We get asked a lot of questions when people are thinking about buying their first paddleboard. Here are some of the most common ones we hear.
How heavy are they?
Most boards are in the 20-30 lb range. There are some high-end boards that come in a little lower. They usually involve expensive materials like carbon and Kevlar. And often the really light ones are the smaller boards. There are inexpensive boards that are much heavier, 40-50lbs in some cases. We try to stay away from these for a host of reasons, first and foremost is the fact that we don’t want to hoof boards that heavy around. The other reason is that they don’t perform like real paddleboards on the water. They are sluggish and hard to maneuver.
How hard are the boards to transport?
Most boards, if not all at this point, have a carry handle so you have a way to grip it to carry it wherever you need to go. You can also carry them above your head or on your shoulder.
To get the board to the water, a roof rack is a great way to go. You just need some tie down straps and preferably cross bars and you are all set. The back of a pickup truck is another good option. If you have a very short distance to cover, there are “sup wheels”. These are little carts that you can strap the board to and you can wheel them around. I have even seen people put boards in their SUVs, minivans, convertibles, and I have seen a 10’ board in a Toyota Matrix.
How much do they cost?
There is a huge range for the cost of boards and there are a lot of factors that determine where a board falls in that range. But the majority of boards are between $1000-$2000. All around and surf specific boards are often in $1000-$1500 range and touring, race, and downwinder boards tend to be in the $1500-$2000 range. Less expensive boards tend to be heavy and performance is usually not a strong suit. And more expensive boards are usually focused on being lightweight and high performance.
Can one board do everything?
The short answer is yes. But the longer answer depends on what you want to do with it, where you want to take it, and what your goals are. An epoxy board will usually be just fine in flat or open (think bay or ocean) water. But it will not be well suited for a shallow running river. For whitewater paddling you would want a plastic or high quality inflatable board that will be able to stand up to the rocks and stuff you encounter without getting damaged. Also a skeg (fin or rudder) that folds up when it hits something is a good feature
And while you can use one board for just about everything, if you anticipate the bulk of your paddling being geared toward anything specific, you probably want to explore boards designed for that purpose. For example, racing surf style boards can get old fast, yoga on a race board would be very difficult and probably uncomfortable, and surfing a touring board would probably not be good. Your local sup shop should be able to help you figure out what is best for your needs.
What is involved with board maintenance?
Very little…one of the nice things about paddleboards is that they don’t require a lot of maintenance. Epoxy boards need to be kept out of direct sun or extreme heat when not in the water. The foam core can build up gases and pressure, and though there is a vent plug on most boards to release some of that pressure, it is not always enough. So keep your board in a shady place, inside somewhere, in a reflective bag, or in the water when it is very hot or sunny. If the board gets hot to the touch, it’s a good idea to move it. Plastic boards will not be affected the same way by the heat. And inflatables, while they can also build up pressure, they should be less sensitive to the heat than epoxy boards also.
Other than that, you just need to rinse the board after you paddle in salt water. Salt has a tendency to corrode things so it’s a good idea to wash off all of your gear after paddling in salt water.
If it gets dirty you might want to clean it. Mild soap and a soft brush should be sufficient. We use a product called Branch Basics that is a very safe product (no chemicals or harsh ingredients) that cuts through pond scum beautifully. Magic Eraser usually does a good job on scuffs and stubborn spots, but it can dull your finish, so be careful with that one.
Blue goo is also great for polishing up the board. It will remove oxidation from the seaon and make your board look like new. Then you use xtreme cream on the bottom and you will go really fast!
How do I know what to get?
Your local paddleboard shop should be able to pair you up with the perfect board for your purposes.
If there is any way to demo boards before you purchase, do it. The learning curve to become comfortable on a paddleboard is very small. So if you are new to paddling be careful about choosing a board just because it is comfortable at first. Your comfort level will increase quickly so keep that in mind in picking what will be the best option for you over the course of time.
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