By James Fisher.
Here at Original Wild we like to think we know a thing or two about paddle boards. During the summer months we spend 12 hours a day, 7 days a week with a board beneath our feet. Not only are we racking up those hours of paddle time, we’re also helping others to enjoy the same. This means we’re constantly engaged and involved in the correct practices of paddling. And boy do we love it!
Over the years we have also had a wide variety of paddle boards to choose from. We’ve used independent companies, global brands and everything in between. This has given us a pretty good base for making some well-informed decisions. Given how popular paddle boarding has become, it’s no surprise that manufacturers have popped up everywhere claiming to offer the ‘best boards on the market’. In an internet world full of advertising and endless paddle-related pages, how are you supposed to know what’s for you?
First things first we must understand that paddle boarding is still in its relative infancy. Think back to when you were a child – do you remember seeing any paddle boards on the beaches of your youth? I definitely don’t and I’m still fairly young! (*cough*). This incredible world has blown up massively (pun entirely intended) in just the last 10-15 years. So if anybody tells you they’re an absolute expert, the chances are they’re lying. The sport has been constantly evolving and techniques and practices are ever-changing which is super exciting! There’s something new to think about all the time which make for some excellent talking points within the sport.
And talking of talking (?) we’re here to talk to YOU about choosing the right kind of paddle board in 2022. Below we outlay what to think about when deciding on your new paddling partner 🏄♂️
Or at least when it comes to board volume it does. Just like people, all boards are different. You’re probably a different size and weight to your partner, who is, in turn, a different size and weight to their friend who is, in turn….. well, you get it.
Paddle boards come in a variety of volumes which are determined by their measurements. Length x width x depth. Yeah science! Generally the heavier you are, the bigger your board should be. The slightly longer, wider and deeper they are, the more volume they’ll have.
Likewise if you’re a touch smaller, you could get away with a paddle board with less volume and still maintain the correct trim in the water. (How much it sits above or below the water line.) If you’re buying one board between two of you, always work to the heavier persons limits. This way it will cover both of you with no issues!
Think about shape!
You may have noticed, depending on how far down the paddle board research worm hole you are, that the nose and tail shapes of different board brands tend to vary. Take Red Paddle Co for instance, their boards are much more shapely at the front and back. Fairly rounded on both which helps to add width to as much of the board as possible.
Some people prefer this as it maintains a level of stability. The downside is that they can be a little less reactive and a bit slower to turn. It’s also hard to get a real feel of board feedback if you’re moving about a lot.
In contrast, take Quroc’s Crossover range. The noses are much more defined, the tail end cuts in much quicker and the back of the board is unforgivingly squared off. This board would offer slightly less in terms of stability, but if you improve your balance after spending some time on it then there’s a whole host of rewards waiting for you. Sensory feedback from your feet is improved, ‘feeling’ what the board is doing becomes much more nuanced. You’re able to tell the board what you want it to do and it’ll do it without issue. They’re winners at Original Wild!
It all comes down to how much you’re likely to use your board and how much time you can afford to practice not falling off. But if you get the chance then definitely give them both a go and see what works for you!
Material & structure
Not all paddle boards are created equal. Generally speaking you do get what you pay for and if you’re serious about the sport then it’s worth investing in quality kit. Just make sure it fits your budget and lifestyle. Budget will be relative to everyone of course, so it’s best to be sensible and realistic.
If paddle board manufacturers don’t have anything to hide then they’ll willingly tell you everything you want to know. ‘But what do I want to know?’ I hear you ask. Thanks for asking – it’s an important question. You’re looking for material types, how many layers of material the board has, internal construction, rigidity and seam overlays.
- Material types. Can you find a sustainably sourced product with environmentally friendly materials?
- Material layers. You want a minimum of two layers. Double skinned boards are more durable, reliable and rigid.
- Internal construction. What’s going on inside? Does it benefit from X-woven drop stitch construction?
- Seam overlays. How far overlapped are your seams? Some cheaper products may scrimp on material leaving you with a less reliable seam.
Local or global?
If supporting local matters to you then it’s definitely worth finding some decent UK paddle board brands. Quroc we’ve already mentioned, you’ve also got companies such as Fatstick, Two Bare Feet, and Sandbanks Style. All of which will make it much easier when it comes to customer care and advice. They’re also local enough to go and try before you buy – winner!
Last but not least you’ll want to think about the boards application. What you’re going to be using it for is just as important as the money you’ll be spending on it! Board applications can mostly be split into five different categories:
- All-rounder. This will be your choice if you’re fairly new to the sport. Covers most bases fairly well whilst you get used to being on the water.
- Racing. These boards are usually much narrower and longer. You’ll often see these with a raised section above the deck to streamline the paddler.
- Touring. Again these will be longer than an all-rounder but they’ll remain fairly wide – 30″/32″. Great for covering long distances in relative comfort.
- White water. White water boards are a bit shorter, bit stubbier in shape and a touch wider than your average. They’ll generally have a bigger rocker in them with all sorts of handles and foot placement holds.
- Surfing. Just like a surfboard they’ll have less volume to increase speed. They will also benefit from narrower tails to improve turn responsiveness.
Have a think about what you’d like to do with your board and where you’d like to take it. We’d definitely recommend starting with an all-rounder if you’re completely new to the sport. And then push the boundaries from there!
So there it is, a quick intro to choosing the right paddle board for you in 2022. If you need any more advice or if you have any questions then don’t hesitate to get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.
Stay adventurous! X