Brands that We Trust
Board Buying Advice
Many customers have asked me about which boards to buy and what brands are good. For Mike's Paddle, I have researched for hundreds of hours both online and in person with various brands. My main concerns for the boards that we carry are the following:
- Give preference to sustainable and local manufacturers
- Work with smaller manufacturers so that we have direct access to the designers to give them feedback
- Work with board designers that either live near the factory or have direct oversight to the factory
The reasons for all of the above concerns:
- Every board on the market is hand made (this includes both hard and inflatable boards, plastic board not included). Quality is very important and knowing our designers have direct oversight to the factory is paramount. Many factories have vacillating orders which cause them to hire and fire temporary labor at will; which means that the new inexperienced workers will make inferior quality boards.
- Most hard boards are made with fiberglass/carbon/bamboo infused with Epoxy (very toxic). Inexperience builders will waste a lot of Epoxy - eventually epoxy waste will end up in the rivers and oceans - the same place that you want to paddle. We carry two environmental made-in-USA brands (Glide and Bounce SUP) for our rental fleet; they both use different technology to minimize epoxy use and build very durable boards that will not need to be replaced every two years.
- For quality designed specialty boards (race, surf, downwind, yoga), it is very difficult to find manufacturers that does not source outside of USA. We focus on manufacturers who maintain presence at the factories to ensure quality. We love Jimmy Lewis and Infinity Surf- both are made in the same factory monitored closely by the owners of both brands. We support Boga Yoga & Paddleboards because of their commitment to the Yoga movement. Last but not least, we support Starboard for their superior quality, their dedication to reduce environmental impact from manufacturing and their world class race team!
Should I buy a board online or from Costco? It's so cheap!
- There are many brands now targets the online audience : Yes it is easy and quick to buy a board online especially an inflatable board because of its small size. However because of all reasons stated above, many paddlers are buying boards without understanding the board making process and/or quality of the boards. Cheap boards will not last long because the manufacturers often lack quality control - which means they are likely to have more dings (1 layer of fiberglass instead of 3), more likely to be waterlogged (board becomes super heavy and impossible to lift/paddle) and now you have bought something that will just go to the trash. Epoxy and foam take incredibly long to degrade under normal circumstances - bad for the environment!
- We also understand how important the price is for our price-conscious paddlers, so every year we put our durable rental boards on sale for new paddlers. You will see that the boards are extremely durable and stable, great for beginners and families.
What kind of board should I buy?
We don't recommend new paddlers buy a board immediately after a few times of paddling. It would be easy for us to sell you a board after you've got the stoke and want to paddle on your own, but your taste is going to change. You might discover Downwind SUP or SUP Yoga to be the passion of your life and we want you to have the board that's specific to your passion. So this is why we offer very affordable unlimited rental memberships so that you can paddle all the different boards without pressure to purchase.
Once you know what kind of board you want to purchase through talking to our staff and your paddling community, you can do a final demo of boards. Typically 3 to 4 boards will be chosen for you to paddle for an hour. We will discuss design, board construction and any other questions you might have. We wish you the best boards possible!