What kind of paddle board do I need? Now that is a loaded question. Answers will vary depending on the questioner’s paddling skill level, the paddling environment and whether or not you are buying or renting. For purposes of this article, the assumption will be that the questioner is a first-time buyer.
Several different styles of paddle boards are available in the marketplace. Most styles are designed to perform a specific function. There are touring paddle boards which are long and narrow. They are designed to cut easily through water and to be paddled for several miles. Wave style paddle boards were created to maximize the surf experience. Race paddle boards, even more narrow than touring boards are designed for racing.
If you’re a first-time buyer and you’re asking the question “What kind of paddle board do I need?”, the answer is an All-Around paddle board.
Stable and maneuverable, All Around paddle board shapes are a great first board. All Around boards are designed to be versatile. They function well in most water conditions including small waves.
You will use an All-Around paddle board for years. Even as your skills progress and you purchase more specialized boards, you will still paddle your All Around. Plus, it’s the perfect board for family or friends. When people close to you want to try the sport, they will be able to use your stable All Around, while you use one of your specialized boards.
INFLATABLE OR HARD BOARD
Now that you know what style of paddle board you need; they next decision is determining if you need an inflatable or rigid paddle board. As long as you don’t live in a high-rise or have limited storage capability, you’ll want to get a hard board.
Without going into details, hard paddle boards are simply better than inflatables. Their rigidity makes it easier for the board to glide, and rigid boards also enable more power transfer from the body through the stroke. If you would like to learn more about the difference between hard and inflatable paddle boards, check out this article.
If you have to take an elevator to get to your apartment or condo, or if you don’t have a vehicle, then you should be getting an inflatable paddle board. It will just make your paddling life easier.
To sum everything up, a first-time buyer needs to purchase an All-Around style of paddle board. Whether you get an inflatable or rigid paddle board is up to you. If you have the storage space and ability to transport a hard board, get it.
Are cheap paddle boards any good? No, cheap paddle boards are not any good.
QUALITY ISN’T CHEAP
Simply put, a quality product can’t be built cheaply. A product’s retail price is based upon all the costs involved into getting it to the consumer. Everything from research and development, to manufacturing, marketing, distribution and profit are included in any product’s MSRP. Often, the largest aspect that affects MSRP is the manufacturing cost.
Considering that the cheapest of cheap paddle boards sell for approximately $300, how good were the materials and craftsmanship that went into that board? As a manufacturer, I know that to make a profit at that sales price, not much money was spent on building a quality product.
BETTER QUALITY MATERIALS COST MORE
The simple fact is more expensive brands charge more because they have spent more to produce their products.
Components such as cores and epoxies for hard boards or stitching levels and number of baffles for inflatables will affect a paddle board’s cost. As will the technology that is involved in making the board. Cheaper paddle boards don’t use the superior sandwich technology or vacuum bagging. While the cheaper boards may look similar, they will not be as strong or as light as the more expensive board made with advanced technology.
Wappa could reduce it’s manufacturing costs by almost 50% if we followed some of the manufacturing practices and used the same materials to build our boards that cheaper brands use. Unfortunately, we wouldn’t be able to maintain 100% customer satisfaction and have our owners repeatedly tell us how great their board looks, and how much they love it.
YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR
While the previous paragraph sounds like a marketing spiel, it isn’t. At Wappa, we’ve realized, that you get what you pay for. We’ve tried the cheaper materials and production methods. They just don’t look as good or perform as well over time. After building cheap prototypes, and letting our testers use them day in and out for two years, it was clear that over time, the cheaper boards didn’t perform as well as the better quality Wappas.
At the end of the day, any paddle board is better than no paddle board. If all you can afford is a cheap paddle board, do it! However, if you can save a little longer spend the money and get a quality board. It will be worth the wait.
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.
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