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January 1970

Five Things to Consider When Buying a SUP

We have all seen it. The local lakes have been flooded with the latest craze and you want in. Standup Paddle boarding or SUP for short - is the fastest growing outdoor activity in North American...and for good reason, it is a tonne of fun. But with that popularity has come alot of manufactures, board styles and theories about what board is best. Before getting into any of that, consider these five tips when researching your first (or next) paddleboard:

Go for a SUP lesson

Learning the best paddlboarding technique right at the beginning of this journey is going to set the tone for your time on the water. Sure, you could grab a board and rely on your own athletic ability but having someone show you the best stance, paddle strokes and generally how to handle a paddleboard is going to set you up for success. The first time I tried paddleboarding I just rented one and went for it. What resulted was a huge knot in my back, some tired legs and feet and a general disdain for the sport. It wasn't until someone showed my how to paddle that I really fell in love with the sport.

Try before you buy

It is likely that if you are interested in SUPing that you have a friend or two with one. Ask them if you can give it a try for a few hours and see if this sport is for you. There is nothing worse that laying out a bunch of cash for some gear that you won't use. We want you to be stoked on paddleboarding so give it a test drive before you buy. One cautionary note though: renting from a typical beach hut you will find below average quality boards. Opt for a performance rental. Better yet, try one of our Valhalla Pure locations that rents boards or look out for a manufacture demo day. They usually happen in May each year.

Avoid the Big Box Retailer

I know this is an obvious statement coming from a small business blog but it really is true. Big Box retailers like Costco etc purchase generic shapes that fit the masses. They are often made to fit a price point and are not going to give you the best experience. Now, the case can be made that you can buy a board for cheap and get into the sport but that is short sighted. You would be better off to save your money, rent a few times while you save and get yourself a quality board. Your experience will be better and you will be a happier SUP'r because of it.

Inflatable SUP or Rigid?

This is a question I get asked all the time. I chose an inflatable board for a few reasons. One being storage and the other being durability. I am short on space and I also have young kids who tend to bang around on my gear. I was leery that the inflatable SUP would be rigid enough. It is but it takes a little extra umpf to get the PSI to the right level. You can get there with an electric pump but you usually will need to top it off with the hand pump. I think of it as a pre-SUP warm up! Going rigid you get into all sorts of shapes and sizes and usually a faster board. I lean towards inflatable but you will find out what fits your lifestyle if you default to steps one and two above :)

Upgrade as your skills develop

When you invest in your first board, don't think of it as your last. It is like getting into skiing or cycling; you start with a novice or intermediate level board and then move up as your skills develop. This will keep you interested in the sport and it will also allow you to develop your skills towards your tastes. Some will venture into SUP yoga while others will want long distance race boards or whitewater river boards. Just know that there will always be another beginner looking to buy your old board. Or in my case, my kids use the first board while my wife and I are upgrading to a more performance level board. Nothing wrong with building a family quiver!