Tips for First Time Paddleboard Buyers

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Things You Should Consider Before You Purchase Your First Paddleboard

It’s that time of year again when manufacturers are hosting sales to divest themselves of remaining inventory from the summer paddling season. If you have signed up to receive a newsletter from your favorite brand, you’ve almost certainly received a notification about their end of season / end of year blowout sales. As someone who likes to stay abreast of activity in the marketplace I’ve signed up for several brand newsletters and it’s fair to say I’ve received a number of notifications about paddleboard sales the past few weeks and expect them to continue rolling in at least through the end of the month.

If you are willing to wait and time your new board purchase, you can almost always get your board at a discount by waiting to buy until November. (Another insider tip is to hit up manufacturers at the end of a trade show to see if they are willing to sell off their demo models. Many are willing to do so to save themselves the time and money of packing up and shipping the boards back to their warehouse.) But before you leap on the next “great bargain” that floats on by, as a first buyer there are a few things you should consider before making the investment.

  1. Try it before you buy it. If you are not able to try a model before you buy it, then as a first time buyer you probably should not make the purchase. Many retailers offer demos of the boards they stock and if a demo is not available, they can be a good resource to link you up with a paddler who owns the model you are interested in. If you already know a few paddlers, ask if you can try their boards. Also ask them about their likes and dislikes.
  2. Know what type of paddling you would like to do. Trying out boards before you make your purchase is an important process which help you understand how you will use your new paddleboard. Will you be a harbor cruiser, an explorer, or someone inside the pack at your local SUP race? Fully understanding how and where you will be paddling will help you whittle down the brands and models.
  3. Do you have a place to store your equipment? This may seem like a no-brainer, but when pondering the different board lengths on offer (and yes, there are more choices than simply a 12’6” or a 14’ for all the racer purists out there) it is a basic necessity you need to have sorted out before you drive home with your new ride. Will it be indoors or outside? On the ground or a rack. There are several off the shelf kits you can purchase to build a rack to hold a paddleboard ranging from simple metalwork to elegant bamboo and everything in between. You may also consider a visit to your local hardware store to pick up some inexpensive PVC piping or 2x4s and build your own. Or perhaps you are one of the growing number of paddlers dropping into the expanding pool of inflatables, in which case easily storing your board is one of the benefits of inflatable SUPs.
  4. Can you pick up and carry your board? Few paddlers live directly on the water. Most of us have to go through the routine of loading and unloading our boards from our vehicles. What are the handles like on the models you are interested in? Can you comfortably get your hand in there and get a firm grip around the handle? A board’s weight is generally a reflection of its construction. Hi-tech carbon fiber boards are lightweight, expensive and fragile. More durable constructions are available from most manufacturers. They typically cost less, but with that durability may come additional weight. Everything’s a compromise.
  5. Rack it and strap it. Chances are, you are going to need to buy a board rack before you can physically transport your new paddleboard home. Be aware, many roof racks do not come with pads – these are sold separately, yet are an essential item for protecting your board. Without pads, your board will likely suffer a pressure ding in due time after repeated tightening down of the straps used to secure your board. And yes, you’ll also need a set of straps or a pair of long pieces of rope. Most paddlers go the strap route. I recommend investing in a set of KanuLocks so you can conveniently lock your board to the roof rack and prevent it from becoming someone else’s new board. Read my review of KanuLock tie down straps to learn more about this great product.

There is a a lot to consider if you are a first time buyer in the market for a paddleboard and hopefully these five tips will be a useful contribution to helping you make an informed purchase. As a buyer you have a lot of options from makes and models to where to you’ll eventually buy a board. Don’t forget to browse the options available in the SUP Examiner Classified section before you settle on your purchase.

Have fun. Paddle Safely. See you on the water!

Matt Chebatoris
About Matt Chebatoris 224 Articles
Matt is a former national security professional and lifelong adventurer. He has published material on a variety of topics in the foreign policy arena and created PaddleXaminer™ as a platform to share his enjoyment of paddling with others. When not on the water, Matt can be found hiking along rugged mountain trails in the California wilderness. Matt resides in Los Angeles and is a member of the Lanakila Outrigger Canoe Club in Redondo Beach, California.

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