Buying a new paddleboard can be an overwhelming task. With so many options out there it’s really important to know what to look out for when making such an important purchase. There are many factors to consider, including the construction of the board, what accessories can fit on the board and what sort of paddle and bag the SUP comes with.
In this paddleboard buying guide, we are going to discuss what to look out for when purchasing a paddleboard to hopefully make your decision when buying your next SUP and what to look for in an inflatable paddleboard, that bit easier.
Is this your first paddleboard purchase?
One major thing which can affect which board you should opt for is if it is your first SUP or not and also how often you are planning on using your SUP – which can be harder to determine if you’ve never paddle boarded before. This can play a huge role when deciding what paddle board should I buy. So, if you have never paddle boarded before, ask yourself how often you plan on using your SUP? If you plan on using it weekly then opting for a slightly more upmarket, low flow board such as a double layer one is your best option.
What are you going to use your SUP for?
Most inflatable SUPs are categorised by the type of activity they’re best suited for. If you want to go racing, buy a racing board; if you’re into yoga, buy a yoga board. But, if you’re just starting and looking for a board which you can experiment on and perhaps do a bit of lake SUP’ing, a bit of SUP yoga then we recommend looking at an all-around board. All-around boards might not be the best at any single activity, but they’re pretty close in performance to specialized boards no matter the sport.
The construction of the board
The construction (how the SUP is made) is Possibly one of the most important factors when deciding what to look for in an inflatable paddleboard. The construction of your paddleboard will not only determine how robust and durable your SUP is but also have a direct impact on its handling and performance. There are three main types of paddleboard construction, which all come with different benefits and fall within different prices ranges. Which construction method you should opt for will depend on what you’re planning on using your SUP for, where you’re planning on taking it and how often you planning on using it.
The four main construction methods are:
Single Skin, Stringer Single Skin, Glued Double Layer and Laminated Double Layer.
Single skin boards are generally the cheapest boards around making them the most widely brought entry-level boards. Single skin boards are connected to the inside drop-stitch, this is the lightest way to make a SUP of a similar thickness, a single skin board will have the most flex. However, boards made with single-layer construction have a bouncier feel and are more susceptible to puncture and leakage. These boards are ideal for entry-level SUP’ers who are just trying out paddleboarding and will most likely not do it frequently. This does not necessarily mean that the boards are of poor quality, but the chances are they are a little soft and less durable than other paddleboards. So, if you are looking to just try out SUP’ing then this is the board for you.
Boards in this category can cost anywhere between £190-£500 depending on where you buy them from.
+ LIGHTWEIGHT + LOW PRICE – FLEX
Stringer Single Skin
The next on the list after a single-layer construction is the Stringer Technology. The majority of the paddleboard is the same as the single-layer; drop-stitch with a single coating of PVC. However, the only difference for the stringer single skin boards is the addition of the stringer (makes sense, right?) The concept comes from traditional surfboard manufacturing techniques, where a thin ‘stringer’ runs down the centre of the board from nose to tail to provide increased rigidity. On these inflatable SUPs, the stringer is a fairly wide PVC strip glued down the centre of the board. The stringer offers more stability than a single layer but still not as much as a double.
Boards in this category can cost anywhere between £300-£500.
+ INCREASED STIFFNESS + STILL LOW PRICE – STILL SOME FLEX
Glued Double Layer
The glued double layer is the original double-layered board. It was a way of making boards stiff before lamination was invented, it creates a very stiff and strong board, but, it is just heavy making it not too practical. It is still used in some multi-person boards or boards that will be taken into white water rapids.
+ DURABLE – HEAVIER – OUTDATED TECHNOLOGY
Laminated / Fusion Double Layer
The laminated double-layer construction is the latest technology in the inflatable SUP manufacturing process and creates the most durable, lightweight SUPs that are on the market. You start with the drop stitch of a single skin board and then a second PVC layer is laminated directly to it, making it a much stiffer and stronger material. Brands like to use all sorts of fancy jargon for this, heat bonded, Fusion, military-grade etc. So, if you have heard any of these terms previously, then this is what they’re referring to!
This is the process we use here to make a Saltie Board.
Boards in this category can cost anywhere between £400-£1500.
Our Saltie boards are currently on sale from £579-£669.
+ STIFFER + DURABLE + STONGER + MAINTAINS SHAPE + LIGHTWEIGHT – CAN BE MORE EXPENSIVE
LAMINATED /FUSION DOUBLE-LAYER CONSTRUCTION:
1. Nylon drop stitch
2. Base fabric
3. First PVC layer
4. Second PVC layer
5. Inner rail
6. Outer rail
7. Eva foot dec
Continue reading our stand up paddleboard buying guide to find out which accessories should play a part when deciding what to look for in an inflatable paddleboard and what paddle board should I buy.
What kind of SUP accessories does the paddleboard come with?
Generally, most new paddleboards come with a pump, paddle, bag and leash. However, if you’re looking for a specific type of equipment then it is best to research the type your chosen board comes with as this could determine your decision. Does it come with a double-action pump? Does the bag have wheels?
A pump can be one of the most important parts of equipment that your board comes with. Most kits come with either a single or a double action pump. Single action pumps tend to be lighter and easier to use, while double action pumps inflate your board a lot quicker and have multiple inflation options.
Sometimes if you are looking for a specific piece of equipment such as an electric pump it is better to purchase this separately rather than to compromise on the paddleboard which you purchase to get this.
What kind of paddle does the SUP come with?
Overall, the best paddle you can get is a full carbon fibre paddle. Carbon fibre is the lightest paddle option, but also the most expensive. Carbon fibre blend paddles are of similar quality, they are almost as effective yet are slightly lower in price but weigh just a tad more. But, a fibreglass paddle isn’t a bad option either, they are far more affordable – especially if you are just starting paddleboarding and although they may be slightly less stiff and light this won’t greatly affect your paddleboarding session in the long run.
If you do plan on upgrading any of your equipment then you can easily do so, without having to upgrade the whole board.
We hope this has paddleboard buying guide has helped you learn more about what to look out for next time you’re looking to buy a new paddleboard and whichever one you choose, we hope you make some epic Saltie memories!