Purchasing a stand up paddle board for your family can be a daunting experience. Paddle boards are expensive, and many people are afraid to make the wrong decision when buying a SUP. Keep these five tips in mind during your shopping process to help you make the right purchase decision.
Consider the Size and Age of Your Family
Who is going to be riding your new SUP? Are your children still growing rapidly, or are they pretty much done? By asking yourself these questions, you are gathering baseline information that will guide you to the right size of paddle board you should be considering.
Obtain the weights of each rider. If you have growing children, predict their approximate weights five years from now. Now that you know how much each family member weighs, it’s time to look for a good, stable SUP. Remember this rule; the more displacement a paddle board has, the more stable it will be. Also, lighter weight riders will find any SUP more stable than heavier riders of the same ability.
Look for boards that have a stable displacement for the heaviest rider of your family. Lighter riders will find the board to be very stable, and the heaviest rider won’t become frustrated by having to ride a board that is less stable than his or her abilities would prefer.
Paddle board displacement is measured in Liters. Beginners up to 200 lbs will find paddle boards with 190L of displacement quite stable. Other beginner Weight/Displacement Ratios includes 225lbs/215L, 250lbs/235L.
Get a Durable Board
Stand up paddle boards are expensive and children don’t always take care of things the way they should. Polyurethane shelled paddleboards are strong, tough and take a beating, but they are heavy. Weights of 40 lbs+ are common for polyurethane SUPs. Fiberglass boards which make up the bulk of the market are much lighter then polyurethane ones, but they aren’t as durable. Better yet are bamboo stand up paddle boards. These boards utilize the strengths of fiberglass with the added advantages of bamboo.
Get a Board That is Easy to Carry
I can speak from personal experience that having to carry the board to the water and out every time a family member wants to go for a paddle quickly becomes tiresome. When shopping for a SUP, you need to consider its weight. The 42 lb polyurethane unit seems like a good idea, but if your teenage daughter can’t carry it, you’re in trouble. Look for boards that weigh 25 lbs or less for easy carrying by the whole family.
Another factor in easy carrying is the type of sup handle the board has. Inflatable paddle boards have a strap attached to the deck to help you grab hold. Traditional hard paddle boards will have either an embedded hand grip, or a SUP handle that extends out from the board to provide a 1-2” extended handle. Having used both, I highly recommend the embedded handle. It’s a natural fit that makes carrying a SUP very easy. I find the extended handle makes my fingers sore when I carry a board.
Consider Your Activity Location
Where do you plan on doing most of your paddling? Are you mainly going to be on lakes, or do you want to take up surfing on the ocean as well? If the majority of your paddling are going to be on inland lakes, get a nice all around board with a bit of a square tail. This will keep the board nice and stable on the flat water. If you plan on doing some surfing, look at getting a pin tail. It will help you with your carving.
Feel Secure in Your Purchase
As you already know, stand up paddle boards are expensive. Even the cheapest inflatable boards are several hundred dollars. Most paddle boards are $1000+, so you should feel secure with your purchase. While security means different things to different people, there are two factors that should help all people feel secure; warranty and quality of construction.
What sort of warranty is provided by the manufacturer or seller? Many paddle board brands only offer a thirty day warranty while some offer 1 year. What does each warranty include and exclude? Look for brands that offer as long a warranty as possible. I know I would be pissed if the SUP I spent $1500 on had an issue two months after I bought it and I had no warranty coverage. (Not saying that will happen).
How was the board made? Does the manufacturer show pride in the technology and materials that go into their product, or do they just sell based on price. As with anything, better quality materials and a better construction method leads to a better made product. Ask questions to determine what went into the making of the SUP you are considering.
By keeping these five tips in mind during your shopping process, I’m confident that you’ll buy the right stand up paddle board for your family. Take your time, shop around, and examine each brand through the lenses of these tips. If you have any questions regarding a prospective purchase, give me a call at 1-844- Go-Wappa (469-2772) and I will be glad to help.
So, you’re in the market for a new SUP paddle. Should you buy an adjustable paddle or a one piece? Considering paddle prices, this isn’t a consideration to be taken lightly. Quality paddles can cost a few hundred dollars, so it’s important to make the correct decision. Think about these 5 criteria during your decision making process.
Will multiple family members be using the same paddle? If so, you need an adjustable SUP paddle. The same goes for friends. If you plan on letting your friends use your equipment, it would be nice if they were to be able to paddle easily. Who knows, if they like it, they might buy their own SUP and join you.
Are you a beginner/novice paddler, or have you been paddle surfing for years, and love to do 20 KM races? Your experience level will contribute to the type of paddle you get.
New paddlers need to learn the proper paddle height, as then fine tune the shaft length to maximize comfort and stroke efficiency. It takes hours out on the water to find the exact length you like. Until you’ve found your sweet spot, stick to an adjustable paddle.
Will you be paddling regularly in the same basic water conditions, or will you be doing different activities all the time? If you plan on doing all of your paddling on calm lakes, your paddle length will not need to change. But, if you paddle surf, race or deal with chop on a regular basis, you will want to change the length of your paddle depending on water conditions and planned activities. Ideally, you would have one paddle for surfing and another for racing etc…, but not everyone can afford such luxuries.
Transferring human energy from the body through the paddle shaft and into the blade occurs most efficiently with a one piece SUP paddle. If you race, paddle surf or go for long rips, you should get a one piece paddle. Just make sure you cut it to the right size.
Storage and Transport
Storing a one piece paddle shouldn’t be a problem. If you have a spot for your broom, you have a spot for your paddle. However, transporting it may be a different issue. If you purchased an inflatable SUP because you have limited space in your car, an adjustable two piece or even three piece paddle might better meet your needs.
Planning on taking your paddle with you on holiday? An adjustable paddle makes things much easier at airports.
When shopping for your next SUP paddle, consider how your situation falls into these criteria and make the decision that’s right for you. Personally, I think everyone should have a good quality adjustable paddle. It provides great flexibility for your family and friends and you can adjust the length to meet your changing needs. Once you have a good adjustable paddle, then you can get that great one piece just for yourself.
Should you purchase an inflatable or hardboard stand up paddle board? If you are in the market for your first SUP, no doubt you have asked yourself that question. I know that I’ve been asked it dozens of times over the years by my paddle boarding students, friends, and even family members. I’m going to tell you what I tell them. Hardboards are better!
Yes, I know that this isn’t surprising coming from a guy who manufacturers hardboards, but give me a chance to explain. My belief of hardboard superiority was developed through personal experience with both platforms and from the experiences of others.
The goal of every inflatable stand up paddleboard is to be as rigid as a traditional hardboard. Why? A rigid board provides better power transfer. When you paddle, you extend energy through your body into the board. A softer platform absorbs some of this energy and decreases stroke efficiency. When your paddling around the shore, this doesn’t matter. However, if you want to paddle for 45 minutes or longer, it makes a big difference.
No matter how inflatable brands try to market their products, they are essentially selling you a big balloon. That’s why every inflatable SUP comes with a patch kit. At some point, the manufacturer anticipates that you will spring a leak.
Hardboards can be damaged too. They can sustain punctures but it takes more to puncture materials like fiberglass, bamboo, polyurethane or carbon fiber. Most often, these boards are affected by cosmetic damage like scratches and scrapes.
I’ve often had paddle boarding students claimed after a lesson on hardboard that they found the hardboard to be more stable than an inflatable they had previously tried. Initially, I discounted these statements as the result of a successful lesson, but I heard it too often to ignore. Besides, it makes sense. Hardboards are more stable because they offer better rigidity.
Ease of Use
How easy is it to use your SUP? Think about it. You have driven to the beach, the weather is great and you’re anxious to get on the water and go for a rip! If you own hardboard all you have to do is remove it from your vehicle’s roof, put the straps in your trunk, walk to the beach, strap on your leash and go. When your day is over, you carry the board back to your car, get your straps, attach your board to the roof, and off you go.
Now, if you have an inflatable, you have to take it out of the bag, unroll it, connect the pump, inflate the SUP, store the pump and storage pack, strap on your leash and go. At the end of the day, you have to, let the SUP dry, deflate it, roll it up, repack it, and go to the car. No thank you!
Transporting several stand up paddle boards on a vehicle’s roof is really quite easy once you learn how. However, you do need to purchase a rack, pads and straps. Quality equipment will likely cost $200+. Never mind the fact that you need to own a vehicle in the first place just to transport a hardboard.
Inflatable paddle boards fit into a large backpack. If you don’t own a vehicle, or like to take a SUP with you when you travel, inflatable paddle boards are the way to go.
Hardboard owners have to have a storage space that is at least as long as the board. Most first time paddle board owners purchase SUP’s between 10 – 12 feet in length. Does you residence have a storage space suitable for something that long?
On the other hand, if you have space in your bachelor apt for a large duffel bag and a paddle, an inflatable SUP will fit in nicely.
No doubt about it. As a general rule, inflatable stand up paddle boards can be purchase at substantially lower prices than hardboards. The cost to manufacture inflatable boards is much less than hard boards. Inflatables enable buyers on a limited budget to own their own board.
Overall, owning a traditional stand up paddle board is the right decision in my opinion. This platform offers better stability and durability than inflatable boards, and they are easier to use day in and day out. However, for people who live in an apartment, don’t own a vehicle, or have a limited budget the inflatable option is the way to go. If those factors aren’t a concern for you, stick to the hardboard. You won’t regret it.
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.