Should I Get an Inflatable or Hard Board?

If you're torn between getting an inflatable or a hard board for stand-up paddleboarding, don't sweat it – it's a common dilemma. Let's simplify things for you.

Key Highlights

  1. Transportation Ease: Inflatable SUPs offer unparalleled convenience, fitting into cars and planes with ease.
  2. Storage Solutions: The compact nature of deflated inflatable boards makes them ideal for tight spaces.
  3. Cost-Effectiveness: Generally, inflatable SUPs are more budget-friendly, considering initial purchase, shipping, and material durability.
  4. Board Feel: While hard boards provide a firmer platform, modern inflatables closely mimic this feel, with added comfort.
  5. Performance on Different Waters: Inflatables are superior on rivers for their safety and durability, hard boards excel in ocean wave performance, and it's a tie on flat waters.


woman on stand up paddle board

Inflatables win hands down here. They're a breeze to transport; just toss them in your trunk or strap them to your roof. Hard boards? They need more logistics and definitely won't fit in your carry-on.

Advantage: Inflatable

Storage: Again, inflatables take the cake. They fold up neatly, ready to stash in your closet. Hard boards hog garage space or lean awkwardly against your house.

Advantage: Inflatable

Cost: Inflatables are generally cheaper, but skimp too much and you'll regret it. Still, they edge out hard boards when you factor in shipping and materials.

Advantage: Inflatable

Board "Feel": Inflatables have come a long way in mimicking hard boards, but there's a subtle difference in feel. Hard boards offer a firmer platform, but inflatables are more forgiving on your feet.

Advantage: Hard board, but it's close.

hard paddle boards


On flat water, it's a draw – unless you're into serious racing. In rivers, inflatables rule for safety and durability. But if you're carving waves, hard boards shine, though expect more repairs.

Advantage: Tie on flat water; Inflatable on rivers; Hardboard on ocean waves.


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It boils down to your preferences and where you'll be paddling most. Assess your priorities, but hey, why not have both if you can swing it?

Related Topics:

SUP Tips for Beginners

The Ultimate Guide On Finding Places to Paddle Board Near You

Five Great Winter SUP Fishing Spots

Your Comprehensive Guide to Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Boards

Are Inflatable Paddle Boards Worth It?