Inflatable Board Thickness
2018 marks a point of demarcation for Badfish. After 7 years in business this year is the first we are producing a lineup of boards totally independently, after 6 years of working with a Licensee. Of course we have always built customs and special projects, but the 2018 lineup is a 100% Badfish.
We have been working hard over the past year to develop these new boards and a lot of thought, prototyping, testing and revisions have gone into the finished products. Given that I want to spend a little time over the next few weeks introducing you to some of the key design features that we are really excited about.
One of the most obvious features of most of our inflatable boards this year is they are 5” thick. Many of our past models like the Hole Shot and IRS were 6” thick. In fact most inflatable SUP’s on the market are built with 6” drop stitch. So why 5”? Of course the short answer is we think it’s better, but let me describe why.
When you make a dropstitch paddleboard you can’t make a right angle on the rail or really any angle at all like you can with an epoxy, shaped, paddleboard. All inflatable rails end up being a radius as the material is pulled around and joined. The thicker the board, the bigger that radius. The impact of that bigger radius is decreased stability. For example if a board is 33” wide, but 6” thick the radius will start further back on the bottom of the board meaning the effective flat area on a 6” thick board is smaller than a 5” board of equivalent width. With a 5” thick board you can make a slightly narrower board that paddles better, without sacrificing stability. This means a board like the Monarch will feel really stable in flatwater without paddling like a slug.
Another reason for 5” thick over 6” is volume. A board like the Monarch at 11’ long, 5” thick and 34” wide is a ton of volume. The weight capacity of board that size is huge. When you paddle a 6” thick board of similar dimensions almost everyone who isn’t professionally sumo wrestling will be paddling a board with too much volume for them, which contributes to reduced stability as well. The last reason for 5” thickness is surfing performance. While no inflatable can surf like a shaped hard board, the shorter radiusand thinner rail of a 5” thick rail means you can get more of the rail in the water when you initiate a turn on a wave and that makes a huge difference in performance on both ocean and river waves. That is why we downsized the IRS to 5” thickness and the Surf Traveler is also designed with 5”. Of course the ISK8 turns even harder because it is made from 2.75” drop stitch, but a paddle board at that thickness would not float many full grown humans. All that being said there is absolutely a place for 6” thick inflatable boards and we kept the Rivershred at 6” mainly because in the case of whitewater paddling the increased rail radius is actually a performance enhancement. When you are river running being able to roll the board up on to a rail when crossing eddy lines is absolutely critical and the bigger radius of the 6” board facilitates this.
So when you are choosing an inflatable SUP be sure to ask if the design was well thought out and offers performance for the type of paddling you are going to be doing and one key consideration is thickness. See you on the water! –Mike Harvey, Salida, CO