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Inflatable vs. Solid Boards

You want to get out on the water, but aren't sure which board is the best choice for you. This is a common question:

"What’s the difference between the Portager (our inflatable board) and the Loon (our solid board)?"

We’ve analyzed the 5 most important factors to consider across five major performance categories when making your choice between Inflatable & Solid boards.

Summary:
• Tracking: Equal
•  Stability: Equal
•  Speed: Solid Board
•  Durability: Inflatable Board
•  Portability & Storage: Inflatable Board

Bottom line:
If the board is staying at a lake home, cottage or cabin - most customers go with a solid board. If the board is being transported often, most will choose an inflatable board.

But let's break it down so you can make the right choice for your situation..

TRACKING

Tracking means how straight the board goes while actively paddling. The Portager and Loon are nearly equal in this category. When using the correct paddle stroke, either board can achieve 15-25 strokes per side (SPS). World class tracking is a design feature that we consider non-negotiable. If you’ve been on a board that only gets 2-5 SPS, you’ll quickly notice a vast improvement in functionality and fun!.

WINNER: EQUAL

STABILITY

Balance is most commonly linked to the width of the board, the wider the board, the more balanced the board will be. Also, solid boards are typically more stable in rough conditions because inflatable boards usually sit higher on the water, leading to higher chances of instability during heavy wind or waves. To combat this, we’ve made the Portager is 33’’ wide, which is wider than our solid boards (with the exception of the Loon XXL). This helps offset any degradation of stability during rough conditions, and we rate the Portager’s stability equal to the Loon and Loon XL. The Loon XXL at 35’’ wide DOES have higher stability than the Portager, because of its extreme width.

Our rule of thumb: If you’re within the board's weight capacity, balance should be a passive, secondary thought. If you overload a board's weight rating, balance will become an issue. For dynamic activities such as yoga, fishing, tandem paddling, etc, the larger the weight capacity, the easier balancing will be.

WINNER: EQUAL

SPEED

The Portager is one of the fastest inflatable boards on the market. It glides through the water with extreme efficiency and minimal effort because of its body design and nose shape. However, even with the Portager’s superior performance in the inflatable category, our solid boards are about 5 - 20% faster. While the difference may not be very noticeable with one individual stroke, this adds up quickly and means you will cover 5-20% more water during your session. Speed isn’t everything when it comes to paddle boarding, but if you want to cover a lot of distance or plan on paddling large bodies of water, our solid boards perform better in this category.

WINNER: SOLID BOARDS

DURABILITY

Our Inflatable boards can withstand more abuse than any solid board. That may surprise you, as many people often equate “inflatable” with “cheap”, but this is far from the truth when evaluating our inflatable products. The Portager (along with our inflatable docks and kayaks) are constructed of the highest grade, 1.2mm drop stitch multi-layer PVC. This material is dog proof, kid proof, and rapid proof. It’s stiff, rigid, and feels like a solid board when inflated. It includes a built in pressure regulator, preventing over-inflation from occurring. The Portager will withstand unexpected obstacles better than the Loon, such as rocks, docks, trees, or impacts during transportation. These impacts can cause visible damage to a solid board, whereas the Portager will simply bounce off of most obstacles.

Watch the Portager in action in Iceland, the Mississippi River, or the Detroit River.

The Loon is constructed with a high-quality hybrid of bamboo and fiberglass. Bamboo has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any natural fiber, meaning it is simultaneously lighter and more durable than most solid boards on the market. To put this in perspective, our solid boards weigh 15% or less than wood strip boards, and 50% or less than plastic boards of comparable size.

Both styles are made with the highest quality materials, and we are meticulous with our attention to detail during construction. There’s no wrong answer here - whichever board fits your lifestyle better is the right choice. We also back each of our products with a 30-day money back satisfaction guarantee, and a 2-year comprehensive warranty.

WINNER: INFLATABLE BOARD

Portability & Storage

When considering how you will use your paddle board, portability and storage are important factors. Do you have a garage or boathouse with enough space for a 10.6’ - 12’6’’ solid board? If not, can you carry it down your stairs into your basement with ease? Is your vehicle equipped to transport the board? These are all questions to ask when considering solid boards. For many people a solid board is relatively easy to manage, but the Portager can be significantly easier to transport and store especially for those with limited space. The board and all components (hand pump, fin, ankle leash, and paddle) fit inside of the included backpack, which is also equipped with luggage wheels. It can easily fit in your trunk or back seat, or be checked as luggage for air travel. When not in use, it’s easy to tuck away in your basement or garage shelf..

But if you own a cabin or live on or near a lake, it can be much more convenient to grab your solid board and start paddling immediately. The Portager takes 5 - 10 minutes to unpack, inflate, and assemble for paddling. The Loon is incredibly light, ranging from 26 to 32lbs, and therefore easy to carry to the water or load onto a vehicle.. 

WINNER: INFLATABLE

Watch us TALK ABOUT the differenceS

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