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What are Inflatable Paddle Boards?

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JD Platt

Stand up paddle boarding is one of the fastest growing outdoor sports in the United States. According to a 2013 report, it was the sporting activity with the largest amount of first-time participants. It’s no wonder why. For leisurely and adventurous participants alike, stand up paddle boarding allows you to get out on the water and explore your world. Whether you are a novice or a professional, here’s what you need to know about traditional and inflatable paddle boards.

Should I Buy Traditional or Inflatable Paddle Boards?

What Kind of Paddle Board Should I Buy?

Traditionally, paddle boards have been made from a foam or polyester core with an epoxy resin. This forms a firm surface topped with a padded deck and one to three fins for added steering and control. Typically 9-12 feet in length, these boards are similar to, yet significantly larger than their surfing counterparts—and it’s no wonder. Stand up paddle boarding was invented by Hawaiian surfers as a faster and more controlled alternative to the big water sport.

Since its humble beginnings in the surf world, stand up paddle boarding has taken on a life of its own with water specific equipment, world-class teaching environments, and several race series’. There’s even a variety of offshoots of the sport including paddle board touring, freestyle, and yoga. With several options to choose from, we’re sure you’re wondering: what kind of stand up paddle board should I get?

What Is the Difference Between Traditional and Inflatable Paddle Boards?

Whether you choose to purchase a traditional fiberglass, carbon, or epoxy board, or an inflatable board, depends on a number of questions. First, it’s important to take into consideration how you will use it, how you will transport it, and how you will store it. If you want to use your paddle board for big wave surfing, go with a traditional board. That’s what they were originally designed for after all.

If, however, you plan to use your board on lakes, rivers, or whitewater, inflatable boards can’t be beat. They are simply lighter (easier for transport) and more durable (better for hitting rocks much like a white water raft). They are also more economical. Damage to a traditional board can put your board completely out of service. Not only are inflatable boards less likely to become damaged, but they are also easier to repair if they are. This makes them the better and less expensive option in almost any case.

What Are the Benefits of Inflatable Paddle Boards?

Inflatable paddle boards also come with a host of benefits. If you’ve ever tried to attach a 12-foot board to the roof of your car, you’ll know what we mean. Transportation alone is a huge reason why so many paddle boarders opt for an inflatable board that fits in the trunk your car and can be inflated in a manner of minutes. It’s just that much more accessible and that much easier to travel with. For this same reason, they are also much easier to store. Rather than take up an entire wall of your garage, they can be stowed away in a cupboard.

They are also better for novice paddle boarders as they are more stable and offer a softer landing should you ever need to cushion your fall. Not to mention, they are more versatile. If you want to bring your kid or dog along for the ride, it’s much easier to do on an inflatable board (see: more stable)—and if you want to use it for yoga, it’s the only way to go.

JD SUP offers a variety of inflatable paddle boards for touring, freestyle, or yoga. We also offer a K9 option for those that want to take their dog along for the ride. Our boards feature double layer technology for high-wear resistance, fusion technology for speed and durability, and an optional paw perch for a day on the lake with the dog. Inquire to learn more about which board might be best for you. We’d love to get you out on the water.

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