Inflatable VS Rigid
Why does it seem like EVERYONE is on team inflatable these days? We wanted to lay out some of the reasons Canadians are falling in love with their new style of paddling, and why some.. may not. The next time you're at your local surf shack, you can really talk the talk.
This might be an obvious point. Inflatables are incredibly easy to store. With all the essentials (and more) tucked into a backpack style SUP bag, storing your paddleboard is convenient enough to be apartment friendly, and we really mean the small dorm sized suits we're calling apartments these days. No need for a garage with J-hooks installed.
Contrary to popular belief inflatable boards can boast about their high level of durability. Made from military grade PVC, inflatable boards can handle the bumps and bruises from docks, rocks, and the occasional obstacle that just "came out of nowhere!" On the other hand, many high quality rigid paddleboards are curated from a slick fiberglass material. While there are many reasons you might want a fiberglass board, it's easy to crack material definitely isn't one. No bubble wrap here, folks!
People often follow up the question "what board should I get" with "this is my weight!". While you certainly don't want to battle a sinking board instead of gliding effortlessly on top of the water, the reality is that inflatables are capable of carrying a much higher load! So while we still offer a weight range, it's unlikely you'll ever struggle to keep an inflatable board afloat. This not only allows for that bevvy bag passenger, but can offer a lot more stability for the novice rider, or those of you perfecting your acrobatics.. I mean yoga. Need help narrowing down your options?
Small enough to store in your closet goes hand-in-hand with being able to get it from A-to-B. One of the greatest benefits of an inflatable board is being able to throw it in the back of your Uber. But let's take this one step further, because getting from the parking lot to the water isn't always as easy as you'd hope. Anyone who's been caught carrying their board with an ever so slight gust of wind knows what I'm talking about, and you certainly won't find us hiking to a hidden gem without the help of a compact roller bag. There's really no need to battle the awkward length of a permanently extended board or take on the extra cost of vehicle roof racks. Let’s keep things simple.
Due to its increased damage tolerance, your inflatable board ends up being much more versatile than your rigid. On our most recent cave exploration days, our team ended up battling the swell from inside a shore cave, and with not a care in the world. In fact, bumper car style adventures are totally encouraged. We threw our boards over the cliff, and jumped in to meet them, got absolutely rocked in every direction, and then blundered ourselves over the rocks in an not so elegant paddle wrap-up. While we all woke up the next morning sporting a few totally-worth-it bruises, the boards were as bright and spritely as a 20 year old who "doesn't get hungover."
No rivers, caves, or unknown terrain is off limits.
Considering a product to be cost efficient is difficult, because there are simply so many aspects to consider. Here are some of the key points to think about:
Straight out of the store: Inflatables tend to be available at a wide range of pricing, it's important to look at a couple of qualities that help weed out the blow up toys from a quality board.
- Is the board a single or double layer of PVC? (single layers don't get all the beautiful benefits from the durability section)
- Stitch counts refer to the fibers that run from the top to the bottom of the board. This is what allows your board to be totally rock-hard-rigid. You'll notice lower-quality boards will sacrifice a high count in order to lower the retail price of the board. While this is an easy thing to miss given that you can't actually see it, you'll end up with a floating banana, instead of a solid board.
- Seams. Any inflatable product runs the risk of springing an air leak. Look for a board who's seams are taped, sewn, and glued for security on top of security (yes.. we have them!)
- Gear goes a long way and many brands sell their boards as a package deal. It's all the little extras that amount to something big. Is the fin secured with a plastic clip and a string? (opt for a bolt and screw to get your money's worth and skip the constant repair), is the SUP bag able to convert between a backpack and a roller bag? Your back will thank you. Aluminum paddles will repel dents and damage to keep up with your all terrain board adventures.
Hey, sometimes things happen. Maybe you adventured a little too far out or perhaps your board became a scratching post for the neighborhood bear (this really happened). Easy to repair boards are a lifesaver if you're not willing to empty your bank account. While minor scratches and punctures can be patched up on an inflatable sup, cracking a fiberglass board can result in a hefty repair or replacement cost.
What about a plastic board!? While these may be the most wallet friendly right out of the gate, they can be incredibly heavy and require a large storage area. Their dings and dents can be virtually impossible to repair. These are great for those looking for only a handful of paddle excursions. Like your disposable Starbucks cup, each use takes its toll.
Simply put - rigid boards are rocket fast. They outperform inflatable boards by almost 15% in speed. If you're looking to compete in the next ISA World SUP competition, your rigid board will help get you to the finish line faster.
Okay.. the arm pump before the arm paddle can be just enough for you to leave your inflatable behind. We'll give it to rigids on this one... but wait.. your electric pump can take care of that for you. So the con here is roughly...five minutes long. Just enough time for you to pack your cooler.