Are All Paddle Boards Inflatable? (Learn the Difference)

No. all paddle boards are not inflatable. There are two types of paddle boards: inflatable and hard shell. Inflatable paddle boards provide more flexibility for storage and travel, but they may not last as long as their hard-shelled counterparts.

In this post, we will explore the differences between these two types of paddle boards. We will also look at why you may want to choose one over the other. Let’s get started.

Are All Paddle Boards Inflatable

What’s The Difference Between An Inflatable Paddle Board And A Regular One?


In terms of portability, inflated paddle boards take the day. While inflatable paddle boards may be slightly heavier than their hard-shell counterparts, they fold up and can easily fit in the trunk of your car. 

You can inflate and deflate them in a matter of minutes. This makes them ideal for transportation on the go, which is why they are often referred to as “travel boards”.

Which is more durable?

The durability of a hard-shelled board depends on the thickness and material of its construction. Thicker boards usually last longer and are less likely to experience damage or wear after repeated use.

Inflated paddle boards made from military-grade PVC are extremely durable. They’re also very easy to patch and inflate. In fact, you can even purchase a small hand pump that fits inside your backpack for efficient inflation on the go.

Overall, inflatable paddle boards provide more durability. For instance, it is easier for a hard shell paddle board to fall and chip or break than it is for an inflatable one to do the same.


The performance of a paddle board depends on its construction as much as it depends on the experience of the paddle boarder.

However, many paddle boarders find epoxy paddle boards to be slightly more responsive and easier to control. Epoxy boards also have a much better glide through the water, which gives you an edge when paddling in rough waters or against strong currents.

Inflatable paddle boards are usually made from PVC materials, resulting in a softer deck with less traction than hard shell models. In other words, inflatable SUPs aren’t as easy to stand upon or maneuver around obstacles like rocks and logs when compared to their harder counterparts.


When it comes to storage, inflatable paddle boards reign supreme. They’re much smaller and lighter than hard-shell models when deflated, making them a breeze to store in small spaces like a closet or under your bed.

Hard-shelled boards have their advantages as well when it comes to storage and portability. Since these types of boards do not require inflation, there is no need for an air pump or any other tools that might take away from its streamlined design. 

In fact, many hard shells come already equipped with a travel bag that is designed to fit the board’s shape perfectly.


The maintenance required for an inflatable paddle board is minimal. In fact, you may never have to maintain your board at all. If it becomes punctured or the outer skin begins to wear out, simply patch it up with a kit and carry on paddling.

Inflatable boards made from military-grade PVC feature a double-layered construction that makes them durable even in rough waters and strong winds. 

These materials also allow for more resistance against sun damage as well as rips and tears caused by sharp objects like rocks or coral reefs. You can expect these types of boards to last much longer before needing any sort of maintenance work done on them.

While hard-shell paddle boards are also easy to repair, they are not as durable or resistant to the elements.


Non-inflatable paddle boards are generally more costly than inflatable ones because the materials are expensive, the manufacturing process long, and the handling and shipping costs are often higher.

A high-quality epoxy paddle board costs anywhere between $1200 to $2000, while a good-quality inflatable paddle board will cost $500 to $1700.

Is Solid SUP Better Than Inflatable?

From the differences discussed above, you notice that an inflatable paddle board offers more portability and durability than its solid counterparts. The performance of each type is also different, but these qualities will vary depending on the skill level of the paddle boarder.

If you’re looking for something that offers increased portability or storage space in your home, then an inflatable SUP may be a better fit for you when compared to hard-shell models. 

However, if you are more interested in speed, responsiveness, control while paddling against strong currents or waves, then a hard shell board might suit your needs better.

Also, note that inflatable SUPs are not very good for long-distance touring or racing because of their speed and weight limitations.

Cost is also another consideration when it comes to inflatable SUPs. While they are usually cheaper than epoxy ones, you will still pay a significant amount of money for each paddle board.

Are Inflatable Paddle Boards Good For Beginners?

Yes. Inflatable paddle boards are softer and easier to use for beginners because they are very stable in the water. The iSUP, for instance, sits well above the water, so it is easier to get on and off.

Inflatable SUPs are also easier to steer because they have a wider surface area than their solid counterparts. However, inflatable paddle boards might not be the best choice for those who want more speed or control when paddling in open waters – especially against strong currents or waves.

Are Inflatable Paddle Boards Good For Flat Water?

Inflatables have a softer deck and offer less traction than hard shells, making them more suitable for flat waters where it is easy to move around on the board without any obstacles. Inflatable SUPs also come with a high-pressure pump that allows you to quickly increase its volume when needed, so there’s no need to worry about stability or using an air compressor while sitting down on your board.

Final Thoughts

When choosing between an inflatable or a hard-shell paddle board, it is important to consider the conditions where you plan to use your board and your skill level. 

If you are a beginner or will be using the SUP for flat water paddling only, an inflatable SUP may be better suited for your needs. Hopefully, this article has helped you determine what type of board is best for you.

Joseph Gambino

Paddle Board Enthusiast, Athlete and Blogger. Learn more about me here:

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