Inflatable SUP vs hard shell stand up paddle boards – why you’d choose one over the other.

Further to NCW’s Beginner Guide to Stand Up Paddle Boarding article we’re going to break out some of the headings further and add more individual posts to give even more knowledge. Starting off here’s a more in depth look at hard shell stand up paddle boards Vs inflatables and why you’d choose one over the other.

Hard SUPs.

We get asked lots of questions about SUP all the time. A while back a lady approached us looking for recommendations. When we retorted with ‘hard SUP or inflatable board’ she was a little taken aback as her perception is that stand up paddle boarding is only about iSUPs.

With air boards making up the largest proportion of sales it’s an easy mistake to make. The market saturated with all manner of iSUPs, of varying quality. But more on inflatables in a mo…

Dave Ludgate (aka Subowti) taking his hard shell SUP for a spin.

If you want the best performance and ultimate stand up paddle boarding experience then hard shell boards are the way to go. They track better, glide more efficiently and don’t suffer from deflection (bend) that all inflatable SUPs do (no matter how good the quality). This isn’t a negative comment it’s a fact.

For any paddler looking to get involved with SUP in a more performance way (think SUP surfing, touring/distance paddling, racing and so on) you’d probably do better with a hard board. You can do all the mentioned on an air board but not quite as efficiently.

.SUP surfing on a hard stand up paddle board.

The downsides of a hard SUP is they’re (often) heavier, require more room when stored and not as convenient for transporting. Although, if you’re committed to SUP then these ‘issues’ fall by the wayside as you make it work.

Inflatable stand up paddle boards.

Most people want iSUPs. As much as anything this is trend. But, they do offer beginners especially an easier time of it (perhaps). Being easier to cart about – whether inflated it not – and transport iSUPs are perceived as the best option.

The fact is, most paddlers aren’t looking for ultimate performance. They simply want a ‘toy’ to play with at the beach or lake, not straying too far from their launch spot. Some do go onto more progress things – such as adventure/touring SUP, where covering distance whilst transporting essentials – but recreational fair weather SUPing us where it’s at for the masses. In some ways inflatable stand up paddle boards have become the bikes of the water…

Recreational iSUPing.

Now don’t get us wrong. We can see the benefits of both hard and air filled stand up paddle boards. It’s essential though (if choosing the latter) that you pick a reputable brand with kit that’s good quality and well manufactured. Far too many cheap iSUPs exist that won’t do riders any favours. They bend, and bow, looking like bananas on the water and in worst cases can fail altogether. The last thing you need is a part venture whilst afloat!

So if you’re thinking inflatable stand up paddle then choose carefully. NCW stocks O’Shea iSUPs which are top drawer and dependable. You can be safe in the knowledge you’re getting quality here.

If you have any questions relating to stand up paddle boards – hard it air filled – then get in touch.