Choosing the Right Board

Welcome to the wide world of standup paddleboards!  Here is our basic guide to help you understand which board is the right one for you (or your family, friend, relationship, etc).  There is both art and science in choosing a board so this guide will serve to provide you with the basic information to point you in the right direction. To further narrow down your search, drop by the shop or call and our staff will be happy to help.

THE KALAVIDA EXPERIENCE (since 2009): Our shop was established in 2009 when the sport was still new in Canada – We are on the water throughout the year and bring years of experience to the conversation.  We only work with SUP and Surf brands who are dedicated to growing our current and future water lovers.  Our mission has always been to develop and promote the sport so that it grows deep roots in the region (and across the country).  Okay, let’s get going…

There are two types of general shapes (and then a variety of sub-categories within);

Planing Hull –
Often referred to as an ‘All-Rounder’ type of board, it’s basic shape looks like an oversize surf longboard, but there’s more to it’s design than meets the eye.
By Activity:  Recreational cruising, surfing, river running, fishing, yoga

Displacement Hull – They have a thicker nose and rails that allow them to maintain their speed in all types of water conditions more efficiently. If you want more ‘performance’ (speed and glide), a board from this category might be the best choice.
By Activity:  Fast flatwater cruising, fitness, racing, touring, rivers (flat), fishing.

Types-of-SUP-Hulls
WHICH LENGTH IS RIGHT? 
BY ACTIVITY:

TYPE OF PADDLING                  ALL-ROUNDER                 PERF. / TOUR           INFLATABLE
Recreational Cruising
10-12′
10’6″-14′
10′-14′
Touring
11’6-12’6
10’6″-14′
12’6-14′
Racing / Performance
 
11’6″-14′
12’6″-14′
Surfing
7′-11’6′
Advanced: 7′-9’8″
8′-10’6″
River (Rapids & Whitewater)
Inflatable 9’6″-11’6″
Composite 8′-10’6″
8′-10’6″ 
Traveling – Limited Space / Tight spaces
Inflatable

VOLUME GUIDE:  HOW WIDTH, LENGTH & THICKNESS WORK

Volume-Chart

CONSTRUCTIONS:
At the core of each board is a thick piece of foam and there are many types including EPS (expanded polystyrene ), Polystyrene and Polyurethane.  What is most important is how the board is built around the foam (resins, fiberglass, carbon, etc) and there are many types of construction (sandwich, molded, hand-finished, and more). To get a better idea of what’s inside each board, check out the brand’s website.

INFLATABLE BOARDS:
Advancements in technology have made inflatable boards much stiffer, stronger and lighter.  That’s great news for anyone who wants to travel with a board, who doesn’t want to transport it on the roof of their vehicle and for those with limited storage space. They can range in size from 8′ to 14′ for recreational paddling, touring and even racing. Sizing basics –
sup-connect-gear-of-the-year-inflatable-2016-copy
1.  4″ Thick Boards – Better for lighter paddlers, surfing, and some river paddling.  The thinner rail will surf better but a heavier person will flex the board too much.
2. 4.5″-6″ Thick Boards – Better for medium to heavier paddlers or anyone who wants the extra volume.  They allow paddlers to carry gear, kids and float higher in the water.  Downside: They won’t surf as well as the 4″ thick board and will weight an extra pound or two.

INFLATABLE GUIDE:    SURF & RIVER          RECREATIONAL       TOURING
Under 125lbs
8′-11′
4″ thick
10′-12’6′
4″ thick
12’6-14′
4.5″-6″ thick
Under 165lbs
8′-11′
4″ or 6″ thick
10′-12’6′
4″ or 6″ thick
12’6-14′
4.5″-6″ thick
Over 165lbs
8′-11′
4″ or 6″ thick
10′-14′
4.5″-6″ thick
12’6-14′
4.5″-6″ thick

BRANDS – WHY THEY ARE IMPORTANT:
There is no doubt we live in a society that is dominated by ‘brand’ named merchandise.  The basic concept is to provide you with the confidence that you can trust a specific brand for a range of values (quality, flair, cutting-edge design, etc). What does that mean for us as a consumer?

Is a higher priced board actually better value?  The word ‘value’ is different for each of us as consumers. Starboard and Naish, for example, have a long history of building all types of boards so they can be counted on for consistent quality and warranty support – This is important when you are looking for long-term value. Red Paddle has focused their efforts on building better inflatables while some of the newer brands that focus solely on SUP boards (Twin Fish, Tahoe, Yolo, Riviera)  are investing in the growth of the sport by supporting events (kids programs, races, etc).  This helps develop the necessary roots for the sport so that you’re board has a strong ‘resale’ value in 2, 5, and even 10 years.

There are plenty of ‘knock-offs’ now on the market so be wary of the direct-to-consumer brands.  You could get a ‘deal’ from a friend who sells direct to you but what happens when something goes wrong with your board?  We saw this trend happen when Snowboarding exploded into the mainstream – today only a handful of those brands remain and they are the ones who invested back into the sport and supported their dealer network.


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