Depending on who you ask, someone will say that there’s a clear winner and loser in the fight between inflatable vs. non-inflatable. I’d argue that this isn’t a competition, and a board is a board at the end of the day. The point is to get out on the water, have some fun, and be one with nature while achieving peace.
All that being said, there are differences between these two types of boards that people often notice, and we’re going to break them down. But, before we do that, we’re going to tell you some of the best non-inflatable paddle boards to consider purchasing. But, don’t worry, we’ve got a board for everyone, so let’s get into it!
What is a Non-Inflatable Paddle Board?
If I had to describe a non-inflatable or hardboard paddle board, I’d say it was the ‘ready-to-go surfboard-like choice of SUP. They can be made from various alternative materials such as fiberglass, foam, kevlar, wood, plastics, and countless others or even a mix and match of multiple materials.
Non-inflatable SUP’s are perfect for the kinds of paddle boarders with space, a means of transportation, and a desire to get to the beach and get straight to the water without inflating or deflating (once finished) times bogging them down.
A Great Non-Inflatable SUP For Each Use
For this list, the point was to try to be inclusive and choose a SUP for everyone. So we’ve got one of the best beginners boards, racers boards, plus-size board, Yoga board, and all-around board!
|11’2” x 29” x 4.8”
|Recommended Skill Level
Starting off with a great board for beginners, and women, in particular, is the Surftech Aleka. This non-inflatable SUP has been specifically designed for women to enjoy the open waters and has a lot of great qualities that make it worth considering.
For starters, the Aleka is a durable board thanks to its shape and use of materials like PVC. The board only weighs a decent 22.11 pounds making it relatively easy to carry around when at the beach.
Performance is critical, and the Aleka is a sturdy board that allows for great stability and an average-above average glide ability. In addition, the Aleka features a really bright and tropical pattern style with light blue, dark blue, greens, and a light wood color in terms of design.
Suppose you’re a woman looking for a board made specifically for you, and you’re just beginning to SUP. In that case, this might be what you’re looking for in a non-inflatable paddle board.
- Made specifically for women
- Able to enjoy a mid-range paddle
- Good looking board
- Reasonably Lightweight
- Glide ability is more on the average side
California Board Company Hydra
|10’6” x 30.7” x 5.25”
|Recommended Skill Level
|Any Skill Level
|Recreational Paddle Boarding and Fishing
The California Board Company Hydra just has that ‘California beach’ look to it, like it was crafted from the sands of Malibu beaches. There is honestly so much to admire and appreciate about this SUP that I barely know where to begin.
We’ll start with the construction of the Hydra, which is made using a high-density EPS foam with a 100% waterproof core. As a result, it’s exceptionally durable and can survive daily use. Furthermore, if accidentally dropped, you’ll find little to no damage left behind! Finally, in terms of transportation, it’s a breeze to carry and cart around on the roof of your car.
The Hydra comes loaded with extra’s that many SUPS don’t have included, such as a; surf leash, pads for roof racks, single fin, an adjustable paddle, and more! The board is also equipped with a camera mount; if you’re looking to attach a GoPro and document your adventures, have at it. It does all this while retaining an incredibly reasonable price tag, so this is a significant point to the Hydra!
In terms of the overall performance of the board, it provides reasonably stable performance. It does well on the water, with the only complaint being its glide ability isn’t top-notch. This is such a minor issue compared to the board’s numerous benefits, so take it with a grain of ‘sea salt.’
Overall, this is a great board for any skill level and recreational paddle boarding or fishing.
- Camera Mount
- Built-in handle
- Works for so many different types of paddle boarders big and small
- Tons of additional accessories
- Great design
- Poor glide ability
|14’ x 23” x 9.5”
|Recommended Skill Level
If you’re looking to tear through the water in style, then the Rogue Parlay is the board you’ve been looking for all your life!
The Rogue Parlay is a sprint board, and it will go through the water faster than you might even be able to handle. It requires a pro to tame this wild stallion of a non-inflatable SUP board. But, with the main objective to go as fast as possible, Rogue delivered. In doing so, they made a board that is stylish, efficient, and well made.
The price of the Rogue Parlay is steep. Still, you’re paying for the quality they’re providing, and they definitely are giving you quality with the Parlay, without a doubt. The board comes with bungee cords, Connexsup (which allows for various attachments like fishing rods). It has an Ergo Well built-in handle for easy transport.
If you’re ready for the challenge, and the price tag, then the Rogue is something you should consider seriously looking into! First, of course, you’re going to have to tame this beast of a board to truly shred on the flat open waters, but once you do, there’s no stopping you.
- FCS II compatible
- Designed for Sprint Racing
- Very fast
Tom Carroll Paddle Surf OUTER REEF – MX
|25.3 lbs/ 27.6 lbs/ 30.3 lbs/ 31.3 lbs
|154 lbs/ 187 lbs/ 198 lbs/ 95 lbs
|Recommended Skill Level
|No Required Skill Level
Tom Carroll Paddle Surf (TCPS) is known for its stylish, minimalist boards that work well on the water for various purposes. The Outer Reef – MX is no different.
One exciting thing about this board is some of the design elements that lend to its name Outer Reef. The board has Double Concave contours which let the water spiral across the board and aid in a far more efficient glide. It’s almost like it works with the water and not against it.
This board is easy to turn, responds well to the waves, and is able to pick up tremendous speed on flat water due to its design elements. It can still take on the waves, though, so don’t underestimate the abilities of the Outer Reef – MX. If you want a stable board that does a great job of handling the water like a friend, and not an adversary, maybe the Outer Reef is for you.
- Provides a smooth glide and an uninterrupted momentum.
- Well priced
- Available in 4 sizes; 10’/10’6/11’/11’6
- Fast and stable
- Good for surf or flat-water.
- No other color option.
Lifetime Freestyle Multi-sport
|9’8” x 35.5” x 6”
|Recommended Skill Level
|All Around Light Use
The Lifetime Freestyle Multi-Sport is a great non-inflatable SUP for the entire family to enjoy. Young, old, this board is perfect for you and your kids to enjoy on the open water regardless of your skills. This SUP is predominantly used by beginners to get their sea legs. The Lifetime Freestyle can be enjoyed by anyone who just wants to have a good time on a reasonably priced, non-inflatable board.
In terms of its build quality, the Lifetime Freestyle is a durable board made with high-density polyethylene. In addition, it features an EVA deck pad for better traction. When it comes to spending hours in the sun, the Lifetime Freestyle can handle it thanks to its UV protection.
The design of the Lifetime Freestyle is fairly simple. It has three color options; lime green, glacier blue, and red. Comes with a fiberglass paddle that is adjustable, which is a big bonus. If you’re looking for something to enjoy on the lake or calmer waters or want to teach your kids how to paddle board with a SUP that won’t break the bank, this is the board for you. You can find other kid options here.
- EVA Deck Pad
- Two Retractable Fins
- Carry handle in the center makes for easy transport
- Paddles included
- Well priced
- Good for the whole family
- The LifeTime Freestyle is a heavy board
There are so many things to consider when it comes to non-inflatable paddle boards and how you go about making the right decision. Here are a few things you should know and consider before making the final purchase.
What you plan on using your board for will determine which kind of board you need. If you’re looking to become a pro-racer, then you need a non-inflatable. However, if you’re looking to ride the raging rapids, you need an inflatable. Determine your use to know which is the necessary option for the best performance. Take a look at some of these other items to determine where your needs lie.
In terms of price, inflatables are chapter. While you can find non-inflatable budget boards, you’ll still probably be paying more than an inflatable model that’s double the quality. So, you will need to have a long look at the price range you’re in and find what’s available to you, both inflatable and non-inflatable.
Construction & Quality
Overall, non-inflatable paddle boards are well-constructed. However, the level of quality is always up for debate from brand to brand, so never just assume a non-inflatable SUP is immediately better. Instead, you need to do your research to find the boards that are known for being well constructed by brands that are either focused on the sport/water sports or trusted brands in general.
Which material a company predominantly uses will always depend on the company. However, most companies experiment with almost all the available material options and vary their product lines accordingly.
Here are some of the materials that are used for hardboard paddle boards;
- Carbon fiber
One area where inflatables definitely win over non-inflatables is in the durability department. Inflatables don’t get damaged as easily or experience scratches. If you’re doing an activity that requires a board that can take rigorous knocks, go for an inflatable over your prized non-inflatable SUP.
The truth is that while a board is a board, non-inflatable SUPs will always provide the best performance compared to inflatables. A non-inflatable SUP is;
- More agile
- Feature better glide
- Catch waves easier
Non-inflatable boards will be the best option for SUP racing, surfing, and all your longer distanced adventures.
Transport & Storage
A non-inflatable SUP is a solid structure meaning you need to be sure you have the means to;
A. Store your SUP
B. Transport your SUP
Non-inflatable paddle boards are often bulky in size and, in some cases, weight. This means you can’t just cart it around on the bus, subway, or whatever public transport system you use to get to the beach. Additionally, your home needs to have the space to keep your board out of harm’s way. An apartment will not provide the required storage space or practicality for a board that a house would. These are things you need to consider before making a purchase of this nature.
There’s so much movement in the world of non-inflatable paddle boards and a ton of decisions to be made. Hopefully, this article has shifted your perspective or at least defined it a bit better so you can make a more informed decision.
Never rush the purchase of your SUP. Instead, take a moment to soak in all the decisions, your goals, and what you’re looking to do with a SUP. Additionally, consider your means to facilitate a particular type of board in terms of storage, transportation, and where you live.
Let us know in the comments which type of board you went with, what make and model you purchased! We’re excited to see what you ended up with and are sure you’re going to make a great decision when all is said and done.