With the explosion of stand up paddle boarding, many brands of SUP have appeared in the market. You can buy online, at surf shops or sporting goods stores. You can even get them at Costco. Prices vary from as little as $500 to over $3000. There are a lot of options to choose from at a lot of different prices. If you’re thinking of buying a paddleboard, it helps to know what qualities make a superior SUP. Once you’re armed with this knowledge, it will be easier for you to separate the wheat from the chaff and make a great purchase decision.
A first rate stand up paddle board isn’t heavy. I know that heavy is a relative term, but if a SUP weighs 40 lbs and is 10 feet long, that is just way too heavy. Boards that weigh this much tend to be in the low price end of the market. Heavy boards are more difficult to carry and lift onto your roof rack, and they take more energy to push through the water. A superior paddle board should weigh less than 25 lbs for a 10’ board.
Even if you buy the cheapest SUP in the market, you are still spending several hundred dollars, so it’s important to get a unit that is going to last. Polyurethane shelled paddleboards are strong, tough and take a beating, but they are heavy. Even top brands like BIC produce 10’ boards that weigh 35 lbs. Fibreglass boards which make up the bulk of the market are much lighter then polyurethane ones, but they aren’t as durable.
Strength to Weight Ratio
This is the sweet spot SUP buyers should be looking for. You want a paddleboard that is as strong as possible while being as light as possible. Currently, the material with the best strength to weight ratio in the marketplace are carbon fiber boards. Carbon fiber isn’t the most durable material in the market, but SUPs made from it are stronger and lighter than fiberglass boards which is why you pay the big money for carbon fiber. In my opinion, if you can’t or won’t pay $2500+ for a carbon fiber board, get one made with real bamboo. Bamboo is a good middle ground between fiberglass SUPs and carbon fiber ones. It’s almost as strong as carbon fiber which adds strength, and it reduces weight because less fiberglass is used.
Superior Construction Methods
The manufacturing process plays an important role in both the weight and durability of your board. Before you buy a SUP, find out how it’s made. Assuming you are looking at fibreglass or bamboo paddle boards, look for manufacturing techniques such as sandwich construction and vacuum bagging. Learn about the different layers of fibreglass, and where they are laid. Just remember more layers of fibreglass means that while the SUP is stronger, it is also heavier, and you want that sweet spot of the strength to weight ratio.
High Caliber Materials
When Wappa began product testing, we tried paddle boards from eight different manufacturers. Despite having the boards made to the same basic specifications, the manufacturers used different materials to make their products. It didn’t take long for to quickly see that as with all things in life, you get what you pay for. Although all the boards looked great when they came out of the box, they didn’t perform as well in the long run. For example, a couple of boards discolored in the sun and others had bamboo paper applied instead of real bamboo (you can really tell the difference). Ask the salesperson what the boards are made of. Quality brands are happy to tell their stories.
Now that you have a little more knowledge about what to look for in a stand up paddle board, it’s time to start looking. Determine what you budget is, and then look for brands that have the traits of a first rate SUP. Once you have found a board in your price range that meets these traits, you have a winner!
If you have any questions about the qualities that make a superior stand up paddle board, feel free to give me a call at 8444-Go-Wappa (469-2772), and I will be happy to answer your questions. Until then, happy shopping!
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.