The 3 Types of Paddle Boards You Should Know

Posted on September 19, 2017 by Doug Robichaud

Which Type of SUP is Right for You

Before you make the decision to purchase a stand up paddle board (SUP), there are 3 different types of paddle board constructions that you should know about. The 3 types of SUPs:
  1. Epoxy Boards
  2. Inflatable SUP Boards
  3. Soft Top Boards

What makes the different types of stand up paddle boards type unique from one another? It’s simple. They are all constructed of different materials, which means each type of paddle board will perform slightly different from one another. Depending on your lifestyle and needs, one type of paddle board may be better suited for you. Below is a quick guide on the 3 types of paddle boards available.


The 3 Standup Paddle Board Styles and Constructions

Epoxy Paddleboards

This is your traditional hard paddle board. Epoxy hard boards are typically constructed of EPS foam and multiple layers of fiberglass and epoxy resin to prevent dings. Ultimately, EPS construction creates a lightweight, more durable hard paddle board that offers both maneuverability and flexibility for the rider. Epoxy paddle boards are extremely agile in the water and their shape allows for additional glide, making them the perfect board for long-distance paddling adventures. 

man sitting on paddle board

Inflatable Paddleboards

Inflatable stand up paddle boards have been rising in popularity over the years because they are the easiest boards to store at home and transport to and from the water. All you have to do is pump up your board to the suggested PSI and you’re ready to paddle. Surprisingly enough, inflatable stand up paddle boards are just as rigid as epoxy boards because they are constructed with drop stitch technology and high-density PVC layers that creates a solid SUP. Modern iSUPs are extremely stable which makes them great for beginners.

woman SUPing, close up of feet

Soft Top Paddleboards

The same idea as a soft top surfboard – a soft top paddle board’s front deck is constructed with a spongy, soft foam material. However, foam SUPs are still rigid as the core of the board is created out of strong & sturdy materials. The core is constructed of an EPS high-density foam blank and has a supporting piece down the center of the board, known as a stringer, for rigidity. ISLE’s Soft Tops have an additional layer that is laminated with fiberglass and epoxy resin – Something other companies do not have.

2 paddle boards on sand

Pros and Cons of Epoxy Paddle Boards

  • The most agile type of paddle board
  • Has the best glide, tracking and control
  • Best choice for SUP surfing, SUP racing and long-distance expeditions
  • Provides optimal performance compared to every other type of paddle board
  • The most difficult board to transport (typically need a truck or roof racks)
  • Least durable type of paddle board (if you drop it, it is vulnerable to dings & scratches)
  • Need to have enough storage space in your home and a large vehicle or external racks to transport to & from your home
  • Typically, the most expensive type of paddle board
Perfect for…
  • SUP Surfing
  • SUP Racing
  • Long Distance   
woman putting a paddle board on a car

Pros and Cons of Inflatable Paddle Boards

  • The easiest type of paddle board to transport and store because when deflated, it rolls up to the size of sleeping bag
  • Inflatables are the most durable type of paddle board – if your drop it, it won’t ding or scratch
  • You can travel with it anywhere (even on an airplane!)
  • Amazing stability - great for beginners
  • Typically, more affordable than epoxy paddle boards
  • You will need to inflate and deflate your board before & after you go paddling (unless you leave it inflated which is fine too)
  • Epoxy paddle boards perform better than inflatables
Perfect for…
  • Those who travel often and want to bring their boards with them
  • First-timers
  • Those who have limited storage space in their car/home

woman pumping paddle board

Pros and Cons of Soft Top Foam Paddle Boards

  • The most affordable type of paddle board
  • An excellent choice for your kids/beginners or as a designated family board
  • Falling on the board’s deck will not hurt
  • Epoxy paddle boards perform better than soft SUPs
  • Weigh more than epoxy and inflatables
  • Soft top foam paddle boards are typically limited to one design whereas epoxy and inflatables have multiple shapes & sizes giving you more options to choose from
Perfect for…
  • Kids/beginners or a family lake/beach house
  • Recreational cruising
  • Those who need a board that can take a beatingwoman standing on paddle board


Sign up for our newsletter

Get exclusive insider access to products and promotions

Copyright © 2024 Paddle Boards and Surfboards By ISLE Surf & SUP. All Rights Reserved