The worlds fastest growing watersport
Stand up paddleboarding (SUP) is currently the world’s fastest growing watersport. As a result, paddleboards have become more diverse, less expensive, and generally easier to access. Most of the paddle boarders purchasing their first boards today are new to the sport, and are faced with an ever-growing range of options that can appear daunting at first glance. To simplify this process, let’s take a look at what to consider when buying an SUP, so you can quickly and easily make the right choice for your needs and your budget.
Choosing between solid or inflatable
SUPs are traditionally solid, and made by laminating a foam blank with wood, fiberglass, or plastic, which is then sealed with an epoxy resin. These solid boards tend to sit relatively low in the water, and generally perform better than inflatable SUPs in terms of stability and speed. Inflatable SUPs, (iSUPs) on the other hand, are lighter and much more convenient to store and move. This is a major benefit, considering that paddle boards are typically over 3 meters long, and nearly a meter wide.
Someone who intends to get into racing, or to use their paddleboard on relatively rough waters will be better served by a solid board. The benefits offered by a solid board, however, are useless if you can’t transport it to the water. Most paddleboarders don’t live within walking distance of a beach or a body of water, and won’t have any way to transport something that large. An iSUP, on the other hand, can easily be packed into the trunk of a car, or checked as regular luggage on a flight, making it extremely convenient to take anywhere.
Getting the right hull type for your needs
There are two hull types to consider when choosing an SUP. Beginners or casual paddleboarders typically opt for a planing hull, which is flat and wide, and offers excellent stability. It’s relatively easy to use, and well suited to all kinds of water conditions. A displacement hull, on the other hand, is narrower and pointed, allowing it to cut through the water much more efficiently. While this makes it less stable, it allows it to move faster and more smoothly. Paddleboarders normally use these types of boards for racing or long distance touring.
Consider your weight and volume of the board
The volume of your board determines its buoyancy and stability, though higher volume boards are inherently also bulkier. A beginner’s paddleboard should ideally have the equivalent of their body weight in volume. For example, someone who weighs 60 Kg should get a board with 60 litres in volume. More experienced paddleboarders might prefer smaller, less bulky boards, and might opt for boards with a volume equivalent to just 35 to 50 per cent of their body weight.
Take cost into consideration
Paddleboards are not simple or easy to build, and are not interchangeable by any means. Lower quality solid boards can delaminate over time, causing them to leak, and eventually destroying them. iSUPs, for their part, are still relatively new, and low cost boards may imperfectly manage the high pressures that they’re subjected to. Because of this, cheap boards are known to sometimes lose their shape over time and become unusable.
Mid and high cost boards, on the other hand, may offer excellent performance, but not always in direct correlation to their price points. Because of this, it’s a good idea to consult with a knowledgeable sales representative or an experienced paddleboarder before making a purchase. They can help you avoid purchases that might lead to a disappointing experience, and provide recommendations to best meet your needs.