Inflatable standup paddleboards (SUPs) have come a long way in the past 10 years. The initial models were not much more technologically advanced than the traditional inflatable rafts we all grew up with. They were sluggish to paddle. They were not rigid. They were not durable. Generally speaking, the original inflatable SUPs were a bit limp.
In the intervening years the technological developments that have gone into improving the quality and paddling experience of inflatable SUPs is one of the most significant developments in standup paddling. Inflatable SUPs are no longer an afterthought. They are a major segment of the standup paddling market. And while many companies continue to offer a range of inflatable SUPs, inflatable specific SUP brands such as Steamboat Springs, Colorado based Hala specialize solely in inflatables and are demonstrating why an inflatable SUP may be the right choice for you.
Extremely Durable. Hard boards, especially those made from lightweight carbon fiber, are about as brittle as an egg-shell. They will scratch. They will chip. They will get dinged. They may even crack and break. All these things are going to have a negative impact on your day. None of these things will happen to an inflatable SUP.
Easy to Store. Standup paddleboards can range in length anywhere from 7ft to 17’+. Do you have a place to sensibly store something that long? A lot of people do not. Inflatable SUPs typically come with a backpack. Hala has taken it a step further by providing each of their SUPs a rolling bag which converts into a backpack. You can store it in your closet or tucked away in a corner of your garage without worrying about bashing into it on a regular basis.
Easy to Transport. Hard boards are big. They can be heavy. They are awkward to maneuver. An inflatable SUP can be rolled out and easily placed in the trunk of your car. No need to buy board racks, straps, rack pads or listen to the whump, whump sound of a board bag smacking your roof as you drive. What about air travel? I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather check an inflatable SUP as a piece of luggage than a hard board.
Versatile. Many inflatable SUPs are considered all-around cruisers. Others are designed for a specific purpose, such as whitewater paddling. Regardless of its original design intent, the versatility of an inflatable SUP makes one a great one board quiver for families with multiple uses in mind. You can easily pick up an inflatable SUP such as the Hala Radito which allows you to get fully invested in whitewater paddling while also using the same board for gently cruises with your family. Or consider the Hala Playa which is a ridiculously fun surf SUP and excels as a platform for snorkeling or simply exploring the coast.
I often recommend an inflatable SUP to new standup paddlers for the aforementioned reasons. For most recreational paddlers, a well designed inflatable SUP will perfectly suit your needs and is a better option than a hard board. Yes, you have to inflate them, but it isn’t that much of a chore to pump one up by hand. Hala even provides a small electric pump to push some initial volume into your board. It won’t fully inflate your SUP, but it will save you some time and energy. If manually inflation of your inflatable SUP is a significant detractor, you can purchase a small electric pump to connect to your car battery which will completely do the job for you.
There has been no better time to get pumped to be a paddler!
Article written by Paddle Xaminer.