Kako izbrati prvo desko za supanje?

Stand up paddling is a sport in which you stand on a sup board, row and slide on the surface of the water and admire nature and the surroundings. Supping started to appear in Slovenia around 2010, and since then its popularity has only been growing. 
You don't need any prior knowledge or special preparation for paddling, just the right equipment. Stand up paddling is a relaxing and fun activity suitable for both complete beginners and professional athletes, and of course everyone in between.

The most difficult choice for beginners is buying their first board. The prices of sup equipment are very different and start from a few hundred euros, but they can easily exceed a thousand, but to the untrained eye they all look very similar. However, the difference between the boards is very large, for those who do not like to read further, here is the most important advice:

  • TEST TEST and again TEST! Those sellers who sell quality goods will make it possible for you without any problems, either through their test centers, demo days or by renting a board. Don't buy something you can't try. Sports equipment is NOT bought where you buy groceries or screws. With such sums, you should buy with your head and go to a specialist dealer for advice and purchase. This is the only way you will get a sup board that will serve its purpose.

For those who are interested in more, read on.
The most basic division of sup boards is that there are inflatable or hard boards. We can already tell from the name what kind of boards it is. We will cover them in more detail in one of the future blogs. Here we will focus on buying an inflatable board, as more than 99% of inflatables sups are sold in the Slovenian market.

What is the offer of used sup equipment?
Many supers first dive into looking at used sup equipment. As with all used equipment, it also applies to SUP boards - be careful what you buy. If you have a specific board in mind, but a new one is too expensive, then of course you should also look for a used one. Many times a year old board is a better buy than buying the cheapest one from a local supermarket. But  3-year-old board that costed 300 when it was new is certainly not a sensible purchase. Specialized stores also sometimes sell second-hand test equipment, and there you will sometimes get a warranty even on second-hand goods. The life span of inflatable sup boards is increasing, but basically the life span is 5-10 years.

Tip number 1.

Choose a brand with comprehensive support
Do not buy a sup board of an unknown brand or a brand without a long history. In recent years, quite a few new sup board companies have appeared on the market, but be careful, some of them are bound to fail. If you are going to pay 500 or more euros for a new sup board, choose a manufacturer with a longer history, which will still be on the market next year. If you damage the board, you will be able to claim the warranty. Established manufacturers made surfboards, kitesurfing and windsurfing boards before entering the sup market, so they have the right technology and high-quality manufacturing processes, and as a result, so are their products- And above all, they offer comprehensive support in the event of injuries.

Tip number 2.
Which SUP board is best for me?
Despite the fact that we are talking about inflatable boards, the division according to shape is the same as for hard boards. We know:

The characteristic of these boards are that they are between 10' - 12' (3m and 3.6m) long and the board widths vary between 30'' and 34'' (76cm and 86cm). The most popular width is 32", and the length is not so important, as long as it is not shorter than 10" or 3 m. A typical representative is, say, Wasup 106 . These boards are intended for beginners who encounter stand up paddling for the first time, because they are more stable due to their width and because they are shorter, they are also more maneuverable. Boards from this family have a raised nose or more pronounced rocker. The nose protrudes out of the water, so it does not matter whether the nose is round or pointed, as it does not affect buoyancy, direction holding, speed. The general rule is that the length of the board increases its speed and direction. With width comes stability. Of course, even a big board with a bad structure will not carry a heavy paddler.

It's true, the boards from this family are intended for those who are already well acquainted with stand up paddling and have been impressed by the sport and want more from their equipment: more speed, more tracking, more kilometers paddled, more challenges, more adventures. In this class, boards are 12'6 (3.6 m) or 14' (4.3 m) and these lengths are also competition classes. Of course, there are other lengths that are fine and can be a perfectly good decision. The width of these boards is about 30'' (76 cm). Exceptionally, the width can be as low as 28" (quite unstable) or even 32" for those who want the length and speed of a touring board, but still want more stability. Touring boards are recognizable by the fact that they are completely straight and have no rocker (rocker is the curvature of the board along its length). The point of Touring boards is that they hold direction much better and are faster and to achieve this you need a long water line, and you can only achieve this by having the whole board in the water. The nose of a real touring board is in the water and cuts waves, if it's up, it doesn't add much to the speed.

An excellent choice for those who would like to occasionally windsurf, like in the good old days, when surf equipment was not so demanding. With two or three simple accessories, you can turn your inflatable sup board into a windsurfer. As these are specific boards, do your research on them thoroughly. We quickly recommend the use of moderately large sails and a gimbal joint. Pay special attention to the solution for attaching the sail to the board. Because systems where the sails are practically glued to the board are rather short-lived and sooner or later the board will be damaged.

The lengths are the same as the previously mentioned touring boards, with the fact that these boards are narrower and much more difficult to handle. We recommend testing before purchasing.
  • White water – wild waters, say the Soča or parts of the Sava

Similar to riding waves, there are boards designed for riding rapids, but it's a very niche thing and we won't pay much attention to it. Just a quick note, you need special knowledge and special equipment for running water, and you should never go on river expeditions alone. Of course, stagnant lakes created behind hydroelectric dams are exempt and you can paddle on them without any worries.

Sup boards are designed to be used on water - fresh, salt, calm, rolling - and only your imagination is your limit, just avoid fast flowing rivers if you are not sure about what you are doing.

All boards are the same, only the prices are different.

You couldn't be more wrong, the boards are also VERY different in construction. All boards are made of dropstitch material. It is the embroidery that is found in the board and gives it structural strength and if this embroidery is bad, the board will be soft, unstable and paddling on it will not be any fun. You've probably seen some people sitting while others are paddling easily around them. How to separate the wheat from the weeds? Test, test and test. And the awareness that what drives a child without a problem, does not drive an adult. A 100kg man can't ride with a children's bike either.

Mine is inflated to 25 bars... not true, the pressure is measured in PSI, these are the English measurements used in nautical. Inflatable sup boards are pumped up to 15 PSI, which is equal to 1 bar. If you have the desire and will, you can also inflate them to a higher pressure. A good board will be solid underfoot at 12 PSI, but a bad one will curl even if you somehow manage to get it to 30 PSI, because the strength of the board is affected by the structure in the "dropstitch" board and not pressure, additional reinforcements, etc. In any case, when choosing a board, it can be a good indicator of how much you can pump up the board. Single ply boards can be inflated to 16 PSI. But 16 PSI is also recommended. It means that you have such a board pumped up to the upper limit for a lifetime. There is a good chance that it will subside much sooner than something stronger. Good boards can be inflated to 20 and more PSI, but 16 PSI is still recommended. However, you ride significantly differently, because the first one is inflated to the limit, while the second one still has some 'reserve'... Pay particular attention to various offers where the board is small and claims it has it all. But nowhere can you find information on how much you can pump it. You will easily find sups that claim to be double-layer, but you can inflate them to a maximum of 14 psi. It is just false advertising. But most of all, watch out for big discounts. A board that someone claims is worth 699 and is on sale for 300 euros at the beginning of the season is just a hoax and the board is probably only worth 200. Avoid cheap double-chamber sups. The sup is glued on the edge and that is the weak point of almost all sup boards. The two-chamber has even more of these edges and therefore a much greater chance of problems. If it leaks between chambers, the sup cannot even be repaired. Do not forget about the service. Where will you take the sup when something goes wrong? In supermarket, you can only hope that the sup is still under warranty. Buy a sup with at least a 2-year warranty - this is always a sign of better manufacturers.

When buying an inflatable sup board, the set must contain: a board, a pump (for recognized ones, this is double action), a bag with shoulder straps or wheels, a fin and a safety leash (this ensures that the board does not float away if you fall off it). In some cheaper sets there is no safety leash. The paddle is usually part of the kit on cheaper boards and is mostly aluminum. Aluminum paddles are also VERY different from each other. Shark SUP boards already have a carbon paddle in the set, and for this reason they are considered boards with the best ratio between quality and price. Premium boards generally do not include sup paddles, as experienced paddlers generally want to choose the paddle themselves. But when buying a board and paddle, you will almost always get a nice discount on the paddle.

Measurements : when marking everything on sup boards, the Anglo-Saxon or imperial measurement system is used.
Usually somewhere on the board you will find the following notation 10'6'' 32'' 6'' (Length, Width, Thickness) which means 10.6 feet (feet), 32 inches (inch) and 6 inches (inch).
1 inch = 2.51 centimeters
1 foot = 0.304 meter
For basic knowledge, it will be enough if you know that 3 feet equals 1 meter and 1 inch equals 2.5 cm.
So the board described above is 3.2m long, 81cm wide and 15cm thick and is a great family board.
PRESSURE we do not pump the board in bars, but in PSI, where 15 PSI equals 1 bar and this is the pressure that is sufficient for good boards.