A lot of stand up paddleboards look like works of art with their brightly glazed colors, exotic wood veneers and sleek shapes. It’s easy to forget that inside the board there are many different materials and components. They give the board structure, integrity and form but they are also a bit volatile in the chemical sense. This means that if your board gets too hot through exposure to direct sunlight or by being left inside, say a vehicle or other space, where the temperature reaches really high levels, then potentially bad things could happen. Here are a few things to think about to avoid the over heating paddleboard syndrome.
The epoxies and resins in your board are made of chemicals that release gas when steadily heated. These gases can build up over time creating internal pressure. For this reason, most boards have a vent plug that is designed to release the gases and relieve the added pressure. There are some boards that do not have a vent plug because the design lessens the likelihood of overheating. But just because a board has a vent plug doesn’t mean it cannot get damaged from the heat. A paddleboard can heat up to the extent that the vent cannot release the pressure fast enough to prevent the board from either blistering, delaminating or rupturing. Delamination happens when the outer shell of the board pulls away from the core. All three of these occurrences will require repairs that may be costly.
In addition, paddleboards can be damaged internally by extreme changes in pressure. If you ship your board air-freight or are travelling by air with it in a non-pressurized compartment you are taking a risk. The EPS foam core cells are filled with air that will expand as the pressure outside the board changes.
Screw-In Plugs: As the name suggests, these plugs screw into your vent hole. They will have a rubber O-ring that seals off the vent from water and debris. If you feel that your board has gotten hot to the touch, or it will be on the roof of your car in sunlight for a long period of time, then you should loosen the screw. BUT you need to remember to tighten it back up before it goes in the water. If water floods the inside of your board it will become unusable after a short period of time.
Gore-Tex Plugs: Gore-Tex is a well known material that is mostly used for outdoor clothing. The fabric allows heat and water vapors pass through tiny pores in the inner liner while preventing water and moisture from entering from the outside. A Gore-Tex paddleboard vent plug does the same thing by letting the pressure inside the board to escape while blocking any water that washes up onto the paddleboard from getting inside. The main benefit is that the user doesn’t have to worry about remembering to screw and unscrew the plug.
How Hot is Hot?
If a paddleboard is too hot to touch then it needs to either be put in the water or moved out of direct sunlight. This could mean moving the board into shade or putting it in a solar paddleboard carrying bag. Some paddleboard manufacturers sell board bags that reflect heat from the board inside. If your board is a dark color it will get hot faster (dark colors absorb heat and light colors reflect heat), whereas if you have a board that is white on the bottom then it will stay cooler longer- it may not even heat up at all. If you are travelling a long distance with your board on the roof of your car and you don’t have a board bag you may want to throw a tarp over it to keep the sun off.
Straps and Heat
If it is a really hot day and you are travelling with your board on you vehicle be especially mindful of how much you tighten down the straps. Excessive heat will soften a board’s rails making them vulnerable to being cracked and/or crushed (I learned this one the hard way). Ratchet straps are notorious for ripping through board rails due the to the thin, sharp strapping they use and the lack of adjustability between cranks on the lever. If you have to use ratchet straps make sure you have thick pieces of cushioning on the rails to buffer the pressure. You also have to make sure that the buckles are NOT on the board when you tighten it down. They should be suspended in the space between the paddleboard and the roof of your car.
It’s well worth it to buy paddleboard-specific straps (Tie Downs). They use better strapping, and the good ones have cushioned sleeves around the buckles to protect your board from the metal edges.
Keep these tips in mind to protect your SUP from the sun and heat, and you should get years of enjoyment out of your SUP.