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6 Things You Can Do With an Inflatable Paddle Board You Can’t Do With a Hardboard

May 13, 2021

In this article we discuss the 6 things you can do with an inflatable paddle board that you can’t do with a hardboard.


Every type of board, color, shape, and construction have its place in the world of SUP. This is because each type has its own unique features that make it worth purchasing and worth paddling.

But not every board performs the same. And not every board is going to be an ideal fit for you. To help you decide what board will, we will start by demystifying the basic question –

Should I purchase a hardboard or an inflatable paddle board?

It can be tricky to answer. But to help you decide, we’ve put together six attributes an inflatable paddle board has that a hardboard doesn’t.

After reading this, if you have any questions, or need advice on what to purchase, on how to paddle, and more, let us know!

Let’s get to it…

A man with a dog paddling an Atoll inflatable paddle board

1. Easily Travel

Before we even knew inflatable boards existed, when Atoll was just an idea that had yet to be formed in our minds, we started on the water with paddling hardboards. And as one does with the sport, our activities, and our sites on where to paddle, began to expand. We wanted to see the world with a SUP. We wanted to hop on a plane, find a faraway shore, get on our boards and explore something new. With adventure in our hearts, we decided to bring our first boards with us. That meant we had to pack them for the plane.

To begin the laborious process, we first thought it would be a good idea to wrap them in bubble wrap. Then, we covered the outside with cardboard and packing tape. And finally, we squeezed them into oversized board bags. Feeling the weight of our boards, we had to check with the airline to see if they would accept our oversized bags. And on top of that, pay an extra fee just to have them checked! Our next grand obstacle – making our way through the airport with these giant bags without hitting anyone in line! And once we were safely on the plane, we prayed they would make it to our destination safely with no holes or cracks.

This was a few years ago, at the inception of SUP, before we even knew inflatable boards existed.

Now – we take the stress out of vacation.

With an inflatable paddle board it’s easy to travel by car, train, even airplane. Just roll your Atoll iSUP into its carrying backpack and get moving. Check it at the airport with no problems. And there is no stress involved when it comes to the unknown question about whether it will make it there undamaged!

Trust us, the convenience with which you can travel with an inflatable paddle board is not to be underestimated.

2. White Water and River Paddling

WARNING: Do not take a hardboard white water or river paddling! Unless it is designed for such purposes and is constructed with durable plastic like that of a kayak.

Otherwise, you will leave the river with a damaged board and plenty to fix!

But with an Atoll 11’ inflatable paddle board you’re ready to pack in, pump up, and paddle out at any river location around the world.

Inflatable paddle boards are the best type of boards to paddle in a river environment for their durability and stability. Rocks, sticks, and other debris will not harm your board unlike the fiberglass shell of most hardboards.

And if the whitewater is your preference, be sure to check out our specifically designed fin that lays shallow in the water so you won’t hit any rocks or take any sudden spills when paddling.

3. Store Your iSUP Anywhere

Before you even begin to think about purchasing a hardboard you first have to consider where you’re going to store it.

This can be a major pain point for some. Especially if you live in an apartment or in the city.

Often, people underestimate the size of a SUP. Sure, in the water a 10’6’’ board doesn’t look like much. But take it outside of the water and stand it up and you will see how truly massive these boards can be.

And that is just your average hardboard. Some raceboards measure in at 14’ long!

With an inflatable – no need to stress about storage. Simply roll your board up when you’re finished and store it anywhere! For the winter months, our favorite spots include the garage or a closet.

4. Drop It

Have you ever been carrying your hardboard and suddenly you feel this strong sensation of pain emanating from your fingertips and into your forearm? You go to switch hands and suddenly – pop! You drop your board on the hard concrete and on the side there is now a nice crack just waiting to soak up water the next time you paddle.

Not fun. And neither is that repair bill you will inevitably have to pay once you get it fixed.

Well, with an inflatable board, if your hand becomes tired and you accidentally drop your board on a hard surface you won’t hear anything besides the soft bouncing noise your board makes as it lands on the concrete unharmed.

That’s the beauty of an inflatable paddle board – the durability. While we don’t recommend you stab your board with a knife, our Atoll inflatable paddle board can bounce off most surfaces unscathed.

And that leads us to our next point.

5. Lend it to a Friend/Great for Beginners

Beginners can be rough on paddle boards. Often they run into obstacles like docks or rocks or piers or piling – whatever environment you are in, beginners will often find the perfect place to bump into something. On top of that, they often fall on the board itself, causing cracks, holes, and other damage.

Just like our previous point, hardboards often won’t survive such torture. But inflatable paddle boards will!

The advantage of durability is solely in the corner of the inflatable paddle board and that makes it perfect to loan out to friends or put beginners in a position to not hurt your board…or themselves.

Another added advantage – our Atoll inflatable paddle boards are perfect for beginners as our boards are designed with stability in mind. The 6’’ thickness and 32’’ wide base of our boards are stable and thick enough to hold more weight than most boards. Both qualities will put anyone ready to begin paddling on the path to success.

Not to mention, it is easier to transport. No need for car racks or a truck bed when you let your friends give it a spin!

So, be the selfless lender that you are, and let your friends try your inflatable paddle board with no worries.

6. Easily Bring Your Furry Friends

We get asked this question often – what about dog nails? Will they pop the board?

With an emphatic howl, the answer is no.

Dog nails will do no harm to an inflatable paddle board. And more so than that – they are the best boards to bring your pup for a ride.

As you might have already realized, when pet owners bring their pups along for a ride, the best place for them to hang out is on the nose. On a fiberglass board, this section is often very slick, especially when wet. Instead of a fun time on the water, your pup will have trouble gripping the board and will most likely fall in the water while at the same time causing you to lose balance and fall in as well!

On a foam top board, your pup’s nails will tear into the soft surface and leave marks that will become unrepairable.

But on an inflatable board, like our Atoll iSUP, the surface is strong enough to resist any tears from nails and provides enough grip for dogs of any size to comfortably sit, stand, and go along for the ride.

So if you have a pup who is interested in SUP, an inflatable paddle board is your best choice.


Of course, there are activities you can perform better on a hardboard as opposed to an inflatable paddle board as well – namely SUP surfing and racing. But outside of those two high-performance activities, nothing beats the durability, the storage capabilities, and the ease with which you can travel with an inflatable paddle board. Especially an Atoll iSUP. And that is enough reason for you to consider one for your next purchase.

Have questions? Want to leave a comment? Reach out! Our inbox is always open. Are you ready to purchase and want to instead learn the ins and outs of SUP? Then check out our comprehensive guide – How to Paddle Board: Everything You Need to Know to Get on the Water. Until next time Atoll fam, adventure on!

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