So, do you want an inflatable board, or a solid one?
For most people inflatable boards are the best choice, they’re easier to transport and store and often offer better stability than the solid equivalents. Good quality modern inflatable boards are now remarkably stiff thanks to advancements in construction, this is important because the more rigid the board the less tiring it is to paddle – you don’t want to waste your energy flexing the board instead of driving it forwards!
There are various different types of construction used in the manufacture of boards, but the stiffest and most durable is known as “double layer” This consists of a dropstitch core with a PVC sheet glued to the top. Many brands, such as those we carry, have their own versions of this construction process making further improvements in the rigidity of the boards. Red Paddle Co use a technique called MSL and Jobe use Heat Bonded Technology.
The cheaper way to construct a board is with what is called single layer – we would never encourage you to buy one of these boards as in the pursuit to make it as cheap as possible inferior materials are used leading to a compromise of the board shape and stiffness making it more unstable, less of a joy to paddle and often far less durable with many cheap ones bursting after being left out in the sun!
Benefits of inflatables
- Lighter and more stable
- Easier to store and transport
- Greater carrying capacity
Down sides of inflatables
- They need pumping up
- Risk of puncture (though very unlikely on good quality boards it is still possible)
Solid boards are for people who are bit more performance oriented, or who aren’t worried about transport, storage and durability. Solid boards are based around a shaped core of EPS which then has layers of composite shell built around it to make it tougher and rigid enough to be paddled. Many different manufacturers use different materials to change the characteristics of the board, there are different types of fibre glass, carbon fibre and even wood built into these layers.
Benefits of hard boards
- Higher performance
- Better in the wind
Down sides of hard boards
- “dings” from a gentle crash can sometimes require a costly repair
- Low carrying capacity
- Harder to store (need to be kept out of sunlight)
- Harder to transport
- Less stable
Other things to consider when buying your board are
A longer board will usually go faster and track in straight line better but is a lot harder to turn making them harder to use in narrow rivers and on canals.
As a rule of thumb the wider a board is the more stable it is, though a well designed 30 inch wide board can be a lot more stable than a poorly designed 34 inch wide board.
Poor quality boards will use greater levels of thickness to add to the stiffness of the board instead of using better quality materials, proper manufacturing processes and a good design, this isn’t the case in the ranges we carry.
With the boards we carry the thicker ones have been designed to carry a greater load, such as the touring boards designed to take you camp kit for long weekends away. Thinner boards are less effected by a crosswind but are less stable in choppier water due to their reduced volume.
Different shapes can cause the board to have very different characteristics, below you’ll be able to read a little about what to expect from each shape. Click on the headings to see our selection.
All round boards
These tend to be fairly round, most are between 10 and 11 feet long and in the region of 30 to 34 inches wide.
These tend to have a more pointed nose and can quote often be narrower, most are 12 to 14 feet long and 28 to 34 inches wide.
These are long and thin with pointed noses and usually either a square of pointed tail too, usually between 12’6 and 14 feet and 26 to 30 inches wide.
These are short and low volume boards between 8 and 10 feet in length and 30 to 34 inches wide.