Using the wrong equipment, particularly the wrong board, can have a major impact on your paddle boarding experience. It can be the difference between moving at the speed you want and feeling that your board is too slow, being able to paddle with minimal falls or falling off often. It can even be the difference between having a board you can carry or put on your car versus having one that is too heavy, discouraging you from getting out on the water.
Having the ‘right’ board doesn’t have to cost a lot; it just has to be able to match your abilities and goals for paddle boarding. Understanding what you want in a board should come before price, in my opinion. I say this because I think if you know what to look for, you can usually find a board that meets your needs in your price range.
Whether you’re a novice paddle boarder or an experienced rider ready to move up, with so many different standup paddle boards available to choose from learning what each manufacturer offers can help you buy the right board at the right price. To help you, I thought I’d provide you with the questions customers often ask us at the store, a sort of a paddle boarding frequently asked questions. But you can use these questions to select a paddleboard for yourself whether you’re buying it from us or someone else.
Q: What’s the least expensive stand up paddleboard I can buy?
A: Currently we have boards priced as low as $699. It can be a real struggle to find paddle boards that offer quality and value for under $800. By quality I am referring to quality control of manufacturing, construction method and materials as well as reasonably light weight. We want you to be happy and have something you’ll enjoy for a while. In our current inventory we have the $699 Hovie Scout, a roto-molded, heavy-duty and heavier-weight hybrid board, and the Riviera Paddle Surf 10’6 or 11’6 for $785, an epoxy board that we think is ideal for our water conditions in Fort Lauderdale and a stand up paddle board you aren’t likely to “outgrow” too quickly.
Q: If I can buy a decent paddle board for under $800, why would I pay more?
A: I can answer that in three words: weight, design, materials. With paddle boards, as the price increases, what you’re typically paying for is a combination of improved construction, more expensive materials, and design/performance features and weight reduction. Yep – heavier is usually cheaper (light-and-cheap often means “fragile – handle with care”).
Q: Where are paddle boards made?
A: There are paddle boards that are designed, shaped, tested, and produced made right here in the U.S. There are also some manufacturers who design their boards in the U.S. even though their boards are produced overseas. But here’s a dirty secret about overseas paddleboards: if the manufacturer doesn’t have full-time, on-site supervision and independent quality control, what you’re often buying is a board template – or “white label board” – that the manufacturer puts their own graphics, paint and logo on. That’s why, in some shops, you’ll see several boards that look very similar with only color, logo, or slight graphics differences.
We’ve gone out of our way to make sure that the manufacturers we carry either have complete control over their production, as is the case with our Made-in-the-USA manufacturing partners, like King’s Paddle Sports, or they have quality controls in place overseas to ensure consistency of finish and quality.
Q: Why are there so many different board shapes?
A: Board designers have a specific use for a paddle board when they design and shape it. If you ask, “what does this board do best,” and the answer you receive is, “everything,” beware. You can race a school bus, but that doesn’t make it a Ferrari. We select boards that are designed with a defined purpose: flat water cruising, small surf and chop paddling, surf performance, racing, ease of storage, etc. It doesn’t mean the board can’t do everything to some degree – it just means it’s meant to do one thing extremely well, and there’s always a trade off.
Q: Why are paddle boards so big?
A: The board’s size has to do with the intent: keep a beginner afloat and standing, a flat water rider cruising, a racer competitive, etc. Higher-volume boards have more foam in them, making them more buoyant and able to support more weight without sinking the rails – so the larger or new-to-the-sport the paddler, the larger the board typically needs to be. The more length you pick up, the more glide surface and tracking (straight paddling). The shorter the board, the more maneuverable it is (with some notable exceptions). But believe me, when you’re standing on a paddle board out on the open sea, they don’t feel that big…
I often have customers tell me that our staff spends more time on educating them about the differences between all the paddle boards we sell than other stores they’ve been in. That is music to my ears. We take pride in making sure our customers are making an informed purchase. When you ride on a paddle board that meets your abilities, you’re bound to have an amazing experience on the water. The key is finding the right board for you.
If you have other questions about boards, leave me a comment here, our Facebook page or drop us a line at 877-954-4SUP. And if you’re in Fort Lauderdale Florida, swing on by the shop. We’d love to help you.
See you in the shop – or on the water!
– SUP Dude
3305 N Ocean Blvd
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308