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Team McConks album

Team McConks photowall

Team McConks photowall

We get lots of photos sent from our lovely extended family – holiday photos, fun photos, photos of kids growing up.  We love getting them, and we love seeing our kit being used around the world. It makes all the late nights and hard work worth it to see those smiles!

But some of you have asked if we could create a gallery of the photos you’ve sent, even asking if it’s possible for you to upload them directly. and the answer has always been no, because we’ve not been able to configure the website securely enough to allow this to happen.

We did it!

Guess what… We’ve finally found a secure way to do it 🙂 You can now use a simple form to upload photos to the Team McConks photowall.

And even better, you can write a short note or short article. as part of the upload! So you can provide some words to set the scene or to promote your favourite cause.

Team McConks photowall
Feature on our photowall.

Map your photos and footage

We’re also implementing a way that you’ll be able to add a pin to a map to locate the photos, which will then open up the post and photos.   It’s in beta at the moment, but you can try it here.

Map your challenges and travels on McConks Map. This video is of Roger Chandler being the first person EVER to circumnavigate Menorca on a SUP. And he did it on a McConks Go Explore 12’8

Upload from your phone or tablet

But the best bit?  You can do all of this direct from your phone or tablet. The upload has been optimised for mobile. So snap away with your snazzy new waterproof phone, and upload on the go. No more waiting around ’til you get in front of a laptop!

The small print

You retain full copyright of your photos, and if McConks ever would like to use the photos in any of our marketing, we will of course ask for permission.

The only rules about submitting a post and photos are:

  1. Keep it clean and legal
  2. You remain responsible and liable for the content
  3. Make it fun
  4. You agree that we can share a link to the post you’ve created on social media (Facebook, Insta, Twitter, Pinterest)

p.s. There might be short delay between submitting your post and photos and the post going live on the website. Sorry about this, but we do need to check that the content is suitable for our webpage, and not spammy.  The posts will appear here, and we will (eventually) put a link to the feed on our homepage.

p.p.s If you want to promote your SUP related business through this feed, you’re welcome to do so as long as you feature our products as part of the photos/feed please.  You can add a URL, so you can use this as part of your SEO strategy.

p.p.p.s   You will also be able to view all of the photos in a photo gallery, but we’re still working on that! 

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Cleanliness is next to unleakiness

Cleanliness is next to unleakiness

If you’re looking for top quality, bombproof SUP without any airbubbles or imperfections, a clean  factory is a good place to start.

McConks aseptic environment

The video at the bottom of this post was taken today of our McConks boards in production by our quality assessor.

Things to notice:

  • The floor is lined. This lining is replaced regularly – the lining is ripped up, the floor is swept and vacuumed under the lining, and then the lining replaced with new material and taped down.  Any dust that remains is locked out of the working environment under the lining.  Whilst this might seem like a waste of material, it’s better than lots of iSUP boards needing to be disposed of because they have dust or other impurities in the glue, and hence have leaky rails!
  • Every workstation is meticulously clean. No random bits of tape or paper that can get caught up in the manufacturing process and cause board failures.
  • A large stack of inflated boards. The fins are glued on when the boards are inflated, so it’s not unusual to see lots of inflated boards in factories, However, in our factory, the boards are left inflated to 15PSI for 72 hours, after which they are pressure tested. In the very unlikely situation that the boards have microscopic leaks, the boards do not get sold.

There's a reason why our boards don't leak, and have no air bubbles in the seams.It's because, unlike some other brands, we have a meticulously clean factory. As you can see in this short vid of our boards being made.We don't give this a fancy name for marketing purposes. We just call it good practice. #asepticenvironment#cleanenoughtooperate#cleanenoughtoeatoff#heatfusion#proudlymadeinchina#suplife

Geplaatst door McConks op Donderdag 22 november 2018
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Black Friday SUP offers

Sorry. We don’t do Black Friday, or Black Friday week, or Black Friday month.

We do something much better. We offer up to 35% discount.

Which means you can buy a SUP from one of the fastest growing SUP brands in the UK for around half the price of it’s biggest competitor – Red Paddle Co.  Don’t you think that’s better than any Black Friday offer?

YOU WON’T FIND BLACK FRIDAY OFFERS HERE SORRY

Why don’t we do Black Friday? 

Black Friday is the time when retailers and etailers discount stuff that they have failed to sell all year, or desperately try to flog stock that they’re not going to sell by Christmas.

We can’t keep up with demand at McConks – because we price all of our gear at the right price all year round, we’re almost permanently out of stock! And because making quality gear takes a long time, it takes a long time to get kit back in stock. And therefore we don’t need to discount overstock products.

Our offer is quite different. 

Although we don’t do Black Friday, we can offer you up to 35% discount, which is as good as many Black Friday offers. But we can only offer that if you preorder for Spring 2019.  If you can wait for a few months, then you can get up to 35% off our SUP gear – boards, paddles, pumps, and more.

So ask yourself this…

Are you that desperate for your SUP gear, that you’re willing to buy gear that retailers have been unable to sell so far this year at a bit of a discount? 

Or would you rather pay less to buy brand new kit from one of the fastest growing and most respected SUP brands in the UK?

Check out our preorder prices for 2019 if you answered the right way 🙂

“But I need a present to unwrap”

If it’s a Christmas present you’re after, and you’re worried about the lack of a physical present to open, we can send you a glossy voucher/IOU to hide under your Christmas tree (if you ask). 

Alternatively, we have lots of attractively priced, quality items that make great presents. Why not buy a warm winter bobble, a snuggly organic SUPwear hoodie, a vintage canvas baseball cap or some floating wooden polarised sunglasses.

But to get ahead of the game, we think our 2019 preorders are better value than ANY Black Friday offer.

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Is this the start of something big?

McConks preorder deals

Is this the start of a beautiful relationship?

McConks are looking for independent instructors, organisations and companies who share our vision and ethics to join us in our mission to get more people on the water.

If you already know who we are, how we can help your company grow, and are just after our preorder and trade price list, you can register here.

If you still need convincing, please read on!

Not just great quality, great value SUP kit

It’s not an easy life running an adventure or watersports company. And when inflatable SUP from the market leaders set you back over £1k a board, it can be hard to make the finances stack up.  But because McConks are a direct sales only brand, without an expensive distribution and retail network, we’re a fraction of the price of the big brands, for kit that’s every bit as good. And even better according to some of our brand friends.

We wouldn’t be an approved supplier to the likes of the Princes Trust, Essex County Council and the MOD, unless we made reliable, robust kit.

We wouldn’t be working with respected watersports providers and instructors unless our kit lasted and was good value.

But we offer so much more than great prices and great kit.  We love working with friends and partners to help everyone’s interests. It can be a competitive, dog eat dog world out there, if you let it be. But that’s not how we operate. We don’t do the whole corporate ego thing, and we don’t worry about what our competitors do. We just focus on what’s right for us, and for the companies we like to call friends and partners.

We’ve spent a couple of years building up both our product portfolio, and our brand presence. With a 300% increase in our social media profile reach this year, we’re regularly reaching 5,000+ people a week with our videos and posts on social media. And with almost 40,000 visitors to our webpages over the last 12 months (up from 7,000 the year before), we can lever our channels to help you market your business without needing to spend lots of money on SEO or advertising.

Over the next 12 months we’re planning a significant push on one of our websites www.supgiftcard.com, and any outdoor company can join the scheme. And in total, we’re forecasting over 80,000 new visitors (120,000 total visitors) to our McConks/SUPhubUK/SUPgiftcard ecosystem over the next 12 months.

Our success is your success

As a great example of what can we can achieve together, we’ve been working hard with GoXperience, an adventure yacht charter outfit based in Croatia to really push the SUP side of their business.  And we produced this little video for Nathan, which has helped keep his SUP adventures full since we started working with him.

Croatian colours by SUP and sail | Live life, love life

How do you make your adventures? Living the #suplife#sun#sup#sail#livelife#lovelife

Geplaatst door McConks op Zondag 10 juni 2018

Part of our success is driven by our hard work on social media and working to increase our McConks brand awareness and reach. But to be honest, the lions share of the growth coming from the positivity and enthusiasm of the companies we call friends.

Your success is our success

And when the partnership model works well, everyone benefits. If you haven’t seen it already, this video is a great example of a company  (Ant and Lianne Ing at Standup Paddle Board UK in Llangollen) that we’re proud to call McConks friends, doing their bit to push and promote the SUP life!

What else do you get if you join our family?

The warm fuzzy feeling of knowing you’re part of an ecosystem of companies and people working together to look after one another is a pretty big part of it.  But you probably want to know about merch, discounts and deals.

Our merch includes flags and stickers, t-shirts, hoodies, caps and hats, inflatable buoys, floating sunnies and lots more. And our merch range will be expanding in 2019.  But you’ll need to register to find out more 🙂

Can I retail your kit

McConks are a direct sales only, so sorry, no, you can’t retail in the traditional sense.   However, we are developing a network of regional experience providers/instructors, who will be able to sell McConks products as part of a wider experience package. If this is of interest to you, then get in touch.

How do I find out more

Visit bit.ly/preorderenquiry to register and get your hands on our price list. Or just give us a call on 07387 383243 – we don’t bite!

http://www.facebook.com/mcconksuk

Who would like a free SUP Paddle…..?We are looking for 6 people who are experienced SUP paddlers (not beginners…

Geplaatst door Norfolk Outdoor Adventures op Maandag 10 september 2018
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Four's a crowd!

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Deferred or instant gratification

Deferred or instant gratification?

Do you get the most pleasure from having what you want, when you want it? Do you get a thrill from being a little impulsive with your money? Or do you get the biggest emotional pick me up from planning wisely, choosing, and then looking forward to something in the future?

These two types of pleasure are described as instant gratification and deferred gratification respectively. Scientific studies of emotion and hormones have concluded that waiting, anticipating, and looking forward longingly to a special treat is what gives most people the greatest pleasure. But we also know that, in general, people are really poor at choosing deferred gratification over instant pleasure. Ask a kid whether they want one sweet today, or two sweets tomorrow, and they’re pretty certain to choose one sweet today (1). As we get older we typically get a little better at choosing to wait, but but we’re still not (in general!) very good at waiting for the pleasure.

So ask most people if they would rather a used, second hand 2018 paddleboard without a warranty right now, for the same price as a brand new one with a three year warranty in January 2019, and most people will choose the instant gratification. And it goes without saying this is the wrong choice for most people, most of the time.

If you’re smarter than most people, and fully buy into the idea of deferred gratification, and can wait until January 2019 or April 2019 for 30% off brand new SUP packages (2), then McConks are for you.  If you’re a business wanting to take advantage of our preorder deals, register here. If you’re not a business, contact andy@mcconks.com for more information.

If, however, you need instant gratification, and are looking for an instant deal, then use voucher code 128discount2018 on our webshop checkout page for an instant 10% discount (3) on our 12’8 Go Explore boards, or our Polarised floating sunglasses. And we’ll even throw in a free car sticker and helmet sticker!

And if you want to know why we’re offering these discounts, check out the slides below. (and if they don’t work, you can view them here)

If you’re worried about sustainability, and don’t want to buy new, then follow us on facebook, instagram and twitter, as we’ll be selling off some of our demo and rental fleet soon.

(1) So established is this as an economic and scientific principle, that it’s built into pretty much every economic model, future benefits being discounted to account for this perceived lower value in the future
(2) 50% non-refundable posit needed when order is placed by 15 October 2018, remaining 50% payment before delivery in Jan 2019.

(3) only available while stocks last and until 31 October 2018

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Do you wear sunglasses in winter?

McConks bamboo sunglasses

Do you wear sunglasses in winter?

Should you?  Absolutely yes!

20 years ago, probably the only people who could get away with wearing shades in winter were skiers, and celebs. Except maybe Bono, who never quite got away with it.  Any normal people were laughed at, or called wannabe celebs.floating sunglasses

But in recent years, medical understanding of the damage that winter sun can do to our eyes means that the majority of optometrists will now recommend wearing UV400 sunglasses year round.

Although the sun isn’t as hot in winter,  it doesn’t mean that the UV rays are any less dangerous. And with the sun sitting lower in the sky and at different angles during the winter, the exposure and damage can actually be greater.  Especially if you’re looking at the horizon for an extended period, such as at sports events, or when you’re paddling or riding.

The two highest risk groups are watersports participants and mountain sports participants.  Both groups of people typically spend lots of time outside in winter, spending lots of time looking at the horizon, and in an environment that reflects the sun back up (water and snow/ice).

And if you don’t look after your eyes, you can suffer from early onset of a range of eye diseases normally associated with aging, such as macular degeneration.

So get wearing theose shades in winter!

And if you don’t have any yet…

McConks have developed a range of sunglasses aimed at paddlers that are polarised, that float, and that provide all the protection you need, all year round.  And they’re sustainable and ethical.

Also check out Moonshine eyewear, another UK company making eco-responsible top quality sunglasses. And they’re sponsoring the SUP Team GB this year.

Stay safe on the water!

 

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When things go wrong

So. We’re finally in France on holidays. Tent’s pitched, new McConks van pride of place, boards pumped up, barbecue lit, cold beer in hand. It should be bliss. We’ve worked damn hard all year to look forward to these two weeks.

But all is not as relaxed as it should be. In fact, we’re pretty damn stressed. We’ve been totally let down by logistics partners over the last few weeks. There’s no need to go into details, and many of you reading this have probably been on the sharp end of the shoddy service and broken promises from us, so you don’t need to be reminded.

In simple terms, a small delay to one of our shipments has mothballed into an event that is kind of overwhelming us right now. We (in hindsight foolishly) tried to keep everyone happy by upgrading people waiting for Go Simple boards to Go Anywhere boards. But we then experienced a bizarre chain of events that meant that our Go Anywhere boards were delayed by a few more weeks, meaning that we broke promises. Add to that DPD (our UK courier of choice) going into meltdown and starting to lose packages left right and centre, and we had the perfect storm. And that perfect storm meant that, quite simply, we had way more communications to deal with than we’ve ever had to deal with. And once we were on the back foot, firefighting and responding to messages reactively, we lost the ability to communicate proactively and let everyone know what was going on. And although we like our customers to be able to reach us in lots of different ways, the same customers contacting us through facebook, chat, Instagram, email and twitter (understandably) just exacerbated the issue.

And now we’re in France, a few hundred miles away from where all the action is. The delayed Go Anywhere boards have just arrived, and are now in the process of being turned around by our very good friends at Cotswold Water Park Hire and Busy Finger  . And do we ever owe these chaps and chapesses a crate of wine or two? They’ve dropped everything to help us out and do whatever they can to get boards out to those of you who are waiting, and in doing so, have just salvaged a bit of our reputation!

But we have lots of work to do over the coming months to further repair the damage. We can’t guarantee that delays like this won’t happen again; these sorts of logistics and customs delays are entirely out of our hands. But we can invest in systems to improve our comms and responsiveness. And we will be doing so. We already have some great ideas about how to streamline our communication whilst still keeping it personal rather than anonymous! More on this in due course.

For those of you who have contacted us with terse tones and sharp words – we don’t blame you. We would be doing exactly the same thing if we were in your position. I hope this explanation does just that  – explains why this has happened.

Finally, thanks to all of you who have been so understanding and patient. Most of you have been totally lovely, and more understanding than we deserve. And we feel privileged to have people like you as our customers.

Once we know that all of this shipment of boards is out for delivery with DPD, we can finally relax. And that day can’t come soon enough!

Happy paddling (eventually!)

Team McConks

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the good news and the bad news

An explosion in SUP popularity

It’s been a while since we’ve blogged, which gives you an idea how busy this spring and summer has been.  It has been an unbelievably manic year, both for our SUP and accessories sales business mcconks.com and our hire business SUPbyPost.com.

Why is everyone sold out of SUP boards?

Why has it been so busy? A combination of the amazing weather and the growth of SUP have put more people in contact with people who SUP. The good weather means that people are spending more time on beaches and by rivers and lakes, and coming into contact with the ever increasing number of people who are SUPing.  Add to this the awesome reviews our kit is getting and our ever improving brand awareness, and we have been totally taken aback by the demand!

Here’s some of the startling figures for this year

  1. The number of hits to our website has quadrupled, and the number of organic hits increased fivefold
  2. We have sold four times as many SUP boards as this time least year
  3. We have sold on average 1 short river fin a day for the past six weeks
  4. We are now selling out before products even land in the UK.

So the bad news is that we are sold out of all SUP packages, other than the Go Wild, Go Surf and Go Free packages.

We will have more Go Anywhere and Go Explore stock available for delivery at the end of August, but we’re currently taking pre-orders on those, and they are likely to be out of stock mid August.

We will have no more Go Simple boards available until 2019 sorry.

And for those of you disappointed by this, please don’t phone, email or message us asking to confirm if this is really true, and if we have some stock kept in reserve.  We don’t. We are definitely out of stock. We can’t magic boards from thin air. And we don’t have any that we can lend, hire or rent until September.

The good news…

…is that we have loads of paddles, fins, electric pumps, bags and leashes.

And the very good news is that our sensational bamboo and wooden floating polarised sunglasses have finally arrived. Those of you who have been waiting patiently will be getting your glasses within the next few days – thanks for your patience!

Wooden grey polarised sunglasses

Current McConks SUP stock level

To check on stock level visit http://www.bit.ly/McConksStock or https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15KuUMiqKZ4reRRzeSIQ95OLp5gyCdkeVn2OrkBe20R8/edit?usp=sharing

Summer hiatus

Family McConks will be taking a very well earned rest from 31st July to 20th August. Which is pretty good timing as our  next shipment should be arriving that week!  But the shop will be closed between 31 July and 19 August, and responses to communications will be a little slower than normal.

So all that remains to be said for now is thanks, and have a great summer.  Make the most of this weather as much as you possibly can!

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Budget inflatable SUP are awesome

Quality iSUP or budget iSUP

Budget inflatable SUP are awesome

They get people on the water, standup paddleboarding or SUPing, for the first time ever. Whether it be at a local beach, on a river, or on a lake.  Whether it be with family, friends, dogs, or by themselves, cheap inflatable SUP get people on the water. And with all the well documented health benefits that being in nature, being with friends, or being outside brings, this is a massively positive thing.

But if you can buy a budget board for under £300, why does anyone ever pay more?  Is it just because they’ve fallen for marketing by big watersports brands? Is it because there is a real difference in quality?

The answer is a bit of both…

Why inflatable SUP boards by big brands cost more

The big brands typically have a big supporting infrastructure – sponsoring developing riders, major events, and grassroots development amongst other value added benefits, all of which are important for the sport as a whole.   It’s OK if you don’t feel part of that, and don’t see why you should pay for it.  But it is an explanatory factor.

And of course, many of the brands sell through local shops and retailers.  who need to make a margin to keep trading.   And these shops often don’t make a massive profit: They do it for the love of the sport, and the stoke. We have seen the number of watersports shops decreasing over recent years as they fail to compete with online direct sales, and as the big brands squeeze their margins.  If you don’t want to be part of that scene, that’s OK, and as a direct sales brand, we’re not in any position to point fingers! But these shops also provide value added activities, giving advice on places to SUP for example, or allowing you to try lots of boards.  And once they’re gone, they’re gone.

But that’s an aside, and doesn’t address the real issue of whether there is a real difference in quality between premium boards and budget boards.  And more importantly, whether this difference is important to beginners.

What we’re going to say here isn’t true across the board (pun intended). We’ve seen some expensive boards with  dodgy build quality and poor quality accessories in the past.  We’ve also seen some great value budget boards that look like they’re made to last and will really generate that ‘I love SUP’ feeling.

We can of course only speak definitively about McConks, but we suspect that many of the differences we’ve seen between our premium boards and some of the cheaper boards out in the wild apply fairly widely. And when you know what you’re looking for, you don’t need an x-ray machine to determine the quality of the board.

Which leads us on to…

The reason why centres and instructors use premium quality SUP is because they last, they’re reliable, and good for beginners and for development.

Inflatable SUP build quality and design

Many of the budget boards just look cheap. Like a teenager designed them in an arts project.  There’s not necessarily a problem with this, especially if you like the design. But a board that looks cheap is normally indicative of a lack of care and attention.

Something that isn’t always apparent from the marketing photos (which are always the best board in a batch), is just how poor quality control can be.  We’ve seen budget boards where the deckpad is cut to shape with a Stanley knife when still attached to the board. Believe it or not, we’ve seen some budget boards where this cut has actually gone through into the board itself, meaning that they leak from day one.

You can spot a premium board from the cut of its gib – they have regular and even overlaps at seams. All of the PVC is fully adhered, and they are well cut.  Whilst the look of the board might not matter to you in your keenness to get on the water at the right price, those uneven overlaps and irregular seams are indicative of slapdash manufacture, poor quality control. And are probably just the spot where a seam will burst or you’ll spring a leak.

And we’ve lost count of the number of budget boards we’ve seen where fin boxes are glued on at jaunty angles, or in the wrong place. This can really affect how easy your board is to paddle, and how stable it is.

Adhesive

Despite the claims that the whole process is ‘machine driven heat fused blah blah blah’ or other’, the rails, accessories and deckpads are still glued by hand.  The precision with which this happens is really important, especially for the side rails, and that precision costs expensive worker time.  Also clearing up glue from around the deckpad and fittings takes time if it’s done properly.  This doesn’t necessarily affect the performance of the board. If the board is glued with the very best quality glue, then it doesn’t darken over time.  But the cheaper adhesives used on many of the cheaper boards darkens in UV if exposed.  This might only be a cosmetic thing, but it does mean that everyone can see that your board has been glued together with cheaper adhesive, and in turn affects its resale price.

There is a question about how well the cheaper adhesives last in heat and under pressure.  And that’s why many of the cheaper boards come with stern warning about pressure and letting air out of the board if in direct sunlight.  Anecdotally, although all brands have had issues with poorly formed seams, the cheap budget boards have a much greater failure rate.

We’ve seen with our own eyes deckpads coming unstuck, or forming massive airbubbles, fairly regularly on cheap boards. As far as we know, we have only had one board from our 16/17/18 lineup where the deckpad has started to lift.   And that’s because we specify what glue should be used, and pay the price for it. Ask many budget board manufacturers or retailers what glue they’ve specified, and they’ll look at you blankly. Ask McConks, and we can tell you straight away!  And there is a 4x difference in the price between the cheapest and most expensive adhesive used in SUP manufacture.

PVC

Although most budget boards use OK quality dropstitch these days, the quality of the PVC layer fused to it, and that makes up the rails (sides) matters.  We’ve seen cheap boards with scorch marks from being placed against something metal in 26 degree heat in the UK.  Even if you’re careful not to put the budget board up against hot rocks, at higher temperatures the PVC is weaker, and more likely to be punctured by thorns or scratches. And there’s nothing like the workout you get when you’ve put a slow puncture in your board, and you want to back to land before it turns into a banana and becomes unpaddleable!

We know the thermal tolerances of our PVC, and know chapter and verse about where the drop stitch is made.  Our PVC is good in direct sunlight up to 40 degrees.  That’s because we specified it, not just taking the cheaper alternative that most suppliers offer you. There’s a price premium of course, but we think it’s worth it. If the best the manufacturer can do is tell you ‘it was made in one of the top 4 factories in China’ when you ask questions, be concerned.  McConks can get hold of a 10’6 x 32 x 5” double skin fusion iSUP board for £133 from one of the ‘top 4 factories’, and we wouldn’t sell it to our worst enemy!

Made in one of the top four factories in China

Valves

There are good valves and there are bad valves. The difference in price (to us as a small company) is $2 – $24. We use the ones that cost us $24 dollars. We’ve tried the $2 and a range of others in the past. And there is a reason why we use the most expensive ones. We know they will last for years, that the metal components are made of marine grade stainless steel, they don’t leak, and are quality tested to within an inch of their lives.  The last thing a customer should experience is a board deflating when in use.

Fins and fin boxes

Our fin boxes are expensive. We could get hold of fin boxes for our boards at less than $1 for all three. Our side fin boxes alone cost $9 a pair.   And we pay close to $40 for our boxes and fins on our Go anywhere and Go explore range of boards. We specify where our fin boxes come from, and pay the price for this.

Why?

Because cheap fin boxes crack easily when knocked, or if left out in the cold, or if you blow on them (joke). But the point is that there are good fin boxes and bad fin boxes.  Even we have had two fin boxes that have cracked, but one of these was on the whitewater course at the national watersports centre in Nottingham, and one was with a long windsurf fin in force 5 winds with the rider doing about 30 knots.   But that’s two out many hundreds, a really low percentage compared to what we see on the beaches and at event.   And when fin boxes are broken, it’s really difficult to change them – it’s probably going to cost you as much as your budget board to get them replaced.

Fittings

We’ve already covered how well adhered / stuck fittings can be on budget boards.  But the materials that they’re made from can be an issue as well.  When we specify our boards, we specify the quality of PVC of the D-rings, we know where the handles have been sourced from and what the tensile strength of the webbing is, we have tested the quality of our camera mounts (destructively), we know that all of the metal on our boards is made from marine grade stainless steel. We work really closely with our suppliers to get the very best, rather than accepting the bog-standard fittings normally used.

Accessories

Budget boards typically come with budget accessories. We don’t think this is a real issue for most people buying cheap boards. Most people buying a board for under £400 are testing the waters (pun intended again) to see if SUP is for them. And the accessories can always be upgraded in the future.

Cheap paddles feel a little bit like a lump of dough on the end of a stick. If you try SUP with a cheap paddle and think it’s too difficult, make sure you borrow a decent paddle before you give it up for good.

And likewise with the pumps. If you think you’re too weak to pump the board up, make sure you try a try a top quality pump from a friend first. Some of the cheap pumps have so much friction, they can put your back out before you even get on the water.

So should you buy a cheaper board?

As we said at the start, budget boards get people on the water, and have their place.  Anything that gets more people on the water is a good thing. And hopefully many of the new recruits to this wonderful sport will stay, and buy more reliable kit as they upgrade.

So there is absolutely nothing wrong with buying a budget board as long as you are armed with all the facts!  And hopefully this article will help you find a better board for your budget.

How can you choose the best budget board?

It’s really difficult. And like we say, not every budget board has all of these issues. Some of them are fantastic value if you get the right board from the batch.

You can always check reviews on facebook or their website. But we’ve seen some pretty dodgy behaviours here by some brands. For example paying people for good reviews, or buying 50 fake reviews on Fiverr for $5.  There are some giveaway signs to help you spot these –  lots of reviews at around the same time is a tell-tale sign that they have been paid for!  Lot’s of cheap pop up companies also claim to sell hundreds of boards every week, or claim to be limited companies despite not being registered in the UK.  If a company is selling hundreds of boards a week, but isn’t VAT registered, they’re either tax avoiders or liars!

Asking for opinions on facebook groups is probably more reliable, because at least the groups are moderated. But these groups can be overly influenced by brand ambassadors selling the quality of the brands they are associated with, or shopowners recommending the brands that make them the most margin. But by and large these are relatively easy to spot!

You should also consider the depth of information available on the manufacturers website.  If it doesn’t contain detailed information, then the chances are it’s a generic board, mass produced in China with some or all of the above issues.  And don’t be tempted by marketing phrases like ‘made in one of the top 4 factories’ or ‘using the latest heat fusion pressed blah blah bah’. Because that no longer means what it did 18 months ago.

What you absolutely should do is try to get out with a local SUP group. They’ve probably got members on boards of all price ranges and will be able to offer friendly advice. You can find your local group using the maps on SUPhubUK.

And never be made to feel ashamed about the size of your wallet. There are a lot of elitists out there who can afford to spend £1000+ on a board, and think you should as well. Just because you can’t, that doesn’t make you a second class citizen!  If the group/page/club/shop is making you feel like a lower class citizen, get out of there and find a different one!

So if you really love SUP, make sure you do your research, and get the very best board you can for your budget.

And if you’ve got £400 you might just want to look at our budget range of SUP: No compromise budget inflatable paddleboards | Go Simple