Whether considering the right paddleboard to propel you onto the next big wave or looking for a board that will keep you upright while doing your downward dog, there are a few things every buyer should know. Use this expert advice so your next board will be the right fit for your lifestyle, and your wallet.
1. SHOP LOCAL
Buying a board at a local retailer is an opportunity to dip your foot into the paddleboarding community. “They can get you set up with the right equipment, as well as valuable advice on the best local places to paddle and how to stay safe on the water,” says Taylor Rambo, a SUP surfer and board shaper for Riviera Paddlesurf. Look for a retailer that is investing in the local community by putting on events so you can easily meet other paddlers.
2. THE 80-PERCENT RULE
“While recommendations are good, don’t be forced onto a board that doesn’t fit your paddling needs,” says David Feliciano, a manager with Bote Boards. Knowing what kind of paddling you’ll be doing 80 percent of the time—whether surfing, fishing, touring or just lazing around—will help retail staff determine which shape and construction will suit you best.
3. ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL
One of the most common misconceptions is that one board can do it all. In addition to selecting a board based on the type of paddling you do most, opt for a board designed for your current skill level. “Being upright on a slightly wider board is always faster than swimming beside a narrow race board,” says Level Six owner Stig Larsson.
4. FOLLOW YOUR NOSE
The shape of the nose on a SUP board affects how it handles in the water. The more of a V-shaped point the nose comes to, the better suited the board is to tracking in a straight line. A rounded nose is good for general cruising while the more rocker there is the more the board is suited to wave riding. “Generally the more width you have, the more stability you have,” adds Alix Buchter, marketing director of Naish International.
5. GETTING TO THE GAME
It’s all well and good to consider your on-water needs but you’ll never use a board if you can’t get it in, or on, your car. According to Buchter, one of the biggest mistakes buyers make is getting a board without considering the storage or size of the board. An inflatable board packs up and can be carried on your back to even the most remote locations.
6. BUYER BEWARE
With the explosive popularity of paddleboarding, there are a few shady manufacturers cashing in on the trend. Look for a brand with a national presence that has the infrastructure to support you, your board and its warranty. According to Feliciano of Bote Boards, you should easily be able to find information about any reputable brand and its boards online, including specs. If those are missing, consider it a red flag.