How to choose the right stand-up paddleboard (SUP) for you
So you've had a lesson, got your self the SUP bug and decided to buy your own board; or perhaps a small fleet of boards ready for those family adventures on the water - Yay! But you've noticed that along with the steep rise in the popularity of our favourite water based activity there is a staggering amount of paddleboards for sale out there and it's tough to know exactly what size, shape and price bracket is going to serve you best. Sound familiar?
Fear not! That's what we're here for! As an ASI accredited SUP school we have a lot of experience in not just paddleboards and associated equipment, but how different paddler's needs make the experience of choosing the right board unique for everyone. Almost without exception, our SUP students ask for our advice on buying their first board so we decided we would develop a more personalised approach to buying a paddleboard that would help our customers navigate the plethora of options whilst also saving them money. Our board finder service is all about helping you find the right board and then making sure you pay less than you need to for your dream paddleboard :)
What to look for when choosing your stand-up paddleboard
Picking the perfect paddlleboard might feel like a minefield but there are a couple of core principles to keep in mind that will help you make the right decision:
There a different boards for different paddle experiences. What will you spend most of your time doing on yours? Exploring rivers (long and pointy)? Surfing (short and rounded)? Racing (hard and narrow)? Or simply pootling around your local lake, taking in the glorious tranquility?
Your size and shape will, to some extent, inform your board size selection. Are you small and light? Maybe a 30in width will help your stroke technique and a 4in depth will make it easier to climb back on after a fall than a thicker board. Tall and heavy? Perhaps a 34in width will give you more stability and a 6in depth will help with rigidity in the board. There are plenty of combinations out there and with a bit of insider experience we can help you find your ideal board shape and type.
What about construction, price points and warranties?
Because we run a paddleboard school we are regularly running lessons, taking people out on tours and generally enjoying ourselves on the water. We put a lot of effort into finding the kind of boards that would serve us well, help our students to learn safely and not let us down. We traveled the country, talking to people, testing boards and learning all about what makes a solid, reliable paddleboard. We bought a fleet of homegrown Sandbanks boards but our journey informed us there were quite a few boards that we'd happily add to our fleet (and will be doing so this year). We won't recommend anything that we haven't tested thoroughly and would use ourselves.
One of the most important criteria for us is construction. We like our boards to be robust, reliable, leakproof, safe and with a lifespan that won't let us down. We won't use or recommend anything without a robust warranty attached to it as this is evidence of the manufacturer's faith in their construction process. Sure, you can find cheap boards on Ebay and Amazon or even in your local supermarket, and in some cases the quality can be surprisingly good for the money but as the old saying goes "you get what you pay for" and when it comes to getting a rigid inflatable board with a reliable valve and robust seal it's well worth making sure you invest carefully. You can spend anything from £250 right up to £1200+ for an inflatable SUP, and everything in-between. 9/10 in-between is about right when it comes to hitting the warranty/performance/value sweet-spot in our experience.
A few of our absolute favourites
We'll be adding to this list as we continue our journey but in almost all cases you won't go wrong with a board from one of these brands. Take a look at their glorious catalogues and if you see something you like, let us know and we'll help you make the right decision AND throw in a little WIttering SUP discount magic too :)
Sandbanks SUP Style
: Dorset based family business selling very reliable and very competitive priced paddleboards (we use these on all our beginner's lessons)
: Also from the South of England, Dan and his team have been making high quality paddleboards since 2013. The Stride is my current ride of choice!
: Andy & Rueben offer some top quality, funky boards that really hit the mark and they also plant a tree for every board they sell!