Which board should you buy?
The number of people who enjoy a session with us and who then go on to buy their own board is really high, which is brilliant. Our aim is to not only enable people to experience the sport we love, but to enable them to be self sufficient to the extent that they can continue to engage with it.
The percentage of those who buy their own boards and then join us on our social sessions is growing all the time, but the most common question from all the people we teach is… ‘which board should I buy’?
The frustrating response, is that there’s no simple answer that suits everyone. Your size, your SUPping habits (coast, river, surf etc) and budget will all dictate your decision, and we recommend you try before you buy. Many shops or SUP centres, such as the nearby Bray Lake facility, enable you to try in a safe environment.
What should you look for?
Paddle boards are everywhere, which is great news. The proliferation of brands making and selling them means the prices are slowly falling too, but beware buying cheap… you may end up buying twice. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
If you’re looking for a board to learn on and develop your skills, or simply to use on holiday with family and friends, then we recommend something that’s going to provide with you the most stability for the best experience.
Our fleet consists of several brands. They different sizes and shapes, but most of our boards are 6 inches thick and over 30 inches wide. Many of the cheaper boards you’ll find in your supermarkets will be less thick, some 4 inches, and less wide, which makes for a really flimsy experience… not ideal. This increases your chance of getting wet.
Furthermore, if you continue to enjoy it and improve, you might want to progress to something that’s faster and more manoeuvrable.
So, check the dimensions of any board first. And whatever you do, avoid anything that’s around 4 inches thick… we recommend anything around 6′ thick, 30’+ wide and over 10ft long.
We won’t bore you with any technical details but you won’t be surprised to know that some boards are better than others, and that’s reflected in the price you pay. Some have more layers, which provide greater stability, others have more layers in key areas. Some have better quality stitching, better valves, fins, leash and the paddle itself… you get the picture. If you’re learning for the first time you won’t need the best board you can buy, but also try and refrain from buying a board from the popular discount stores or one of the major supermarkets, particularly if they’re under £250. Not everyone has money to burn, but these boards are cheap for a reason… Our first board was from Decathlon, and it served a purpose, yet within a year we’d upgraded…
We’ve experienced several brands – some good, some not so good – and so we’re happy to recommend the following boards which have worked for us. Each includes a full pack, so comes with bag, leash, paddle, find and repair kit.
Gong Chop 10’/11′
Finding a budget board is a precarious business, so we don’t think you’ll find better than these from Gong, based in France. A windsurf and surf brand with years of experience, their boards are excellent quality, and still weigh in under £350 inc. postage.
Fanatic Pure Air
Most of our boards are the Fanatic Pure Air. Excellent quality, and the perfect size for people of all sizes. The quality is superb (ours take a lot of abuse!).
McConks Go Simple/Go Anywhere
Made in the UK by a family business and boasting premium quality at low prices, you can’t really go wrong.
Arguably the world’s most popular brand, UK brand Red boast excellent quality. These boards are regular award winners, hence the price tag.