ARE INFLATABLE PADDLE BOARDS WORTH IT?
There is no doubt that inflatable paddle boards have taken the marketplace by storm, but are they worth it? As a rigid paddle board manufacturer, the automatic answer is a firm NO. However, that would be too easy. Instead, let’s analyze inflatable paddle boards and try to answer the question.
Inflatable paddle boards can range in price from a couple of hundred dollars for a no-name brand, to over two thousand dollars for the top brands’ best models. Determining why the great variance in price is an article in itself and is best left for another day. However, like rigid boards, technology, materials and craftmanship have significant roles in a product’s price.
ADVANTAGES OF INFLATABLE PADDLE BOARDS
COST. Inflatable paddle boards can be purchased very cheaply. For as little as two hundred dollars with free shipping, you can be a proud owner of an inflatable SUP.
EASY ENTRY INTO THE SPORT. Because inflatables are so cheap, a new buyer can take up paddle boarding without much of an investment. For buyers unsure if they’ll like the sport long term, the cost effectiveness of cheap inflatable paddle boards can be attractive.
EASY TO STORE. Inflatables come rolled in a backpack sized bag. They are easy to store and can be kept in a closet when not in use.
EASY TO TRANSPORT. Because inflatables are stored in backpacks, they are easy to transport. From the trunk of a car to an airline, you can take your inflatable paddle board almost anywhere with relative ease.
DISADVANTAGES OF INFLATABLE PADDLE BOARDS
LACK STIFFNESS. All inflatable paddle boards strive to be as stiff and rigid as hard paddle boards. Rigidity assists in rider balance. More importantly, it helps to transfer the rider’s energy into speed and stroke efficiency.
POOR PERFORMANCE. Inflatables don’t perform as well in the water as rigid paddle boards. Being less stiff, more energy is required by the paddler on an inflatable to travel the same distance at the same speed. The bottom of the paddle board needs to be considered as well. Cheap inflatables tend to have a flat bottom and poor performance. Rigid boards, and top end inflatables have concave or double concave bottoms for improved speed, agility and glide.
PRONE TO PUNCTURE. Let’s face it. Inflatable paddle boards are prone to puncture. That’s why so many of them come with puncture repair kits. Rigid paddle boards are not sold with repair kits. Enough said!
LESS CONVENIENT. While inflatable paddle boards are easier to store and transport than rigid boards, they are also less convenient to use.
Before inflatable SUP owners can start their paddle, they have to do the following:
At the end of the day, not only does the inflatable SUP owner have more tasks to do to pack up compared to the rigid SUP owner, the inflatable owner also has to wait for their board to completely dry before repacking it. Otherwise, mold and mildew will grow.
LONGEVITY. Because of how inflatable are made and what they are made from, they simply do not have the lifespan of a rigid board. Glued and stitched together like fabric, inflatable boards just aren’t built as strongly as rigid boards.
CAN YOU TRUST IT? To be water safe, it is always important to think of worst-case scenarios and be prepared.
For experienced paddle boarders, it is common to paddle far way from shore. Unlike beginners who may stay a couple of hundred feet from shore, experienced paddle boarders often paddle as far as a couple of kilometers or a mile off shore. If for some reason an inflatable paddle board starts to lose air, it may sink before reaching shore leaving the paddler to swim to land. Rigid paddle boards could snap in half and still provide flotation assistance to the paddler.
SO… ARE INFLATABLE PADDLE BOARDS WORTH IT?
Inflatable paddle boards are less expensive than rigid boards. However, the intrinsic nature of their design means that all except the best inflatables perform worse than a rigid paddle board and are less capable in more dynamic water conditions. This is trading performance for price.
Inflatable product longevity is inferior compared to rigid boards. A rigid board may last decades with proper care. No inflatable will last that long.
After looking at the advantages and disadvantages of inflatable paddle boards, it becomes clear that inflatables are only worth it for people who are more interested in price over performance. If you’re unsure if this sport is for you, then an inflatable may be a good choice for your first board. However, if you want to enjoy paddle boarding for all it has to offer, then it is better to spend more money and invest in a quality hard board. Better performance will lead to more fun.
HOW DO I CHOOSE A SUP SIZE?
The question “how do I choose a SUP size” is typical of first time SUP buyers. Paddle boards come in many different shapes and sizes. From as short as seven feet, they can range as long as 21 feet and everything in between. For a first-time buyer, the plethora of options can be confusing. Make the wrong choice and you can end up with a board you hate. Make the right choice, and you will be loving your SUP for years.
To best answer the subject question, it is important to first understand how paddle boards are sized.
HOW ARE SUPS SIZED?
Almost every company will advertise the dimensions of a paddle board. A SUP’s length, width and thickness are measured in inches or centimeters. An example is 10’6” (L) x 32”(W) x 4.5” (T).
Typically, longer paddle boards have more volume and can carry heavier riders while maintaining stability. However, like most things, there are exceptions to this rule. As a result, a paddle board’s dimensions are not the best way to choose a SUP.
Volume is the best variable in determining SUP size. Volume is measured in liters. A board’s volume tells you how much water the board displaces when it’s placed in the water. The higher the volume, the more weight a board can support before it will submerge.
Higher volume paddle boards offer greater stability then lower volume ones. First time buyers may be tempted to purchase a paddle board with more volume than they need because of the initial stability provided. While the extra size is appreciated in the first few months, after the rider gains experience, the extra volume which was initially loved becomes a hindrance, as it’s needlessly pushed through the water.
SIZE VARIES ON ACTIVITY
Manufacturers create different paddle board sizes to do more than match rider weights. Paddle boards have different sizes depending on the activity they are designed to do. Surf style boards are much shorter then touring and racing SUPs. The need to be short and agile, while a touring board is several feet longer, making it easier to travel in a straight line. A racing board will be even longer so it can easily slice through the water.
If you plan on doing any particular type of activity, get a board to match your goals. Once you choose a style category, you then just have to match a board’s volume to your weight and you will have a good fit.
YOUR BODYWEIGHT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR
Your weight will be a primary factor for the size of paddle board you need.
The ratio of bodyweight to board volume largely determines a paddle board’s stability. As a rider’s body weight approaches the board’s maximum rider weight, the less stable the SUP will be. The less a person weighs, the smaller the volume required to maintain an equal level of stability.
Your skill level also needs to be considered when choosing a SUP size. If you have several hours of experience paddling under your belt, you may feel very comfortable on a paddle board with less volume and less stability. As paddlers gain experience, their balance improves, and their need to maximize the volume/weight ratio is not as important.
Select a board’s volume with the idea that your skill set will rapidly improve. What offers prefect stability today, might feel like an overly cumbersome yacht in a year or two.
HOW DO I CHOOSE A SUP SIZE?
Now that the thinking behind SUP sizes have been explained, lets get to the steps to make a great selection.
By gathering the suggested information, you’ll have a better idea as to the style of boards that will work best for your goals. A good quality paddle board will last for years. Making the right size decision will help to keep you loving it for just as long.
WHAT IS THE MOST STABLE TYPE OF PADDLE BOARD?
What is the most stable type of paddle board? This is a common question for many first-time paddle board shoppers. Rather then supplying a simple answer, lets first looks at the issues that factor into the answer.
A paddle board’s stability is based upon three aspects of its basic shape; Length, Width and Volume. The longer and wider the paddle board, the more stable it will be.
A paddle board’s volume is directly connected to the size of the board. Volume is measured in Liters and it signifies how much water is displaced by the board when it enters the water. Generally, the bigger the paddle board, the more volume it will have.
There are four main types or styles of paddle board: All Around, Wave/Surf, Touring and Race.
All Around paddle boards are aptly named. They are shaped to be good at all types of SUP activities but don’t excel at any one style. By their nature, they are designed with stability in mind.
Wave paddle boards are stable as well, but become less stable as they get smaller and narrower. However, larger wave boards are quite stable and should be considered if there is a possibility to catch some waves in your future.
A specialized design. Touring boards may be 2-4 inches narrower then than an All-Around type of SUP, making the board feel less stable to beginner riders. There is simply less room for your feet to get comfortable. On the plus side of the equation, Touring boards are longer than All Around styles. The additional length adds volume which greatly increases board stability.
Racing paddle boards are very narrow and are a specialized board. If board stability is a factor in your purchase decision, don’t think about a racing board.
INFLATABLE VS. HARD
Another major factor that affects a paddle board’s stability is rigidity. Rigidity can be described as stiffness. A concrete sidewalk is very stiff and rigid. A mattress isn’t.
Hard paddle boards are more rigid than inflatables and offer better stability.
As a first-time buyer, paddle board stability is an important aspect of the decision-making process. However, it shouldn’t be the primary factory. The level of stability you need as a new rider is not the same level of stability you’ll need two years, or even two months down the road. As you gain experience, your balance will improve and your need for extra stability will decrease.
Some first-time paddle board buyers will purchase a board larger than they need just because it feels more stable during the test drive at the shop. As they gain experience and balance, these boards often start to feel too large. What was once a nice big stable board becomes a tug boat. Having to needlessly push extra weight and volume through the water gets tiring after a while.
Rather than purchasing a SUP that is too large for you just for better stability, select a board that is the proper size. Paddle board manufacturers create boards of different volumes to enable a better match between rider weight and the board’s function. A properly sized paddle board will not only provide you with the stability you need now, it won’t feel too big in the future as your skills improve.
Now that the issues have been examined, what is the most stable type of paddle board?
Assuming the questioner is a first-time paddle board buyer with limited experience, the answer is an ALL-AROUND HARD paddle board.
All Around boards have the most stable board shape and are designed to do everything pretty good. Combine this stable shape with the rigidity that a hard board provides and you have a winner!
What Material is Best for Paddle Boards?
What is the best material to make paddle boards? As a manufacturer specializing in bamboo paddle boards, it is pretty easy to write about the glories of bamboo. However, there is enough self-serving pap online. Instead, lets dig into the subject and do an analysis.
Before we begin, it is important to note that there are two main types of paddle boards; inflatable and rigid paddle boards. While prices of inflatables can vary from $300 - $1500, they are all made from essentially the same material – polypropylene. Rigid paddle boards can be made many different ways and from many different materials, and can vary in price from $300 - $4000. As a result, we will concentrate on the best materials for rigid paddle boards.
Creating a “Best” ranking means that criteria have to evaluated. Materials will be ranked upon the following:
Strength to weight ratio refers to the paddle board’s weight compared to its strength. Board strength is measured by stiffness and product durability. The lighter and stiffer a board, the easier it will be to paddle through the water.
BEST – CARBON FIBER
There is no doubt about it, carbon fiber is the absolute best material for paddle boards.
Carbon fiber is made from crystalline carbon filaments roughly 100 times smaller than a human hair. The carbon atoms form together in a tight, chain-like bond allowing the fiber to be exceptionally strong all on its own. When combined together with other carbon fibers, the material becomes even stronger.
It has an incredible strength to weight ratio. Carbon fiber boards are very strong and stiff and incredibly light. The downside is that they are very expensive. A carbon fiber paddle board may cost 50-100% more then the next best material – bamboo.
BETTER – BAMBOO
Bamboo has the highest strength to weight ratio of any natural fiber. It is superior to graphite which is a precursor to carbon fiber. In structural engineering tests, bamboo has shown to be stronger than some steel alloys.
In a composite environment like a Wappa paddle board, bamboo is a good substitute for fiberglass because it's stronger and lighter. Using a layer of bamboo in a paddle board can reduce the boards weight by as much as 15% while doubling the layer’s strength.
Bamboo offers a great value. Lighter and stronger than traditional fiberglass boards but not nearly as expensive (or light) as a carbon fiber paddle board.
GOOD – FIBERGLASS
For decades, all surf boards and paddle boards were built with fiberglass. Fiberglass boards are produced using multiple layers of fiberglass and epoxy around a foam core. The more layers of fiber glass, the stronger and stiffer the board. Unfortunately, a board becomes heavier with every layer, so most boards have between 2-4 layers. Bamboo paddle boards are a variation of fiberglass boards.
Fiberglass paddle boards range in quality. Cheap boards can be as little as $500 while the best ones are $1500+. They can be heavy or light. Not as light as either carbon fiber or bamboo, but still easy to carry under one arm. Generally, the lighter the fiberglass board, the more expensive it will be.
The downside of fiberglass boards is that delamination may occur if the board is poorly made or if the air vent is clogged from salt or debris preventing the board from breathing. Fortunately, proper maintenance and storage eliminates this risk. Rinsing your board at the end of the day and storing it away from direct sun are best practices.
MEH – PVC
Strong and durable, a paddle board made from PVC can appear almost indestructible. Made from the same material that is used for kayaks, a PVC board can hit a rock and probably bounce away undamaged. Some brands even demonstrate toughness by hitting their boards with a hammer.
PVC boards are created by injecting foam into the board mould. The other material types layer material around the foam core. Because of the injection manufacturing process, PVC boards are less expensive than carbon fiber, bamboo or fiberglass boards. It takes less time and labour to produce PVC paddle board.
While very strong, PVC boards can also be very heavy. Some PVC boards may weigh as much as 60 lbs. Compared to a same size fiberglass board weighing 25 lbs, and the trade off on the strength to weight ratio quickly becomes apparent.
POOR – FOAM
While all hard boards have a foam core, some paddle boards are essentially foam core with a spray coating to add grip and prevent water absorption in the foam. These are the cheapest rigid paddle boards available and may be available for a few hundred dollars.
These boards may appear to be a good bargain, but they are weak and may not last more then a season. They damage easily, and should be avoided at all costs. Frankly, if you want to spend that little, buy an inflatable SUP. It would be a better investment.
When shopping for a paddle board, most people the best board they can get for the least amount of money. If that type of thinking is something you can agree with, then your best option is a bamboo paddle board. A good quality bamboo SUP costs about the same as a good quality fiberglass board. It will just have a better strength to with ratio. If you will be paddling in a rugged environment such as rocky rivers with low water levels, a PVC board may be your best option. Now if money is no object, and you need the best of the best, then there is no question, your choice should be a carbon fiber unit.
“What do I need to know before buying a paddle board?” is the sort of question that a first-time buyer might ask. So, lets view the solutions from that perspective.
Before you seriously start shopping for your first board, you need to ask yourself a few questions. Then you’ll be better able to ask informed questions at the store to make the perfect choice.
WHAT ARE MY PLANS?
What do you want to do with your paddle board? Do you see yourself puttering around shore or would you eventually like to paddle a mile or two off shore? Will you have the opportunity to surf? Will your board be used a few times a summer, or do you have a passion?
These are the sorts of questions that you need to ask yourself. Someone puttering a hundred meters from shore will be happier with a less expensive and slower board then someone wanting to surf going for tours.
WHO ELSE WILL BE USING IT?
If others will be using the paddle board on a regular basis, then their weight should also be considered during board selection. When there are large weight differences between riders, a larger board may be needed. A big factor of board stability is matching the rider’s weight to the board. If a board is too small for a heavy rider, it may sink, or become less stable. A board to large for a rider will be very stable but become to much board to push through the water after a while. Eventually the lighter rider will become dissatisfied paddling the oversized board. You will need to find something for everyone if there will be multiple riders.
WHERE WILL YOU BE USING IT?
Your regular paddling environment should also influence what type of paddle board you should buy. Are there waves that will enable any surfing? Are you on a small lake? Will you be paddling on the ocean? There isn’t much point getting a surf style board if you will never have the opportunity to catch waves. No matter how good a Wave board looks, you would be better off with a an All Around or Touring style.
WHERE WILL I STORE IT?
Paddle boards need storage space. The average paddle board is 10’6” long. If you have the space to store something that long then you should get a rigid paddle board. Rigid boards can be carried down a flight of stairs easily and only take up about 6” of width.
Now, if your storage space is limited, then an inflatable board is your choice. While they don’t perform as well as a rigid board, they are much easier store. Most inflatables can fit into an oversized backpack and are easily stored in condo storage spaces or even a closet.
WILL I NEED TO TRANSPORT IT?
Planning to travel everywhere for unique paddle experiences means having to transport your board. Transporting rigid paddle boards is easy as long as you have a roof rack and two straps. In two minutes, your board can be ready to go!
Roof racks for paddle boards can be as simple and inexpensive as two foam blocks with straps, or cost a couple of hundred dollars for a top of a line rack that can carry just about anything.
Inflatable paddle boards are easier to transport then rigid boards, since they are stored in a back pack until needed. You can take one on a plane, bus or the back of a compact car. The downside side of this convenience is that you will need to unroll/inflate then deflate and repack your board after each use. The rigid board owner, straps his board onto his rack and is gone in five minutes.
WHAT IS MY BUDGET?
Your budget can be a large factor as to the type of board you ultimately select. Shoppers looking to spend around $500 will be getting an inflatable. The more you are prepared to spend, the more options become available. Better quality inflatables are available around $1000. Good quality rigid boards start above $1000 and carbon fiber boards can be more then $3000. Like all things, the better the quality the paddle board, the higher the price.
Answering these six questions will provide some guidance when you go shopping. You’ll already have an idea if an inflatable or rigid board is better for you. You’ll know if you have to take other’s weight into consideration when selecting board size. Understanding where you will be paddling will help you make a good selection for years of pleasure. No matter what you get, make sure you’re having a safe and great time on the water.
What is the Best Sup for Beginners?
Now that you’ve decided to purchase your first paddle board, it is time to do some serious shopping. Even the cheapest paddle boards cost several hundred dollars, and quality paddle boards easily cost more than a thousand. There are a lot of options in the paddle board market, and as a first-time buyer there are several decisions you have to make. Should you choose an inflatable or rigid SUP? What style is best? What size?
All of those questions can be summed up into one:
What is the best SUP for beginners?
The term “best beginner SUP” is subjective, so it’s important to explain how the conclusions are drawn. In my view, the best SUP for a beginner is any one that will give them early success while enabling them to not outgrow the board and still love it for years to come.
Best Board Style for Beginners
Let’s cut to the chase. When it comes to board style, a beginner should purchase an All-Around style of SUP. This style of paddle boards is designed to be able to do everything. From flat water to waves, these boards can do it all. As a new comer to the sport, An All-Around board will let you try everything paddle boarding has to offer. Maybe you will love going for long paddles out to the middle of the lake, or perhaps surfing becomes your passion. After you’ve been paddling your All Around for a couple of years, you’ll have a better idea as to what you want next. Perhaps it will be a touring board or wave board. The point is, an All-Around board will enable you to try it all.
All Around boards designs are shaped to provide very good stability for beginners. They are wider then touring boards, and longer than most surf style SUPs.
Should Beginners Get an Inflatable SUP?
Inflatable paddle boards are certainly less expensive than rigid paddle boards. As a beginner and first-time buyer, paying less money for your first board is appealing. Especially, if you’re not sure how much you will use it.
If paying less for your first paddle board seems like a great idea, then an inflatable may be the right choice for you. As a beginner, it is very important that you purchase a high quality inflatable SUP that provides excellent rigidity. You need rigidity. It helps provide balance, and a stiffer board is easier to paddle in the water. Don’t set yourself up for failure by purchasing an inexpensive inflatable. They won’t make your life easier as a beginner, and your long term needs won’t be met.
It is best to either purchase a high quality inflatable or a rigid paddle board. Just remember, all inflatables strive to be as stiff as a rigid board, and that a quality inflatable SUP is as expensive as a rigid one.
Proper SUP Size for Beginners
Determining the proper SUP size are articles in themselves and we have written about the topic previously. Suffice it to say that the larger the board, the more stable it is. Many beginners believe that getting a large board is great, because it is very stable from day one. Unfortunately, if the board is too large, as the new rider gains experience, the once stable board feels like they are pushing a tug boat through the water. Now that the rider has better balance, the extra stability the overly large board initially provided is no longer appreciated.
To sum it up, the best SUP for beginners is an All-Around style. The choice of Inflatable or rigid SUP is yours. Being a manufacturer of rigid bamboo paddle boards, I am biased towards rigid. Rigid boards are superior in almost all aspects, but ultimately, you have to decide what is best for your situation. Just make sure that no matter your choice, get a board that fits you properly. Your local surf shop can help you with finding the proper fit.
Have fun and welcome to the paddle boarding community!
Here’s Why Bamboo Paddle Boards Are Good
Are bamboo paddle boards good? As a manufacturer of bamboo paddle boards, the easy answer would be, yes, bamboo paddle boards are the best around. However, answers like that don’t help or educate the reader, so let’s be a little more critical.
WHY CHOOSE BAMBOO?
Bamboo is an amazing material. That’s why at Wappa, we only build bamboo paddle boards. Many companies will use bamboo paper on a portion of a board for cosmetic appearances, but manufacturers of bamboo SUPs use it for several reasons. Bamboo is a natural product. It is extremely strong and it is also very flexible.
SUPERIOR STRENGTH TO WEIGHT RATIO
Bamboo has the highest strength to weight ratio of any natural fiber. In structural engineering tests bamboo has been shown to have higher tensile strength than many steel alloys. It even has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than graphite which is the precursor of carbon fiber.
The only material stronger than bamboo in the paddle board industry is carbon fiber. However, a carbon fiber paddle board will cost more than double what a high-quality bamboo board would cost.
If you don’t want to spend the big, big money on carbon fiber, the best option is bamboo.
STRONGER THAN FIBERGLASS
Wappa uses a layer of bamboo instead of a layer of fiberglass when manufacturing our boards. Because it’s stronger, the added strength adds stiffness which translates into speed without adding any of the extra weight from the fiberglass and epoxy. According to a 1981 study of bamboo in the journal Fibre Science and Technology, when bamboo is used in a laminate process with fiberglass, bamboo laminates were found to have twice the strength as fiberglass only laminates of the same weight.
This means, that by using bamboo in a layer of paddle board manufacturing, a board will be stronger but also lighter than a fiberglass only board.
Bamboo is a natural product that can be grown in degraded soil. Compared to trees, it can be harvested in three years compared to hardwood trees which take 25 years before harvesting.
Bamboo is also renewable. When it’s cut, the plant sends out root shoots to grow even more bamboo. The plant roots even stay intact after harvesting to help prevent soil erosion.
Using bamboo as a replacement to fiberglass, reduces the amount of epoxy required for the layer, and replaces a layer of fiberglass with an eco-friendly material.
By using REAL bamboo in paddle boards, the environmental footprint of the board is a little smaller than any other paddle board.
COMPARING BAMBOO PADDLE BOARDS
Now that you understand why some companies choose to use bamboo as a building material in its paddle boards, let’s get some insight to help you shop for a quality bamboo SUP.
For some companies, bamboo is simply used for cosmetic appearance to make a product look more “natural” or “woody”. It helps the board look great at a distance, but in reality, it is nothing but pretty paper. Boards like this are simply rigid boards that do not have the strength to weight ratio of REAL bamboo paddle boards.
If the board you like only has a section of bamboo on the top of the board, this is what you will be getting – paper, not bamboo.
Keeping in mind that the point of using bamboo in paddle boards is to reduce weight while adding stiffness. To do this properly, both sides of the board should have bamboo. Boards that only have bamboo on the top don’t really get it. These boards are heavier than they could be and they also won’t be as strong.
Brands that use bamboo only on the top of the board are trying to fool the customer. The customer is led to believe that they are getting the full quality and advantages of a bamboo board, but they aren’t. While better then paper, these boards are less than they could be.
All bamboo isn’t the same. Make sure you know the thickness used in your bamboo. Some bamboo veneer is only .25 mm thick. Looks good, but offers little in performance capabilities. Wappa for example uses 1mm thick bamboo. Bamboo this thick offers real strength. Bamboo strength can also be determined by the bamboo used. Look for Moso bamboo. It is the hardest type.
A manufacturer of bamboo paddle boards should be able to provide this information. If they don’t are they really that into bamboo?
Should you consider a bamboo paddle board. Yes! However, make sure you know what you are getting. Online, it is hard to tell quality differences between companies. Ask questions about the manufacturing process, what type of bamboo is used? How thick is it? Is the bamboo used for cosmetic purposes or as part of the board’s integrity? Once you have answers to these questions, you’ll be able to find a top-quality bamboo SUP that will last you for years and years!
Purchasing a paddle board for a child is not much different then picking one for an adult. The same basic questions have to be asked. The only difference is accounting for the child’s age and how much more they are expected to grow over the next five years.
Let’s examine the questions every parent purchasing a paddle board for their child should be asking.
HOW MUCH DOES MY CHILD WEIGH?
This is the first question to ask. Once a person’s weight is known some board sizes can be easily selected.
Board sizes are measured in two ways. Physical dimensions and board volume. A paddle board’s volume or displacement is measured in Liters (L). An example of this would be 190L.
The greater the volume/displacement a paddle board has, the more weight it can carry without sinking. In regards to stability versus volume for beginner paddlers, a ratio of 1lb of rider weight / 1L Displacement (W/D) is a good guideline.
Using this ratio, a novice paddler considering a 190L paddle board can weigh as much as 190 lbs and still feel very stable on the board.
Children weigh much less than an adult, which means that a child will find almost any paddle board extremely stable.
WEIGHT/DISPLACEMENT RATIOS FOR CHILDREN
Board stability is great, but getting your child a paddle board to large for her size can be counterproductive.
With every paddle stroke, your child pulls the board through the water. Paddling a larger SUP means that your child will be pulling more weight and friction through the water than necessary. While this activity will help increase strength and endurance, the excitement level will be diminished.
Purchasing a paddle board with a W/D ratio of 1:1 will work, if your child is no longer growing like a weed. As she gains experience, she will not need the great stability the 1:1 ratio provides. As your child grows, her added weight will decrease board stability, but that’s OK, as she will have the experience to handle it.
Getting a larger paddle board for your child is fine, if you want her to grow into it. Just don’t exceed 1:1.5 ratio. A board that large will be more difficult to maneuver, slow and hard to carry.
INFLATABLE OR HARD BOARDS?
Should you get your child an inflatable or hard paddle board? If your child is serious about the sport, and you have the budget, then a hard board should be the choice.
Every inflatable paddle board strives to be as effective in the water as a hard board. Rigid paddle boards have superior glide through the water. Ultimately, a paddle board’s glide is a large part of the experience.
Most importantly, hard boards are more stable than inflatables. A hard paddle board is exactly that – hard (like a side walk). Inflatable paddle boards can only get as hard as the amount of air pumped into them. If not inflated properly, they will sag under weight decreasing stability.
A hard board is also easier to maintain. Simply clean it with fresh water and place it in its storage space. No unpacking, unrolling, inflating, drying, deflating, rolling and repacking that occurs with inflatables.
Inflatable paddle boards can also play a role. These types of boards are less expensive and store easier than hard boards. If you think your child might lose interest, then an inflatable may be a more cost-effective decision. If you live in an apartment or have limited store space, then an inflatable may also work better.
WHAT ARE MY CHILD’S GOALS/PLAN?
Paddle boards come in different sizes and shapes because they are designed to do different things. Part of picking the right size paddle board is knowing what you want to do with it.
You shouldn’t buy a 14’ long 300L racing board just because you’re 250 lbs and it fits your Displacement/Rider Weight ratio. Buy this board if you want to take up racing or going on long paddles.
For most people, an All-Around style paddle board is the ideal shape for your first paddle board. This style is good at just about everything, but it isn’t a specialist at any one function. I highly recommend this board style for your child’s first board.
Picking the correct paddle board shouldn’t be based on data from a chart or table. Your child will have this piece of equipment for years, so more consideration should be taken. Pay attention to the weight / displacement ratio, and where your child’s growth is in her physical development. Try to get a ratio of roughly 1:1 or no more than 1:1.5 if there is still a lot of growing to do. Match the paddle board’s style to meet your child’s goals and you will have a selection that everyone will be happy with for many years.
How Do I Choose a SUP? Answer Our 6 Questions
Shopping for a stand-up paddle board (SUP) can be a daunting experience for the first-time buyer. With dozens of brands, different technologies, materials, and large differences in price, choosing the right SUP can be difficult.
Prepare for a successful shopping experience by answering the following questions.
WHAT IS MY EXPERIENCE LEVEL?
Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you’re considering purchasing your first paddle board. First time buyers range from the totally inexperienced, to people who’ve logged dozens of hours on a SUP at a resort or rental facilities. If you’re very new to the sport, you will want to choose a SUP that has more stability. This will help you maintain balance as you gain confidence and experience.
When evaluating your experience level, you should consider more than the number of hours you’ve spent on a SUP. Consider your general athletic ability as well. Do you generally have great balance? Does your body learn new skills quickly? If so, board size and stability become less of an issue.
While considering your experience level in choosing a SUP, remember not to get a SUP to large just for added stability. While it may seem like a great idea at first, you will quickly grow out of it. As you gain experience, the larger board will become a hindrance.
WHAT ARE MY PADDLE BOARDING GOALS?
There may be no more important question when choosing a SUP than determining your goals. What you visualize doing on a paddle board will lead you down the proper branch of the SUP tree.
Generally, stand up paddle boards can be divided into the following styles:
HOW WILL I TRANSPORT MY BOARD?
If you’re not leaving your SUP permanently at the cottage or cabin, then you will need to consider how it will be transported.
If you have a vehicle with a solid roof, then you’ll be able to get a roof rack and a rigid paddle board.
If you don’t own a vehicle or won’t spend the money for a rack, then you should be looking to choose an inflatable SUP. Inflatables are stored in a backpack, and can be taken on public transit.
WHERE WILL I STORE THE BOARD?
When choosing a SUP, you have to consider where it will be stored.
The average paddle board is at least 10’6” long. If you purchase a rigid paddle board, you will need a space long enough to store your board. Many people store their boards in a garage, basement, at the cabin, or hung on a wall.
Storage space isn’t an issue for inflatable boards. Rolled into its backpack, these boards can be stored in an apartment closet.
WHAT IS MY BUDGET?
Even the cheapest of paddle boards are several hundred dollars, and the most expensive ones cost several thousand dollars. Either way you cut it; paddle boards are not cheap.
Everyone wants to get the most bang for their buck, so knowing your budget will help you to choose a SUP which does that.
If you budget is less than $500 than you should only consider inflatable paddle boards. New rigid paddle boards at this price are poor quality. Simple as that.
Once your budget exceeds $1000, you should consider a rigid paddle board. Better quality boards are available at this price, and from a performance and durability perspective, rigid paddle boars are superior to inflatables. Top performing inflatable brands are also available in this price range.
WHO WILL RIDE THE SUP?
Who is going to be riding the new paddle board? When deciding to choose a SUP, you need to consider everyone involved.
Will this be a family board? If so, you’ll need to consider the size, experience level, etc… of the largest person in the house.
Choosing a SUP doesn’t have to be difficult. As a shopper, you simply need to determine both your current needs and long term goals. By answering the six questions, you will have a better understanding of your needs and which path to follow. Now answer those questions and start shopping!
Can You Be Too Heavy to Paddle Board?
Can a person be too heavy to paddle board? The short answer is no. The key for any paddle boarder is to get a board that can support the rider’s weight.
While its true that a person could submerge a paddle board if he is too heavy for the board’s design, that doesn’t mean that the rider is too heavy to paddle board. All it means is that he is too heavy for that paddle board. In other words, the paddle board he submerged simply didn’t have the volume to hold his size.
PADDLE BOARD VOLUME
To many people, stand up paddle boards look like overgrown surfboards. They have similar shapes, are watersports equipment, and both types of boards can be used for surfing. The biggest difference between paddle boards and surf boards is their size. Surfboards can be smaller than 6 feet in length, but most paddle boards are at least 10.5 feet long, and can be as long 16 feet.
Paddle boards are much larger than surf boards, which means they have greater volume or displacement. That’s why, people can stand on a SUP that isn’t moving, which is impossible to do on a surf board. A surfboard simply doesn’t have volume to support a rider’s full weight when it’s not moving.
WHAT IS VOLUME?
A stand up paddle board’s volume is measured in Liters and it signifies how much water is displaced by the board when it enters the water.
Paddle board manufacturers create boards of different volumes to enable a better match between rider weight and the board’s function. A perfect example of this is the Wappa Classic and Nova. Both boards have similar All-Around shapes, and are designed to do the same things. The biggest difference between them is their size. The Nova is 10 inches longer and has 25 more liters in volume (190L Classic, 215L Nova). This means, that a heavier person can ride the Nova and experience the same ride as a lighter person on the Classic.
THE PURPOSE OF VOLUME
A paddle board’s volume is determined by the size of the board. Generally, the longer and wider the board, the greater the volume.
Volume brings two things to a paddle board. Stability, and how much weight it can support before submerging. The greater the volume, the more stable the board and the greater the rider weight that can be supported.
However, as rider weight increases, a boards stability may decrease if the rider is close to the board’s maximum rider weight.
SIGNS THAT YOU’RE TOO HEAVY FOR THE SUP
If you’re reading this article, I am going to assume that you are a beginner to the sport and have limited experience on the board.
If you get on a board, and it’s extremely unstable for you, it might not be your balance, rather, the board is just too small for your experience level and weight. If lighter people can get on the board and find balance, but you can’t, then the board is volume than it should for someone your size. Ask about the volume of the board. If the volume is within 15 Liters of your weight, it will provide good beginner stability.
If you stand on the board, and it becomes submerged more than 50%, then the board is too small for a beginner.
A person can never be too heavy to paddle board. All heavier people need to do is find the proper size board. By determining the board’s volume and matching it to your weight and experience level, a great day on the water is guaranteed. Don’t be discouraged when you see slimmer people paddling. There are boards made for you too. Just get one the right size and have 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.
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