As a paddle board manufacturer, I love it when people ask “What is the best paddle board for beginners?” It tells me that the person is being smart and making an informed purchase decision.
Like any activity, having the proper equipment helps the participant learn faster, perform better and have more fun. Stand up paddle boarding is no different.
The best paddle board for a beginner is a rigid/hard board with an All Around shape. Let me explain why.
ALL AROUND STYLE
There are several different styles of paddle boards available in the marketplace. Some, like surf style boards look wicked and are eye catching in the store. Others are long, narrow and sleek looking like they will slice through water. While these paddle boards perform as awesome as they look, these styles aren’t the board for you as a beginner.
Beginners need an All Around shaped paddle board because this style of board is good at just about everything, but not great at any one thing. This style tends to be very stable which is what beginners need. To help with stability, look for boards that are at least 32” wide. The wider the board, the more stable it tends to be.
Because All Around boards are good at most things, you will get several years of use out of it before feeling the need to purchase something more specialized. As you gain experience, you may start to paddle surfing or long paddle sessions. Once you know what you love doing, then you can purchase your second, more specialized SUP.
RIGID IS BETTER
Despite the popularity of inflatable paddle boards, most inflatables are simply inferior to rigid paddle boards. The simple fact is that every inflatable paddle board strives to have the rigidity of a hard paddle board, but almost none come close to matching stiffness.
A rigid SUP offers better stability and balance. When standing on most inflatables, there is a slight bend in the board where the paddler stands making it more difficult to stand and maintain balance.
Rigid paddle boards tend to have better glide through the water. Once you’re up and going, do you really want to make it harder on yourself by using a less efficient SUP?
I have steered away from suggesting any particular brands as being “the best paddle board for beginners”. I will leave that to the various “Best of…” sites that direct readers to Amazon products.
Instead of suggesting any one brand of rigid All Around paddle board, I will simply say that quality boards start at $1000 USD. If you spend more than that, there are many quality brands that will meet a beginner’s needs. Have fun shopping!
Are bamboo paddle boards any good? As a manufacturer of bamboo paddle boards, I strongly believe in using bamboo in paddle board construction. So… the short answer to that question is YES, bamboo paddle boards can be good.
BENEFITS OF BAMBOO
There are many reasons to use bamboo in paddle board construction.
A quality bamboo paddle board makes use of the advantages that bamboo provides. Because it’s such a strong material, a company like Wappa uses a layer of bamboo to replace a layer of fiber glass. Doing this, decreases the weight of the SUP without losing any of the board’s strength. In fact, bamboo is twice as strong as fiberglass!
Using bamboo also helps to lower a paddle board’s environmental footprint. Unlike fiberglass, bamboo is an organic product that can be harvested every three years. Bamboo can be grown in degraded soil, and it helps to prevent soil erosion. Bamboo also decreases a board’s eco footprint because it reduces the amount of epoxy required during construction.
Now that I’ve extolled the virtues of using bamboo in paddle boards, it’s time to urge some caution. Simply put, not all bamboo paddle boards are the same.
When shopping online, it’s easy to think one bamboo paddle board is as good as the next one. Afterall, from an image they pretty much all look the same. As a result, many shoppers purchase a bamboo SUP based on lowest price and they often end up disappointed.
Reasons for Disappointment
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
When looking for a bamboo paddle board, here are a few suggestions for things to consider as you progress through your decision-making process.
Paddlers looking for a paddle board that is lightweight yet strong, need to consider a bamboo paddle board from a quality brand like Wappa. Next to carbon fiber, bamboo offers the best strength to weight ratio in the market place. If you have to have the best of the best, go with carbon fiber. It’s a superior material to bamboo. However, if you want the next best thing for less than half the price, then you should consider bamboo. Nothing else compares.
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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