What are the differences between and inflatable and non-inflatable stand up paddle boards?
I am looking for a SUP board for my wife, all of 5 ft tall, in good shape, about 120 lbs. We've SUPed a fair amount here in the bay in Marin (with Sea Trek), at Lake Tahoe and a few other places. We live in the city and as for many, storage is an issue. So, we're considering an inflatable that would be easy to take down and store and also to travel with in our car. I don't want to spend the extra $$ getting it on top of our car, plus the ski racks or on top already. I would like to board to be stable especially here in the bay. Are we giving up anything by purchasing an inflatable vs. standard SUP board? What else should I be considering? What recommendations do you have for a board that will last us a long time? Durable, ease of set up and take down, fun and stable on the water. We're also looking to purchase a kayak, similar questions except primary users of the kayak will be me and my 16 year old son. Primary users of the SUP board will be my wife and my 13 year old daughter. Thanks so much.
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In terms of a hard sided paddle board vs an inflatable paddle board, there are going to be three main differences between the two:
Portability/Storage. If storage and transport are considerations for you, it's hard to beat an inflatable paddle board. From stashing on a shelf in the garage, to tossing it in the trunk of your car, almost everything about transporting the board is easier with an inflatable. While it has gotten easier to inflate stand up paddle boards, it will still take more time and effort to get your board ready to be on the water than a hard sided paddle board.
Durability. An inflatable stand up paddle board will be significantly more durable in terms of drops, bumps, dings, nicks, scratches, and hitting rocks on shore. I have a hard sided paddle board and I spend at least two days a season (typically in the middle of the season and at the end) repairing those little damaged spots and I'm always wary about coming in to shore if it is rocky.
Performance in the water. While the technology of inflatable SUPs has come a long way, in this category hard sided boards still dominate some of the more specialized aspects of performance. As an example, surfing, speed, long distance tracking, and turning/nimbleness, will be marginally better on a hard sided paddle board.
All of that said, if you're looking for an all-around paddle board for lakes, bays, and slow moving rivers, then an inflatable SUP is a great choice. Here are a couple of options for you to look at:
All of these boards are shorter in length which make them great for smaller paddlers. They all have a 200+ pound capacity though, so they fit a range of sizes. The Hobie and the Boardworks SUPs come with an adjustable paddle, which is recommended if you are going to be using the board for people with a broad height difference.
Hopefully this helps give you some insights into SUPs, please don't hesitate to reach out if you have more questions!
We'll get to the kayak question in another response, stay tuned!
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