Inflatable paddle boards are very common due to their budget-friendly price tags, low maintenance, and portability. However, they often have a bad reputation that they’re somehow not as good as traditional hard paddle boards. People often worry that they can get punctured, ruining the board before getting enough use out of it.
Inflatable paddle boards don’t puncture easily because they’re designed with multiple layers to make them durable. Sharp rocks, coral, and other pointed objects can cause problems, but they can be repaired. Sandpaper, adhesive, a patch, and moisture sealant can easily fix an inflatable paddle board.
Throughout this article, you’ll also learn the following information about inflatable paddle boards:
- the long lasting durability of inflatable paddle boards
- how to prevent holes and tears
- step-by-step instructions to repair a hole
- details about how long an inflatable paddle board lasts
Why Stand Up Paddle Boards Refuse to Puncture Easily
Well manufactured inflatable stand up paddle boards are not produced with your standard inflatable material. Contrary to popular opinion, the inflatable materials used to construct these paddle boards are not the same inflatable materials used to make the inflatable hot tub on your back patio.
According to Tower Paddle Boards, high quality inflatable SUPs are made from military grade material, built to withstand the stresses of rough waterways such as fast moving rivers (source).
It’s not just the board composition that enhances the durability of stand up paddle boards, but also how that material is put together. There are three general methods that stand up paddle board manufacturers use to construct their inflatable SUPs (source):
|Type of Inflatable Core Construction||Construction Materials Used|
|Single Layer||-Drop Stitch Fabric|
|Fusion||-Drop Stitch Fabric|
|Dual Layer||-Drip Stitch Fabric|
-Plastic Coating 1
-Plastic Coating 2
-Plastic Coating 3
Single layer inflatable core constructions are more apt to potential punctures because it utilizes the least amount of layers and coating.
In contrast, dual layer core constructions are the most resistant to potential punctures because multiple layers and coatings are used, dramatically increasing the tensile strength of the board. Fusion core constructions acts as the middle ground between the two.
Although single layer inflatable core constructions produce the least expensive types of paddle boards, manufacturers are starting to move away from this kind of core construction. Instead, the industry is trending toward fusion and dual layer core constructions as buyers have become more concerned with how long their inflatable paddle board is going to last.
This has sparked a rapid uptick in the quality of inflatable paddle boards. Now, they’re about as durable as you could ever hope to get. With that being said, I wouldn’t test the board’s durability by poking at it with a sharp nail! Every inflatable has a limit to its strength. Nonetheless, the inflatable paddle boards that feature fusion and dual layer core constructions have been proven to possess remarkable durability.
If you still don’t believe in the strength capacity of inflatable boards, I don’t blame you. I had a difficult time believing in its puncture resistance myself. What put me over the top though was witnessing the following clip. They drove over this inflatable paddle board with a full sized tractor and it still held together under the immense amount of pressure!
I thought for sure that the paddle board would experience at least one tiny puncture, but it remained completely intact to my surprise. This is a convincing testament of how durable these inflatable paddle boards have become.
If you’re looking to invest into a paddle board, just remember to invest into a board that has a fusion or dual layer core construction for optimal puncture resistance. It may be tempting to purchase a paddle board with a single layer core construction, but I would advise against it. It is well worth it to invest the additional money to ensure that you’re purchasing a board with sufficient durability.
How to Prevent an Inflatable Paddle Board From Puncturing
The best way to preserve your inflatable paddle board is to take the necessary precautions to prevent it from getting damaged in the first place. Patches are useful, but your board will never be the same once it has a tear in the material. Fortunately, you can prevent such issues from occurring by following these suggestions:
- Understand the terrain or water that you’re trying to navigate. Riverbeds can present a serious issue for low-end paddle boards, but did you know that inflatables are actually better suited for shallow, rocky rivers? According to ISUPWorld, they can bounce off of the bottom rather than break or crack as a hardboard would (source).
- Remember that waves can prove dangerous for your board. Although inflatables are very tough these days, a wave can provide enough momentum to send your SUP board right into the coral reef. This acceleration can create rips and tears that will need repairs immediately to prevent long-term damage.
- Consider wrapping the bottom of your board. There are plenty of wraps that can provide a thin barrier between your inflatable paddle board and the sharp objects below. You can also just use them near the front end if you’re only worried about the direction that you’re headed.
- Never throw your inflatable board on the ground (or anywhere else for that matter). Inflatable paddle boards are intended for the natural buoyancy of the water, so dry land can cause problems. You never know when there’s a sharp rock, broken glass, or something else that could shred the board before you hit the river, lake, or ocean.
- Always fix the small tears or holes when you notice them. Even if you’re not feeling any resistance, it’s still critical to your inflatable paddle board’s longevity. The good news is that repairing a rip can be relatively affordable and much more budget-conscious than getting a brand-new board every time yours is damaged.
As you can see, there are quite a few ways that you can prevent your board from getting damaged. Even if you notice a hole, it’s not too challenging to fix it in time.
For a quick patching guide to creating a seamless repair, proceed to the next section.
Repairing and Patching a Hole
As mentioned above, there’s no need to rush to the store for a new paddle board every time it has a small hole. Instead, you can patch it in less than 30 minutes to keep your board ready to go for your next weekend adventure.
Here’s how you can fix a hole in an inflatable paddle board:
- Mix soap and water in a bowl, then pour it on the board. This step only applies if you don’t know where the hole is. When the solution coats the entire paddle board, apply a little bit of pressure and look for bubbles. When you find the bubbles, you’ll know where the tear sits on the board.
- Once you’ve found the tear, use sandpaper to sand down the surface. Only do it enough to make the edges of the hole more porous. The smooth material on most inflatable SUP boards makes it challenging for an adhesive to hold on, but sanding it down will make it significantly easier.
- As NRS states, use an adhesive for the patch (source). I’ve had good results with Loctite Plumber & Marine Adhesive. Loctite makes some of the best adhesives on the market for all surfaces, so it’s no surprise that they have the best for this application. Apply a thin bead around the hole, then head to step 4.
- Cut the patch down to the exact shape that you need. It’s important to reduce the corners because they can flick up and remove themselves over the years. Allow at least ½ of an inch around all sides of the hole to achieve a perfect seal. Once you’ve cut the patch down, it’s time for the final step.
- Apply the patch over the adhesive. Hold it firmly against the surface, ensuring that it doesn’t move around. Make sure you review the recommendations for the adhesive and the patch to see how long they need to dry before using them. Push out any air bubbles since they’ll cause drying issues.
If you’re more of a visual learner, you can refer to the video below to witness exactly how all of these steps are performed.
Patching your inflatable paddle board can prove to be life-saving for your equipment. Nonetheless, no paddle board is invincible. If you’re worried about how much time you have left for your board, check out the final section below.
How Long Do Inflatables Last?
According to Pakaloa, most inflatable paddle boards last between 5 to 10 years (source). Could you imagine if you’d gotten rid of it after only a couple of years due to a small hole that could’ve been fixed? Up to a decade of use from a single piece of equipment is just about as good as it gets.
However, different factors can influence how long your paddle board will last. For example, if it’s made of cheap materials, you’ll definitely not get a decade out of it. You’ll know based on customer reviews as well as the price.
If you use your paddle board every weekend, you’ll probably wear it out quicker. As long as you’re having a good time and getting the most out of it, it’s not a big deal. That being said, improper long-term storage can be just as damaging as rough waves and water misuse.
When you put your paddle board away for the season, make sure you clean it. It’s essential that you prevent dust and dirt from drying out on the surface. They can weaken the material, inviting holes and tears right when you start up again.
Another suggestion is to always keep your eyes on the valves and valve caps. When you’re inflating a paddle board, these are the two most important parts. If they’re loose or breaking around the seams, your board won’t stay inflated for too long. The tear will keep getting worse until it’s irreparable.
Finally, always store your paddle board on a flat, dry, room temperature surface. If it stands for too long, it might lose air. Moisture and fluctuating temperatures can cause mildew, cracks, and weakened material.
Inflatable paddle boards are much tougher than you might think. Unlike traditional inflatable water equipment, such as innertubes or rafts, paddle boards can withstand the pressure of rocks and harsh waves. Taking care of your paddle board should be of more concern than possible punctures from outside forces.
Here’s a quick recap of the post:
- Innovations in fusion and dual layer core construction have made inflatable paddle boards near puncture resistant.
- You can prevent punctures by knowing the water, staying home during storms, and watching where you set the paddle board.
- Use a patch with Loctite to create a seamless repair.
- Inflatable paddle boards can last up to a decade before you have to get them replaced.