The difference between an inflatable paddle board and a hard board

Are you about to buy a paddle board, but are you in doubt between an inflatable board and a hard board?

Then read this guide, discover the advantages and disadvantages of both types of paddle boards and make your choice for the ultimate board.

The answer to the question: “should I buy an inflatable board or a hardboard” is not easy. This is because it’s different for everyone.

You have very different wishes regarding your paddle board than anyone else.

The difference between an inflatable paddle board and a hard board 1

There are 5 factors that determine the difference between a hard board and an inflatable board:

  • 1. Level
  • 2. Transport and storage
  • 3. Performance
  • 4. Price
  • 5. Lifespan


First of all, you have to ask yourself what type of boarder you are. Are you on your first years of stand up paddle boarding and you have no experience with surfing or other water sports? In that case an inflatable board is a better board for you to start with.

An inflatable paddle board is easier to stand on, find (and maintain) your balance and paddle on. Because you have better control of your balance, you fall off the board less often and it costs you less energy.

If you are a beginner with little experience in water sports, choose an inflatable board. Are you advanced and looking for a challenge, then choose a hard board.

Do you work out to burn calories? Even then SUP is very suitable. When you’re touring, you’ll burn about 400 – 500 calories per hour!


Transport and storage

If you don’t live near a puddle of water or want to take the board with you on holiday, this is an important point to think about.

Many people want to take the board with them to the campsite, to the sea for a relaxing day or to family/friends who live further away.

In this case there is one obvious winner: the inflatable board. This board is inflated within a few minutes and takes up much less space in your car (or on your bike).

An inflatable paddle board is easy to transport and store because it is folded up to the size of a large backpack. Is summer over and you are not planning to go out on the water in winter?

Then there is always a spot in the house for an inflatable board. For a hard board this is a lot more difficult. To transport a hard board you will also have to make adjustments to your car.

An inflatable board is easy to carry and store. This makes it a favorite among people who do not live close to the sea, or who want to take it with them on holiday in the summer.

Even taking it with you into the plane can be easy.

Fanatic Inflating


When it comes to performance, the hard board is the clear winner. Although the technique of an inflatable product improves every year, a hard board performs better when it comes to speed and manoeuvrability.

With a hard paddle board you can absorb waves better, make faster movements and achieve more speed. This is especially important for the advanced user.

A hard board performs a lot better when it comes to manoeuvrability, speed and when you want to catch waves.



There is again a clear winner: the inflatable board. Whereas you can get a premium inflatable product for about $500, this is often not possible with a hard board for less than $1000.

So take a different price tag into account when you are looking for a hard board.


You will hardly believe it but inflatable boards last a lot longer than hard boards. If you drop your inflatable sup, there will be no scratches.

However, if you drop your hard board, there is a chance that you will have to repair it immediately.

The material of which a hard board is made is rock hard. But it is fragile. This is why in rivers where there are many stones, an inflatable product is almost always used.

If you don’t want to worry about the life span of a board, buy an inflatable SUP. This is much more resistant to scratches and bumps.

As said, buying a board is personal for everyone. Take a good look at your specific wishes and make your choice based on them.

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Review written by: Tom

Hi! My name is Tom. During the year I try to be on a paddle board as much as possible. By reading this blog you'll stay updated on everything I test on the water :)