The obvious question is volume, you guessed it. An inflatable sup board will take much less space than a rigid epoxy one. Once deflated, the inflatable board will fit in a rucksack along with your pump and a telescopic paddle. It’s really ideal for travelling, tossing in the car boot, storing in the apartment or cycling to the beach.
Then we always wonder how rigid it is… Rest assured it is, and it’s really surprising the first time you ride one. This is thanks to its internal structure made of meshed polyester threads, which give shape to the board once under pressure.
Are inflatable boards solid? Indeed, they are. This is due to double or triple layers of reinforced PVC and the surface coating. You do not risk “breaking” the resin with your paddle, or scratching it on rocks. That’s why we use inflatable boards frequently on whitewater. The downside is that if it breaks, it sinks!
Is it complicated to inflate an inflatable board? Not at all. You just need a good pump with a pressure gauge, if possible, to keep track of pressure. Be careful though to choose the place where you inflate it. Avoid anything that can damage the board. On average, it will take you 5 – 10 minutes to inflate it.
The little drawback is adjusting the fins. Most often they will be plastic, more or less flexible, and not removable. Rigid boards have an advantage in this respect.
What practice are inflatable boards good for? We will not lie… the main use for this type of board is whitewater and riding. Because of its very rounded rails, it will be difficult for you to surf waves more than one metre high. But nothing prevents you from surfing small waves for the pleasure of testing the discipline…
And finally, price! It’s almost the same as a rigid board, with a small advantage for inflatable versions.