The rough guide to buying your first paddle board

Let's assume you've decided to crack on and get your very first stand up paddle board - it's exciting and expensive for the average person with prices ranging from C. £199 through to C. £3,000 plus! The language used will undoubtably be totally ALIEN and you'll be left at the mercy of retailers whom fortunately aren't always looking to sell the single most expensive item of stock they have "just because".

Help is at hand - here is a quick and simple guide to buying your first SUP in particular an iSUP or inflatable paddle board as this counts for over 80% of all boards sold.

We begin our story assuming you have had a go or have had lessons. This isn't so much to do with the skills but mostly for the safety! You will be in open water and with it comes risk so we would always advise a lesson or two before you commit. Not only will you know if it is for you but you'll also go equipped with a little knowledge which helps and you'll be a bit safer plus will enjoy it more.

The rough guide to buying your first paddle board

You can as a lot of people do - hit YouTube and provided you can swim, are aware of currents, weather and depth of water you could take a longer road to learning this sport yourself.

How you have come about standing in the shop with a fistful of greenbacks is entirely up to you but let us start the journey there with the basics of...

Buying my first paddle board!

There are LOTS currently on the market and chances are you may have a friend recommend one based on their experience. Often this is limited to their experience and more often than not they've probably only ever had that board so their perception of it might not be yours.

There will be reviews - top 10 ISUP 2021 etc etc - again, many of these are linked to retailers who have a vested brand interest. There are also brands which will always make a great board and there in a great price tag so first and foremost:

What do you want to do with your iSUP?

If you are intent on paddling across the Atlantic Ocean would you feel happy doing it on a £199 board from Poundland? Probably not but if you only want a bit of seaside fun with the kids in the shallows on your summer holiday that £199 will do you perfectly.

The general rule is spend the most you'd be comfortable with spending based on what you want to do with your new iSUP.

Chances are at this moment you won't know if it's waves you want or flat water, distance or just a bit of fun. Here's a bit of a guide to each stage of the iSUP you're after to help decide what's right for you.

iSUP Construction

You'll want a double layer, drop stitch inner for durability and stiffness. Stiffness means stability! Stand on a £4.99 LiLo to see how that feels. Single layers are cheaper but have a habit of bending under weight. Speaking of weight - be honest! Get a board with the right volume for your weight. Your retailer can help and if buying online then they usually have a chart so get something with enough air to keep you floating!

Double layer boards have a lot of residual safety that single skins don't. Some premium brands have duel chambers too so double safety built in right there. Two brands that do this are Aztrons & BlueFin Carbon ranges. Lose one chamber - you have yourself a spare!

How are you intending to use it?

Intended use will effect volume, width, stiffness, length and construction. For messing around in the shallows a floaty, wide and long platform will be ideal but for racking up miles a longer, thinner touring style would be best and that means more expensive.

Remember that when you find your feet and know what you want - if looked after - your old board can fetch a good used price ideal for buying in something more suitable for your needs.

Don't get to involved with rail shapes and rocker line etc - these are generally for the hard boards and the very top iSUP boards. When you're looking into rail shapes you're entering surfing territory and outside the scope of this article.

The main thing is when starting out you simply will not know the difference between a good and bad board so if you're mate lets you have a blast of theirs and the price is good and you love it then there's never any harm in buying that model. 

Once you're in to the sport you will quickly learn all the nonsense above and can then decide what it is you really want if at all!

What about the paddle?

At the moment you don't need to worry about that. Your new iSUP will come with a paddle that will do you for some time then, as above, when you know what to look for the sky really is the limit and paddle choice can be a whole new blog article! 

Do I need a life jacket & other safety kit?

We say YES but it is totally personal choice. Be honest in your ability - it may save your life.

The sea can be extremely dangerous and your biggest investment will be common sense. Know the weather, know the tides, know your kit and above all know your ability!


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Have your say

Paul Stephenson posted on Monday 1st March 2021 11:39

Great stuff. Very informative - thanks - I am looking at buying at Easter and will have this useful article to hand!

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