpack to allow you to carry it with one arm. They are also great for air travel.

Besides, if you have limited storage at home and you still want to have fun on the water, inflatables are the way to go.

Now that you are well-versed with both options, check out the head-to-head summary in the table below.

Inflatable Paddle board vs. Solid- H2H Comparison

Inflatable Paddle Boards

Solid Paddle Boards


- These are the easiest to transport

- Roll up to the size of a suitcase or sleeping bag

- You can carry them whenever you want

- Does not shrink down

- Require a large car with a car rack to move

- They are heavier to carry alone to and from the water


Storage Space

- Require smaller storage space

- Can be stored virtually anywhere at home

- Require ample storage space, possibly on the roof of your garage


- They are more durable

- They tend to withstand impact better. When accidentally dropped, they rarely scratch

- Their durability makes them better for paddling rocky rivers and white water paddling

- Less durable when compared to inflatable

- Can scratch or get torn when accidentally dropped or come into contact with rocks


- Offer excellent stability and thus good for beginners

- It's super-rigid and may not be great for racing or surfing

- Provide optimal performance

- Are more agile and offer better glide

-Great for surfing and catching wave

- Great for long-distance expeditions, surfing, and racing


- Most inflatables come with repair kits

-They are easier to repair

- You are less likely to repair them

- Should be handled with care as they are prone to scratches and dents

- Are difficult to repair


- Suitable for beginners thanks to their ease of handling

- Suitable for people who are into recreational paddling

- Great for people who prioritize portability and ease of storage

- Great for people who value convenience- it doesn't require inflating and deflating

- Suitable for long-distance riders and people who are into surfing

- Great for areas with strong winds and waves


You will want a solid paddle board if;

· You are only planning to go for water adventures in lakes, local beaches, and bays

· You want to go surfing and enjoy rapids

· You want optimal performance and speed when paddling

· You don't mind about storage space

You will want an inflatable paddle board if;

· You don't have ample storage space

· You are a first-timer who wants to learn how to paddle

· You travel a lot and would like to carry your board with you

· You are adventurous and thus need a durable board

As we discussed here, inflatable paddle boards are convenient, thanks to the ease of storage and transportation. On the other hand, a traditional solid board may not be the most convenient storage, but it offers better water performance by providing superior glide and speed.

When it comes to which is better, it all boils down to your preferences. You can't go wrong with either, as long as it matches your preference.

Which one do you go with?

Share your views in the comments.


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