5 Myths About Inflatable Standup Paddle Boards

Posted on April 4, 2017 by Doug Robichaud

Inflatable paddle board myths debunked

Inflatable standup paddle boards (iSUPs) have been given a bad reputation. This poor reputation was created by social media and the people who have never set foot on an inflatable paddle board in their entire life. We thought it was about time to prove this SUP stigma wrong -- right here, right now. Before we debunk the 5 myths about Inflatables, let’s give you the lowdown on today’s modern iSUPs. The latest generation of inflatable paddle boards are pushing the limits in construction and design. Today, more and more paddlers are switching from traditional rigid boards (epoxy, fiberglass and carbon) to inflatable SUPs because they are more realistic for many paddlers’ lifestyles, needs and budgets.

paddle boarder, close up of feet

Myth #1: Inflatable paddle boards are only for beginners

Sure, inflatables can be a great paddle board option for a beginner, but inflatables can also be a great option for intermediate to advanced paddlers. It all depends on what you will be using your paddle board for. If you plan on using your SUP solely on lakes, bays, mild ocean chop, white water paddling or rivers, then an inflatable SUP is your best option no matter what your skill level may be.

man on SUP next to waterfall

Myth #2: Inflatables are a pain to inflate (and waste too much time)

An average size inflatable paddle board takes only 5 minutes to inflate. Inflating is super easy. All you have to do is:
  1. Connect your hand pump or electric pump to the valve
  2. Pump until you reach the boards recommended PSI
  3. Close the valve and you’re ready to explore the shimmering waters of the world!
If we were to time a person from packing their car, to hopping in the water with their SUP, an inflatable would beat a hard paddle board in a race. Here’s why: Getting ready to leave for the beach:
  • Packing an inflatable paddle board consists of you placing your rolled up iSUP (the size of a sleeping bag) in the trunk or back seat of your car and heading to the beach
  • Packing a hard paddle board consists of you grabbing your SUP and carefully transporting it to the roof of your car. Then, you have to strap it up tightly and drive slower than usual because of the giant SUP on your roof
    • By the time your boards are strapped, the person with the inflatable would already be 5-10min ahead of you
Once at the beach:
  • Once you arrive to the beach with your inflatable paddle board, you will have to inflate it (takes 5 min), but when the person with a hard paddle board arrives at the beach, it will take them a few minutes to unstrap and take their board off the roof
woman pumping SUP

Myth #3: Inflatables aren’t as durable as hard boards and puncture easily

Inflatables are in fact more durable than hard paddle boards. Modern inflatable paddle boards are super rugged and can take a serious beating without any major damage occurring. Drop an inflatable in a parking lot as many times as you want. Hell, drop it from the top of 20 story hotel. It will survive, ​with some battle scars of course​. Do the same with a hard paddle board and you will need repairs immediately. Same goes for rocks in the water. ​Conventional wisdom would lead you to believe that something  that is inflatable, must be easy to puncture but the truth is that a quality inflatable  paddle board is actually very durable and puncture-resistant. Bottom line, i​inflatables  are ​indestructible beasts​ way more durable than you would think!

man paddling, smiling

Myth #4: Inflatables are not performance-based paddle boards

We can admit that hard paddle boards have more performance-based capabilities than inflatables. Actually we did an Inflatable vs Hard Paddle Board Speed Comparison and there was only a 5% difference in speed. Performance-wise, iSUPs are better for white water paddling. You can surf an inflatable just fine, but a hard paddle board will catch waves easier and have a smoother ride. In addition, you can also fish or do yoga on an inflatable. Ultimately, inflatables can do anything hard paddle boards can, but each have their own advantages and disadvantages.

woman doing yoga on SUP

Myth #5: Inflatables are more expensive than hard paddle boards

It is common to find inflatables at a more affordable price point than hard paddle boards. However, this is not always the case. On average, you can save a few hundred bucks purchasing an inflatable versus a hard paddle board. If you’re new to paddle boarding, an inflatable is a great first purchase for this reason.
2 people on paddle board sitting


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