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Pros and cons of a Compact lightweight paddleboard

Why don’t you…? Compact inflatable paddleboards SUP

The idea of a compact SUP is very alluring. Something light and that fits in cabin baggage seems like a game changer. And in many ways it is exactly what most inflatable paddleboard paddlers want. And we know this because lots of people contact us to ask if we’re making a compact inflatable SUP board!

We, at McConks, have been investigating and testing compact boards for a number of years. But we’re not yet fans of the technology in the compact boards for a few reasons:

  • Although the lighter, more flexible dropstitch that makes up the core of a compact board has been around for several years (1), making a compact inflatable SUP board is not as straightforward as making a standard fusion board. The seams are not as reliable because of the flexibility of the outer shell, meaning that twists and seam failures lead to an unacceptably high failure rate at the factory. Although our factory QA is very high, so we’re confident we could pick up QA failures before they left the factory, there is a significant amount of wasted resources. And we don’t agree with that from a sustainability and environmental point of view.
  • Regular folding along of compact boards has already been shown to cause failures at the crease lines in the short time they’ve been around. There are ways to reduce the risk of PVC breakdown at this stress point, but it will always remain at increased risk of deterioration and failure. We haven’t fully tested the failure mechanism yet, but it appears to be used related failure more than age related failure. So the more you fold at the crease, the greater the risk of failure.
  • Paddles – Four or five piece paddles just don’t work in our opinion. A lightweight four or five piece paddle just doesn’t give us the performance or reliability that we think our customers want. Too much performance is sacrificed for portability.

So as much as we like the idea and principle of a compact board, we’re not quite ready to produce one yet. We’ll keep an eye on the technology, and we’ll keep testing new technology, but we’ll definitely not be selling a compact board in 2020 sorry!

Click the button below for an article on SUPhubUK for the pros and cons of different compact SUP Products

(1) This dropstitch has been around for a number of years and well before the brand that claims to hold the patent for the technology brought out their compact range.

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