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Sunday, July 25, 2021

Inflatable stand-up paddleboards Pros and Cons

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Inflatable Stand up paddleboarding is surely one of the most relaxing and enjoyable water sports to have ever existed. It’s very easy to learn and offers tons of hours of fun whether you are new to the sport or a seasoned veteran. And as technology progressed, new advancements to the sport have made it even more accessible to everyone who wants to learn. One of these advancements is the introduction of inflatable stand up paddleboards.

But first, what is stand up paddle boarding exactly?

What is stand up paddle boarding anyway?

Stand up paddleboarding, or SUP is a water sport that uses longboards to traverse over water. The rider uses a paddle with a long shaft to propel themselves across the water. It is often described as a cross between kayaking and surfing. Combining the best of both sports into one neat package.

The sport’s modern form can be traced back to 1940s Hawaii. It is an offshoot of surfing and pioneered by John Ah Choy. The surfing legend turned surfing instructor wanted to continue teaching and surfing recreationally despite the difficulty in getting up on the board. He eventually developed a system where he stands on his board from the get-go and paddle out to sea using a canoe paddle. This way, he no longer needed to get up from a prone position. His sons, who were also surfing enthusiasts and instructors, started to copy him and the rest is history.

Inflatable paddleboards are the newest development in the sport. Instead of the rigid epoxy materials, inflatables are made from synthetic materials made to be filled with air. They are engineered to be flexible yet durable enough to hold pressure. They are growing in popularity amongst beginners and veterans alike. 

What are the Pros of inflatable stand up paddleboards

Here are some of the reasons why inflatable boards are awesome boards to have

Easy for beginners

Inflatables are a great beginner board. They are very forgiving for first-time users while not being limiting for seasoned paddlers. They can be sourced almost everywhere, even online. Maintenance is also not as stringent with rigid boards. This is perfect for newbies who just need to get the hang of paddling first and not worry about all the other logistics of owning a paddleboard.

Portable

Being inflatable makes them really light and easy to transport. They can be packed into a smaller footprint, perfect if you want to bring the board to different locations. They are also generally lightweight when deflated which also adds to the ease of lugging them around. Having an ultra-portable board can make a whole world of difference in your experience.

Easy Storage

Greater portability also comes with other perks like easy storage. Because inflatable stand up paddle boards can be deflated and rolled into a smaller form factor, storage is a breeze. They can be put inside your closet, in the truck of your car, or anywhere you can fit a sizable icebox. The paddle is also designed to be collapsible and the fins removable making storage a breeze.

Durable against blunt bumps

Unlike rigid boards, soft bumps and dings won’t damage these inflatables. Round rocks and other smooth debris simply bounce right off. The softness of the board absorbs most low impact collisions. If you’re just learning the ropes, not worrying about damaging your board whenever bumping into something will surely make the whole process easy and enjoyable.

Softer and more cushioning

Another upside to their resistance to bumps is that they are relatively softer to the body. Newbies when learning to balance on the board will see themselves falling over often at least in the beginning. Most of them instinctively want to fall onto the board instead of the water. Having a softer board greatly minimizes injuries that otherwise happen on a rigid epoxy or fibreglass board.

Dog Friendly

Another benefit of iSUP is that they are great for bringing your pup along with you. The soft beard makes for a comfortable bed for your puppers to sit on or lay down. This also means that the board accommodates their paws making them stay in place rather than slipping like rigid boards. And because your dogs are secured, they can be relatively calm and relaxed instead of having a hard time clinging on.

What are the Cons of inflatable stand up paddleboards

But as in all things, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Here are a few things that might make inflatable boards not suited for your needs.

Prep work needed

Their portability and packability come with a downside: they need a considerable amount of prep work. This means it can take a few minutes to set things up and check the board’s condition before you can head out into the water. This also means that after your sessions you need yet another prep time to pack everything up. For most cases, this may be a small price to pay but if you just want to head in and out quickly this might be a hassle.

Board not too rigid

An inflatable’s softness is a double-edged sword. On one hand, they are forgiving to bumps and more comfortable to land on when you fall. But on the other, they can get too mushy. This can lead to flexing in the middle bowing the board making the overall experience sub-par. Fortunately, the main culprit is that people simply don’t inflate the boards up to optimum pressure. Once this is done, though not as rigid as solid boards, they’re pretty solid enough.

Tears and leaks

While most bumps will leave your board undamaged, any puncture or scratches can be detrimental. Though made of pretty tough materials, they are still very susceptible to tearing especially when hit with sharp objects. You can avoid this by choosing your locations correctly and avoiding shallow waters. Also, having duct tape with you is pretty handy.

Maneuverability

Lastly, one of the chief complaints with inflatables is that they can be quite hard to maneuver while on water. Their softer bodies don’t glide as smoothly as their sleeker fibreglass board cousins. This makes turning a bit tricky. But if you mostly SUP in very easy flat and open waters, this won’t be a problem at all.

Check out GILI’s guide on choosing your first paddle board.

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