“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.
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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