A friend asked…
Hi Troy! I recall a while back at this hike you and M held at Barton Springs you mentioned you had several paddle boards. I'm looking into getting one myself and was wondering if you have any suggestions on where I can get them and what to look for? Very new to this haha thanks! - T
I have one Stand-Up Paddleboard and one kayak. I’m not an expert, but I did some research on my own and tried out a few boards before I purchased my current SUP.
There are various types of SUPs for different purposes. There are SUPs built for speed, touring, surfing, fishing, rivers, yoga and of course there are all-around SUPs. For a beginner, I recommend that you consider an all-around SUP because it will allow you to use it for a variety of purposes, situations and water.
I currently have an iRocker All Around 11ft SUP. It’s been a good iSUP for me so far. It is very stable, tracks well, and has great features like bungee cords for storage, handles for transporting, D rings for accessories and removable fins for easy transport. I bought a package that included a backpack for transporting, kayak paddle, kayak seat and electric pump. I paid about $850 all inclusive. However, the company has had some quality issue. They had a huge recall on some other models in 2022 and I'm honestly concerned about the long-term durability. They did seem to honor all the recalls under their warranty. You may purchase an iRocker from their website or on Amazon.
For any sup, as a beginner, I’d say get an 11 ft or longer and 32 inches or wider. 4-6 inches or thicker. A sup this size or larger will be the most stable as you’re learning. Other things to consider when choosing a SUP include how many grab handles, bungees and attachment points. Grab handles make it easier to move around, but also make it easier to get back on the board after falling. Bungees and attachment points help to fasten down gear if you want to bring stuff along, fish or camp. D rings make it easier to attach a tow rope, anchor or accessories.
Many beginner sups come as a kit with a board, paddle, leash, pump and bag. Sometimes the paddle might not be the best quality, but it gets you out on the water and you can learn.
I also recommend buying a paddling specific Personal Floatation Device (PFD) as well. A paddling PFD will allow easier arm movement and more comfort while paddling. I bought a used PFD from Facebook Marketplace. Some recognized brands to consider are Astral, NRS, Stohlquist and Onyx.
If you’re just starting out, there is a really good deal at Costco for a Bodyglove Performer 11ft for $400. Sometimes it goes on sale for $300.
I bought one of these as my first board and after using it for a while, I was able to sell it for the same price that I bought it. The backpack is not the best for transporting it, but it is ok for storage. It’s a great deal bc it’s a quality sup, stable, comes as a kit and the price is right. The kit includes an electric pump which makes life so much easier. These are seasonal items at Costco, so they are only available in the stores in Spring and Summer. I believe that it is also sold online seasonally.
If you want to buy one of the best quality sups around, check out a Red Paddle Co SUPs. It’s my dream SUP. They are pricey, but they are quality.
If I were looking for a specialized SUP to paddle rivers and white water, I'd probably consider Hala.
Right now, I don’t really lend out my iRocker SUP bc it is somewhat new and it was somewhat expensive. But if you want to test it out sometime, we can meet up and you can try it out.
I do have a small kayak that I lend out to anyone bc it is pretty much indestructible. Unfortunately, I do not have a rack to transport it, but It is 8 ft long and typically fits inside most suvs. If you’d like to borrow it, just let me know.
And before you head out on the water, take a look at this video that shares some basic tips:
Hopefully this answers some of your questions.