Buying Your First Stand-up Paddleboard
Is this the year you’ve decided to step up your adventure game and go experience some new and wild things? Does escaping the heat of summer to high mountain lakes sound refreshing? If so, than you might be in the market for a new toy. Look no further than a standup paddleboard. There’s a reason it has been the fastest growing water sport in recent years. It’s a fun, efficient and a relatively inexpensive form of outdoor recreation, not to mention a great workout. There are a lot of things to consider when buying a SUP and we’re going to help you sort through the details to ensure you get the correct board for how you like to enjoy on the water.
Rigid Board vs. Inflatable
Both GLIDE inflatables and rigid boards are designed and constructed to be high performance ultra-durable SUPs. The benefit of a rigid board lies in the complexity of shape, with our in house design space we are able to refine all of the shapes to suit specific paddling needs. Whether it’s more rocker for river surfing or a displacement hull and drop deck for a touring board such as our Quest, there are many ways board shape affects paddling. https://glidesup.com/collections/flatwater/products/quest
However if storage, transport or water access issues are your main concerns, than the GLIDE o2 inflatables are a great choice. These boards are double layered PVC around the most advanced Fusion drop stitch technology on the market. This gives the stiff feel of a rigid board with the convenience and portability of a SUP you can take anywhere. https://glidesup.com/collections/infalatable-sups
Now that you’ve decided between an inflatable or rigid board, it’s time to start thinking on what kind of paddling you’ll be doing. It may be flatwater, downriver, racing, ocean or river surf and there’s a specific Glide board for each. Or if you’d like to paddle the middle ground and go with a classic all-around shape, we have you covered with a board like the Retro 10’6” and 11’6”. For a first time buyer, I would recommend this avenue. https://glidesup.com/collections/flatwater/products/retro
When it comes to size, it matters. There are a number of factors that will play into the width, length and volume that will be right for you. Here are some general guidelines to follow.
Length: In general the longer the board, the better it will track. Meaning you won’t have to switch sides for your paddle stroke near as often. This is why SUP races generally have a 12’6” and 14’ categories. The drawback to having such a long board is that it loses a bit of maneuverability. Shorter boards are much easier to turn, making them better suited to rivers, ocean surf or just playing with friends at your local reservoir.
Width: This is where you gain stability and the wider the board, the harder it will be to teeter-totter into the pond. A great example of this is our Lotus board, which is a SUP designed for paddle yoga and its’ platform makes those difficult poses much more accessible on water. The downside is that you will have to reach a bit further out for your paddle stroke and tracking won’t be quite as good with a narrow board. Everything with shape design is a give and take in performance. https://glidesup.com/collections/flatwater/products/glide-yoga
Volume: This can be a somewhat deceiving measurement for boards. In theory the more volume a board has, the more weight it will be able to accommodate. The caveat is the surface area and where this volume is located within the board. For example, high volume in the nose on a touring board will help keep the narrow nose up and out of the water, but not be much use when adding weight to the cockpit area. In general you will want to look at factory recommended weight capacities as well as volume when deciding on specific board styles.
Durability and Board Longevity:
This is a serious factor to think about, because as we all know, quality is not created equal. Here at Glide we pride ourselves on making the most durable SUPs on the market. This is due to our unique construction, where we apply a polymer coating of Glide Surface Shield (GSS) to the foam and fiberglass board. This coating will withstand abuse miles ahead of any epoxy board. If you’d like to see our durability in action, check out one of our many “Will-it-Break Wednesday” videos, where we try to break these boards in strange and creative ways.
Hopefully this article has helped you decide where you would like to take your paddling ambitions and how to choose the right tool for the job. Stay tuned to the Glide Newsletter for more tips, tricks and a bit of witticism next month.