Just as with any sports equipment, buying the right SUP can be quite overwhelming because of the wide variety of option currently available.
In general SUP’s are divided in two major categories based on their construction: Rigid or Inflatable. Let us start by looking at these two major differences:
Below are five criteria that must be considered, according to your lifestyle and personal preferences, before you start shopping.
Inflatables (called isup) have the advantage of fitting into a bag, so you can carry it anywhere, it fits into a small car, is accepted by most airlines and you can even carry it on your back as most bags have shoulder straps. A rigid board will require a roof rack on your car to transport it and will usually be heavier.
- Storage Space
A rigid board will require space, anywhere from 10 to 14 feet in length, so it is a good point to consider when buying a board. The isup, once folded, is stored in its bag with all the accessories (3 parts paddle, leash, fins, PFD, drybags, etc) making it a good option if you live in an apartment building with an elevator.
The construction material of the board will play a role here, an inflatable sup will usually handle more than a rigid one. It will resist rocks and bumps better being built from PVC as opposed to the usual epoxy/fiberglass rigid that will chip and crack more easily engaging costly repairs. There are a lot of different isup out there with a great price range, buying yours from a reputable brand, and looking for a double layer construction is a good idea.
There is no significant gap in performance between the two types. They both perform very well so it will be a matter of personal choice. If you can, try both before you decide, the feeling is different, however, unless you are a big performer or a racer, both types will deliver fun on the water!
- Ease of use
Once again, it is so personal. You might be the kind of person who likes to be ready to get on and out of the water straight away, then go rigid. Inflatables need more preparation, pumping the air in, whether manually or with an electric pump, will take you anywhere from 15 to 30 min. When you get out you need another 30 min to dry it good, deflate it and fold it back in its bag. If portability is an important factor for you, going inflatable is well worth the effort.
In conclusion, there are no bad choices, both boards are awfully fun and will bring you to new adventures. Make every ride count!