We always recommend to try paddling before you buy a board, and to test out boards when possible before choosing one because we want you to be comfortable with what you are getting. But when you are first starting out, you may not really know the difference between boards, and you really have no idea what you will feel comfortable paddling in just a few short weeks. The learning curve in paddleboarding is very small. It can take a lifetime to become a great paddler…there’s no substitute for time on the water, but you can become a proficient paddler in a short time.
In that journey, which can be as short as a few weeks, if you get out on the water a lot, you will find yourself comfortable on boards that you probably wouldn’t have thought your first time out.
When you decide to make that purchase, your first stop should be a good sup shop- someplace where the people who work there actually get out and paddle, know the gear they sell, have good quality products for sale, and know the right questions to ask you. There are a lot of questions that can lead you to a board that would be great for you. If you are not hearing some variation on the following, find another shop
Who will be paddling the board 90% of the time? It’s tempting, especially when buying your first board, to buy with everyone you have ever known in mind. But realistically who will be paddling the board 90% of the time? If you weigh 110 lbs, and your father is 200 lbs and he will paddle your board twice, you really don’t want to be buying a board just to accommodate him, when it likely won’t be the best option for you. It’s sweet that you are thinking of dad…I love my dad, and wish I could get him out on a board. But given our size differences, he would really need a different board than what I want to be paddling 4-8 times/week.
Where will you be paddling? Are you going to be on flatwater, open water, surf, rivers? While most boards will work in most of those environments, there are certainly different boards that are better suited to each of them.
Do you have any storage constraints?
Do you have any transportation limitations? Really large or heavy boards can be very difficult for small paddlers to get on the roof of SUVs. Consider what you can comfortably handle. It will get easier the more comfortable you get with it, but if transporting is a giant hassle, you will be less likely to use it, and our goal is to have you out on the water having fun as much as possible.
What is your budget? If you can afford to spend $1000-$1500 you should be able to get a nice board that will serve you for years to come. If your budget is less than $1000, your options for a quality board will be much more limited. (This is an approximate figure…certainly not set in stone). Don’t forget a paddle. Your paddle should not be an afterthought. Get the best paddle you can afford to get for the paddling that you intend to do. That will mean different things for everyone, but please don’t think you can get a $1000 good quality board, and pick up a $40 paddle at Job Lot and have a good time. That paddle is going to weigh as much as the board, it will probably have an adjustable mechanism that will not stay at the length at which you set it. It will have an oddly shaped, completely inefficient blade, and it will generally be a waste of your $40, and whole lot of your energy trying to paddle with it. We would like rather see you buy a cheaper board and get a good paddle. The extra pound that cheap paddle weighs might not seem like a whole lot for the first 5 minutes, but when you figure you’re probably taking 2000 strokes/hour, that’s a lot of extra weight…and you and your joints will certainly feel it.
Your first board typically will not be your forever board. As you get better and realize your paddling goals, you will likely want to upgrade. That’s ok. If you bought a good quality board the first time around, hopefully you have been able to enjoy it for a couple of years. You should still get a fair amount for it if you choose to sell it. Or you will have a second board for friends or family who want to share the joy of paddling with you.
Tags: paddleboard demos, sup shop, buying your first paddleboard, paddleboard shop, local sup shop, buying a paddleboard, buying first paddle board, paddleboard demos ri, choosing a paddleboard, cheap paddleboard