Fixed or inflatable SUP board? Advantages and disadvantages

Fixed or inflatable SUP board? Advantages and disadvantages
Stand Up Paddle Boards are available either as an inflatable version, as a so-called iSUP (inflatable SUP), or as a hard board (fixed board), which is comparable to a "real" surf board. The different variants each have their advantages and disadvantages. Which version you choose depends entirely on you. In many cases, however, the inflatable variant offers advantages over the hard board variants. You can find more information on this topic in the SUP boards section. We have summarized the advantages and disadvantages of both board variants for you.

iSUP (inflatable SUP)

The so-called iSUPs have been around for several years. These can be inflated with a special pump and thus achieve good rigidity. After the SUP tour, the boards can be rolled up and stowed and transported in a large backpack. iSUPs were made possible by the special drop-stitch technology that is used in all inflatable boards. Fabric panels are sewn together, glued and vulcanized. When inflated, at first glance you can only see the slightly thicker board line compared to the hard board. iSUP boards are not comparable to an air mattress. Good inflatable stand up paddle boards also have a load capacity of over 150 kg without the board sagging in the water. The advantages of an iSUP are obvious. The board is easy to stow away and store. Transporting it in the trunk of a car or even as a backpack on a bike is no problem at all. High-quality iSUPs offer excellent rigidity, so that onlookers often cannot believe when the board is relaxedly rolled up after the tour. Check out the benefits of an inflatable SUP board on our blog. The disadvantage of inflatable boards is that the drop-stitch construction means that narrow board shapes with correct edges are not possible and the boards are therefore only of limited use for waves. For many, however, use in the waves is out of the question anyway.

  • easy transport (trunk)
  • Little storage space required (large backpack)
  • cheaper to buy
  • soft material is more comfortable in the event of a fall/fall
  • suitable for white water
  • usually lower weight than hard boards
  • must be inflated before driving
  • more wind-prone board line
  • no correct edges possible with the board shape
  • only conditionally suitable for the shaft due to lack of rigidity
  • Repair with patches and glue very expensive


Hard board

The hard board variant is basically the classic surf board, although stand up paddling has of course developed completely different board shapes. When buying a hard board, you should pay attention to the volume so that the board has enough buoyancy for your own body weight. The volume does not play a major role with the inflatable ones, as they usually have more than enough volume anyway due to their thick construction. Hard boards thrive on narrow board shapes and, in contrast to inflatable boards, have lines that are perfectly tailored to the area of use. With a hard board you usually have a high-end product made of wood or carbon, which can quickly become very expensive. The high-end carbon sandwich race variants only start at around 1600 euros. These are also primarily used in SUP races. Every second counts here, which is probably why all pros use a hard board for the races. The purchase price of a good branded board is usually above the 1000 USD mark, which makes it rather unattractive for occasional SUPing. In addition, there is the complex storage and the difficult transport. But you have a stiff board that no iSUP can definitely keep up with. In addition, higher speeds are generally possible with a hard board, since the SUP boards have unique gliding properties due to the material and board line. The hard board should still be the first choice for waves. For the normal average athlete, who attaches great importance to comfort and flexibility, an inflatable SUP board is much better served.

  • excellent rigidity
  • very robust and resistant
  • unrestricted driving performance
  • any board shape possible
  • Less susceptible to wind & therefore more stable
  • perfect for the wave
immediately ready for use (no inflation)
  • much storage space required
  • prone to scratches
  • high purchase price


For the general public and the average athlete who doesn't necessarily want to start in SUP races, only the inflatable SUP board variant is actually an option. The advantages, especially with the simple transport and storage, speak for themselves. The lower purchase price also makes “stand up paddling” suitable for the masses. However, if you value the perfect board line, unique handling characteristics that are tailored to the water, you should perhaps think about a hard board. Which board variant do you choose? Do you think the advantages or disadvantages of inflatable SUP boards outweigh the disadvantages?

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