Top 5 Benefits of an Inflatable Paddle Board
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Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) is increasing in popularity with outdoor enthusiasts all around the world. My Instagram feed is a constant source of beautiful pictures posted by paddle boarders in locations across the globe, and my list of places to explore on my inflatable paddle board (iSUP) is growing longer every day! That's one of the main reasons I knew I wanted an inflatable paddle board - portability.
There are many other benefits to owning your own paddle board and specifically an iSUP. I knew I could only consider buying an iSUP because I live in an urban area where owning a hard board would be very challenging. However, I had no idea that my iSUP would open up countless opportunities to explore ridiculously beautiful places.
Here are my top 5 benefits of owning an inflatable paddle board.
Benefits of Owning an Inflatable Paddle Board
1. Easy Storage
I live in a small apartment in Chicago, so I knew an inflatable paddle board would be my best option. Hard boards need adequate space for storage or a rental space which just adds to the cost of ownership. My iSUP rolls up into it's own bag, which is about the size of a large duffle bag and doubles as a backpack! I also like that it's lighter in weight than a hard board weighing in around 25 lbs stored in the backpack. I currently have three iSUPs stored in one of my closets! They are so easy to store and perfect for small spaces.
2. Easy to Transport
The portability of an iSUP can't be stressed enough as a benefit of ownership. I live about a half mile from Lake Michigan and I'm able to easily throw the backpack on and walk to my launch point. Should I want to paddle other beaches further from my home? No problem, I just toss the backpack in the trunk of my car. No car? Order a ride share or flag a cab! I've taken my iSUP on road trips in the trunk of my car and I've also used taxis and ride shares to transport to the airport or local beaches. Sometimes, I'll just ride my bike and secure the iSUP to my bike trailer. I also recently paddled to Chinatown on the Chicago River and opted for a water taxi ride home. The iSUP backpack can be checked as a bag for air travel, too!
This was my biggest concern with owning an inflatable SUP, but the quality boards are surprisingly rigid. I get so many questions from people walking by while I'm inflating my board about the rigidity and I usually tell them to step on the board and feel for themselves! They are not as rigid as a hard board, of course, but I can honestly barely tell the difference and the benefits really outweigh any loss in rigidity, for me. They may not be as maneuverable as a hard board, but again, for traveling and exploring new places, they are perfect.
When I first considered an inflatable SUP, I had concerns about the durability of an inflatable paddle board. Would it puncture easily and leave me stranded and sinking in the middle of a lake? How many roll ups for storage before it started cracking? I've had my board 3 years and have paddled rivers and lakes with no issues at all - I find it indestructible! Check out this video from Tower Paddle Boards on YouTube - pretty crazy! Make sure you are buying a quality board. This guide is very helpful. An inflatable is also a little more forgiving if you fall on it, the deck is soft and easier for SUP yoga or knee paddling - all while still being strong and durable!
Inflatable SUP boards are not only affordable, but owning your own board saves money on rental fees. My board has more than paid for itself! Even the most expensive inflatable paddle boards are still more affordable than a hard board. Since they are so portable and easy to transport, you can save on rental fees while on vacation, too!
An inflatable paddle board is a great option if you want to buy an SUP board, but live in a small place and want portability. Does it perform just like a hard board? No, but the other benefits make up for the deficiencies and unless you are a serious paddle boarder, an inflatable works just fine - better than fine! Inflatables are great for hiking to a secluded area and really open up opportunities to explore any place you want on water. Maybe somewhere down the line when I have more space, I'll own a hard board - but I'll always have an inflatable for easy paddling!