If it is a SUP board, there are very high odds I have paddled it. Give me two boards to compare with as little of a few mm’s of spec different and I can tell them apart. Point being, when I test boards, I am running constantly comparing it to the database in my mind of boards I have paddled and pay attention to small details.
Comparing the V-max Air to the V-max rigid – there are a huge number of similarities, but also a huge number of differences. First of all, the Air is inflatable – there is no mistaking that. While stiff – you can tell it is inflatable (softer feel – but very stiff). The softer feel is almost comforting as in rougher conditions, it isn’t as rough of ride as the rigid board can me in steep and close tougher chop. A few insights into a different aspects of the two boards for comparison follows below.
Transport – No question the Air takes it. I drive a pretty small car – and while I do often carry several boards on the roof, the back pack size of the Air in the back seat was a nice treat instead of the constantly howling coming from the roof rack with a rigid board (or two) on racks.
Durability – No question the Air wins – the rigid V-max while tough – if dropped or impacted into something like a rock is most likely going to be a little worse for the wear. The Air, don’t set out to abuse, but tick it off a rock on the way into the water it will just bounce off.
Glide and tracking – I would call it a dead heat. Both average about 12-14 stokes per side. The rigid does crisper on the first couple of strokes and to accelerate, but once at speed both maintain momentum equally well.
Going downwind – This is the one I have to give to the rigid version, but barely and with explanation. Getting a glide on the rigid version takes nothing more than putting yourself in front of the piece of swell and let the board do the rest. The Air, as it does need an extra stroke or two to get the board up to speed, does take a little extra power in the first stroke or two. But, rewind to the rock I hit on the beach – and realize that if I was using the rigid, that I would not have even been on the water to catch that swell, that took one more stroke to catch, as I would have spent the day fixing the board, and I quickly forget that it took one more stroke to catch the swell.
Looks – Tough call. I like red, and I like bamboo, so I like them all and graphics tastes are pretty much down to the individual. However, both options are very attractive.
Overall – When I factor on the convenience and the toughness, the Air V-max is my preferred version of the V-max. For sure still a place in my board quiver for the rigid version. I will use both the Air and the rigid, but most likely the Air will become a fixture in my car just for the flat out reason that the performance is so similar, the Air is so much tougher, the Air is so much more portable and convenient. Factor in the price difference between the Air and rigid – very tough to find any reason not to use the Air.
Check out this video of the V-Max Inflatables. Great for your next family vacation to the lake or the ocean!