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Buying a Paddleboard for The First Time

Are you in the market for your first Stand Up Paddleboard? Maybe you are looking for a replacement board for one that didn't live up to its hype? A good quality paddleboard can be a lifetime purchase and last you many years if the right choice is made.  There are many low quality boards with wild quality claims available on the market. Sadly, there are no paddleboard quality police substantiating all of the claims and we realize how complicated making this decision can be. The internet is full of companies peddling stories and fiction about what makes a quality board.  Let us help you navigate make the best decision in your purchase by covering the most common questions we face about buying an inflatable paddleboard here at Anahola Board Co. 

Q: What indicates quality in an inflatable paddleboard?

A: Maximum inflation PSI is the best indicator.  Think of a paddleboard like a car tire. If the maximum a car tire could hold was 15 PSI, you would have a poor, unresponsive, springy ride. Your paddling energy goes into the spring of the board when it flexes and not into propelling the board forward.  Poorly inflated boards are inefficient boards that also drag lower in the water. A low PSI rating is also an indication of inferior design and skimping on materials to compete at a lower cost.  Less PVC and low thread count of space yarn which provide the structure and rigidity all contribute to a lower PSI board.  Any board with a max inflation rating over 20 PSI is considered "High Quality". High PSI, high quality boards have 10+ year lifespans if properly cared for.  Boards under 18 PSI are considered lower quality. Boards in the 12-15 PSI range are generally  "big box store" or "introductory" brand quality which companies use to gain access to the market at a low price and market to unassuming buyers.  These are the absolute lowest performing range of boards with dramatically shorter quality lifespan. 

A second indicator is thread count. Count the dots in a square inch on the bottom of a board.  There should be small dots where the threads of space yarn connect.  The space yarn acts like the spans of a bridge providing the internal strength, and contributing to flexural rigidity. The higher the count , the more rigid the ride and better the quality.  This is where manufacturers "hide" cost. The space yarn core is the highest cost component of a board.  Less threads equals less cost but also poorer quality. 


The third contributor to overall quality is rail design and weight. Light weight boards are a lot like low PSI boards. If they are light weight, something was sacrificed to get it there. While we all like a light board for carrying, the difference of a barely noticeable 0.5kg can mean the difference between a long lasting, well built board, and a 2 season garbage can liner.  Does your board have a rolled rail? Double rolled rails are the highest quality available because they take time and very few factories have this ability.  Most discount entry level boards glue a layer of rail tape (PVC fabric) over top of the seams to simulate a rolled rail edge and hide the seam.  This is just a cover and is the most common failure point on a cheap inflatable board. After being rolled multiple times and exposed to inflation and deflation, the adhesive gives way and the leaks start and don't stop. Anahola's specially engineered double rolled rails lock the specialty 15 year adhesive that we source at an additional cost in , trapping all air and preventing the rail seams from leaking while also providing a rigid rail.        


The last contributor is components. Does it have enough D-rings and anchor points to make the board useful for hauling your gear? Does it have a bungee system to hold your backpack? How long is the deck pad? Is it long enough of a pad to be used for yoga or for your dog to sit on? How thick is the deck pad?  What type of fin system does it have? Proprietary fin systems like clip in fins may seem nice but lose a fin or a clip and parts are hard to find.  A universal "US style" fin box allows for the owner to buy literally thousands of different styles, colors and shapes of aftermarket fins.  What other components come with the board that add value? Does it come with a standard backpack or a roller backpack so I can travel with it thru an airport or down the boardwalk to the beach with ease? Does it have compartments and zippers and storage for my things? Is it made with good material that will withstand the abuse of going thru an airport luggage system?  What kind of paddle comes with it? Aluminum paddles are the cheapest but are very strong, followed by plastic composite, smooth fibreglass, spun fibreglass, and the most expensive being carbon fibre/ and fibre composites. Our paddles are a spun fibreglass which incorporates small ridges adding grip to the shaft while increasing the strength and keeping it light. Does it come with a leash? Leashes save lives... and lost boards. Don't paddle without one. Is the pump single or dual stage? The more work the pump does, the less work you have to.  

Q:  What is the best board shape, length, thickness and style for me? 

A: A lot of times this is a personal decision based on ability.   Other times this is predicated on use, and other times this is predicated on the riders weight but more often than not, its combination of all three.  

Longer, thinner boards are less stable. Generally they track straighter and run "truer", they are also faster.  Touring boards are usually in the 28"-30" width range. And are perfect for river cruising and long distance paddling where you want to make miles with ease.   Racing boards are <28".   All round boards are 30-32" and provide the best all round performance balance.  Yoga specific boards are 32-34+" wide and provide a large balance area and are ultra stable.  They however have the performance of a barge and tend to push water instead of glide.  

A riders weight will help determine the thickness of the board. Thickness equals volume to hold air and provide buoyancy.  Thinner boards (4"-5") are only good for kids and weights to around a max of 150 lbs. After 150 lbs, the board generally won't sink, but it will plough thru the water instead of glide on the water and look more like a saddle than a paddleboard.  6" boards are the most common in the industry and give the buoyancy required for up to 300 lb riders and keep cold toes out of the water.  our 6" versions sell at a 25:1 ratio of all other thicknesses for this reason.  

Q: Why are your packages comparable in price to others yet they have so many extras and are a such a high quality?

A:  Simply, this comes down to economies of scale and purchasing power.  We have been in business since 2014, one of the first to enter the market.   During this time we have established our market across North America and continually improved on our components and construction.  Our manufacturing relationship is very strong and we have been able to streamline many of our input costs by manufacturing in volumes higher than the industry standard.  This saves on materials, shipping, freight and many other areas.  We also spend very little on marketing and promotions/overhead relying on repeat business, relationships with our vendors, wholesale business, and most importantly referrals.  We are a family run business and our costs to operate are minimized which translate into lower prices. You will also never see our products in a big box store.  Its not our market.  Companies pay big listing dollars for the exposure.  We pride ourselves in being a boutique paddleboard company with a focus on customer service and an exceptional product. When you release that ability to a big box store, you lose your impact and ability to build a relationship with your customer base.    

Q: Warranty?

We don't mess around.  2 years no questions asked on workmanship and material.  Visit our Warranty  page for more info.   

Q: Where can I get one?

A: The best place to find a board that checks off all of the above is here on our website:  

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