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Solid Paddle Board Vs Inflatable Paddle Board - Which Is Best?

Posted by Luke Green

Can’t decide whether to buy an inflatable or solid paddle board? Well hopefully the following guide should help you out. Both solid and inflatable SUPs have their own benefits, with some being better suited to certain activities and abilities than others. Ultimately, finding the perfect SUP all comes down to your individual requirements. However, in order to help you decide between the two, it helps to consider the following factors:

Portability & Storage

One of the major benefits of inflatable paddle boards is that they deflate and pack down to a small size, making them super easy to transport. In fact, our Compact Paddle Boards fold down to half the size of a conventional inflatable SUP, fitting neatly into our Compact Backpack, which is comfortable to carry by foot, bike or public transport. All our other inflatable paddle boards can be fitted into the All Terrain Backpack that’s made using a stash-able carry system to prevent straps from getting caught in airport luggage systems. This makes it easy for you to take your SUP with you, wherever your adventures take you.

Women Putting Deflated Paddle Boards into Red Paddle Co SUP Backpacks

Solid paddle boards on the other hand are heavier and more cumbersome to transport. You’ll need a large car, van or roof racks and it can be a lot more time consuming getting the board from your home into the water. As they cannot deflate like inflatable paddle boards, solid SUPs also require a lot more storage space. So, if you’re looking for a SUP that’s easy to transport and can be neatly packed away, an inflatable paddle board definitely takes the lead.


People often think of inflatable paddle boards as being flimsy and cheaply made, when in fact it’s the opposite that’s true. Most solid boards are made from a foam core with layers or fibreglass and epoxy resin. This makes them delicate and more likely to be damaged if they come into contact with hard surfaces, such as rocky river beds, or if you drop them when lugging them from the car park to the water.

Man and Woman Sat on Ride MSL Paddle Boards in the middle of a lake

Inflatable paddle boards on the other hand are made using a PVC-based material that doesn’t dent or scratch easily. This is perfect if you want a board that you can take to a variety of locations, without worrying about it damaging easily. Knowing the importance of durability, our inflatable SUPs are made using specialist MSL technology that gives our boards exceptional strength without compromising on their light weight. We’ve even driven over our boards with a 22 tonne digger to make sure they’re durable enough!


Inflatable paddle boards perform better in varied conditions and for recreational use, due to their enhanced durability and stability. They’re also a lot softer to fall onto than hard boards, making them a much better option for beginners looking to try out their new skills. Solid paddle boards, on the other hand, perform well in waves, making them good for surfing and racing.

However, it’s important to note that a specialist inflatable SUP can perform just as well in the surf and racing conditions, whilst benefiting from the portability and durability that comes with having an inflatable SUP. Our Whip MSL Surf Paddle Board is a top pick for surfing with great usability if you are venturing into SUP surfing, whilst our racing paddle boards offer responsive, fast performance in a range of conditions.

Man Standing on a Red Paddle Co 8'10

What’s the best option for me?

So, when it comes to deciding between an inflatable or solid paddle board, portability, storage, durability and performance are the main factors to consider. Whilst solid SUPs perform well in racing and surfing conditions, they offer limited performance in a lot of recreational activities, and are difficult to transport. Inflatable paddle boards on the other hand, are easy to store and transport, whilst offering more durability and providing the opportunity to paddle in a diverse range of locations, whatever your experience level.

If you’d like further guidance in finding the perfect SUP to suit your requirements, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our expert team at Red Paddle Co. You can also use our online board selector tool to find the perfect SUP based on your activities, size and experience level.