Hardboard vs Inflatable Paddle Board

Your finally ready to purchase a paddle board for yourself or your family but how do you know which board to buy? Glide has boards for just about everyone and for any type of paddling, so let us help you narrow down your selection.

So you’ve gotten the stand-up paddle bug and you are torn between a hard paddleboard and an inflatable paddleboard. As a manufacturer of both for over a decade, we don’t “have a dog in this fight” so let’s walk you through the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Inflatable Paddle Board

10 Pros to an Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board

1. Great for Hikers

If you want to experience most of your adventure in one outing, consider an inflatable SUP. It can be stored inside your backpack and easily hiked into a remote lake. You can take your inflatable paddleboards to the most remote paddle spots imaginable, where a rigid paddle board just can’t be carried.

2. Will last a very long time

A stand up paddle board inflatable vs hard in durability may shock you. Our iSUP's are near as durable as our rigid boards!

3. Makes economic sense

iSUPs are a bit cheaper than a regular hard stand-up board. So, you can save a lot more money for other adventures when you invest in an iSUP.

4. Less Transport Hassle

Vehicle roof racks are required to transport a regular hard stand-up paddleboard. With an iSUP, you’ll just have to place it in your trunk and you’re set. Setting up your iSUP is pretty simple once you get to your destination, it will only take 5-10 minutes to pump your board up. Even less if you buy an electric pump.

inflatable paddle board


5. Light Weight

The inflatable board's weigh is less than a regular hard stand-up paddleboard. iSUPs are ideal for kids and adults that might find a regular hard SUP heavy.

6. Ding Proof

Most hard top boards are prone to breakage in whitewater or rocky shores. Glide actually started as a whitewater hardboard SUP company so all of our SUP’s can take a beating. However, one advantage to an inflatable board is that due to the nature of the PVC technology. Dings don’t affect it like they would an epoxy board.

7. Falling Hurts Less

Inflatable SUP boards will give you a more forgiving surface to fall on. Therefore, in the event that you fail during a trick or stunt, you won’t be hurt badly by falling on the board or the board falling on you.

shop inflatable sups

8. Easy Storage

Your storage worries just went away because, with an iSUP, you will have much more room for your other adventure gear. Your iSUP folds up like a sleeping bag and isn’t much bigger than one. A regular hard SUP board, on the other hand, is bulky and consumes a fair amount of space considering most are at least 10 feet tall.

9. Solid Value

Most inflatable stand-up paddleboards will still keep their original look through many adventures. Hard stand-up paddleboards are prone to dings and scratches (less so with Glide’s patent-pending polymer) and there is a cost associated with fixing dings and scratches through the years.

10. Fly the friendly skies

We mentioned the ease of traveling in your car with an iSUP but the same rule applies when traveling by plane. Whereas most hardboard SUPs are too long to check in as baggage, your iSUP fits nicely in the baggage hold and you typically won’t pay an extra luggage fee.


10 Pros to a Hard Stand Up Paddle Board

1. Performance

There is no way to get around it, a hard SUP board will cut through the water more efficiently than an iSUP, therefore, giving you more speed and the ability to make turns quicker. Because hard SUP’s can be built with hulls that taper from nose to tail, they can displace water more effectively.

2. Better Glide

This one is obviously important to us since we named the company after it! By being able to shape the board more specifically with hardboard materials, the hard SUP tends to track better through the water and therefore will give you more glide per paddle stroke.

3. Surf

Because the hard paddleboard is quicker than an inflatable paddleboard, catching waves is easier, and turning once in the wave is far more predictable with the hard SUP.

4. Better Suited for Wind

Anyone who has been out on their paddleboard on a windy day understands the challenges that are presented when the paddler becomes a “human sail”. Because inflatable paddle board vs regular are lighter and tend to ride higher in the water, they will increase the challenge the wind presents considerably.

5. Won’t Deflate

As obvious as this one sounds, we’re amazed at how many people don’t consider it when buying a SUP. Granted most iSUP’s are ding-proof but if you were to hit a sharp rock, your iSUP will likely deflate rather quickly.

Because of the Glide Surface Shield we apply to our hard SUP’s, they tend to not ding either and a sharp rock may penetrate the polymer coating but it won’t sink and the hole can be easily repaired with a drop or two of resin as opposed to the patch kit that will be required for the iSUP.



6. Get on and off the water quickly

If you have the roof rack that is required to transport your hardboard, you’ll be ready to hit the water as soon as you get to it. No inflating or deflating required.

7. Less Bounce

Even with the 25 psi that you can inflate your Glide iSUP to, you will find that a hardboard gives you a bit more rigidity and therefore less "bounce" than you tend to get with an iSUP.

8. Aesthetics

Ok, this one is a stretch but it’s hard not to love the look of a well-built SUP hard board.

9. Racing

Those who fall hard for SUP may find themselves wanting to sign up for a race at your local lake. At this point in the evolution of SUP, we’ve never seen a racer on an iSUP make the podium!

10. Safety

This one was a bit of a toss-up but we gave the hard SUP the advantage because there is zero chance of it leaking and therefore deflating on a long paddle.



We have to say in the battle of inflatable vs rigid SUP, we think it all comes to down storage and transportation.

The technology in a Glide inflatable paddle board has come a long way and they now paddle nearly as well as a hardboard. And with GSS construction our hardboards are ultra-durable and are as strong as an inflatable.

Hardboards are big! And they take a lot of storage space, and you will need an adequate rack on your vehicle to transport them from your home to the water.

An inflatable packs up into its backpack and takes much less space to store it, and you can transport it inside your car, or in public transportation. 

Our inflatables can be stored and transported while inflated just like a hardboard can, there are no problems doing that!

With Glides ultra-durable hard boards, and our advanced fusion inflatable paddle board you really can not go wrong with either type of board. Rest assured that you will be thrilled with whichever standup paddleboard you decide on!


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