Choosing the right kit to make your SUP business run smoothly

It’s a bit of a minefield isn’t it? There are so many boards to choose from. From Lidl selling board packages to £200, to Red Paddle selling board packages at over £1k. How on earth is a new SUP business owner meant to decide the right balance of reward and risk? Do you choose a cheaper board that you replace every year (or more regularly), or a more expensive board that lasts for many years?

Inflatable paddleboards for SUP schools and paddleboard businesses

There’s a reason why almost every SUP school uses inflatable paddle boards rather than hard boards. And that’s because they are so much better suited to rentals and daily use than hard boards:

  • Durability and ruggedness – Inflatable boards are much more less likely to get dinged and damaged than hard boards. Meaning you spend less of your time repairing or worrying about them. Make your investment work harder for you by making sure that all your boards are on the water for more of the time. That’s why the National Trust have told us that they are trusting inflatable boards, and trusting McConks as they set up their new rental locations
  • Longevity – Top quality inflatables like McConks last for many years, even when they’re used every day all year round. Choosing a board that lasts means that you only need to replace your fleet every 3 to 5 years if that’s your business model. Alternatively, you can sell them as looking almost brand new at the end of year-one for significantly less than a more expensive second-hand board like Red Paddle or Starboard, but close to the trade price you bought them at!
  • Storage – The Princes Trust chose our Go Anywhere inflatable paddleboards to replace their fleet of canoes and kayaks because they take up so much less space. When they had to reduce their total accommodation space, switching from hard kayaks and canoes to inflatable paddleboards was a no brainer. But for some of our partners such as Cotswold Water Park Hire, they leave the inflatable boards pumped up from March to October, chucking them in a container at the day, and only letting them down when they’re put away for winter. nd of t, they were able to use the space for The inflatables take up significantly less space when deflated, saving on storage costs, particularly over the winter months. Inflatables can actually give you the best of both worlds as you can choose to leave them inflated for the whole season if you prefer and only deflate when it suits you.
  • Weight – Our inflatable Go Anywhere all-round boards weigh less than 10kg, despite being so hard-wearing. This makes them very easy for customers to carry to and from the water and control when on the water. And if customers find paddleboarding easy on a lighter board, they’re more likely to come back for more!
  • Best for beginners – Inflatable paddleboards are very forgiving for beginners. With softer edges, a soft deckpad to fall on, but still packing all the rigidity needed to perform as well as hard boards.

In the UK, inflatable paddleboards are definitely number one for clubs, rental businesses and outdoor companies. And with all these reasons, it’s hard not to see why.

Of course, it goes without saying that not all boards are created equal. And this takes us back to trust. Poor performance boards will cost your business money, make it hard to plan and run, and turn the idea of a happy lifestyle business into a nightmare. And it’s not even all about cost. Cheap boards of course won’t stand up to the rigours of a paddleboard business. But even some of the top-end boards perform less well for longevity, quality of build, weight for example than McConks!

It’s recommended to get a range of different boards for different sizes, weights and abilities. Therefore, you’ve got something suitable for everyone who turns up to paddle. And having a range will appeal to more than just beginners, and also allows you do a bit more than just having all-round boards. Having a few longer touring boards allows you to run longer day paddles for example.

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As with all major purchases, it’s always best to do lots of research.  Speak to other instructors/businesses to get their advice. You can find those SUP rental businesses and schools close to you using the SUP business map on SUPhubUK. or alternatively, ask for advice on a few Facebook groups. SUP hacks is ideal because it has got a number of instructors and businesses among its members.

When you’re making your final decision about which stand up paddleboards to buy for your business, make sure you speak to the companies directly. Most offer trade prices for businesses. But also watch out for things like delivery costs, delivery times, location of the company etc. We’re a bit biased of course, but we think buying from a smaller family business guarantees you better service. And promises made are more likely to be honoured when they come straight from the horse’s mouth, rather than from a retailer, or salesperson at a distributor.


We’ve been working on making it easier for our customers to choose the right kind of board, and we’ve developed a SUP selector to do just that. You can use the SUP selector to help you decide what board is better for different weights, different abilities and different types of location.

Paddleboarding is all we do at McConks. It’s our passion. And we are invested in helping the SUP community grow. We’re small enough to care, but big enough to have good a good social media reach and media presence. There’s nothing we love more than using that to help others grow. If you want to be part of our SUP business family, please register as a trade customer here.

If you’re as passionate about sustainability and ethics as we are, check out our Go Beyond initiative.

If you’re as passionate about developing grass-roots paddleboarding, check out our Go Inspire initiative.