Inflatable Paddle Board vs Solid


When shopping for a paddle board, one of the first questions most people ask is “Should I get an inflatable paddle board or a solid paddle board”? This is a great question! Both have their pros and cons for sure. Personally, my vehicle can accommodate either, so I researched extensively to answer just that – as well as all of the other great questions that follow. In this blog post, we are going to take a look at each, give you the pros and cons for both and I will share my personal choice as well.

Inflatable Paddle Board (Pictured Left) and Solid Paddle Board (Pictured Right) – Image Source: ISLE Paddle Boards

Are Inflatable Paddle Boards Better Than Solid Ones?

There’s not necessarily a straightforward answer to this question and personal preference will most-likely prevail. However, if you don’t have a personal preference, or are simply just looking for additional info to help you make your choice, I’ve provided some pro’s and con’s of each below:

Inflatable Paddle Board Pro’s

  • Easy to store
  • Easy to carry
  • Easy to travel with
  • Fairly light-weight
  • Falling sucks less due to the softer deck
  • Durable AF

Inflatable Paddle Board Con’s

  • Can explode with too much sun exposure because, well, science
  • Harder to control if windy

Solid Paddle Board Pro’s

  • Higher performance
  • Water ready with no pumping or “set-up time”
  • Can handle a wide range of water conditions
  • Rarely break

Solid Paddle Board Con’s

  • Takes up space
  • Need a car rack to transport (if not within walking distance to the water)
  • The harder the board, the harder the fall

Are Inflatable Paddle Boards Harder to Stand On?

You might think an inflatable paddle board would be harder to stand-on because of the fact that it’s filled with air, however, that’s not quite the case. Due to their softer and thicker decks, inflatable paddle boards are not only easier to stand on (especially for beginners like me), they are certainly more forgiving when you fall – which trust me, when you’re just starting out, will definitely happen.

Me falling off of my inflatable paddle board – Image Source: Erica Fischer/Aquapparel.com

Are Inflatable Paddle Boards More Stable?

The level of stability can depend on a couple different things including the thickness and width of the board. The wider the board, the more stable, so if your board is 34” wide vs 28”, your ride will feel more stable, especially if you are a beginner. Generally, inflatable boards are going to be more stable because of how thiccc they are vs. solid boards.

Are Inflatable Paddle Boards Better For Beginners?

As a beginner myself, having tried both a solid SUP and now owning an iSUP, I can confidently say, at least from my own personal experience, that inflatable boards are more ideal for beginners. Inflatable boards tend to be thicker than solid boards which, when coupled with a wide deck helps provide much better stability. This is definitely a plus when you’re trying to get up and stay up those first couple times and not to mention, your falls aren’t nearly as harsh due to the softer decking.

Can Inflatable Paddle Boards Pop?

Throughout my search for finding the right (and best) board for me, I found that inflatable paddle boards have a reputation for being especially durable despite the fact that they aren’t solid boards. Some brands may provide a more durable, quality material than others.

Popped Inflatable Paddle Board – Image Source: SandyF1nns via Reddit

However, generally, as long as you aren’t navigating in super harsh or hazardous conditions or storing your inflatable paddle board near the chef’s knives, you should be confident that you won’t have to worry about a deflated or punctured board.

How Long Do Inflatable Paddle Boards Last?

One of the biggest and most crucial keys to enjoying your board for as long as possible is proper maintenance. The quality of your board also plays a role in the lifespan of your board and is arguably, just as important, especially if you are looking to keep your board for many years to come. My suggestion for a long-lasting inflatable board: treat it like you would your dream car: proper maintenance and storage, avoid mishandling your board or putting it through harsh or hazardous conditions, etc. Doing these things every time you use your board should help you get at least 5 years out of your inflatable paddle board. In fact, based on some additional digging, I found that some inflatable boards can last up to 12 years if properly stored and maintained.

What Paddle Board Is Best For Beginners?

You will most definitely want to first consider what your budget is and have a good understanding of what you will want to use your paddleboard for. From here, you can start looking at brands that fall within your budget. If performance is a priority for you, regardless of whether or not you are a beginner, a solid paddle board might be better suited for you instead of an inflatable paddle board.

If you’re like me and are just looking to cruise and maybe do some other lower performance paddling activities like anchoring to snorkel or even yoga, either one will suffice. Once you decide which type you would like, you will want to then look at the length, width and the thickness of the board. Inflatable paddle boards generally have a thicker board than solid paddle boards, however, if you’re looking for a little extra stability, you may want to search for a brand with a thicker board (I’d say between 4-6 inches).

Night SUPs (Light Up Solid Paddle Boards) – Image Source: Erica Fischer/Aquapparel.com

When it comes to width and length of a paddle board, stability is going to be your friend here. With that being said, in my opinion, minimum 10 feet in length, but for me personally, closer to 12 is best. I am 5’4” for reference. Next, we need a good width so that we can position our feet in a good spot for a comfortable, stable ride. The recommended width for a beginner is between 32″ and 34″.

Once you choose your paddle board, go ahead and let me know which one you chose on the comments section below. And now for my personal choice reveal: BOTE Aero HD Inflatable Paddle Board

BOTE Aero HD – Image Source: Erica Fischer/Aquapparel.com

See it in action here:

If you want to learn more about paddle boards, check out the Paddle Boarding section of this website.

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