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5 reasons why experiences make the best gift

Economic and behavioural science tells us that having an experience may actually make you more happy than buying the latest new gadget or pair of shoes. I know many aren’t convinced, but the science is seriously solid. Experiences are really where it’s at.

1. We Get More Excited About Future Experiences

It turns out that anticipation is a big component of how much gratification or pleasure we get.  A large scale psychological study (humorously called Waiting for Merlot in a nod to Beckett) confirms that the anticipation is part of the thrill, and actually, this excitement is greater for experiences than it is for material gifts. 

McConks has been part of two amazing experiences this year, one vicariously lived through our boards, and the other attended in person.

These experiences are rather out there, and admittedly most won’t be giving a gift of this value to a loved one.  But just in case you have enough cash burning a hole in your pocket, these experiences will really make the best gift!

So when it comes gift giving why are we so sceptical about giving experiences?  Why don’t we give more experiences overall? Why do we still buy deodorants, moisturisers and shaving foam that just stay in the bathroom cupboard until regifted.  Or another box of chocoloates for Gran, or socks for Grandad?  

The research on presents and enjoyment reveals something really interesting; we always believe that material things will make family and friends happier, even though when ranked side by side against experiences, experiences always rank higher for pleasure and happy memories.  What causes this collective amnesia of the positive feelings from experiences?  The cause is probably related to the media constantly reinforcing the message that the ‘Christmas experience’ involves unwrapping material gifts in front a roaring log fire. 

But we can’t blame it all on advertisers.  So what is the science behind this? And what are the best experiences? 

As a SUP company, you won’t be surprised to know that we think paddle and board sports are the very best experiences to give.  With experiences that range from being at one with nature in inspiring coastal environments, through to adrenalin fuelled whitewater surf fun, paddle sports have something for everyone. 

The links we’ve shared below are for some of our partners and friends, and companies that we guarantee will give your family and friends memories to treasure for ever.  And may even launch a lifetime’s passion in standup paddleboarding.  And with standup paddleboarding being such an accessible and social water sport, may create a whole new circle of close friends.

Tall ships and paddleboards

Your home for one week will be the elegant Tall Ship, the Lady of Avenel. For more information on the ship visit, 2019’s trip will start and end in Oban and will be full of exciting adventures, scenery and activites.

GoXperience the Croatian islands

Experience the Croatian Adriatic onboard a SeaGib 51 spacious yacht, pilotted by the master seaman Nathan, and with SUP instructors to guide you on unique adventures

Geplaatst door GoXperience op Vrijdag 12 oktober 2018

2. We Get More Value From Experiences Overall

Another study a couple of years ago compared how much pleasure people thought they would get after an experience gift and after a material gift, with the amount of pleasure they actually recorded.  The study found that the majority of people consistently think they will get more pleasure from material gifts than they actually experience, and they underestimate the amount of pleasure they will get from experience gifts.  This is called economic forecasting, and it turns out to be something that most people are really bad at.  But that shouldn’t surprise us given that the experts seem to struggle with it!Interestingly if people are asked which gives better value for money our of material gifts or experiences, they will choose material gifts.  If they are asked which will give more pleasure per pound spent, they choose experiences.  And the reason for this is because we typically underestimate the value of memories when we do our mental calculations of value. 

3. Experiences Give You More Social Connection

Experiences tend to happen in groups or pairs.  And we’re a social species.  Even the most introverted of people actually need community contact and social experiences, even if they sometimes find them uncomfortable.  And the vast majority of us get great pleasure out of the shared learning or shared experiences, especially if these shared experiences are with family, friends, or like minded people who become new friends. 

Studies also show that the best experience gifts keep on giving for many years.  The shared experiences become part of your shared history, and will be laughed over and retold many times in the future.  That story of how Uncle Pete fell off the paddleboard, and a seal popped up behind him to say hello.  And every time we told him to turn around to see, it disappeared again. Over and over.  (This is actually a true story and a family favourite!)

In fact, if you feel that you’re becoming distant from a close friend, it’s proven that buying them an experience gift that you can all share brings you back together.

4. Experiences Don’t Invite Competition Or Envy

A study from a few years ago suggests that the pleasure we get from receiving material gifts, especially at times like Christmas when gift giving is ubiquitous, is often tainted by comparison with the gifts others receive.   And even the pleasure you get from gift giving can be affected.  You thought you had bought Aunty Carol the perfect present, but yet again you sister has upped the stakes and beaten you again.

Experiences don’t suffer from the same direct comparison problems.  Everyone can enjoy them in their own way and their own time.

5. We Get Tired Of Gifts, But Value Memories

We’ve touched on this already, but one of the key reasons why people buy material gifts rather than experiences is because they think they last for longer and are therefore better value.  That new bird table will last much longer than the bird watching experience, therefore must give more pleasure.

But that’s categorically wrong.  Many studies have shown that we’re all subject to something called ‘the hedonic treadmill’ or ‘hedonic adaptation’.   Our happiness quickly returns to its normal state after receiving a new gift – the gift just becomes part of our ‘new normal’ and very quickly stops giving us pleasure.  An experience however generates memories and shared connections that last for much longer.  And a future conversation with a stranger about something entirely random can trigger that memory and release the pleasure hormones again.

For those of you still not convinced, maybe you can combine a material gift with a related experience: a bottle of wine from a local vineyard plus a vineyard trip; an authentic Indian Cookery lesson plus some Indian recipe books and spices; A birdwatching experience and a stuffed bird.  Ok, maybe not the last one, but you get the idea.

Having said all of that, the very, very best present you can buy is one that adds to or improves the pleasure your nearest and dearest gets from their experiences. So if you want the gift that keeps giving, then a McConks carbon SUP paddle is THE perfect present.  Or, if you’re feeling particularly generous then what could be a better than a McConks iSUP package?

1. We Get More Excited About Future Experiences
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Trust the experts: McConks SUP paddle review

So despite our earlier jibe about the value of expert opinion in this post truth era, many of us look to experts to help us to see past the marketing spiel, and to tell the good, from the indifferent, to the mediocre.  And paddlesports instructors have particular expertise and their opinions are highly valued. 

You might have heard us talk about #themalteseSUPproject.  4 outdoors / paddle instructors took off in November this year to paddle around Malta,  a task that they (by and large) achieved despite a huge storm in the Med.

The maltestSUPproject four

Georgina Maxwell, one of the riders, came to McConks to ask us to pimp her ride.  So George set off with our 12’8 GoExplore board, designed as a touring/expedition SUP, and one of carbon SUP paddles.  George was so blown away with our paddle, that she’s written us great little review, which we just had to share as a special blog post.

McConks Vario pro carbon fibre – 3 piece carbon bamboo paddle.

George ‘standup’ paddleboarding

As part of my sponsorship arrangement with McConks they offered me the McConks Vario pro carbon fibre – this is a 3 piece carbon bamboo paddle. This paddle weighs in at <700g and when it arrived I was struck immediately with its weight and size of which it packed down to.  

On our expedition The Maltese Sup Project a few things were highlighted.


The paddle came in a tidy padded bag which can fit x2 3 piece split paddles in if you wanted a spare or in our case are trying to combine luggage. The next important thing to note is it fitted inside the SUP bag meaning you have only one bag to check in.

On the water

The paddle is comfortable to use on long distance. The T grip has a shape which sits in your palm in a snug smooth way with no plastic rough finish like I have previously experienced with other paddles.

Its adjustable it can go from as tall as 220cm for adults to as short as 170cm for kids.

3 piece carbon SUP paddle

I discovered the adjustable feature is also beneficial from transferring from feet to knees in the wind and chop. It means you can shorten the paddle with the flick of a switch and still be able to use the T grip.

Because it was 3 piece it didn’t seam to effect the strength in my opinion, even in the toughest of winds and swell I was unaffected by any flex. Dear I say I didn’t notice any but this may because I was so use to using this by this stage.


The 3 piece has a clip lock system, which uses little screws to keep it working, on long Jouneys and particularly on expedition I took a spare clasp and after a few days out I checked the tightness of the screws, they were always tight, so prhaps I was over prepared in this field.  

There you have it, I tried my hardest not to say how much I enjoyed paddling with the Vario but I truly did enjoy the paddle and I would highly recommend it particularly for overseas travel.  


McConks Carbon SUP paddle
Bamboo / Carbon medium cadence blade

SUP adventure
Loaded up and ready to go

SUP paddle

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The importance of paddles – SUP ‘engine’ choice advice

No-one would dispute that inflatable SUP packages have come a long way in the last few years.  But stand up paddle boarding is a paddle sport above all else, and the quality of the paddle included (often described as a ‘freebie’) sometimes lets the package down.  This point is often missed, punters focusing too heavily on the board and not giving enough attention to the one defining piece of kit you’ll be using.

Walk into any retailer or hit up any inflatable SUP company online and you’ll be confronted by all manner of spangly equipment – most likely with loud boastings about ‘free bag’, ‘free leash’ AND ‘free paddle’. Great, you think! All the gear in one easy purchase. But alas all that glitters isn’t gold.

You have to ask yourself as a consumer, what are you actually getting. Thenarrow-paddle board is usually going to be fine (as long as you’re looking at a reputable brand).  But what about the included ‘stick’ (paddle)?

Firstly what material is the included paddle made from? If it’s an alloy shaft with a plastic blade then you’re not going to be feeling any benefit. Your first run out will probably be on the less than enjoyable side. An alloy paddle will usually bend significantly – too much, in fact (some flex can be a good thing with paddle shafts but not to the detriment of forward propulsion and/or limbs, muscles and joints). The low grade plastic blade will contort when drawn through the stroke (flutter) and after a while you’ll have made next to no ground when compared to someone using a more efficient ‘engine’.  And we’ve met people who have managed to bend their ‘free’ paddle shaft irreparably on their first outing.

Let’s just pause at this juncture. It’s worth pointing out here that if you’ve got nothing to compare your experiences to then you’ll be none-the-wiser when it comes to any type of SUP kit, let alone paddles. At least during those initial forays. While this is true as a general statement, over the period of a few weeks/months you’ll possibly start to notice bodily wear and tear. At first you’ll put this down to being involved in a physically demanding activity. Chances are, however, that it’s not simply the fact you’re paddling that’s causing grief. In many cases the stress and strain placed on your ailing body is down to using badly made equipment.

Here at McConks we don’t supply our gear with rubbish accessories. We see the paddle as a key ingredient – as such our paddles are of high quality and designed to aid your enjoyment of SUP. We’ll not lie, this does add a few extra numbers to the bottom line cost, but when you consider the increased efficiency of a better quality paddle, and this knock on effect to your enjoyment factor, we’re sure you’ll agree the extra expense is worth it. And like for like, you won’t find kit of comparable quality at the same price.

And don’t just take our word for it. We value rider feedback and have had a number of paddlers check out what we offer regularly. Here you’ll find a recent review of one of our paddles which says it all if you ask us –

In this era of post truth, we know that some people no longer trust the experts.  If you’re one of these people, then you can read what regular customers have said here

Paddles are the main part of stand up paddle boarding – whatever type of SUPing you choose to do, and are your engine.   Whether you own an inflatable or hard board, having as good a paddle as you can afford is key to performance, progression and continued enjoyment. You wouldn’t buy a Ferrari with a moped engine.  Therefore we highly recommend you pay this part of your set up due care and attention and get the paddle that does your board justice.

If you need advice then McConks is only too happy to advise. Give us a shout and let’s have a chat about all things paddle.





SUP paddle

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Tier two fun – how stand up paddle boarding can be an ‘after event’ reward

Stand up paddle boarding’s easy right?  Simply jump aboard, begin stroking, and after a few initial stumbles you’ll be propelled forwards with smiles all round. Fast forward a few sessions and by this time you’ll have (hopefully) developed a bit of technique, not be stumbling quite as much and generally enjoying your fun in the sun. But what next?

Look at any high performance SUP athlete and their accomplishments will seem a million miles away from the type of paddling you do. Battling ocean swells to gain serious downwind glides, taking a few heavy waves on the head to eventually snag that one awesome barrel or toughing it out across ultra-distance courses for a shot at the podium. All this just looks hard work at the start of your stand up paddle boarding journey, and in fact, never gets any easier. But it’s the reward post-paddling that counts, not how easy the activity was.

Back to your everyday recreational paddling and this is what can be referred to as ‘tier one fun’. Fulfilment comes quickly, with minimal input on your part. That’s not to say there isn’t any effort, quite the opposite in fact. (We’ve all heard about the health benefits of being atop a SUP so we won’t get into this again). By and large, recreational SUP errs towards the easier end of the spectrum. And there’s no real need to change this unless you’re searching for more…

SUP’s popularity is tangible but after a brief spell paddlers may begin seeking their next challenge – this is typical human nature. In its simplest form, as Robby Naish is quoted, ‘SUP is just standing on a board with a paddle’. The rest is down to us as riders and the environments/situations we choose to put ourselves in. Enter ‘tier two fun’ stand up style.

Picture the scene. The wind’s come up, you’re quite a distance from that original launch point, there’s no get out within your immediate vicinity so the only course of action is to hammer down and fight back upwind. As anyone who’s paddled into gusty conditions will tell you, this isn’t the most idyllic kind of SUP you can do, and is actually pretty relentless hard work. Yet with determination, grunt and a positive mental attitude (combined with a degree of technique) there’s no reason why you can’t cover ground and arrive back at point A.  Sweaty,  tired, and a few pounds lighter.

Hitting the beach in a sweaty dishevelled mess you’ll initially be thankful of touching down upon Terra Firma. But soon enough those positive endorphins will make their way to your brain and in no time you’ll be stoked off your noggin – and an achievement it is. This is ‘tier two fun’: not particularly pleasant during the act but upon reflection super rewarding and addictive. It’s why endurance paddlers keep going back for more, surfers refuse to let a big set get in their way and conquering the elements – if only for a brief period – makes you feel truly alive. Retrospective bliss if you will.

There are plenty of ways to up the ante with your SUP activities and feel the benefits of ‘tier two fun’. Enter a race, step it up in surf, tackle a more challenging route you’ve never before paddled, head out in breezy conditions or whatever you fancy having a stab at.

Self-belief, confidence, experience and skill will play their part in your success – we’re not suggesting you head for the gnarliest conditions you can find with limited paddling ability. A ‘slowly, slowly’ approach is optimum, otherwise you’re heading into ‘tier three fun’ realms which usually results in the emergency services being called!


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Decisions, decisions: Inflatable SUP or hard SUP?

If you want to race at a high level, and enter sprint and endurance events, or be on the podium for surf SUP comps, you’re almost certainly going to need a quiver of hard boards.

For everyone else, an iSUP is ideal.  Let us tell you more.

Despite recent advances in inflatable technology (eg Red Paddle’s MSL or McConks comparable EDS), inflatable boards still flex slightly in the most extreme conditions. Therefore although some of the race iSUP boards are up there with glass fibre and carbon race boards in the speed stakes, they can’t yet compete racing in swell or off the beach. Although Red Paddle’s 2017 elite race boards with the Forward Flex Control might change that this year. In flat water events, taking place on lakes and rivers, we are now starting to see iSUP on the podiums.

If you’re looking for a performance surf SUP, then an inflatable is unlikely to be your first choice. You can’t have an iSUP custom made for a start, and many of the key variables, such as rocker line, rail shape, bottom profile cannot be fine tuned. Simply put, iSUP’s do not have the variety of bottom or rail shapes that a custom shaper delivers, and therefore you can not expect them to perform like one. So you won’t win surf comps on an inflatable, and you’re unlikely to win race events in difficult conditions.

But for most of us who want to get some exercise, learn to surf SUP, race our friends, get close to nature and just simply have fun, you cannot beat an inflatable SUP.

Does this sound a familiar story?  You want to hire a board for a peaceful sunset surf when on hols, but the surf shop shuts at 6pm. Taking a hardboard on a plane is expensive. And it’s even more expensive when the handlers drop it and snap it in two.
iSUP packages now are as light as 12kg and a dream to travel with. As long as you buy a package with a decent bag, then the board will arrive the other side unharmed. No more excess charges, and no more dinged boards.

But be careful of some of the packages that come with cheap bags. You don’t want to be spending another £100 to keep your prize possession safe. Hell, while you’re at it, make sure you get a package like the very best brands, which come with a sturdy and comfortable rucksack with wheels.

So what are the advantages of an iSUP?

An inflatable board rolls up in a bag, making it easy to jump in a hire car or on a bus with your SUP and find those quiet spots away from the crowds. No need for roof racks and straps.

Paddleboards are long. Generally longer than 9″. And race boards can be 14 foot long. Not everyone has space to store an epoxy or glass board, and if that’s you, an inflatable is just what you need.

Hard boards are much more likely to get damaged.  Whether that be through poor paddle stroke, the rough and tumble of family life, serious abuse in white water river SUP, or regular travel taking its toll.

As long as you buy a good quality iSUP with a high pressure rating (at least 20PSI), with a long guarantee, with twin layer technology, and a decent fibreglass/plastic paddle, then your kit will last you for years without so much as a mark.

They’re robust: Although inflatables come with a repair kit, we don’t know of any customers who’ve needed to use one!

iSUP is a really accessible family friendly watersport.  As long as you follow simple safety rules (see
our blog on paddleboarding with toddlers
), then paddling with kids is great.

How so?

Try as they might, the kids can’t damage the board like they could an epoxy board If they fall, an inflatable causes less bruises than a hard board.

  • If the board hits them in the water at speed it doesn’t do the same damage that a hard board can do
  • They can’t damage the rails of an inflatable as they learn to paddle.
  • An inflatable board has more buoyancy than a hard board, size for size. Beginner paddlers who want to paddle with passengers should start out on a good size board (at least 250l such as our 10’8 Go anywhere
  • Even the largest of paddlers can take passengers, whether that be kids, dogs or both. As your skill, balance and strength improves, you might want to move to a smaller board. But by then your kids are probably paddling the old board by themselves.
  • You can strap even strap a SUP seat to the front of our McConks boards if your little prince or princess ‘needs’ to travel in style.

There’s no hiding the fact that buying a SUP costs quite a lot of money. Even the cheapest lowest quality boards that only last a few weeks start at £275.

Most people don’t want to spend the £1000 plus that some of the brands charge for a decent quality iSUP. But you also don’t want to waste your money on a board and paddle that is so poor performance that you’ll need to upgrade within months. Or worse, one that bursts within weeks.

How can I tell the good from the bad?

With so many brands making so many different types of boards, how can you tell what’s good quality and affordable, and what’s just cheap? If you strip back all the marketing, the pretty pictures and flashy vids, the following are good indicators of quality:

– Manufacturer’s guarantee of at least 12 months.

– No quibble returns policy

– Dual layer technology. Preferably MSL or EDS. This is the latest fusion technology that gives the strongest, lightest, most rigid boards. Anything else is second rate.

– Pressure guarantee of at least 22 PSI. You know you’ve got a board that doesn’t leak if it’s guaranteed to a high pressure.

– Quality paddles. If the basic paddle is a heavy alloy paddle, the brand just wants to sell kit, rather than create paddling experiences.

– Top quality SUP pump. Look out for cheap pumps. If they look cheap and gaudy, they probably are!

– Top quality bag. Many of the cheap boards come with cheap looking bags. If the material is thick, if the fastenings look good, and if the straps and handles look chunky and strong, then the brand cares about quality

Here at McConks WE know you’re buying good quality kit at a fair price. But how do YOU know?

  • Guarantee. We offer a full 12 month guarantee on all parts of the package
  • 28 day returns. If you change your mind within 28 days, you can return the board with no questions asked
  • Personal customer service. We’re a small company. You can phone us or email us and ask us any question, no matter how big or small.

An inflatable SUP is a versatile platform that will suit most paddlers.  There’s a lot of thought gone into our design.  From the unique and acclaimed shape, to the fin choice and positioning, to the exact shape of the paddle blade.  And there’s a lot that goes into buying a standup paddle board. The more research you do, the better informed you will be and that will lead to finding the best paddle board specifically for you!

Here at McConks our only job is to make sure you find that perfect board(s). We’ve kept our range simple to make the process easier, and we only use the very best accessories.  So whatever you buy from us, you can rest assured that it is the very best quality.


About our 10’6 Go anywhere iSUP

“Fast, fun, fantastic value No more needs to be said. Top quality paddle, fast board in a straight line, speedy to turn, good fun”

 “The perfect allround iSUP. Tried this at a demo centre and loved it. This board has just the perfect volume and shape for me, a beginner with a few weeks of experience. Stability kept me dry until I and started messing about doing silly things. The manoeuvrability when in a surf stance means that this board is really responsive. It even seemed to carve on flat water when I had enough speed. Only 4 inches thick so you feel in much closer connection with the water. And surprisingly stiff given it’s thickness: No noticeable difference to Red Paddle in terms of stiffness (I currently own a 10’6 by the market leader). The board alone costs more than this package. And this is better. More stable yet also more fun, and better for development of skills. I will be ‘upgrading’ when budget allows!”

“I’m really pleased with my new McConks iSUP package. This is my first board so haven’t got a lot to compare it to but the quality of the board is great. It seems really well made and is easy to inflate. I finally got a chance to use my board at the weekend and I had a really fun time on our local lake. The board is really stable in the water and the paddle is easy to use. I was amazed at the speed I picked up and I didn’t fall in at all! I love the bag with this package, high quality and with wheels and backpack straps it would be really easy to travel with. I can’t wait to use my board again and would recommend this package to anyone, it’s great quality at a great price!”

About our 10’8 Go anywhere iSUP

“There’s something magic about this board. It’s pretty fast cruising, it’s pretty responsive in small surf, and it’s really stable. Really, really clever design, Great value package. The FG paddle is much better than the basic paddles I’ve had in other packages. Really light and good stiffness. And those real fins make such a difference compared to much more expensive competition. Great value and a delight to paddle” “Fantastic package Great quality board, had the whole family out on it, they all love it, can’t wait to go out again, love the carbon fibre paddle, board tracks very well.”

“I’ve been paddling on rental boards for a couple of years, and it’s really good to try a different brand from the usual. Really liked this board. Super stiff. No bounce or sag. The rocker line is good – next to no tail rocker, just enough nose rocker. The PVC seems really tough – it’s a bit like crocodile skin PVC: I believe McConks claim that you can drive a jeep over it and it won’t burst! Rides really well. Rides high on the water, glides well and true, and relatively easy to manoeuver for its size and compared to other boards of the same sze. Pintail made it fun for pivot turns when stood back, and real fins made an appreciable difference to the feel of the board. The bamboo/carbon paddle was a dream. Really light yet really powerful. And quick and easy to adjust. All in all, love this package. Really good quality stuff for the price. Surprisingly so in fact.”

About our carbon fibre

“The paddles arrived safely and have been tested on Friday! One was for myself and the other for my SUP instructor, feedback is great! We’re both are very pleased, great value! Happy to get a carbon paddle that packs small but still great performance.”

“Feels so good in my hands. So much lighter than the cheap alloy paddle that used to make my arms and shoulder ache, and it’s so pretty. I know it’s a little pathetic, but I really like the fact that it’s clearly a top quality paddle, yet looks so cool, and so different to all the others. That probably says more about me than the paddle 😉 “

“I have been using a Kialoa fixed carbon paddle that is great but at over £350 you would expect it to be. Purchased the McConks because I needed a 3 piece to take with me to the Maldives. It has arrived and it looks fantastic and feels fantastic in the hand. The profile does not look much different to the much more expensive Kialoa so I am expecting it will perform much the same. If it does, then the Kialoa may just end up collecting dust in the garage or put on eBay. The customer service from Andy is also first rate, initially was sent the wrong paddle by mistake (all carbon as opposed to bamboo/carbon) but on contacting him a replacement was sent out same day and he even trusted me to return the other, for which a pre paid label was provided. Now, that is great customer service by any standard. Cant wait to get the McConks wet”

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Paddleboarding with toddlers – yes or no?

Over the summer we have enjoyed many paddleboarding adventures on our iSUPs with our two boys – both on our beautiful local stretch of rural Thames, and further afield – and we have often posted photos and videos on our social media pages. We always get lots of attention when we’re paddling with the boys on the front of our boards, and, whilst most peopleRiver Thames @ Lechlade love seeing them having a whale of a time, we have noticed some disapproving stares and tuts from people too. Although it’s not always easy to establish why the passive aggressive brigade are critical, there generally seem to be two main criticisms: whether we are being selfish by forcing the boys to go when they would rather be doing something else, and whether it really is safe to have toddlers and young children on paddleboards.

Turning first to the question of selfishness and small person enjoyment, no one who has seen our two-year-old sitting on the front of my board

Paddling at Cotswold Water Park Hire
Paddling at Cotswold Water Park Hire

trailing his feet in the water, waving to cows or other wildlife, and singing could dispute his enjoyment! We believe that kids not only should be playing outdoors whenever possible, but that they also love to be outdoors, whether it be in or on the water, in woods, fields, on beaches or just in the garden. Children love getting wet, muddy, dirty or


covered in leaves, and our two are no exception. Not only do they enjoy it, but we believe that children who grow up playing outdoors are healthier and fitter, both physically and mentally.

Our boys undoubtedly love playing outdoors, and, to their minds, paddleboarding is just another way to

Fun at the beach
Fun at the beach

play outdoors. We don’t just go paddleboarding. We go paddling to go wild swimming, to knock daddy in the water (ahem, there may have been some encouragement from mummy on that occasion), we go pretend fishing, and to spot wildlife or see the sunset, and we go exploring to find new beaches or a great picnic spot (because we all know that everything is better with a picnic). The boys love all of this, and the decision to go paddleboarding comes from them as often as from us. Yes, sometimes they say they don’t want to, and then we think of something else to do, or of a way to make it more appealing.

So, although it is only us getting the benefits of exercise this time, and they are sitting or lying on the front of the boards for a lot of the time, they are getting plenty of fresh air and enjoying the world around them. Plus we are confident that they get plenty of exercise at other times. It isAndy always worth bearing in mind that whilst you might be getting a work out, they are not, and ensuring you make the trip as enjoyable as possible. Here are just a few of our top tips to make paddleboarding an exciting adventure each time:

  • Bring a bucket to collect treasures, be it creatures, leaves, sand, shells or sticks. A net would enable fishing treasures out of the water. We whiled away a happy few hours in pouring rain combining paddleboarding with another favourite coastal acitivity – crabbing! Only once have we had a decaying fish head plonked on our boards!
  • Sticks – endless opportunities. Sticks can be fishing rods (our two love a bit of pretend fishing, and cooking and eating their catch), fairy wands, swords, the list is endless.
  • Take provisions in a dry bag strapped to the front of the board – drinks and snacks or a full picnic. Everyone loves a picnic, especially small children.
  • Look around – there are always different things to see, whether it’s other people enjoying the water, boats or wildlife. Make sure you point out interesting things, and explain what’s happening if necessary. We’ve watched boats going through locks (best to portage around on SUPs!) and

    Helping Uncle Pete open the gates
    Helping Uncle Pete open the gates

    helped the lock keeper open and shut the gates, counted different types of water craft, discussed tides (again and again) and spotted wildlife, which brings us to the next point:

  • Wildlife spotting – we’ve seen puffins, egrets, herons, kingfishers, otters, swimming grass snakes, jellyfish, salmon, spider crabs, crayfish, oyster beds, samphire forests (or baby trees if you are 4!) and much more.
  • Sing and tell stories about what you see. Having young children tends to make you leave your inhibitions at home, and we can often be found singing loudly and only vaguely in tune as we go!
  • Stop for a rest, or run around on the bank, or wild swim when interest levels flag.

    Wild swimming
    Wild swimming

With small people on board, it is probably unfair to go on long, touring paddles, and you always need to be aware of their interest levels. We have frequently turned back when the boys started to lose interest, when really we would have preferred to keep on going.

The other benefit of taking them paddleboarding when they are so young is that they will grow up enjoying it and will hopefully start paddling

Assisted paddling
Assisted paddling

themselves as soon as they can. At 4 and 2, our boys already love having a go at paddling their boards on their own (with one of us keeping tight hold on the leash), and it will only be a few years before they may be able to go it solo.

The other big issue is safety. We have been asked point blank why we are prepared to put our children at risk to indulge ourselves. Simple answer – we are not, and nor would we! I’m pleased to report that we convinced that particular observer that this was not the case, and she continued on her way knowing that the boys were having fun quality family time. Paddleboarding is not dangerous, and, as with many activities, probably safer than the car journey to our chosen launch point. However, there are a few guidelines to follow to ensure that no one is put at risk.

Personal flotation devices (pfd). These are essential for children, particularly non-independent-swimmers, in all environments. Your children do not need to be strong swimmers to come paddleboarding with you, but you need to know that if they did fall (or jump!) in, they would be able to float. We have treated pfds in a similar way to helmets when our

12'8 explorer
12’8 explorer

two are riding their bikes, so they have never been paddleboard without, and just accept that they are necessary. We have also made sure that they know why they are wearing them.

Pfd for parents is a hotly contested point, although if in doubt, it’s probably best to wear them. We do not wear them when we go on our local river – we are both strong swimmers, the river does not get rough and we always wear leashes which strap us to our boards – which are essentially large buoyancy aids. However, in other environments we do wear them.

Consider local environment and weather conditions. You need to know what the paddling is going to be like, and whether the weather is going to change. Paddling with the current and wind behind you is very different to paddling against it! Ideally only ever go downwind or upcurrent at the start of the trip so that you do the hard work before you get tired. However, if you are starting out with the wind or current behind you, test conditions going back if you get excited and go too far! Adjustable paddles can be a godsend, enabling you to paddle kneeling down if you are struggling to make headway. If you are paddling somewhere new, speak to the locals, or pop into a local surf or paddle shop. In general though, we only go out with our boys in fairly calm conditions, not 6 foot surf or down a gnarly river!

Key things to pack. As with all activities, it is always sensible to have a mobile phone with you (although remember to buy a waterproof case first!), so that you can get help if necessary. Money or a bank card is also useful, in case you need to bail out and get a bus or taxi back (or of course, in case you spot a lovely waterfront pub!). A small first aid kit can easily be stuffed in a bag and means that you can deal with any small injuries, real or imagined. And as with all things involving small children, copious snacks and drinks will make the paddle go more swimmingly.

Hopefully we have convinced you that paddleboarding with small children is both safe and enjoyable for everyone. Happy exploring!

If you want to find out more about the most family friendly SUP company, and the best family SUP boards, please visit our website to find out more.







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Why paddleboarding is so popular

Naked SUP with Orlando Bloom

If there’s a sport that captures this year’s zeitgeist, it’s standup paddle boarding or SUP. Standup paddleboarding has been around for a decade or see, but it is the evolution of inflatable paddleboards that has really supercharged the appeal and development of SUP.  It seems that everyone has been keen to get in on the act this year, with Orlando Bloom paddleboarding naked, Bill Bailey appearing in the Guardian discussing his love of SUP on the Thames, and even Countryfile and Waitrose magazine featuring SUP in 2017.   And there are a number of reasons why SUP is the fastest growing watersport in the UK and the world right now:

  1. It’s accessible. Anyone; young, old, able, less abled are able to get on a board and paddle, as long as the board is the right size for the rider and conditions.
  2. All you need is water. Unlike most other board sports, you can SUP 24/7.  Admittedly some conditions are better than others; sun drenched waters and light winds are particularly appealing.  But SUP is independent of waves or wind.  Although there are speciality boards for racing, or for expeditions, or for esurfing, or for riding river rapids, a single all-purpose board can do all of this reasonably well.  And you can SUP anywhere; river, lake, sea or canal.  So there will always be somewhere to SUP within a few miles.
  3. It’s easy. With the correct board for your size and weight, you will  be up and paddling within minutes.  Even the most balance challengd beginners are stand up paddling within 15 minutes.
  4. It’s a great workout. It’s widely reported that SUP is good for the core muscles, and it’s also great for improving all round fitness; an hour paddleboarding will burn around 700 calories.  And because you’re in control of how hard you work and how far you go, it doesn’t matter what shape you start in.
  5. Once you have made the initial outlay in kit, there are very few ongoing costs. And although the initial outlay can seem significant, buying second hand, or buying smartly can reduce the initial outlay.
  6. Getting close to nature. Stand up paddleboarding puts you right out there to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of nature.  With the water under your feet you’ll find that you have the perfect viewpoint to observe

    SUP with dolphins
    SUP with dolphins

    amazing creatures swimming and moving about below you.  You’ll be able to see birds in action, witness a serene sunrise, paddle through mist, or marvel at a breathtaking sunset. Whether you are on a solo, family, or social paddle stand up paddleboarding connects you with your natural surroundings.

  7. Quality time together. Whether river paddling to lunch in a riverside pub, or paddling down river with your children on the boards, SUP can be very sociable.  You can even bring your dog along for the ride.
  8. Stress reduction. Fed up of busy crowded beaches?  Paddle to that secluded island or inaccessible beach around the headland.  Skinny dipping. Paddle far from the madding crowd, strip, and dive in the water.  SUP is a great way to unwind and relax.  Beautiful sunsets, inspirational sunrises, paddling in amazing places reduces stress and recharges your batteries.
  9. Free dinner. Tie a crayfish or lobster pot net behind the board, add bacon and paddle.  Or take a fishing rod with you.  Easy to find your own perfect spot.  And then grill them up on the beach when you get back.  Probably with a cold beer!
  10. Deflate the board, roll up, and pack away in the convenient wheeled rucksack that comes with the best inflatable paddleboards. No worrying about tired dogsarms strapping the boards to the roof or trying to squash everything into the car.  You can be on the road in a few short minutes after getting off the water.

If these reasons don’t make you want to rush out and get your hands on an inflatable paddle board, then nothing will!

Visit our webshop to find out how easy it is to get hold of great quality, affordable paddleboard kit!



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Do inflatable SUP prices ever go down?

So, if you’ve been following trade media, or have been attending the merry go round of trade fairs, you will know that the industry is forecasting a 15-20% increase in retail prices for inflatable SUP in 2017. And also that they’re using this as marketing to push sales of their remaining 2016 stock, before prices go up.  This is a pretty common end of year retail strategy to drive sales in the current year, and doesn’t necessarily mean that prices will go up.  However, it is certainly true that the value of the pound has been falling ever since that fateful day in June 2016.  And the cost of inflatable paddleboards to manufacture is pretty much pegged to the dollar.  All the raw materials are priced in dollars, so if the pound goes down, the cost of an inflatable SUP to a UK brand goes up.

But does that mean that prices should go up? A few thoughts on this:

  • A commercially astute large company will be ‘hedging’ currency costs over a period of time before any major stock purchases to lessen the impact of currency fluctuations.  That hedging should help protect the company against needing to hike prices too.    And most of the large brands are already displaying their 2017 lines at trade shows, so the kit could already be sat in warehouses waiting for distribution. It doesn’t matter what the currency exchange rate is now, it matters what it was when the products were purchased some months ago.
  • And this problem is a peculiarly British problem.  Any brand that sells most of their product outside of the UK could probably take a small hit on the UK sales without it having a large impact on their overall profitability.
  • When the value of the pound rises against the dollar, we don’t hear rumours of the retail price dropping.  Does anyone remember the price of kit dropping in 2014 when the pound was worth almost $1.70?

That’s not to say that the price of the pound isn’t affecting smaller brands and retailers.  It definitely is, so if you want to keep getting advice from your local shop, you to need to buy stuff from them, not just from online retailers like us. And don’t assume they will always be there to give you advice if you don’t use them.   On that note, McConks is looking for a small network of perfectly formed demo and retail outlets for 2017.  So if this might be you, drop us a line on the website .

So, the big question, should you rush out and buy inflatable SUP before now before the prices skyrocket?

Firstly – why not enter our competition to win a 10’6 or 10’8 inflatable paddle board package with Carbon fibre paddle?  Register on our website and share this blog to enter.

If that fails, small and large brands alike have made it clear that prices will be going up next year.  Not for McConks however,  the RRP for our 10’8 board, for example, are going to remain at under £700 for a package with a carbon fibre paddle, and under £600 for a package with the fibre glass paddle, and we will have some great discounts as well.  The same package from Red Paddle would be £1,000, and £880 respectively, and that’s at 2016 prices: You can probably add 15% to those prices for 2017.  So if  your heart is set on that Red Paddle Ride, now would be a good time to buy.  But the savvy paddler would save their money and wait for McConks 2017 line.

So if you don’t have the cash to splash right now, don’t worry.  McConks will be there for you in 2017 with our new lineup of with great quality inflatable SUP at fair and affordable prices.

Dollar pound graph
Dollar pound fluctuation