Pros and cons of inflatable paddle boards
The best thing about inflatable SUPs? They deflate! You can deflate the bulky board when you want to travel with it or store it, and inflate it when you're ready to use it again. This is especially useful for people who like to travel near and far with their SUP, as well as people with limited storage space.
However, surfers, race paddlers and touring paddlers do see a decrease in performance when it comes to inflatable stand-up paddle boards. Surfers find that inflatable boards don't turn as quickly or easily as fiberglass boards, and race/touring paddlers will find that inflatable boards are slightly slower than fiberglass. Inflatable boards also have a softer feel on the water, which can be a pro or con depending on the rider.
Pros: Easy to transport and travel with, lightweight, easy to store, can be more comfortable for long-term paddling, durable, easy to patch
Cons: Can take some time to inflate and deflate, slower than rigid SUPs, not as responsive or nimble
Pros and cons of fiberglass (aka hard, rigid or solid) paddle board
The biggest advantage of fiberglass paddle boards is that they don't depend on air for rigidity. Because they have a reliably rigid feel, fiberglass stand-up paddle boards tend to offer higher performance than inflatable stand-up paddle boards. Fiberglass boards offer responsive turning for surfers, and a smooth, fast ride to touring and race paddlers.
Traveling long distances and storing fiberglass SUPs can be a challenge, though, so be sure to have a transport and storage plan before you bring one home. Another thing to keep in mind is that fiberglass boards ding and dent easier than inflatable boards, and can be more difficult to fix or patch.
Pros: Slightly faster than inflatable paddle boards, responsive, smooth ride, higher buoyancy for heavier riders, higher overall performance
Cons: Ding and dent easier than inflatable boards, take up a lot of space in storage, difficult to transport long distances (i.e., airline travel)
You've learned about the advantages and disadvantages of inflatable and fiberglass paddle boards, but there's still so much more to learn! Check out our SUP guide to get more details about stand-up paddle boards.