4 Steps To Ensuring You Choose The Right Board For You
Posted by Alex Clasper
Choosing a stand-up paddle board is a very personal thing. Just because a touring SUP is ideal for your best mate does not necessarily mean it’s the right SUP for you. So how do you ensure you’re finding your perfect match?
Well, we can work through four simple steps to get there...
When I am helping a paddler from the She SUPs Community choose what paddle board is right for them, I normally start by establishing their style of paddling or what kind of paddle experience they would like. This normally determines the style of the SUP they should get from the options below...
All Round Paddle Boards
If you’re starting out, start here. All-round SUPs are ideal for pretty much everything and everyone! They are normally a nice rounded shape, focusing on stability and providing a great paddling experience for all shapes and sizes of paddler. The 10’6 Ride SE was my first board and continues to be my top recommendation for all paddlers. It’s an All Rounder that I have not only learnt on but continued to travel with all over the world!
Touring Paddle Boards
For many paddlers I work with, touring paddle boards are the next step up after an allrounder. If you’re looking to go faster and paddle longer distances, a touring or sports paddle board is great fun if you’re a flatwater paddler. I also own a Red Paddle Co 11’0 Sport SUP, which I used on the She SUPs Sydney Expedition where I paddled 30 waterways of Sydney in 30 days. With 10km paddles becoming my average daily distance on that expedition, I was grateful for the glide and efficiency of my 11’0 Sport.
Racing Paddle Boards
Racing paddle boards are an entirely separate league of SUP designed to cut through the water, gain great speeds and get maximum potential glide. There is a lot to explore in more detail about racing boards, so reach out to Red Paddle Co or me directly if you’d like to explore more!
Surfing Paddle Boards
Many SUP surfboards are actually the same or similar in shape and style to all-rounders. However, for optimal use in the surf, you may find that surf-specific SUPs are more tapered at the tail and often a little bit shorter, enabling the paddler to easily carve through the waves.
Speciality Paddle Boards
Yoga SUPs and fishing paddle boards are typically wider boards making them extremely stable. You also often find that yoga-specific board, such as the Red Paddle Co 10’8 Activ, have a deck pad that covers the majority of the board, providing a super-soft cushioning for those extended yoga poses.
Windsurf Paddle Boards
Similar to racing SUPs, windsurf paddle boards can be a whole new category of SUP, so I suggest you reach out to Red Paddle Co directly if you’re a pro-windsurfer looking for your next ride. However if like me you’re simply curious, the easiest way to explain windsurf boards is you typically have either an all-rounder board with a universal windsurf mount or a daggerboard style board. Both are available via Red Paddle Co so go and check them out to see what I mean!
Once we know what style of board would suit you best based on your end-use, I often get asked the question ‘inflatable versus hard-board - which is better?’
Honestly, both have amazing benefits so it shouldn’t be a comparison. Instead, I encourage my paddler to question what aspects of a board are important to them?
Does the weight of the board matter to you? Do you need a board that’s easy to carry?
Do you want to be able to travel with your SUP? How much storage space do you have? If limited e.g. small apartment or if you live on a boat - do you need a board that is compact and easy to store?
Do you have kids/ family/ friends that you’ll be sharing this board with?
If you have answered yes to any or all of the questions above, it would seem that your answers are suggesting an inflatable would be your best fit - but it always comes down to personal preference and gut feel! Hold that board in your arms and listen to your gut!!
The next question is always cost.
When it comes to stand-up paddleboarding you really get what you pay for - especially when it comes to inflatable boards. Unfortunately, boards that are on the market for $300 AUD ($200 USD Approx.) won’t have been through the same quality control and manufacturing process of a board that is $1000+. Yes, the price is appealing but always consider what else you may be sacrificing. How long will that board last? Will you have a warranty? Will it be strong and easy to stand on?
To many, a paddleboard may seem like a big investment however after owning your board for a few months you will come to realise, you haven’t just bought a paddleboard. You’ve bought a lifestyle that will change the way you live, travel and connect with the environment around you... I guarantee you won’t regret it!
Finally, don’t be fooled by smoke and mirrors!
With so much noise on the [SUP] market, it can be very easy to be swept up in the excitement of buying a paddleboard that you forget to ask some vital questions to your retailer/salesperson, that you may regret not asking down the line…
Questions to ask the brand or retailer:
What kind of warranty will I get with this board? This also gives you an indication of how much this brand or retailer backs their product!
What kind of construction/manufacturing process has this board gone through? If you get the response “oh, all paddleboards come from the same factory in China!!” Smile sweetly and walk out of the door. Quality paddleboard brands go into meticulous detail to ensure a solid design and manufacturing process - and you can always tell the difference. Look at things like seams, handles and the quality of the hand pump for hints on the quality of a board.
What is the history of this brand? Perhaps their background is in surf, or maybe solely SUP… but if they can’t answer this, is this retailer or supermarket simply ‘jumping on a trend’?
There we have it. I hope these four simple steps will empower you with knowledge and confidence to walk into your local SUP retailer and know that you’re going to walk out with your perfect SUP match!
By Vikki Weston
Vikki is the founder of She SUPs, a Global Women’s SUP Community. She is also a Red Paddle Co AU Brand Ambassador and an ASI Level 2 SUP Instructor. For more information, please visit: www.shesups.com.au or follow @shesups_ on Instagram and Facebook.