You might have heard all sorts of praises towards the value you’d get from buying an inflatable SUP. Without a doubt, inflatable paddle boards are truly known for their durability and affordability. But the real question is, how long do inflatable paddle boards last?
Multiple content creators on YouTube have done different types of tests on various inflatable kayak models. Some videos also show people running over their iSUPs with a car, throwing them from the roof, and even running them over with an excavator.
While the claims for inflatable SUPs durability are valid, they don’t exactly provide a clear answer on how long inflatable SUPs can last with regular wear and tear.
If you remain curious about it, don’t worry. That’s what we’re going to show you in this article.
Let’s dive right in.
Factors that Affect the Durability of an Inflatable SUP
Inflatable paddleboards are strong enough to withstand extreme durability tests—and there’s a reason behind it. Today’s inflatable paddleboard models are the results of years of research and development.
But that doesn’t mean all models of inflatable stand-up paddleboards have the same level of durability. These are the factors that affect the durability of an inflatable paddleboard:
Materials & Construction
The first and most obvious factor that affects an iSUP’s durability is the materials used to build it. What we’ve learned with inflatable paddleboards is that nine out of ten times, you’ll get your money’s worth in quality.
The more you spend on an inflatable board, the better quality and durability you’ll get. All inflatable paddle boards have the same core material: drop-stitched vinyl.
A drop stitch vinyl is made by joining two polyester fabric sheets together with thousands of small polyester threads. When inflated, the threads binding the top and bottom polyester fabric will maintain the board-like shape of your iSUP by preventing either of the fabric sheets from curving out.
There are two types of construction models for inflatable paddle boards:
- Single-layer: A single layer SUP has one layer of drop-stitch core covered in an air-tight PVC outer layer. Single-layer SUPs are typically more affordable and lightweight.
- Dual-layer: A dual-layer SUP has the same drop-stitch core, but it’s reinforced with a layer of PVC, making it capable of handling higher air pressure and, therefore, more rigidity.
Generally speaking, there are other construction models with triple and quadruple layers of PVC, but the concept is the same. The more layers, the more durable an iSUP will be.
The top and bottom parts of a drop-stitch core can’t contain air. Therefore, they require an outer shell. The outer shells are made from two sheets of PVC joined together, which is why it’s always worth considering the quality of the seams before getting an inflatable stand-up paddleboard.
While the core materials and construction model have crucial roles for an iSUP’s durability, the seams are also just as important. There are several different seam constructions that manufacturers use on their inflatable boards:
- Single rail band with taped seams: This seam method uses a PVC-coated fabric to seal the air inside the board. Then, 1-inch strips of PVC will be used to cover the seams so that they’re more secure.
- Dual rail bands: This seam method uses two layers of PVC-coated fabrics, which are more durable than a single-rail configuration. Dual rail band is the most common seam method, especially in mid-end boards.
- Heat-welded seams: Heat welding is the most advanced and secure sealing method for an inflatable paddleboard. Heat-welded seams implementations vary from one manufacturer to another, mostly in their techniques to achieve the result.
Usage and Maintenance
If you still find yourself wondering, “are inflatable paddle boards any good?”, remember that while the materials and seams construction plays a huge role in determining how long inflatable paddle boards last out of the box, how you use and take care of them are also essential factors to consider.
Using the boards in rock-filled shallow water every week will wear down your inflatable paddle board quickly. Similarly, saltwater usage can also cause corrosion if you don’t properly take care of your paddleboard after each use.
The most basic SUP care tips to keep in mind are cleaning your inflatable SUP after each use, storing them properly, and following the recommended use case from the manufacturers. The usage frequency can also affect the durability of your inflatable paddleboard.
To answer the ultimate question on how long do inflatable paddles boards last, a good quality inflatable paddleboard can last anywhere from 5 years to more than a decade.
Still, the longevity of your iSUP depends on the factors like materials, construction, seams quality, usage, and maintenance. If you’re looking to have an inflatable paddleboard with the most longevity, it’s always a good idea to buy higher-end boards with dual-layer constructions from well-known brands like Intex.
Overall, we hope that the factors we have listed here have shed some light for you to understand how long inflatable paddleboards last.