Deciding to invest in a paddle board all of your own is a big decision in itself, but there’s still one more decision to make – do you want to buy an inflatable SUP or a traditional solid one?  

There are benefits and drawbacks to each type of board, so it’s all about working out what your needs and skills are. In an ideal world, we’d all like to own one of each board but, unfortunately, that’s not always possible! So, here’s our rundown on whether an inflatable SUP or solid SUP is the right choice for you.  

Solid stand up paddle boards

Solid SUPs are traditionally made from carbon or fibreglass and, as you’d expect, are more rigid than inflatable SUPs.

Advantages of a solid SUP

The main advantage to owning a solid board is the boost it has for your performance. While you won’t notice much difference if you’re a casual paddle boarder, if you plan on racing at a high level or performing complicated board moves, such as surfing big waves, a rigid board is certainly what you need. They’re heavier than ISUPs, and so they’re a lot more stable on the water. An inflatable board won’t give you the support you need for advanced tricks, and many SUP competitions insist or prefer racers to have a solid board. 

The other major benefit to having a solid SUP is that it’s always ready for the water – once it’s out of its cover, you can be on the water within minutes.

Disadvantages of a solid SUP

Since a traditional rigid SUP is made from more substantial materials, they tend to be more expensive. So, if you plan on only taking your board for a paddle a few times a year, it probably doesn’t make sense to opt for a solid one unless you need the speed or stability.

The second and probably biggest drawback is the size and weight of these boards mean they can be tricky to transport if you’re going further than you’re local paddling spot. This is especially true if you want to take your new purchase abroad – you’ll have to factor in paying extra for the large cargo and for a heavy-duty case to keep it in one piece while in transit.

Even if you’re driving to the water, car boots won’t be able to fit your board inside, so they’ll need to be strapped to the roof of the car with a roof rack. Of course, you’ll be so excited to paddle you won’t mind doing this, but it’s a factor to consider nonetheless.

Inflatable stand up paddle boards

As the name suggests, inflatable SUPs have to be inflated with air. You’d be forgiven for thinking there’s no way this would be stable enough to take out on the water, but not only are they stable enough, they’re also about 80-90% as rigid as the traditional paddle board.

Advantages of an inflatable SUP

Undoubtedly, the main selling point of an ISUP is their ease of storage and transport due to how light they are. In fact, when you’re carrying one down the water, it barely feels like you’re holding one! As with anything that’s inflatable, they can be easily deflated when you need to transport or store them.

The other advantage of ISUPs is their surface is a lot softer than the surface of a rigid paddle board, which makes them a lot better for beginners and (believe it or not) yoga. What’s more, although you wouldn’t think it, they’re actually more durable than their solid counterparts as their less prone to scratches and bumps due to being less rigid.

The last bonus is that ISUPs are more affordable which is a big factor in the decision-making process for a lot of people. Plus, if you’re ordering online, they’re a lot easier to deliver for obvious reasons!

Disadvantages of an inflatable SUP

Unlike solid SUPs, you can’t just get out your ISUP and launch yourself straight onto the water. You have to take the time to inflate it which can be frustrating and hard work when all you want to do is get paddling!

If you’re looking for a board to paddle at a high level or for performing advanced tricks with, unfortunately, inflatable SUPs will struggle to match up to the solid boards. But for nearly any other use, you’re unlikely to notice much of a difference in the handling between the two. In other words, for the casual paddle boarder, an ISUP will fit your needs to a T.

So, it’s decision time – which type will you be going for? Once you’ve decided, make sure to take out Paddle Board Insurance, so your new board doesn’t find itself in deep water!