Bodyboarding is an exhilarating water sport that allows individuals to experience the thrill of riding waves. However, inflatable bodyboards are now on the scene, and people are wondering: are inflatable bodyboards any good?
Inflatable bodyboards, despite having some limitations, are known to be reliable. They even have some advantages over regular bodyboards, like portability.
In this article, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of inflatable bodyboards, and discuss their differences compared to regular bodyboards. This will give you a clear insight into whether an inflatable bodyboard is worth your money.
Advantages of Inflatable Bodyboards
Here’s why inflatable boards can be a good choice:
Inflatable bodyboards are highly portable due to their ability to be deflated and easily transported.
This makes them convenient for travel and storage. You can easily have a deflated bodyboard in your backpack, your car, or your suitcase if you’re traveling by bus or car.
2. Safety and Reduced Risk of Injuries
Inflatable bodyboards provide a cushioned surface, reducing the risk of unnecessary injuries during strong waves. Since the surface is supported by the inflated air, you should expect a fairly lighter hit if an unexpected wave throws the board at your head.
That makes them especially suitable for beginners and children who are learning the sport and may experience falls and collisions while gaining balance and control.
3. Durability and Board Control
Since these inflatable boards will be exposed to water and other elements, they should be made from high-quality materials.
They often incorporate drop stitch technology, ensuring rigidity and stability. This allows for enhanced board control and maneuverability, providing a reliable platform for riding waves.
One thing remains true, though. No matter how durable inflatable bodyboards can be, they won’t be as durable as rigid ones.
While high-end bodyboards can be expensive, the average price of inflatable bodyboards is fairly lower than the average of their regular counterparts.
This makes them a more budget-friendly price for those who are new to the sport or looking to try it out.
5. Versatility and Customization
Inflatable bodyboards come in a variety of sizes, catering to different skill levels and providing options for children as well.
They can be customized with features like textured foam deck padding, sturdy grip handles, and custom designs, allowing riders to personalize their experience.
Be careful, though. The more accessories you want, the more you’ll have to pay.
Disadvantages of Inflatable Bodyboards
Unfortunately, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Here’s why you may not want an inflatable bodyboard.
1. Performance Limitations
In comparison to rigid bodyboards, inflatable bodyboards may have slightly reduced performance, particularly in larger waves.
One of the biggest advantages regular bodyboards have over inflatable ones struggle with is the duck dive. This move allows you to safely dive under a high wave and avoid being tipped over.
As such, since the flexibility of inflatable boards may impact speed and responsiveness, they are more suitable for small to moderate wave conditions.
2. Maintenance and Care
Inflatable bodyboards require proper maintenance and care to ensure their longevity. Regular inspections for potential leaks and the use of repair kits are necessary to address any damage that may occur during use.
Further, since inflatable bodyboards can be made from different materials, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to avoid doing more damage to the board you’re fixing.
3. Inflation and Deflation Process
While portability is great, inflatable bodyboards rely on inflation and deflation to utilize that portability, which could be a hassle to some people.
Inflation may take some time and require an air pump for those who are not capable or patient enough to inflate it by mouth.
4. Environmental Impact
Some inflatable bodyboards may be made from materials that contain Di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), which is known to cause cancer and reproductive harm.
The reason this material is used is because of its flexibility. Fortunately, it’s not used as frequently as before. Still, it’s essential to research and choose products made from eco-friendly and non-toxic materials to minimize the environmental impact.
5. Temperature Sensitivity
This doesn’t just apply to bodyboards, but all inflatable items as well. Some people may leave their inflated items without deflating them for convenience.
While that may seem like a good idea at first, the temperature change could damage the outer layer of your bodyboard. Further, especially in winter, the amount of air inside will shrink, and the performance will suffer.
Inflatable Bodyboards vs. Regular Bodyboards: A Quick Comparison
Inflatable bodyboards have their advantages, but it’s important to understand how they differ from regular bodyboards. Regular bodyboards, often made of rigid materials, offer enhanced performance and responsiveness in larger waves.
They are favored by experienced riders seeking more advanced maneuvers and increased speed. However, regular bodyboards may be less portable and require additional storage space.
In other words, inflatable bodyboards focus more on versatile and portable use for small to medium waves, while regular bodyboards sacrifice portability for increased performance on strong waves.
Choosing the Right Inflatable Bodyboard
When selecting an inflatable bodyboard, consider factors such as your skill level, intended wave conditions, and personal preferences. Evaluate the board’s size, construction, features, and user reviews to ensure it aligns with your needs and riding style.
The Bottom Line
Inflatable bodyboards offer distinct advantages in terms of portability, safety, and durability. They are a convenient and user-friendly option for riders of all skill levels, particularly beginners and children. While they may have some limitations in larger waves, their ease of transport and reduced risk of injuries compensate for it.
When choosing an inflatable bodyboard, consider factors like size, construction, and user reviews to enhance your bodyboarding experience. Prioritize maintenance and eco-friendly materials to ensure longevity and minimize environmental impact. Inflatable bodyboards provide a worthwhile choice for water sports enthusiasts, combining convenience, reliability, and thrilling surf sessions.