So you have decided to invest in your own paddleboard. Congratulations! It is a great decision and you will soon find yourself exploring new places from your perch on the water, and your life will never quite be the same now that you are “walking on water”. But how do you know what to get? And do you need to get it at a store or can you just order it online?
Just like everything else these days, the internet is a growing source for buying a paddleboard. But is it really your best option? Your local sup shop will likely respond with a resounding “NOOOOOO”. There are a number of reasons for this.
- It’s hard to know what you are actually getting. One of the hesitations that people tend to have about buying a board is the cost. In most cases with paddleboards, you get what you pay for. It is tempting to get reeled in by a cheap paddleboard deal online, but it is likely that the price is so low because it is an inferior product.
- It is hard choosing a paddleboard online due to a lack of real information. Usually when you look at paddleboards online, there is a paragraph or two of info about each board. There are a lot of differences between boards. It’s rare that one single thing makes up the cost difference between two boards. It’s usually a series of things. For instance, more expensive boards usually use better, stronger and more durable materials. The shapes are usually more refined. There are details like reinforced fin boxes, rails, decks, etc. They are often lighter weight. Your local paddleboard shop can explain a lot of this to you, whereas online you need to depend on a short explanation of why the product is so great.
- You know what you want and you have found a “great deal” online. You still need to get the item shipped. Some places will offer you free shipping, but shipping a board can cost from $50- $150. You will have to be there to meet the shipment (the driver is not going to leave a paddleboard at your front door). And the 10’6 board you ordered will come in a box that is 11’6 long and 36” wide. It’s a big, awkward package. Be sure that you open it (VERY CAREFULLY). The damage rate in shipping is astounding! And most times if you don’t note any damages at the time of delivery, you lose any right to compensation for the damages. If you were to go to a shop for your board, they would take care of all of this for you. The board would be received, unwrapped, and inspected before you get there so you don’t have to do that. The shop will also dispose of the incredible amount of trash generated by this. You could need two weeks of trash pick up just to get rid of the packaging from this purchase.
- You can’t demo online. Many good shops offer demos of their boards. They may not have every board they carry available, but there should be a selection to try and a knowledgeable staff that can fill in the blanks between what you are able to demo and other boards that you are considering.
- You have tried the board and found it cheaper online. Please remember that local sup shops are there as a resource and to build the community. Many shops offer clinics, events, etc as perks for purchasing from them. Don’t discount these value added services. They can be a great way to meet other people who share your interests, see new places and learn new skills. The people who own and work at these shops have families and expenses, just like you do. They have put their time and money out there on the line to provide service and physical boards for you to see, feel, and in some cases, try. It is not inexpensive to do this. So to go and do all of the legwork in a store and use their time, expertise and resources and then take your business elsewhere is damaging to the community as a whole. It lessens the value of what the shop has to offer and over time will drive these small, local businesses out of business and that’s not good for anyone.
There are a couple of cases when shopping for a paddleboard online makes sense
- You do not have a good sup shop in your area
- You know what you want and your local shop cannot get it
Obviously they are your dollars and you are free to spend them however you choose. But beware of online paddleboard “deals”. Find a shop you can trust and let them help match you up with the equipment that is going to help you do all of the things on a paddleboard that you want to do.
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