As a paddle board manufacturer, I get daily Google Alerts on various keywords important to my business. One of the Alerts I regularly receive are reviews/guides to the best paddle boards. After reading dozens of articles over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that most reviews of the “Best Paddle Boards for 20XX” are completely worthless.
Don’t get me wrong, there are sites like supconnect.com and outdoorgearlab.com that offer quality reviews, where products are evaluated by skilled users and tested and compared against each other. Unfortunately, most reviews don’t match that level of quality.
What are the signs that the review you clicked on might be worthless?
Poor Explanation of Review Procedures
In order for product rankings to be accurate each test sample has to be evaluated to the same standards, and tested to the same criteria. If the review doesn’t explain what it was testing and how it was tested, you should be skeptical, as the reviewer might have an agenda.
Available on Amazon
Let’s be perfectly clear, the best paddle board brands do not sell on Amazon. Brands such as Starboard, Wappa, Boardworks, JP, BIC, Naish, etc… sell to stores. If they sell online, its usually through their own website, or a dealer’s site.
The biggest sign that the review you’re reading is worthless, is when most of the paddle boards reviewed can be purchased on Amazon. Reviews like this are nothing but marketing clickbait. When a reader clicks on a link in these reviews, they are immediately redirected to Amazon. At this point the article writer receives an Amazon commission for any purchase made. The purpose of these types of reviews is to earn money for the writer by driving Amazon sales. It doesn’t matter if the reviewed products are any good. All that matters is that the reader goes to Amazon and buy something. Anything.
Like the Amazon example, many “best review” lists have links enabling the reader to purchase the products. This is just another marketing article where the writer who is an affiliate earns either a referral commission or drop ship sale. In other words, the best paddle boards on these lists are simply there because the reviewer has an opportunity to make some money.
Inflatable Paddle Boards Only
Unless the review is exclusively focused on inflatable paddle boards, no inflatable would be considered among the overall best paddle boards. The simple fact of the matter is that professionals and other top paddlers prefer hard boards for a reason. They are stiffer and glide better than inflatables, which makes them faster and more efficient. To have a list of the “Best Paddle Boards for 20xx” and not include hard boards is disingenuous.
Stand up paddle boarding has been the fastest growing water sport globally for over a decade. As with all rapid growth areas, some people are out to make a quick buck. Worthless paddle board reviews like the ones described, do a disservice to the paddle board industry and to shoppers trying to make a good purchase decision.
As a proud manufacturer of eco friendly bamboo paddle boards, I want people to love the sport. When people purchase an inferior product, they will have an inferior experience. I want everyone to love paddle boarding, and I don’t want people getting ripped off buying a crappy paddle board when they think they are getting the best available. It’s just bad business.
Feel free to reach out to the Wappa Paddle Boards team if you have any purchase questions. We want you to love paddle boarding, and buy the SUP that’s right for you.
How much wind is to much for paddle boarding? That’s a question, I never considered until the wind chased me out of the water in Mazatlán, Mexico.
I was paddle surfing in Mazatlán on a very windy day. The waves were gorgeous and except for two surfers, I had the water to myself. I soon found out why. The wind was blowing parallel to the beach making it difficult to paddle to the spot I wanted to surf. I kept getting blown several hundred yards past the surf spot which forced me to work very hard paddling into the wind to get to where I needed to go. After catching a couple of waves, I gave up. No wonder I had the water to myself.
I learned a few lessons that day to help me evaluate the conditions whenever it’s extremely windy.
Lesson 1 - Wind Direction
The direction of the wind relative to the shore line is very important. If you’re paddling on the ocean, there is almost always an on-shore wind which means that returning to the beach when you’re tired is easier because you have the wind at your back.
On shore winds are not a given on lakes. If the wind is blowing from the land towards the water, it will be easy to paddle out. Just remember that if the wind is directly at your back on the way out, you have to paddle directly into it on the way back.
Lesson 2 – Water Chop
Windy days leads to choppy water. Choppy water is never fun. Often, as the sun gets higher in the sky, the wind picks up, and the water gets choppy. Inexperienced paddlers receive good balance lessons in choppy water, but that’s about it. As an experienced paddle boarder, choppy water isn’t a problem, it just doesn’t make for the best paddle experience. Avoid choppy water by not paddling on windy days.
Lesson 3 – Geographic Surroundings
It might not seem windy once you get to the beach. Trees, buildings, hills and other obstructions may block the wind on the beach. Before heading out for a two-hour rip, paddle a couple of hundred yards from shore to see what the conditions are like on the water. Usually by 200 yards from the shoreline, land obstacles aren’t affecting the wind. At this point, you’ll have a better idea which way the wind will be blowing during your excursion.
Overcoming the Wind
Once you understand the wind’s direction and strength, adopt a plan that will enable you to have a fun and safe paddle session. Here are a few tips.
Paddle out in a direction that will not have you returning directly into a head wind. Paddle into the wind when you’re strong, or paddle into it on an angle.
Keep track of your beach location and plan the return trip to your spot so that the wind is at your back or side.
Pay attention to the direction of the swells and make them work for you. Ride the swell on return and go out with it in the direction it travels. Riding swells replaces a lot of paddling energy when heading into the wind.
If the wind shifts, and you have to paddle directly into it when returning to your beach spot, don’t worry. Take your time, and pretend you’re a sailboat. These boats do a maneuver called tacking when moving forward into a head wind.
To tack back to shore, you first have to know where your beach spot is located. Upon finding your spot, simply paddle on an angle towards the beach but not directly into the wind. You may need to paddle at a 45 degree angle or more from your spot. After a while, you will be much closer to shore but away from your spot. Reverse your direction and head past your spot again. You will notice that you are closer to shore again, but still away from your spot. Continue this zig zag paddling until you are close enough to shore that the wind is no longer a factor. Then you can paddle directly to your beach spot. The image illustrates different tacking methods to return to the beach spot (B).
With these lessons, it will almost never be to much wind to go paddle boarding. You might not have as much fun compared to glassy water or beautifully breaking waves, but you’re still out on the water having a paddle. You may have to adapt your plan and work a little harder at times, but you will be a better paddler for it.
No longer can wind be an excuse not to paddle. Evaluate the wind and conditions. Make your plan and go for it!
As a manufacturer, Wappa regularly receives the question “How much do paddle boards weigh”. We’re always glad to answer this question, because a paddle board’s weight is a good indicator of the technology, manufacturing techniques and materials that went into the construction of the product.
Depending on the board’s size and materials, a paddle board could weigh as little as 10.5 lbs or as much as 60 lbs. Simply put, a paddle board’s weight is almost directly connected to its price. The lighter and stronger the board, the more expensive it will be.
So why the weight discrepancy? How a paddle board is made, its size and the materials that go into it are primary factors in a SUP’s weight.
Ideally, a shopper wants to purchase the lightest, stiffest paddle board he or she can afford. If money is no object, a pure carbon fiber SUP is the way to go. Carbon fiber is super strong and super light. It’s a great technology for paddle boards, as long as you can afford the $3K price tag that come with it. A 7’ long all carbon fiber surf style paddle board can weigh as little as 10.5 lbs.
On the other end of the weight scale is injection molded shapes that are filled with foam. Often these paddle boards are often manufactured by kayak or boat companies. These boards are very durable and they only cost a few hundred dollars. However, these types of paddle boards weigh in around the 50 lb range for a 10’6” long SUP.
Look for paddle boards that are made using sandwich construction technology AND vacuum bagging. Sandwich construction is the layering and compressing of different layers of materials around the core. Vacuum bagging removes all excess epoxy applied during the sandwiching processing. This enables the board to lose excess weight without losing strength.
Just because a brand uses sandwich technology, don’t assume that the board has also been vacuum bagged. Cheaper products are often not vacuum bagged, which causes excess epoxy to set in the fiberglass layers, and increases board weight.
If you’re going to purchase a carbon fiber board, feel free to skip ahead. Carbon fiber replaces the layers of fiberglass, and most epoxy resulting in a lighter SUP.
Examine the layers of fiberglass your prospective paddle board may have. Cheap board may only have one or two layers of fiberglass. More expensive paddle boards will have more than 2 layers. Manufacturers use multiple layers of fiberglass and other materials to improve board stiffness and strength. However, don’t be fooled by a board that has 4+ layers of fiberglass. While stronger, each layer of fiberglass adds weight from the amount of epoxy needed for application.
That’s the key, finding a paddle board brand that is strong, light and affordable. It’s for this reason that Wappa manufactures exclusively in bamboo. Bamboo eliminates a layer of fiber glass and it’s accompanying weight without sacrificing the structural integrity of the paddle board.
Paddle Board Size
It should go without saying that with all other factors being equal, the longer and wider a paddle board is, the heavier it will be compared to a smaller board made the same way. Weight may vary by less than one pound for every foot in length depending on the manufacturing style.
The simple answer to the question “How much do paddle boards weigh?”, is that it varies. Weight is a good comparison factor. As stated earlier, a buyer should want the lightest, stiffest paddle board one can afford. However, I will say this, do not purchase a paddle board solely on price while ignoring its weight. Would you rather get exhausted pushing some heavy tug boat through the water or day, or would you prefer to be zooming along having a great time with a board that is half its weight but twice the price? Ultimately, it’s up to you.
“What should I wear”? was a common question I heard when I operated a stand-up paddle boarding school. While it was simple to tell my students what to wear, there is no easy answer to this question in a general article. It depends on where you live, your experience level, and the weather conditions on your paddle day.
Instead of recommending any single outfit for paddle boarding, I suggest you consider the following recommendations when planning your outing.
Dress for Your Experience Level
Novice paddlers tend to fall into the water more often than experienced riders. Just because you are going for a paddle with an experienced friend, it doesn’t mean you should be dressing like her. She may anticipate having an easy paddle and may dress accordingly because she is confident she won’t be falling. You on the other hand, should plan on falling, and getting wet. Dress appropriately.
Dress to Get Wet
Can you paddle in jeans and a sweatshirt? Sure can, but if you have ever tried swimming in wet heavy clothing, you know it’s not fun. Wear synthetic fabrics that are thin and drain the water quickly. These fabric types are light, dry quickly and keep you from getting cold. Bathing suits, board shorts, athletic apparel all work well in the water.
Dress for the Environment
The physical environment really dictates what you should be wearing. If you live in North America or Europe, board shorts, swimsuits and rash guards will be all you need in the summer months. In the spring or fall, shorts and a kayak jacket will work. Also consider wearing booties in the spring and fall months once the water gets cold again. Maybe it’s just me, but when cold water is constantly splashing on my feet in April or May, my tootsies get a little uncomfortable.
When it’s warm and sunny, a rash guard is a must. It keeps the sun off your back, and if you get hot, just jump in the water and your wet rash guard will keep you cool for the next 30 minutes of hard paddling.
Dress for Cold Water
Paddling in colder months when the water temperature is in the 40’s -60’s Fahrenheit should only be done with a wet suit. According to a University of Minnesota study a person loses body heat 25% faster in cold water (40°-60°F). Without protection, you could lose consciousness in as little as 30 minutes if you became stranded in the water.
Don’t Wear Constrictive Tops
Paddling requires your upper body to twist, bend and extend. Don’t wear clothes that are constricting or bind in the armpits. I have had several students over the years complain that they wore the wrong top and were uncomfortable.
Don’t Wear Anything You’re Not Prepared to Lose
I’ve learned this lesson the hard way. It doesn’t matter how good of a paddler you are, at some point you will have an unexpected fall. If you are not prepared to have your sunglasses, hat or phone sink to the bottom of the ocean, DON’T WEAR THEM PADDLE BOARDING. You might not lose them today or tomorrow, but you will lose them eventually.
Be Comfortable with Your Body
The most important thing is to be comfortable when your paddle boarding. If you would never wear a bathing suit, but are comfortable going into the water wearing a T Shirt and shorts. Do it! The simple fact is that you have enough to concentrate about just staying up and paddling. You don’t need to worry about being self conscious by the way you look.
I’ve developed these tips during my years of teaching. I’ve had students who were young and old, skinny and fat. I’ve learned that as long as people follow the tips I’ve listed above, they have had a good paddle boarding experience. If you keep what I wrote in mind, I’m sure you will have a great time too.
I’ve always been a fan of push ups, but I haven’t done them for a few years because I was either paddling, going to the gym, or building my company. When the COVID 19 lock down began, the beaches and the gyms closed. I couldn’t paddle and I couldn’t work out. I had to do something, and I wanted to be strong and ready for the day I could finally put a paddle board into the water. It was time to get back to push ups.
Push ups are almost the perfect body weight exercise, because the movement works so many muscles. But, will it be an effective exercise in getting my muscles ready for paddle boarding? As it turns out, push ups train just about every paddle boarding muscle.
Commonality between the two exercise types can be broken into two groups. Primary muscles which have direct importance to the exercise, and Secondary Muscles such as stabilizers.
Since push ups are such an effective paddle board training exercise, get ready for the upcoming season by taking on this 30-day challenge. It’s starts at 30 push ups and builds to 100. Not only does this quantity of repetitions build muscle endurance, it also improves cardio vascular strength. Even paddling for one hour requires hundreds of strokes. Building strength and endurance is important.
Don’t be intimidated by the number of push ups required. It seems daunting at first, but if you take it one day at a time, and one push up at a time, you will complete the challenge. Don’t worry about trying to do them all in a row. Break your daily goal into sets of 10. Before you know it, it will be day 30 and the challenge will be completed. You will be strong and ready to take on the water. Remember, YOU CAN DO IT!!
How much is a paddle board? Great question, and one that is often asked by people shopping for their first one.
The short answer to that question is that paddle board costs vary. You can purchase paddle boards for as little as a few hundred dollars or as much as several thousand, and everything in between.
Like so much else in life, when you buy a paddle board, you get what you pay for. Don’t expect a quality board that is light and durable for a few hundred dollars. They simply don’t exist. If you want to spend as little as possible on a paddle board, don’t be surprised that the board is wrecked by the end of its first summer.
Now, lets answer the question with a little more detail and take a look at what’s available at different price points. Please note that these prices are in USD.
$300-$500 Paddle Boards
At this price point, pretty much the only paddle boards available are cheap inflatables from brands that no one has ever heard of, and they can only be purchased online. Typically, these paddle boards are made with cheap PVC, lower levels of stitching, etc.…
Rigid board are rarely available at this price.
$500-$750 Paddle Boards
This price point is still dominated by inflatable paddle boards. However, rigid paddle boards are now available.
Most rigid paddle boards in this price range are cheaply made. At the lower end of the prices, you can purchase rigid paddle boards that are essentially a piece of foam with a couple of layers of fiberglass wrapped around it. It may have a stiff plastic base to help the board become stiffer. Unfortunately, the foam is easily punctured as I learned when I accidently pressed my thumb into one such board while at a prospective dealer (I ended up buying the board and gained a new dealer).
Other types of paddle boards at the lower end of this spectrum have hard plastic shells like a kayak which are filled with foam. While these boards are very durable, they are very heavy. Some weigh as much as 60 lbs. Not only are these boards tough to carry, you have to push all that extra weight through the water while paddling.
$750-$1000 Paddle Boards
Once you exceed the $750 threshold the quality of paddle boards starts to improve. Inflatable brands no one has ever heard of start to disappear. The inflatables in this price range are made with a better grade of PVC and has better stitching. These boards still puncture easy, so care must be taken when riding.
The number of rigid paddle boards available at this price point increases greatly. However, it’s this price point that shoppers for rigid paddle boards need to be the wariest. For many new shoppers, one paddle board looks like the next. A $750 SUP may look very similar and even be more visually appealing than a $1500 or $2000 paddle board. The difference will be in how they are made. Ask the salesperson about core densities, core stringers, materials, construction techniques and technology that went into the manufacture of each paddle board.
$1000-$2000 Paddle Boards
This price point is the segment of the market where Wappa Paddle Boards competes. SUPs in this price range are all quality products. Significant effort has gone into the production of these boards. They are not cheaply made, and they tend to be produced by companies that have a passion for paddle boarding or water sports in general.
There are still some inflatable paddle boards available in this price range. In fact, the best inflatables on the market are closer to the $2K end of this spectrum.
The vast majority of the boards in this price class are rigid boards. Rigid paddle boards are what all inflatables inspire to be. Why? Rigidity translates to balance, speed and power. If you love paddle boarding and plan on doing it for the foreseeable future. You should consider a rigid board in this price range.
$2000+ Paddle Boards
Once you hit $2K and more for a paddle board, the inflatable market disappears. Boards in this price segment are oriented for high performance. Carbon fiber is a dominant feature at this price point. If stronger lighter faster is what you need, then these are the boards for you. Competitive racers and paddle surfers are drawn to this end of the market, as is anyone who loves the best of the best. If you are the typical paddle boarder, this is probably more board than you’ll ever need.
Paddle board prices vary greatly. You can be on the water and paddling your own SUP for less than $300. However, you probably won’t want to be paddling that board for a couple of years. Cheap boards are slow, unstable and not very durable. So, if you plan on owning and using a paddle board for several years, you’ll probably be happier spending more on a better-quality product. Find something that will meet your current and future needs without breaking the bank. And remember, you always get what you paid for.
For the second year in a row, we're proud to be a sponsor for GET ON BOARD, a paddle boarding fundraiser for brain cancer near Niagara Falls, Canada.
Wappa's founder Layne Pennell is a cancer survivor (not brain cancer), and when he saw the opportunity to sponsor a SUP event aimed at defeating cancer, he had to get involved. The event continues to grow every year as do the proceeds.
Twenty-one-year-old Madeline Leblanc has continued to turn her passion of stand up paddle boarding into a fundraiser to honour two friends lost to cancer. Madeline bought her first board and started paddling in 2012, after she fell in love with the sport at age ten. In 2011 Julia Turner passed away at fifteen due to a brain tumor, and earlier that same year Lynn Lambert passed at thirty-seven.
As a result of the young girls passing’s Madeline created ‘On Board’ where she paddled 10km on July 10th 2014 down the Welland Canal in a little over two hours to raise funds for brain cancer research. Madeline raised a grand total of $4013.05 her first year hosting On Board to hand into the Canadian Cancer Society. Creating On Board was her way of saying goodbye to Julia and Lynn, and also her way of giving back to the cancer community. The impact this event has left on Madeline has driven her to run this event again for a fifth year in a row with raising over $23,000 to date.
On Sunday July 15th2018 Madeline will be paddling 5km’s down the Welland Canal while encouraging others to join her. At 10am the paddling journey will start at the Pen Financial Credit Union Flatwater Centre. Why not join her? What a great reason for a paddle.
Choosing the right paddle board length is imperative if you want to enjoy your SUP experience. Especially, if this is your first board. Anything to big or to small could lead to a negative experience and the end result could be a paddle board sitting unused in a garage collecting dust. I don’t want this to happen to you, so keep reading, gain some knowledge and go armed into your next paddle board shopping adventure.
Selecting Proper SUP Length
For most people, paddle board length shouldn’t be the primary shopping factor. In my opinion, all length does is provide guidance to the amount of displacement (volume) a board offers. Instead of shopping by length, try to find a paddle board that meets the following needs, and the length will take care of itself.
Factors That Shouldn’t be Considered
I chose to write about this topic because it’s a question that’s been asked to me many times. Not only by my students when I taught paddle boarding, but also by prospective customers. Below are some of the factors that customers think should be considered when determining SUP length, but in actuality, are not important at all.
So now that you know what to consider when selecting paddle board length, stop fixating it. Instead, consider what you want to do with your SUP, your weight and experience level. Once you have selected a board based on those needs, the length will take care of itself. Now, take this knowledge you just gained and go buy the paddle board that is right for you.
Wappa was created so people could make an affordable eco friendly purchase decision when they buy a paddle board.
If you love paddle boarding, you might experience soreness and pain in your shoulder area, lower back, as well as your wrists after stand up paddle boarding. One of the most important things that we neglect to do before any paddle boarding session is to warm up. The importance of stretching before any type of exercise, even ones that are seemingly low impact, cannot be stressed enough.
Stretching your muscles before and after you hit the water can prepare your muscles for the task ahead by warming them up which ultimately allows your level of flexibility to improve. It reduces the chances of sustaining injuries, as well as improve your recovery time after a hard day out in the water.
SUPing is a great way to spend time out in the water but most of all; you enjoy the added benefit of a full body workout. As paddleboarding works your entire body, it is vital that you warm up the whole body before you head out into the water. Additionally, you should also keep mobile during the process and take time to cool down after.
Also, be sure to take two to five minutes performing active stretches that mimic some of the movements and patterns you would make while paddle boarding. It will ensure that you’re ready to perform the intense activity to come. To sort you out, here are some paddle boarding warm-up tips:
The obliques, allow you to bend sideways and rotate your trunk. When these muscles are tight, it can inhibit your performance. Begin by standing with your legs shoulder width apart. Intertwine your fingers and extend your arms overhead, turning your palms up toward the ceiling. Inhale and contract your abs and glutes. Exhale while bending to one side, keeping your hips still throughout the exercise. Hold the peak position for 20 to 30 seconds, then return to starting position. Repeat the movement to the opposite side of your body.
Upper Back Twist
Place your paddle behind your neck and over the length of your shoulders and arms. Your arms should rest comfortably on your paddle’s shaft. Keep your feet a little wider than shoulder width. While standing straight and keeping your core tight, rotate the upper back and forth while still keeping your arms on the paddle. Repeat this 7 to 10 times to warm up your upper back, as well as your thoracic spine. The movement will prepare you for standing up for extended periods.
Lie down on your back with your shoulders, buttocks and heels all touching the ground. Your entire body weight should be supported by the ground. Lift your head so that your shoulders only come off the ground but don’t lift your head too high such that your back loses engagement with the floor. Then, lift the right leg to about a 90-degree angle and pause for about 3 seconds. Lower it and repeat that movement using the left. Repeat this movement engaging the lower abdominals 5 to 15 times.
Now that you’re warmed up, strap on your leash, grab your board and paddle and head out for a great time!
The Wappa Blog
Written by Wappa's founder Layne Pennell, the blog's aim is to educate and share his love of stand up paddle boarding with anyone interested in SUP.
Wappa vs. competition
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SUP for women
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