The 3 Types of Paddle Boards You Should Know

Which type of SUP is right for you

Before you make the decision to purchase a stand up paddle board (SUP), there are 3 different types of paddle board constructions that you should know about.

The 3 types of SUPs:

  1. Epoxy
  2. Inflatable
  3. Soft top


What makes each type unique from one another? It’s simple. They are all constructed of different materials, which means each type of paddle board will perform slightly different from one another. Depending on your lifestyle and needs, one type of paddle board may be better suited for you.

Different types of paddle boards

The 3 standup paddle board constructions


This is your traditional hard paddle boards. Epoxy boards are typically constructed of EPS foam and multiple layers of fiberglass and epoxy resin to prevent dings. Ultimately, EPS construction creates a lighter, more durable hard paddle board.

Epoxy paddle boards


Inflatable paddle boards have been rising in popularity over the years because they are the easiest boards to store at home and transport to and from the water. All you have to do is pump up your board to the suggested PSI and you’re ready to paddle. Surprisingly enough, inflatables are just as rigid as epoxy boards because they are constructed with drop stitch technology and high-density PVC layers that creates a solid SUP.

Inflatable paddle boards

Soft top

The same idea as a soft top surfboard – a soft top paddle board’s front deck is constructed with a spongy, soft material. However, the core of the board is created out of strong & sturdy materials. The core is constructed of an EPS blank and has a stringer for rigidity. ISLE’s Soft Tops have an additional layer that is laminated with fiberglass and epoxy resin – Something other companies do not have.

Check out our SUP Construction Guide

Soft top SUPs

Pros and Cons of Epoxy paddle boards


  • The most agile type of paddle board
  • Has the best glide, tracking and control
  • Best choice for SUP surfing, SUP racing and long-distance expeditions
  • Provides optimal performance compared to every other type of paddle board


  • The most difficult board to transport
  • Least durable type of paddle board (if you drop it, it is vulnerable to dings & scratches)
  • Need to have enough storage space in your home and a large vehicle or external racks to transport to & from your home
  • Typically, the most expensive type of paddle board

Perfect for…

SUP surfing in Baja

Pros and Cons of Inflatable Paddle Boards


  • The easiest type of paddle board to transport and store because when deflated, it rolls up to the size of sleeping bag
  • Inflatables are the most durable type of paddle board – if your drop it, it won’t ding or scratch
  • You can travel with it anywhere (even on an airplane!)
  • Typically, more affordable than epoxy paddle boards


  • You will need to inflate and deflate your board before & after you go paddling (unless you leave it inflated which is fine too)
  • Epoxy paddle boards perform better than inflatables (but not by that much!)

Perfect for…

  • Those who travel often and want to bring their boards with them
  • First-timers
  • Those who have limited storage space in their car/home

Inflatable paddle board Lake Havasu Arizona

Pros and Cons of Soft SUPs


  • The most affordable type of paddle board
  • An excellent choice for your kids or as a designated family board
  • Falling on the board’s deck will not hurt


  • Epoxy paddle boards perform better than soft SUPs
  • Weigh more than epoxy and inflatables
  • Soft top SUPs are typically limited to one design whereas epoxy and inflatables have multiple shapes & sizes giving you more options to choose from

Perfect for…

  • The frugal paddler
  • Kids or a family lake/beach house
  • Recreational cruising
  • Those who have a hard time taking care of nice things

Soft top SUP

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Posted in Gear Guides, Paddle Board Lifestyle
Doug Robichaud - Doug is the Marketing Content Manager at ISLE Surf and SUP and has been surfing and paddle boarding for over 10 years now. With a degree in English/Journalism, Doug has been an outdoor adventure content writer for over 4 years. Since joining the ISLE team, he has become a paddle board expert in all topics ranging from products, basic tutorials, tips & tricks, SUP safety and new trends.