- Have you been going back and forth trying to find the right paddle board for you summer adventures? Whether you are an experienced paddle board tourer looking for speed and efficiency or simply a parent looking for a multi use board for all the family to use this summer. We want to make choosing your first or next paddle board as easy as possible.
- Firstly, we’ll look at the differences between inflatable and solid paddleboards.
- Then we’ll look at the different paddle board shapes and which one you need.
- After that, we’ll make sure you know how to choose the right length board for your needs.
- Finally, we’ll answer the most common questions that come up from our customers.
This article is part of our paddle board series;
What is an Inflatable Paddleboard?
Inflatable paddleboards have come a long way since they first hit the market. Now stiffer and more versatile than ever before, inflatable paddleboards are no longer the compromise they once were when weighing up performance vs portability.
According to one-speed comparison, there was only a 5% difference in speed between an inflatable and solid board.
What is a Solid Paddleboard?
Solid boards are sometimes referred to as epoxy, non-inflatable, traditional or fibreglass paddleboards. They don’t need to be inflated or deflated, meaning more time paddling and less time pumping. The rails can also be shaped to allow less drag and more manoeuvrability and are suited to applications such as racing or surfing.
What to think about when choosing your paddleboard?
Convenience: Do you have space for an inflated 10-14ft paddleboard?
One of the biggest benefits to an inflatable paddleboard is storage, you don’t need a garage or a shed to store your SUP. No roof racks are needed! You can even hike to remote locations before inflating your paddleboard, then deflate it for the hike back to the car at the end of the day. And if space is of the utmost importance for you, check out the ULTRA compact paddleboard!
However, there is a time cost for pumping up your paddleboard but modern pumps allow for fast inflating in around 6 – 10 minutes. There are electronic pump adapters you can buy which take around 10-15 minutes to pump up your paddleboard but require no effort.
Whether you have an inflatable or solid board and like to ride a bike. Use SUP wheelers to allow easy bike access to the water without having to inflate or awkwardly carry the board.
Durability: How tough are you on your gear?
This really comes down to the quality of the board you buy, but in terms of vulnerability to nicks and dings, inflatable boards are less prone to damage when comparing them to solid paddleboards.
Performance: What do you want to do with your board?
When we talk about performance we mean speed and agility; like a high-performing carving ski, solid boards are known to be quick to respond and manoeuvre. However, the gap between inflatable and solid paddleboard performance in recent years has largely reduced due to advances in technology that stiffen up the board by up to 50% when compared to other boards of the same size. Speed is largely due to the hull shape and something we will discuss a little further down.
What paddleboard shape do you need?
They are flat, wide and designed to ride on top of the water. They are also favoured by beginners as they are more stable and perfect for paddling the lake with your dog. (yes, it’s a thing!)
They have pointed noses similar to kayaks and canoes. The tapered shape allows the paddleboard to slice through the water, pushing the water at the nose towards the sides of the board. This allows faster and more efficient paddling, but at the cost of stability. Displacement hulls are the favoured shape of advanced paddlers for racing and touring applications.
How to choose paddle board length?
Why is paddleboard length important?
What are the different lengths of paddleboards?
Kids – (9 feet or less) are more maneuverable and suitable for surfing or as a kid’s board.
All-round – (9 to 12 feet) are great for everyday use on calm waters and can be used in the surf.
Racing & Touring – (12 to 14 feet) are faster more common for racing and/or touring. They also track better in the water, a desirable feature when paddling longer distances.
Common questions we get about SUP’s
What PSI (pounds per square inch) should I inflations my SUP too?
What’s the best paddleboard for beginners?