There’s a misconception that inflatable paddleboards are not half as durable as hard paddleboards. This can’t be farther from the truth. In reality, inflatable paddleboards are more durable and long-lasting.
What Makes an Inflatable Paddle Board Durable?
If you’re the type who has been loyal to hard paddleboards, you’re definitely wondering why on earth would you want to consider an inflatable paddleboard. A hard paddleboard is sturdy and tough anyway.
However, you’re missing out if you haven’t considered using an inflatable paddleboard (also known as iSUP). This is mainly because iSUPs last longer and they’re definitely more durable than your preferred paddleboard. Why? It’s because of the PVC material that is immune to scratches and dents.
When you compare an inflatable paddleboard to a hard paddleboard, you’ll realize that the latter is quite prone to getting dings and dents. It also requires you to repair it right away. You don’t want the water to seep right through the foam.
With an inflatable paddleboard, you won’t have to worry about water getting in. There’s no foam inside that will get mushy when water goes in the board.
What is a Dropstitch Construction?
PVCs aren’t the only ones responsible for the durability of an inflatable paddleboard. There’s also what you call dropstitch construction.
The dropstitch construction is the make of the stitches that keep the layers of the paddleboard together. It’s a number of threads that make sure that the top and the bottom PVCs of the paddleboard don’t break away from each other. These threads are not just the stitches you see outside. There is a huge number of threads on the inner side of the paddleboard that you can’t see.
The threads that make up an inflatable paddleboard allow the board to hold its shape when you inflate it. Have you ever wondered why it doesn’t form the shape of a balloon? It’s the dropstitch threads doing their job.
A big factor of an inflatable paddleboard’s durability is the quality of dropstitching made on it. If the dropstitching is subpar, then your inflatable paddleboard will not last for a long time.
How Long Do Inflatable Paddle Boards Last?
So the all-important question here is, how long do inflatable paddleboards last? There are many factors that determine the answer to this but the simplest is that most inflatables last for at least 5 years. When you take care of your paddleboard, it will last for many years.
A good-quality inflatable paddleboard will often last 5 years even when it’s being used regularly. The important thing is that it is being maintained well. However, if you buy a low-quality inflatable paddleboard, expect it to last for only 1 to 3 years.
Most low-quality paddleboards don’t have double stitching and a lot of threads that will ensure that the PVCs are intact. Over time, these threads loosen and they affect how the whole paddleboard holds together. The more you use these kinds of paddleboards, the faster the quality deteriorates.
However, if you buy a mid-range to a high-quality inflatable paddleboard, these boards will most likely last for more than 5 years. Most of these boards will also have 1-3 years of warranty.
Factors that Affect the Life of Your Paddle Board
It was mentioned earlier that the life of your paddleboard will greatly depend on a lot of factors. Here are some of them.
The first thing that affects a paddleboard’s longevity is its construction. For obvious reasons, low-quality PVCs that aren’t kept together by a lot of threads will definitely not last long. Give it a year or two and it will show signs of wear and tear.
On the other hand, if you bought an iSUP that was made using multiple layers of PVC and a lot of seams, then this paddleboard will last a while. Some paddlers even notice that these kinds of iSUPs work well even after five years.
Before you even blame the lack of maintenance, know that the construction of an inflatable paddleboard is the biggest factor that determines its durability and longevity.
Did you know that paddleboards also need some UV protection? UV rays can damage the PVC eventually shortening the service life of your iSUP.
Most paddleboards manufactured today already have a UV coating so if the model you have right now doesn’t, it’s better to get some coating on it. Keep in mind that an ultraviolet coat doesn’t make your iSUP immune from UV ray damage for the rest of the board’s lifetime.
The UV coating is an added protection (just like sunscreen for your body) but it doesn’t protect it for a long period of time. Eventually, you have to re-apply it.
Maintenance and Cleaning
How you take care of your paddleboard will make a difference in how long it lasts. Care for an inflatable paddleboard is different from that of a hard paddleboard. For one thing, the former requires that you deflate it once in a while. You should also store your iSUP in a cold, covered place.
While this is not the determining factor, a company that is known to have paddleboards as its main product will definitely have more expertise than a company that just diversified its product line. There are companies that only outsource their SUP manufacturing without having enough research and development.
To add to that, a reputable company will most likely have a more durable paddleboard. One of the signs that tell you this is true is the warranty.
Paddleboards that have warranties that last up to three years is a good indicator. This means that the company is confident that their SUPs are durable and will most likely not break in the first three years.
Tips to Take Care of Your Paddle Board
There are many ways to properly care for your iSUP. If you don’t know how to do it yet, here are some easy tips to get you started.
Rinse your paddleboard.
If you do your paddling in saltwater, make sure that you rinse your iSUP after every session. This removes the salt, dirt, and gravel that are left on the surface. However, if you’re paddling in freshwater, there’s no need to wash it after every paddling session.
Clean it with a natural biodegradable cleaner.
The best product to clean your paddleboard with is a natural biodegradable cleaner. This doesn’t have any chemicals that can damage your paddleboard. Besides, you just want a mild cleaner that will remove the stubborn dirt on the iSUP.
Dry it thoroughly before storing.
When you’re done cleaning your inflatable paddleboard, wipe the whole board with a soft cloth. Wipe it down thoroughly because you want it to be completely dry before you store it. You can also choose to air dry it but a towel dry is a lot faster.
Keep it out of the sunlight.
This should be stressed more often. Even if your iSUP has a UV coat, it’s good practice to always keep it out of the sun. It may be ironic given that paddleboards are used under the sun, but that’s just the way it is. It’s even better if your paddleboard is stored indoors.
Deflate it once in a while.
Should you deflate your inflatable paddleboard all the time? Not really. The beauty of an iSUP is that you can store it inflated. However, to reduce the tension on the seams from time to time, deflate it once a month. Doing so will also let the whole board “relax”.
Don’t put it on the floor.
Whether you own an iSUP or a hard paddleboard, you shouldn’t put it directly on the floor. When placed directly on the floor, dust particles can affect the durability of the board. Besides, if you have pets, you want your paddleboard to be away from their reach.
If you plan on putting the paddleboard on the floor, place a thick cloth in between the board and the floor. This prevents any scratches and particles to harm it.
Roll it properly.
When you store your iSUP inside the bag, there’s a proper way to do it.
First, remove the air inside the paddleboard. Make sure that there isn’t air inside it. This ensures that the air inside will not get bigger even when the temperature increases in the storage shed.
Second, when you roll the deflated paddleboard, don’t do it too tightly. The tension on the seams can damage its strength. Ideally, you should roll it a little loosely so there’s no tension on both the PVC and the seams Just roll it enough to fit in the storage bag.
Some people are too confident with their paddleboards, they forget they shouldn’t be dragging them on sand or gravel. Sure, an iSUP is durable and built to last but it’s not immune to damage. Dragging it all over the place is the fastest way to damage even the strongest paddleboard out there.