What is an Inflatable Paddle Board
Dec 09, 2022
Stand up paddle boarding is a great sport for everyone, young or old, tall or short, sports person or not. You can enjoy a relaxed day on a calm lake or build your muscles paddling in the ocean waves. Or maybe you'd love to take your yoga practice to the next level through SUP yoga or get a full-body workout fast paddling. Whatever your motivation, choosing the right board is the key to the best sup experience.
When choosing a stand up paddle board, there are many factors to consider. How do you intend to use it? How will you transport it? The primary decision points will be the size of the board, shape, capacity, thickness, and, most importantly, board type. Whether to go for a solid or inflatable board depends on how much storage space you'll need and how you'll transport your board.
Inflatable paddle boards have transformed the world of paddleboarding. In fact, the evolution of inflatable paddle boards was part of why SUP was adopted globally. Today, the increase in popularity of SUP continues rapidly with more innovation and development in the paddle board market.
What is an Inflatable Paddle Board?
Inflatable boards are made from PVC with exteriors featuring drop-stitch construction. They come with accessories, including a storage bag to keep your board when not in use and a pump to inflate the paddle board whenever you need to use it.
What's inside an inflatable SUP?
Inflatable paddle board manufacturing involves drop stitching two polyester layers using thousands of polyester threads. An airtight coating is then used to cover the outside surface, and tape is glued over the seams to keep the board airtight.
Single Layer Inflatable SUPs contain one layer of drop stitch core joined with PVC material. The result is an affordable lightweight board.
Double Layer Inflatable SUPs, on the other hand, feature a double layer of drop stitching core bound together and joined with a single layer of PVC material. These boards are usually harder and heavier.
Choosing An Inflatable SUP
To choose the right iSUP, you'll need to consider your intended use, how you will fit your body or items, and its performance in the water. The key decision-making features are the board's thickness, length, volume, and capacity.
Your choice of board should work for your body size. Otherwise, the sup won't displace the amount of water equivalent to your weight, and the board will feel unstable. The volume and weight capacity of the stand up paddle board will affect your stability during paddling.
Most inflatables have a weight has a paddler weight capacity listed on them. Knowing your exact weight capacity will help you purchase the right weight. When calculating weight capacity, consider your body weight and the gear you'll carry with you.
SUP Hull Types
The hull, also known as the paddleboard body, plays a significant role in the board's performance. A sup will have either displacement or planing hull. Both hull types are appropriate for beginners. However, you'll choose the hull depending on how you plan to use your paddle board.
A planning hull has a flat and wide shape like surfboards and is great for sup surfing. Its design allows for greater maneuverability on top of the water. It's also ideal for leisure paddling, and flatwater paddling sup yoga
Meanwhile, displacement hulls are pointy at the front end, similar to canoes and kayaks. The hull cuts through water to improve speed and paddling smoothness. You can choose a displacement hull for fitness paddling, sup racing, and sup camping/touring.
The length of a sup board affects its performance in the water. The longer the board, the faster it is. However, shorter sup boards have more maneuverability than longer boards.
Consider the paddler's use and age when deciding the paddleboard length. For instance, boards under 10' are ideal for kids or sup surfing.
Boards from 10' to 12' are perfect for sup yoga and all-round use
Long boards from 13' and above are ideal for long-distance and professional paddlers.
The width of a paddle board will determine its stability. A wider board is much more stable than a narrow board, but more width means slower speed. If the stand up paddle board is too wide, it can be difficult to paddle.
How long do inflatable paddle boards last?
iSups are much known for their durability. However, how long your inflatable sup will last depends on several factors. For starters, inflatable stand up paddle boards don't do well with heat and sunlight. Too much exposure to those factors will fasten the wear and tear of inflatable boards.
So, what is the average lifetime of an inflatable stand up paddleboard? Well, there isn't an exact answer to the question. The expected lifespan of a board will heavily depend on its use. For an average paddler who sups about twice a week for fitness or recreation, their board can last a minimum of five years.
If you're a daily paddler, perhaps a professional paddler into sup racing, or maybe you're into long distance touring, in that case, your sup paddle board should last three to five years if well maintained.
Misused Boards might last up to three years or less, depending on how badly they're cared for. For instance, paddlers with pets that are very rough on boards may fail to hit the three years mark.
Inflatables vs hard paddle boards
Both hard paddle boards and inflatable boards have their distinct pros and cons. Whether you opt for a hard paddle board or an inflatable one will depend on certain factors. Speed, storage space, weight capacity, portability, and other performance factors like length and weight are some things you should consider when choosing between an inflatable board and a hard paddle board.
Benefits of an Inflatable SUP
It doesn't take up much storage space: If you lack enough storage space in your home, you may not have enough room for extra equipment, such as a large solid paddle board. Inflatable paddle boards don't require a lot of storage space. Once you're not using them, you can deflate them, allowing easy storage in tiny spaces like your car's trunk or closet.
what's more, most inflatable paddle boards are about the weight and size of a suitcase and, therefore, easy to transport. Your entire paddle board kit will allow easy check-in at airports while ensuring no special racks and additional costs such as oversized item airport fees.
They are durable: While inflatable sup board is softer than a hard paddle board, they are, in fact, more durable. You're unlikely to chip or scratch your board whenever you accidentally hit a rock. On the other hand, hard boards are likely to shatter when manhandled.
Inflatable boards are significantly resistant to damage and will endure the most common SUP accidents with little damage. The military-grade PVC used to make inflatable paddle boards plus a layered construction adds to a balance between durability and firmness. This ensures that you get more protection.
Inflatable boards are lighter and more stable: Because of their building material, inflatable sup tends to be way more lightweight than hard boards. However, they offer the same dimensions as hard paddle boards while providing increased weight support.
Most inflatable sups feature higher weight capacity and more volume, adding more stability. While numerous factors affect paddle board stability (width, shape, thickness), weight plays a major role. A paddle board with greater weight stability offers better stability and is excellent for beginners.
ISUPs are great for recreation: Hard boards provide great performance for extensive paddling tours and competitions. Meanwhile, inflatable sup boards are best for recreational activities. You'll easily enjoy paddling on an inflatable paddle board if you're a beginner or a once-in-a-while paddler. With the increased weight capacity and stability, you'll have an easier time learning sup surfing with an iSUP.
If you're into yoga and looking to expand to sup yoga, an inflatable sup is a perfect board for yoga on the water. Because inflatable sups tend to be softer than solid boards, they make the best surfaces for yoga poses.
Hard SUPs Pros and Cons
While inflatable sups offer excellent stability and weight support, solid boards perform better. They outshine inflatable sups in speed and maneuverability. A hard board will be faster, maintain momentum easily, and glide better than an inflatable paddle board. This is because a hard paddle board can be built to be narrower and pointier.
Moreover, some hard paddle boards are built with a displacement hull to penetrate waves allowing more speed and tracking, making them best for racing.
Solid sup boards are best for surfing: Hard boards tend to be rigid and can cut through large waves. Because they also offer better maneuverability, they are better for surfing. While inflatable sup designed for surfing can still do the job, hardboards have better glide and will offer a smoother surfing experience than inflatable paddleboards.
Better performance against the wind: The smallest wind can affect an inflatable paddle board. It might be quite difficult to paddle your inflatable sup on a windy day. On the other hand, hardboards are more stable in harsh weather elements, so you don't need to cancel your sup date waiting for the perfect weather.
Ultimately, your choice of paddle board will be determined by what you intend to do with it. Inflatables are more durable and easy to use. However, solid boards are the way to go if you're looking to participate in racing or professional paddling.
Is paddle boarding difficult?
Whether paddleboarding will be easy or hard to learn will depend on the type of equipment you use. It all comes down to the kind of paddle board, size, thickness, length, and the paddle boarder's weight.
Generally, inflatable sup is ideal for beginners. It would help if you also got a wider board for better stability and a paddle board with your body weight rating.
Besides paddling equipment, other factors will make it easy to learn sup.
Like every other sport, you must have some level of body fitness to succeed. If you're not a fitness enthusiast, at least start regular workout weeks before your paddling adventure. You can also practice some stretching and breathing exercises before your paddling session.
Moreover, you can use some paddleboarding techniques to make paddling easier. Learn the basics before setting out to practice in the water. You can opt to enrol in sup schools to learn right.
What's the difference between a kayak and a paddle board?
Both kayaks and paddle boards are great water sports equipment. Their differences come in how to paddle. A kayak requires a double-bladed paddle to use while sitting down. Meanwhile, paddle boarding requires a single-bladed paddle to propel the board while standing.
Secondly, paddle boards give more workouts compared to kayaks. Kayaking requires you to sit while paddling and is usually done in a windy environment, so you don't need to use much strength.
For paddle boarding, you require balance and core strength for propulsion. It is, therefore, a great sport for a full-body workout.
What is the difference between a surfboard and a paddle board?
While a surfboard and stand up paddle board may look similar, there're many differences between them. Both water sports equipment can surf waves but are used differently.
Sup boards were designed for gliding on the water's surface, while surfboards were created to ride with the waves. Generally speaking, surfboards require easy mobility and maneuverability to allow easy turning to hit the water at the right angle
Paddle boards need a paddle
Surfing requires that you paddle out using your hands in swimming-like movements while lying on your board, whereas a paddle board require you to use a paddle to propel yourself through the water in a standing position
Is it harder to balance on an inflatable paddle board?
balancing on a board is not so difficult. If you're using an inflatable sup, you can easily learn to paddle. If you're considering getting into sup, it will help if you learn some balancing tips.
Losing balance during paddleboarding happens alot, especially when you're a newbie. Practising balancing on land can help you gain balance before you set out in the water. You can also add balance movements to your workout routine or even practice yoga.
Yoga and supping go well together. Practising yoga at home will help you gain some balance and have more control when paddleboarding.
Additionally, you can start slow by paddleboarding in flat water and advance to less steady water with practice.
Choose Your Perfect Inflatable SUP
No matter your level of paddle boarding experience, there's a paddle board for every sup boarder and adventure. You can never go wrong with an inflatable sup for your water yoga or camping adventure. If you're unsure about the right board for your needs, seek guidance from your sup dealer before purchasing.