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How to choose the best paddle board for you?

Updated: Aug 16, 2021

Stand up paddleboarding or more commonly know as SUP, offers something for everyone, young or old.

You can head out for a relaxing paddle on a calm lake/canal or catch waves at your favourite beach. If the beach or canal isn't for you maybe you’d like to do SUP yoga or go for a fast-paced paddle to get a workout. Whatever your ambitions, having the right board is key to your enjoyment.



In this buying guide, we'll review the main points you need to think about when choosing the right board for you.


  1. Where are you going to use the paddleboard?

  2. What style of paddleboard suits my needs?

  3. Solid paddleboard or inflatable?


Where are you going to use the paddleboard?

To find the right paddle board for you, let's consider how you're going to use it. There is an amazing range of boards and styles to suit everyone's needs. It's not necessarily one size fits all. This is a very important part of the process and will decide the style of board you will need going forward. If your going to spend most of your time on the beach then a wave style board might be the best option. Perhaps you live inland and alongside a canal then long-distance paddling might be where you see yourself. Fancy some speed? Then you may be looking for something more race orientated.

 

What style of paddleboard suits my needs?

Let's just assume there are 4 styles of paddleboards. The image below shows a simplistic view of paddleboard shapes. This applies to both solid and inflatable.

Beginners generally look at all-round and flatwater boards. Volume varies but a simple cheat to work out what volume of the board you will need as a beginner is to double your body weight. So for example, if your 75kg,s look for a board with 150lts of volume and so on.

There are more variants to this depending on whether you are buying a solid or inflatable board, but we are happy to work out your volumes for you if you need help.

The type of paddleboard you will need can also be based on ability. Many more advanced paddlers don't need as much volume, but if you are a beginner, we recommend just working on the model above.




The all-round board style tends to suit most beginners and is seen as a safe model to look toward buying when starting out. Inflatables tend to have more volume which means they are more buoyant in the water. This allows for a much more forgiving paddling experience. This style allows you to try a few different types of paddling from flat water canals and lakes to small waves at your local beach.



Surf and Race style boards are pretty much dependent on ability and budget, as they are more specialised. If you are thinking of these types of boards please feel free to chat with our staff for advice. We have something for everyone.




Solid paddleboard or inflatable?

Most solid boards have an EPS foam core that’s wrapped with fibreglass and epoxy. This is a fairly lightweight, durable and affordable construction. Carbon fibre is a lighter and stiffer option, but it’s also more expensive. Plastic SUPs are more affordable, but they are very heavy and can sometimes lack the performance of other materials. Some paddleboards incorporate lightweight wood for a beautiful appearance.




Reasons to go with a solid paddleboard:

  • Performance is your priority: Solid boards offer the best performance on the water. They travel faster, smoother and with less effort than an inflatable. If paddling fast and far are your priorities, a solid paddleboard is for you.

  • For a perfect fit: Solid paddle boards are available in a large variety of sizes and finely tuned shapes compared to inflatable paddle boards, so you’re probably more likely to find one that fits you based on your needs.

  • Stability is important: A solid board is a tad more rigid than an inflatable board, which can provide a more stable feel, especially when riding waves. Solid boards also tend to ride lower in the water, which can also create a more stable feel.

  • You have a space to store it: Solid paddleboards can take up a lot of space. If you have ample room in your garage and a vehicle that can transport it, then a solid paddleboard is a great choice.


Inflatable (ISUPs) paddleboards

Inflatable paddleboards feature PVC exteriors with drop-stitch construction that creates an air core. They come with a pump for inflating the board and a storage bag for when it’s not in use. A quality inflatable SUP is designed to be inflated to 12–15 pounds per square inch and should feel very rigid when fully inflated.



Why get an inflatable SUP:


  • You have limited storage space: If you live in a small house, or have limited space, you may not have room for a large solid board. Inflatable paddleboards are compact when deflated and can easily be stored in small spaces, like a wardrobe or the trunk of a car.

  • You’re travelling: If you’re taking a road trip or hopping on a plane, you can bring along your inflatable paddleboard and do some paddling when you reach your destination. Packed away in its storage bag, an inflatable can be checked on an aeroplane or stowed in a train, bus or car. Most storage bags have backpack straps or wheels for easy carrying or hauling.

  • You’re paddling whitewater: Like a raft or inflatable kayak, an inflatable SUP is better suited to handle bumps up against rocks and logs compared to a solid board.

  • You like SUP yoga: You don’t have to get an inflatable for paddleboards yoga, but they tend to be a bit softer than solid boards, making them more comfortable for yoga poses.


Accessories

Depending on how you plan to use your paddleboard, you might want to look for a board with extra features, such as:

  • Bungee straps/tie-down: Sometimes located on the front and/or rear of the board, these stretchy straps or tie-down spots are great for securing dry bags, clothing and coolers.

  • Attachment points/mounts: Some boards have specific attachment points for fishing-rod holders, seats, cameras and more. These accessories are typically sold separately.

After purchasing a paddleboard, you need just a few more key pieces of equipment to enjoy paddleboarding.


These include but are not limited to:

  • Paddle: A paddleboard paddle looks a bit like a stretched-out canoe paddle with a tear-drop-shaped blade that angles forward for maximum paddling efficiency. The correct length paddle will reach up to your wrist when you stand the paddle up in front of you and raise your arm above your head.

  • PFD (Personal Flotation Device): Safety is paramount and we strenuously advise wearing a PFD. They are easily accessible and cost-effective.

  • Proper clothing: For our Irish climate we advise that you wear a wetsuit or shorty wetsuit during the cooler months. In milder conditions, wear shorts and a rash vest or pdf over a bathing suit—something that moves with you and can get wet and dries quickly.

  • Leash: Typically sold separately, a leash tethers your paddleboard to you, keeping it close by if you fall off. Your paddleboard is a large flotation device, so being attached to it can be important for your safety. There are leashes designed specifically for surf, flatwater and rivers; be sure to purchase the correct one for your intended use. All of our packages do include a leash so be sure to check those out.

  • Car Rack/Roof Rack: Unless you have an inflatable paddleboard, you need a way to transport your board on your vehicle. There are specific paddleboard racks designed to go on the crossbars of your roof rack, or you can use padding, such as foam blocks, and utility straps to secure the board to the roof of your vehicle.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact us on our web-chat or contact details on our website www.paddleboardsireland.ie




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