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How to choose the right paddle board - Mountain Cultures

How to choose the right paddle board

How to choose the right paddle board


Paddleboarding is the fastest growing water sport in the world. If you have never tried it, chances are you have seen people stand up paddleboarding (SUP) at some point wether you are on vacation or hanging out by the river.

One of the main reasons it is so popular is that you can enjoy the sport in multiple locations. Find a body of water and off you go! It is so accessible that lakes, rivers, oceans, reservoirs and creeks can all become your adventure playground. Stand up paddle boarding is easy to learn, it takes a bit of practice but essentailly you are in control of your own level of exersion. A lazy paddle with the kids or an intense work out on the river, you are the boss. People of all ages can paddleboard and many enjoy heading out on the water with their furry friends.

Let's dive in to what key factors to consider when selecting your new paddleboard.

1. Paddleboard Type:

Determine the type of paddleboarding you plan to do. There are various types, including all-purpose, touring, racing, yoga, surfing, and fishing paddleboards. Each type has specific features tailored to the intended activity. Consider the weight capacity, length, width, and thickness of the paddleboard as these dimensions will affect your ride.

Weight Capacity: Ensure your board can adequately support your weight along with any additional gear, kids/pets and accessories you plan to bring along.

Longer boards = more speed and stability, shorter boards = more maneuverability

Wider boards = more stability, narrower boards = increased speed

Thickness can also affect the board's buoyancy and stability


2. Construction Materials:

Hard boards are made from epoxy and fiberglass and can be very durable if properly taken care of. Best for use on sandy shores as they can scratch on rocky surfaces.  

Quality inflatables are made from military grade materials that are not subject to the vulnerabilities of hard boards - dings and holes that require expensive repairs.  Inflatables can have durable construction but this does vary between brands.  It is highly recommended that the paddle board have an internal second layer of construction which will keep you afloat on the off chance you get a leak in the top layer.  Nobody wants to be left stranded in the middle of the lake with a sunken board. Come by the shop to see for yourself the difference in a cheaply made board and a high end board with our construction samples. Here is an example of what safe construction looks like and make sure to familiarize yourself with the warranty on your potential new board.

Inflatables can handle rough treatment from kids, pets and rocky shores. Inflatables are so durable they can be used to sit or lay on the ground or as accomodation for the night with the Bajao Cabin.


3. Performance:

Hard boards perform great in the water as they glide easily and quickly over the water and are capable of gliding further and faster with only a few strokes. This makes them ideal for racing and SUP surfing.  Traditionally hard boards were more stable but many advances in material technology and design over the past decade have resulted in inflatable SUP boards that have rigidity rivaling a hardboard.

Inflatables also perform well in varied conditions from flat water, small waves or even whitewater. Some inflatable paddle boards have reduced thickness while maintaining durablilty to closely match the stability of a hard board such as the Swift Blue Touring board from Ionic Boards.



4. Portability and Storage:

Access to a garage, basement, shed or an empty wall in your house would be an ideal space to store your beautiful hard board. A substantially sized vehicle or roof rack is required for transportation.

Inflatable boards don't take up a lot of storage space. Since you inflate at the destination your only concern is getting your paddle board and accessories, which typically come in a bag, from point A to point B. This also makes it an ideal companion for air travel and hiking to those secret lakes.

Remember that a hard or inflatable SUP cannot be left under full sun exposure in the summer or snow during the winter.

If you are exposing your board to the suns harmful rays for prolonged periods consider picking up the Vamos cover to protect your purchase.  




5. Budget:

Paddleboard prices can vary significantly based on the brand, construction, and features. With a seemingly endless increase of paddle board companies over the past few years it can be overwhleming to decide where to spend your hard earned money. Do your due diligence and buy from a reputable company that has been in the industry for at least a few years and has good customer reviews. Be wary of deals from pop-up shops that are “too good to be true” and be sure to ask about the construction materials and warranty included. Remember you are making an investment and that less expensive doesn't necessarily mean it's a better purchase. It may be wise to invest a little more for a product that meets your needs and standards and that you will use for many years to come.

A cost effective way to buy your board is to purchase it as a kit which typically includes a paddle, fin, leash, repair kit and the paddle bag which has shoulder straps for easy moving (TIP: some have wheels as well). If you purchase your board without the kit, you will have no problem finding all the accessories you need to create your own kit. 

Finally before you head out on the water It is very important to make sure you have a life jacket.  If you are carrying personal items, nothing keeps your items safe from the elements like a dry bag

6. Test

Try out a board or two to really narrow down which style feels and handles best for you in the water. If you can't borrow one from a friend, give our “try before you buy” program a whirl where you can rent for a fee that comes off the purchase price of a new board.

By considering all these factors, you'll be able to choose a board that is right for you. Still have questions? Stop by our shop to ask our knowledgeable staff or give us a call. 


Happy Paddling!

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