One of the latest trends in the SUP world has been the proliferation of the inflatable board. Lately they have been popping up everywhere and for almost every purpose- from cruising, to yoga, to racing, and now even surfing. The Evolve team has been fielding many questions about the durability, the use, the positives, the negatives and everything in between about our inflatables and even other companies boards. And it's understandable to wonder- what sets an inflatable board apart from a hard board- and vice versa. Well, we've been listening and now we will be telling you our opinion in hopes that it will help guide your decision for a future purpose. So, let's go!!
Right away, the first thing every potential customer notices about our inflatable boards is the ease of storage and transportation. Many potential customers often wonder where and how they will store their hard boards given they range from 10' up to 14'. In stores or online that does not seem like a difficult task. However, once they reach home, they're often left wondering what to do with their boards and where to put them. Inflatables make this problem non-existant. With the ability to pop out the center fin, deflate to flat, and rolling it up so that it fits in the backpack it comes with- it's incredibly easy to throw into the trunk of your car, store inside your house or garage, and use it to travel to distant beaches or lakes. There's no need for expensive roof racks and straps. It's that easy.
In fact, recently, members of the Evolve Team took a trip down to Puerto Rico in order to participate in the Rincon Beach Boy SUP race. Under palm trees and clear blue waters the team members had a blast before the race, during the race, and most certainly at the post-race party that evening (wink, wink). But what struck them the most was the incredible ease of packing up their "Air Headed" 10'6'' inflatable board into their backpack, checking it onto the airline, grabbing it at the airport and transporting it to unknown waters for a little adventure in a brand new place they were unable to paddle in before. Simply put, it added a whole new element of fun to their trip. There was no need for the hassle of renting a cheap beater board that weighs a million pounds (slight exaggeration), throwing soft racks onto their rental car, and having to be back at a certain time before the shop closes in order to return the rental. They had complete freedom on where to go and for how long. Now that sounds like a vacation!!
Another positive aspect of owning an inflatable is the durability factor. The Evovle inflatables are built with multiple layered PVC fabric and drop stitch material making for a tough board to tear up. Given their ability to bouce off rocks, piling, or whatever stands in your way, these boards make a great companion for rookie paddlers and kids alike. And, if you do somehow paddle into something sharp enough to tear a hole in your board...fear not! All of our inflatables come with their very own path kits, glue included. Fixing them up is quick and easy!!
Alright, alright, so inflatables are AWESOME, there's no negatives, and everyone should buy one, right?! Well...yes!! That is right. But, we do need to discuss the one big difference between a hard board and an inflatable. And that is how it feels in the water. The first thing paddlers notice when they first start to paddle an inflatable board, is how it doesn't glide as easily as a hard board. Being they are filled with air and much lighter than a hard board, this is inevitable. There's no way around it. However, if the paddler has their board properly inflated to 15+ psi this feeling of having to push the board through the water instead of gliding is easily minimized. Under-inflated boards obviously do not perform as well as they begin to have a ripple action instead of a rigid one. And if you combine that with a strong wind, you'll find yourself in a tough battle against the elements. This is the mistake most new paddlers make. You must inflate your board all of the way in order to have an enjoyable paddling experience!! But, it does go without saying, a hard board will always glide a little easier than an inflatable.
So, if you're looking for a board that still performs almost as good as a hard board in the water, is easy to store, easy to transport and carry, then an inflatable board is for you!! Most people are beyond satisfied with their purchases of our "Air Headed'' series and there is a reason for it. Inflatable boards make great companions for any paddler- new and experienced. There are no boundaries when it comes to paddling a board- especially one that fits into a backpack. So get out there and have fun gliding on waters untouched by anyone else! Click to view our inflatable series!