Rigid Or Inflatable? Which Board Is Right For Me?

More people than ever before are discovering the joy of surfing and taking to the water. With this increase in interest, there has been a widening of the marketplace for surfing accessories and equipment. You’ve probably already seen a host of exciting items available for sale, and one of the most interesting comes in the form of the inflatable surfboard. Strictly speaking, these unusual boards aren’t specifically for surfing but are, in fact, designed for paddleboarding. However, since paddleboards are often used by keen surfers too, it makes sense that some surfers have decided to try out these inflatable versions on the open water to see how well they perform.

Why Try An Inflatable Surfboard?

The idea of an inflatable surfboard may sound like a crazy one, but there’s one primary benefit that encourages surfers to try them out – their portability. Surfers who want to take their board away with them, especially those who will be flying or who have no transportation of their own, really like the idea of an inflatable surfboard which they can pack away in a bag and take to any beach they like. But are these boards actually any good? Let’s find out more.

Choosing A Firm Inflatable Board

If you’re determined to get an inflatable surfboard you’re going to need to choose a firm one with a high PSI rating. This means there’ll be less bounce in the choppiest surf. A rating of 15 PSI is what you need to look for, although a 12 PSI board might work well enough depending on your needs. 6 inch thick boards often have a higher rating than a 4 inch thick board, so when you’re shopping around, keep this in mind.

Choosing A Shorter Board

The second thing to look for when choosing an inflatable board is length. A shorter board can navigate waves more successfully than longer ones. Although longer boards offer a higher amount of stability, typically inflatable boards are somewhat longer anyway, therefore a short inflatable board is often the same length as a typical longboard.

The Advantages Of An Inflatable Board

There are a few clear advantages that inflatable surfboards have over rigid ones. Firstly, there’s the portability factor that we’ve already examined above. They’re also very lightweight and easy to manage and can be stored away with ease even if you have a very small space for storage. The other main advantage of an inflatable surfboard is its cost. Usually, inflatable boards are considerably cheaper than rigid ones, and this means if you’re surfing on a budget an inflatable option is especially attractive.

The Downsides Of An Inflatable Surfboard

Unfortunately, there are more downsides to positives when it comes to choosing an inflatable board. Firstly, rigid boards have a lot more stability than an inflatable model. If you’re a beginner you might find it especially difficult to manage an inflatable board.

Inflatables also take time to get ready for use. You need to pump them up and then you have to find the perfect PSI before you can take to the water. If you’re wondering which pumps work on an inflatable surfboard, Topeak is one of the best ones, however even these quality pumps will take time to get your board ready to use and that could be very off-putting if all you want to do is get straight into the waves.

Rigid boards also have a better shape than an inflatable board. A hard board has a rocker, curving from the nose to the tail as well as the concave and rails for lift and water channeling. An inflatable board simple can’t achieve that kind of shape and that makes an enormous difference when you’re on the waves.

You’ll also find that an inflatable board won’t stand the test of time. Although the more expensive inflatable models are more robust, they are still vulnerable to puncture, something which won’t affect a rigid board. Hard boards are also aesthetically pleasing, which an inflatable isn’t usually.

Choosing The Right Board For You

If you’re keen to try out an inflatable board, it’s always worth considering the possibilities. However, for most keen surfers, there really isn’t anything quite like taking your rigid surfboard to the water and riding the surf.