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How to repair an inflatable stand up paddle board puncture.

Unfortunately mishaps do occur and possibly at some point your beloved inflatable stand up paddle board will pick up a nick causing a small puncture to occur. But fear not as repairing an iSUP is pretty easy. You board should come with a puncture repair kit as standard so you’ll have the majority of tools needed to complete the job in hand. You’ll need to grab a spatula and hairdryer with possibly some sandpaper as well.

Inflate your board so it has some air pressure. Then grab yourself some soapy water and sponge. Rub the water on your board and watch for bubbles appearing as air escapes to locate where the hole is.

Dry the area off but make sure you remember where the damage is. Marking lightly with a pen’s a good way to ensure this.

Once the damaged area’s dry take the sandpaper and gently scuff the zone to create a key – but don’t be too overzealous here. You’ll also want to do the same with the patch you’re applying. All good repair kits will have a number of patches, sandpaper, glue and a valve tool – the latter you won’t need though.

Next up deflate the board fully and completely dry off the board. If you need to leave it until all moisture has gone then done so.

Masking tape the area around the hole so the glue doesn’t go everywhere. Apply glue liberally with a paintbrush to the board and use a hairdryer to semi-dry the liquid before placing the patch over the hole. Use a spatula to get rid of any air bubbles. The patch should be equidistant from the hole in all directions.

As the patch dries you can use the hairdryer once more to further aid drying. Then leave for a few hours.

All in fixing a inflatable stand up paddle board hole is straightforward as long as you don’t rush it.

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Which iSUP is more stable – a 9’8 x 30″ McConks Go Free board or a 12′ x 31″ different brand board?

When you’re in the market for a new inflatable stand up paddle board chances are you’re looking at dimensions closely. This is your guide, although quoted numbers don’t always tell the whole story. Confirming this once again we were contacted by one of McConks’ SUP friends who had some interesting info based on a side by side test that’d been done.

Having used the McConks 9’8 Go Free crossover inflatable SUP extensively the paddler in question went for a float with a popular, alternative brand’s, 12′ x 31″ wide touring SUP. (For reference the Go Free is much shorter and narrower at 9’8 x 30″). General theory suggests that a longer, wider board should be more stable. In fact, board B sports a squared off tail, much less rocker which all in should mean it ‘wins’ the stability test hands down.

After swapping about during an hour plus session, however, it quickly became apparent this isn’t the case. It’s, in fact, quite the opposite. (Note: having passengers clamber on and off both boards, before jumping off, and paddling with three kiddy guests, while the paddler aims to keep upright is a good test of stability if you ask us!).

Time and again McConk’s model was staying balanced and not tipping everyone in the drink. Which was totally opposite with the 12′. So why is this?

We hear it all the time that inflatable stand up paddle boards don’t really differ much, other than in dimensions, which isn’t true. Manufacturing techniques, type of Dropstitch used, thickness of and quality of PVC, plus length, width and volume of board along with any other design quirks all play their part to make every board ‘feel’ and perform differently. There’s also the user to pop into the equation. By this we mean has he/she put the recommended amount of air into the board as this will affect how your iSUP acts. Also, to a degree, skill level.

In terms of recommended air pressure both the 9’8 Go Free and 12′ tourer/cruiser were filled with their optimum, so that variable can be ruled out. There are some differences in design of both boards, however. The Dropstitch material McConks uses in all its SUPs is super high quality. We#re confident it’s the highest grade you can get. This alone, when the board is inflated correctly, will see superior rigidity when compared to other brand gear that doesn’t use the same spec Dropstitch. It’s exactly the case with PVC used in McConks’ SUPs as well. We don’t cut corners.

Add to the mix the hard release rubber edge that sits on the tail of the Go Free. This not only helps with tracking and glide it also helps with rigidity, minimises bend (deflection) and therefore aids stability. We appreciate not every McConks iSUP has this feature but in the case of the Go Free, which we’re focusing on here, it’s worth mentioning. Fins too; these can help with stability, serving to keep the board level and therefore balanced – IF they’re optimised and positioned correctly. Basically, a well designed inflatable, with all its component parts optimised will give you ‘more’ on the water – whichever aspect you shine a spotlight on – than something which hasn’t had quite the same level of attention.

You can give your brand a funky name, create a pleasingly visual logo, add some nice colours and utilise colourful language when describing your products. You may also drop the price point to as low as you dare go to entice and attract. But ultimately if your products haven’t had the input then they simply won’t fulfil the promise of what you say they’ll deliver on the water.

If you want some honest feedback about McConks SUP products in comparison to others then get in touch. We’re only too happy help. Regardless of which brand you’re looking at we’ll tell it straight.

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Innovation, progression, performance in iSUP – a homegrown brand doing more than just standard 10’6 inflatable stand up paddle boards. Spotlight on Go Race V 14′.

First let us be absolutely clear: there’s nothing wrong with staple 10’6 inflatable stand up paddle boards. These will suit the majority of paddlers and stay with them for the long haul – especially if manufacturing quality is on point, as with ALL McConks products.

There’s a lot of snobbery around relating to cost and perceived ‘cheap’ iSUPs vs more costly ones. The fact is, however, with inflatable SUP you get what you pay for. If you shell out around 200 quid on a board that’s what you get: a 200 quid board. For sure, we’ll admit some are better than others, and a good many will serve your purposes well. In these instances you’ll have made a wise purchase. If you want something ‘more’, that will last longer plus deliver more on water performance equating to enhanced fun, then that’s where premium brands come in. McConks is one of those aforementioned premium brands.

We put a lot of time and effort into sourcing the best quality materials we can; the most efficient and cost effective manufacturers; we put an awful lot of blood, sweat and tears into being as innovative as possible. Some of this may get missed with all the ‘noise’ of SUP‘s colourful world. Yet if you look deeper at what McConks provides you’ll see this innovation, progression and performance. And this is ‘stuff’ that filters down through McConks’ whole product range to benefit every paddler. You may not realise it piloting your trusty 10’6 but through development of more performance orientated boards and paddles you’re reaping the rewards.

One such case in point is McConks’ Go Race V 14′. Whilst SUP racing may not be for everyone being able to design and produce something like this board allows us to experiment, try new ideas and see how far we can push inflatable stand up paddle board boundaries. In doing so we may hit on new ideas and concepts that transfer to the rest of McConks’ range.

With the Go Race V 14′ we’ve incorporated double carbon stringers to increase stiffness. Through the tail section there’s a hard release rubber edge (found on some of McConks’ other iSUPs also). This aids unsticking of the tail for increased acceleration and less drag. Upfront, on the Go Race‘s nose, there’s also pronounced Vee which helps shed water when piercing through chop but, again, as with the tail aids overall efficiency. Combined with its flatter rocker these three elements make for a lightning quick sled – not bad when you consider it’s an air filled board.

And then there’s the fin, or more specifically the fin box. We’ve created this to be removable and come in two parts. This makes for easier transportation and storage of the V 14′ when deflated but also helps with on water performance. Fin boxes, protruding from board tails, add drag so being able to have the Go Race‘s sitting flush against the hull reduces this. The board’s pressure (rated up to 25PSI) secures the top and bottom fin box parts to start with. Then a nifty design allows a Velcro strap to run between the two sections and secure them further. As a US Box style skeg holder paddlers are free to chop and change (tune) their fin accordingly making it not only efficient but super versatile.

All in McConks’ Go Race V 14′ race SUP is top drawer when it comes to innovation and performance. We may be a small family owned stand up paddle board company but that doesn’t mean we can’t be as ahead of the curve as the bigger boys.

If you’ve got any questions relating the McConks’ Go Race V 14′ inflatable stand up paddle race board then give us a holla.

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Buying a budget inflatable stand up paddle board – tips on getting it right.

For anyone looking to buy a new in inflatable stand up paddle board we’d suggest going as premium as you can, for various reasons: longevity and performance being two good ones! We appreciate, however, that whilst we’d consider McConks to be affordable not everyone has the funds to buy from us, let alone any other brand who charges more. In this instance we understand that something costing less will be your choice.

Most budget boards are perfectly acceptable if you get the right size for you. Also, a 6″ thick (or 5″ if you can find them and it’s not totally bargain basement) board will best serve your needs. There is a higher failure rate, and not all of the failures are evident on day one. Pressure testing the board from the moment it arrives is good practise. If it doesn’t lose air over 3 or 4 days then you’ve got a better chance of it being one of the good ones. Also check that there are no bits coming unglued (e.g. no deckpad lifting, D-rigs are firmly adhered and fin boxes). Make sure the seams have a regular overlap all the way around, because less overlap areas are where it’s more likely to fail. If you do manage to be teh owner of a good one then it could last you as long as a premium board. In time you may decide an upgrade is applicable but in the short terms something that allows for maximum fun on the water is what you’re searching for.

If you want any further advice about what makes a good inflatable stand up paddle board then get in touch. Good luck!

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School summer holidays, overseas travel and your new inflatable stand up paddle board.

Pic: CE Photo

A few weeks back it looked like ALL overseas school summer holiday travel was off the cards due to COVID-19. There was, however, light at the end of the tunnel more recently when some nations announced a lifting of restrictions to allow holidaymakers in, as long as certain criteria was met. With chat surrounding a full staycation affair for 2020, and zero chances of heading abroad, it now looks as though some of us will be able to head off to sunnier/warmer climes after all.

So what of that brand new inflatable stand up paddle board you may have purchased to make the most of your time at home? Well, hopefully you’ll have been getting afloat lots since it arrived. The weather’s been great with seemingly plenty of opportunity for paddling shenanigans – from what we’ve seen at any rate.

If you’re one of those who (all being well) will be heading to foreign countries on holiday then you’ll still be able to make use of your iSUP. After all, one of the conveniences of buying an inflatable is the fact it’s easy to travel with. Being able to pack it down, roll up and stow inside a robust and durable bag (complete with three piece paddle, fin, leash and pump) makes it an ideal toy for your annual trip.

Here at McConks we have plenty of experience of travelling with inflatables. The bag itself – even with your SUP gear inside – will have extra room. So why not turn into a suitcase and stash some of your other belongings inside? There’s no reason you should get stung for excess baggage fees – as long as you keep under weight restrictions. And most airline staff won’t be aware that you actually have a board inside!

Once on the ground at your destination transport to accommodation should be no different. Again, because of the fact your iSUP is all contained in a bag – that’s no bigger than standard luggage – it’ll fit inside the hold of coach, boot of a taxi or even on the back of a motorbike if you secure it correctly. Then it’s a case of SUPing until your heart’s content under the warm sun.

Your return journey should then mirror, with all the benefits you made use of during the outbound flight, on the way home.

Overseas travel tips with your inflatable SUP:

  • Make sure you roll your inflatable SUP properly. Secure with any straps inside the bag and tighten accordingly.
  • If possible also secure the board’s pump and three piece paddle via the straps also.
  • Check luggage weight restrictions with your airline and make sure your inflatable gear (inside its bag) falls below.
  • The same applies as above if you stow other belongings inside your iSUP bag. Don’t come a cropper with excess luggage fees.
  • If your airline offers free carriage of sports equipment (some do) then it’d be worth taking this option.
  • Make sure you take your iSUP repair kit and know how to patch a hole – just in case!
  • Remember to take all those necessary bits – including the fin/fins and leash!
  • If you’re heading somewhere particularly hot then don’t leave your inflatable board in direct sun light when inflated.

If you have any questions relating to McConks SUP gear and travelling then hit us up via the usual channels.

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Need a stand up paddle board? Course you do! McConks can help…

It’s an understatement and rather a cliche to say that the times we current live in are unprecedented. But they are definitely bizarre! From the stand up paddle board industry’s point of view it’s also the same. In the last few weeks, since lockdown restrictions were eased ever so slightly, demand for SUP equipment has gone through the roof. We’ve mentioned it previously, but just in case you missed it, McConks has never been so busy. For the month of June so far, we’re 700% up on the same period last year. And despite the downturn in the weather, there’s no downturn in enquiries and sales.

For a whole number of reasons people want stand up paddle boards in their lives, often, more than one, but in particular inflatables are in high demand. The benefits of iSUP has been promoted extensively so we’ll not bang on about it. Good weather, of course, has played its part, but so has having to be at home (or at least in the local vicinity), with restrictions imposed for overseas travel. And not being able to hire from many place has played it’s part. Events have conspired to provoke thoughts along the lines of: ‘what can I do outdoors, perhaps on the water, that’s fun and will enhance my staycation?‘. The natural conclusion for many (who may have previously seen SUP but been putting it off or hiring in the short term) is to purchase a stand up paddle board. The reduced spend on overseas holidays may have freed up a little money to go down this route as well.

It tells you something when the mainstream, broadsheet press has picked up the current SUP boom as well: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/stand-up-paddle-board-stocks-dry-up-as-new-fans-head-to-sea-btfss0r0b?fbclid=IwAR2JHsNilJYy8uFqAmijMHjkVF2m4hTUPtypk9DrO2pZ6YXy9vK8wnCwA-8

So if you’re looking to get hold of your first stand up paddle board package, upgrade to something more progressive or add to your quiver fear not! McConks SUP has stock and we can help. If you’re unsure what you’re looking at, need some help choosing or simply have general queries about SUP, get in touch as we’re only happy help. In the meantime check out McConks’ SUP web shop for a complete listing of products.

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SUP’s just SUP these days…isn’t it?

Stand up paddle surfing, SUP racing, touring SUP, white water stand up paddle boarding, recreational paddling and so on…You’ve heard all the terms, no doubt read all the pigeon-holed descriptions and are probably aware of a few more disciplines within the discipline, so to speak. And that’s how it’s been since stand up’s renaissance in the early noughties. Paddlers have been more or less defined what type of board they ride, where they paddle and how they do it. But in recent times SUP’s evolved. And for the majority of paddlers the choice of an iSUP remains the piece of kit fit for purpose. So much so that the biggest percentage of floating blade wielders can be referred to as ‘all round’. Or maybe it’s even more simple than that…

You buy your board, paddle and apparel to get afloat then it’s a case of doing the thing. And that’s regardless of wherever, whenever and however. If there’s a bump you try and ride it. If there’s something to discover/inspect in the distance then off you pop. The rest of your family fancy a go? No probs: here’s the gear and away they head. Perhaps you find yourself next to an inland stretch of water. Time to get that float kit! It doesn’t matter what length, width or volume of board you’ve chosen it’s all game for a SUP. And there’s the thing. There really aren’t any descriptive boundaries that apply here: it’s all just SUP. It’s not ever a sport, as some might consider other hobbies to be.

Of course, there are still plenty who subscribe to a particular type of paddling and those who do see SUP as a sport. In these cases you can still attribute the aforementioned titles based on the paddling discipline being practised. For anybody into recreational SUP (currently) who’s looking to progress this may be of interest. Having these descriptive terms will give a little direction for pathway choices. Yet the majority aren’t really bothered. And why should they be? Stand up can be practised without having to consider any parameters. Without boundaries, after all, is a way to broaden the mind. Only when you try and condense things down and begin pinning labels on things do we get hemmed in, build metaphorical walls and effectively shut down to other possibilities. (This isn’t strictly true of SUP as stand up has actually helped broaden people’s activity horizons. But you get the point).

SUP is just SUP these days: one board, one paddle, for anyone to go anywhere, anytime. This is how it should be. And for something that perhaps struggled with identity back in the day (is it a paddle sport, is it a surf sport debates etc?) then now we have it: SUP’s just SUP.

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globosurfer.com test McConks’ Go Explore 11’4 inflatable SUP

McConks Go explore 11'4 test

We’re proud to work with media partners who review and test stand up paddle board products without demanding advertising revenue in return. The latest McConks inflatable SUP review to appear is from www.globosurfer.com who took the Go Explore 11’4 iSUP for a spin.

Achieving in excess of 90% ratings for all areas looked at we’re pretty chuffed that Globo Surfer found favour with the McConks Go Explore 11’4. Check out the test report for yourself here. Then why not head over to the McConks SUP shop and nab one for yourself ahead of the new spring/summer season of SUP.

Thanks to www.globosurfer.com for the review!

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Should I buy an inflatable or a rigid paddleboard?

McConks Go Further 14" inflatable SUP

The truth about inflatable paddleboard performance

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.

But for everyone else, an iSUP is ideal. 

Let us tell you more.

Despite recent advances in inflatable technology, every inflatable board made will still flex slightly in the most extreme conditions.  This is most obvious in cheaper mass produced boards made with lower quality drop stitch, single layer technology, or glued manually: These will definitely turn into bananas in the wrong conditions. But even the very best double skin, fusion skin boards (1) are a little susceptible to this, even if they have multiple chambers, and stiffening devices such as stringers or battens.

Therefore although some of the race iSUP boards are up there with glass fibre and carbon race boards in the speed stakes (and make sure you check out our new Carbon sport 14″ hard board, or our Go Race 14″ inflatable race board if you’re serious about going fast and getting great glide on an iSUP), they still can’t yet compete racing in swell or off the beach. 

So if you’re looking for an absolutely top 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 make our adventures, banish the boredom, get out of the gym, learn to surf SUP, race our friends, get close to nature or just simply have fun, you cannot beat an inflatable SUP.

Reclaim your freedom with an inflatable SUP board

(Q) 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 (it’s even more expensive when the handlers drop it and snap it in two) and you miss out on all the amazing sunrise and sunset paddles because you can only start paddling at 10am, and finish at 6pm?   Not exactly the liberating experience you craved for.

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.  For you to use when you want to. Whether that be with the crowds of rental SUPers in the middle of the day, or at either end of the day, on your own, in peace and solitude.  No more excess charges, no more dinged boards, and the ultimate in self SUP expression.

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. Although you can leave your board inflated when you get to your destination and then strap it on the roof when you’re there – we do that a lot!
  • Paddleboards are long. Generally longer than 9″. And race boards can be 14 foot long. Not everyone has space in their house or garage (or is allowed more big toys) 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 as a minimum, then your kit will last you for years without so much as a mark.  iSUP really are very robust: Although inflatables come with a repair kit, we don’t know of many 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 d0
    • 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.

The downsides 

Other than the performance not being as good as hard boards for the very top athletes, there are few downsides to an iSUP. That will be why they are the fastest growing watersports purchase in the world right now.  But there’s no hiding the fact that buying a SUP costs quite a lot of money. Even the cheapest lowest quality banana boards that only last a few weeks start at £275. (ps.  If you want the absolute best performance / price trade off, check out our budget  Go Simple iSUP packages.

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.


The seven signs of a good quality inflatable SUP

With so many brands making so many different types of boards, how can you tell what’s a good quality and affordable iSUP, 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:

  1. Manufacturer’s guarantee of at least 24 months.
  2. No quibble returns policy
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Quality paddles. If the basic paddle is a heavy alloy paddle, the brand just wants to sell kit, rather than create paddling experiences.
  6. Top quality SUP pump. Look out for cheap pumps. If they look cheap and gaudy, they probably are!
  7. 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

Find out why McConks came #1 SUP Brand in a survey of over 1200 paddlers

Reviews of our kit

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
paddles

“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”

(1) Adding additional layers doesn’t necessarily add rigidity. Typically, every layer of PVC is thinner than the two layers used in double skin boards. And adding another layer only really serves to increase the risk of their being manufacturing defects (mostly twists) in the board. Because the additional layers are not added at the raw material manufacturing stage, these additional layers can also add wrinkles and air bubbles.

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Inflatable SUP paddle board for beginners

SUP noobs

Are you a SUP noob?

Standup paddle boarding (SUP) is a fun relaxing and rewarding way to play on water. Relatively gear free, you can get out on the water, playing in river, or lakes or coastal waters. Stand up paddle boards (SUP) offer a fun, relaxing way to play on the water. With a minimum of gear, you can paddle ocean surf or placid lakes and rivers. And the advent of good quality inflatable paddle boards (inflatable SUP) means that you no longer need a garage to store your own SUP.

It’s well known that SUP is great for both physical and mental health. It delivers a full-body workout and has become a popular cross-training activity. In fact, that’s how modern SUP evolved: The great Laird Hamilton was looking for more fun ways to cross train when there was no surf or wind, and modern SUP was born. And compared to other paddlesports, it works the core muscles more rigorously because of the standing position, and you have the benefit of the views that come with a standing position.

So, what do you need to get on the water?

SUP Gear

The good news is, you don’t actually need much gear to get on the water. You need just a few key pieces of equipment to enjoy SUP. It’s fair to say that although you don’t need much kit, the kit you do need costs several hundred pounds. Therefore, you might want to try hiring some kit from a local hire centre, or join one of the ever growing number of clubs before you buy. If you want to find a friendly SUP club or centre, to try a range of kit you’d do worse than looking at the new SUPhubUK maps to find your nearest school or club.

However, should you already know that SUP is your ideal sport and pastime, this is what you need.

SUP board

There’s a bewildering array of boards available, and the type of board you need depends on the type of environment you’ll be paddling in, and your shape, size and skill. Simply put, the heavier you are, and the less competent you are, the bigger the board you need. See our other blogs for advice on whether you should go for an inflatable SUP or a hard paddle board, things you should know before buying a SUP and for advice on what size SUP board you need.

Paddle

You can get a paddle for as little as £40 or even for free with some cheap SUP packages. But these are typically heavy, poor quality alloy paddles, which are hard work, tiring and in some cases simply plain dangerous. Make sure you buy fibre glass or carbon fibre paddles. You have a choice of adjustable or fixed length paddles. For beginners, we always recommend an adjustable paddle. It often takes several sessions to figure our how long you need your paddle (it’s quite a personal decision), and different paddling environments require different length paddles. A decent adjustable paddle will only weigh 100g more than a fixed paddle, and will give you much more flexibility as you develop.

PFD (Personal Flotation Device)

There is a very active debate as to whether you need a PFD in SUP. PFD are commonplace in paddlesports, and less commonplace in surfsports. We won’t get drawn further on this matter, but you should consider whether you need a PFD, and this will be driven by the environments you will be paddling in. Assume you do need a PFD, and not requiring a PFD is the exception!

Proper clothing

In the middle of UK winter, you might need a dry suit or a winter Wetsuit. In the summer, you might only need a pair of boardshorts and a rashie or t-shirt.  Be aware that it's often more exposed on the water than on shore, and windchill has a significant impact if you've had a dunking.  The general rule is you need clothing that is flexible and moves with you, but keeps hypothermia at bay.

Leash

All good boards with throw in a leash with the board, but not all of the leashes are good. This is an essential piece of safety kit, and the type of leash you need depends on the paddling you’ll be doing. For most general SUP, a coiled 10ft leash is spot on. If you’re going to be trying surf SUP, a straight leash is better, and if you’re getting into river WW SUP, then you need a specialist quick release leash. People have drowned in rivers because they’ve had the wrong kind of leash. But this is only important at the performance end of the spectrum. Most general paddlers will not need anything other than a coiled 10ft leash.

Sun protection

Wear sunscreen and sunglasses. And maybe a hat. Especially if you’re fair. The water really reflects the sun!

SUP Techniques on the Water

Getting on the SUP

When you’re new to the sport, it’s best to start out in flat, calm water that’s free of obstacles (like other watersports users, boats and buoys!) It make sense to progress to your knees before trying to stand up! But, if you want to stand up paddle board, this is how you do it:

  • Standing alongside the board in shallow water, place your paddle across the deck of the board and use it as an outrigger. The paddle grip is on the rail (edge) of the board; the blade rests on the water.
  • Hold the board by the rails. One hand will also be holding the paddle grip.
  • Climb onto the board in a kneeling position, just behind the center point of the board.
  • From that kneeling position, get a feel for the balance point of the board. The nose shouldn’t pop up out of the water and the tail shouldn’t dig in.
  • Keep your hands on either side of the board to stabilize it.
  • Once you’re ready, stand up on the board one foot at a time. Place your feet where your knees were. You might also bring a friend to help stabilize the board as you get the hang of standing on it.

Staying on the SUP

To maintain your balance as you stand upright on the board:

  • Your feet should be parallel, about hip-width distance apart, centred between the board rails (edges). Don’t stand on the rails.
  • Keep toes pointed forward, knees bent and your back straight.
  • Balance with your hips—not your upper body.
  • Keep your head and shoulders steady and upright, and shift your weight by moving your hips.
  • Your gaze should be level at the horizon. Avoid staring at your feet.
  • Much like bicycling, when your forward momentum increases, your stability increases as well.

SUP Stroke

Once you’re comfortable balancing on the board in flat water, it's time to take off on a longer excursion—where the real fun begins.

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Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly.

Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly
Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly

We’ve just been listening to the back catalogue of an old friend of McConks.  Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly.

Not a friend as in someone we know personally, but a friend in the sense of someone who we’ve known for a very long time, whose advice we admire, and who makes us smile whenever we experience them.  Sam Duckworth, the brains behind Get Cape now goes by the name Recreations, and the music is just as great.  But we’ve been following and listening to Sam for many, many years, and some of the early stuff really brings back memories.

And really makes us think.  One song that really chimes with us is the eponymous song Get Cape. Wear Cape.  Fly.  And this lyric sums it up:

“Open your eyes and you don’t need to buy.  You don’t need to be a coathanger for a corporation in a market that’s lost the plot”.

Consumerism can be the enemy of the environment, of social justice, of equality.  Especially if companies are driving change for change sake – changing fashions, changing colours and pushing consumers to buy a new product every year.  When this year’s product is exactly the same as last years, just a slightly different colour or style.  Or when products are made to fail at the end of their warranty period.  Or with cheap products that companies know are not good enough quality, and most people will only use for a short period of time before buying a product that actually works.

All of these things are rife in the world of SUP.   And that’s what different about McConks.

Our boards and paddles are designed with the very best of every component, and made to last for year after year.

We only make products where we offer something different.  So we know that no other company makes packages and paddles of the same quality as us, at the same price point, and with the same ethics.  It’s why we don’t for example make branded t-shirts.  We couldn’t do anything that’s different in price, ethics or quality to what’s already on the market.  And it’s why we don’t, for example, put free car stickers in our products.  Only a small number of them would ever be used, some of them would become litter or be fly posted,  and most would go to landfill.

Ethical products

We only use suppliers who have demonstrated their environmental and worker welfare credentials to us.

But we’d like your thoughts on changing colours and designs.  For 2017 we have kept our great board shape, but have improved our components and manufacturing process as technology improves.  And in doing so we took advantage to change our colours and cosmetics as we weren’t happy with the design of our 2016 lineup.

Were already looking forward to 2018 and what our 2018 lineup will look like, and we’re thinking we should keep our styling, colours etc the same.   That will help break the constant upgrade cycle that other brands rely on, and will reduce our impact on the environment.  We will be bringing new products into the lineup, but this will be about sizes and types, and innovation, not just colours and cosmetics.

But what you think?  Is it important to change colours and style to keep things fresh? Or are our instincts to keep styles the same correct?

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kit choice dilemmas – the grass isn’t always greener

With so many choices of stand up paddle board available it’s understandable consumers are increasingly confused and not sure which way to turn.

As a beginner looking to buy an inflatable board it’s slightly less difficult. There are some pretty simple questions you need to answer:  Does the board float me?  How is its stability? Is it a reputable brand I’m buying? Is the SUP in question manufactured to a high standard?

Despite what the brands might tell you (and that includes us!), there isn’t a huge amount of difference between one top quality iSUP and another. If they’re guaranteed to more than 22 PSI, the chances are the manufacturing is decent quality, and your choice comes down to shape, fin arrangement and colour.

But, moving on from beginner paddling it becomes a little trickier.  Being a progressing intermediate is probably the most confusing period for kit choice. And if you’re looking for specific performance, i.e. manoeuvrability in waves or speed on a flat race track, then finding your ideal SUP partner as akin to needles and haystacks. We sympathise.

The only advice that anyone should give you – and something we can’t stress enough – is demo, demo, demo.  Don’t believe the shops, don’t believe your peers (even if they’re telling you McConks is your ideal partner), don’t believe the marketing.  Trying as many boards as you can get your feet on is the ONLY way to increase your knowledge base and make the right decision, and get good value for your hard earned £££.

In a short time you’ll discover what style fits your specific needs for general flat water paddling. This will help narrow down your choice for boards that match your needs.  Having nailed the flat water choice it’s then time to consider your other needs: manoeuvrability, speed, tracking or glide for instance.

Where possible, take a few boards out in the conditions you’re aiming to spend most of your time paddling in. As with flat water testing, most reputable brands, retailers and organisations will have a readily available fleet of SUPs (some a few, others more) for you to try out in your preferred environment. So, based on your new found knowledge from previous try outs, it’s off into the deep blue to see where each craft is at performance wise.

It’s worth pointing out at this point that you’ll get to a point where a decision is needed, otherwise you will keep going around in circles, and never making a decision.

So you’ve made your decision, you’ve board your SUP package.  And you’re ecstatic.  And then…?

Then the hard work begins.

With so much ‘info’ available it’s easy to begin second guessing what you’ve chosen. Social media posts, info in mags and on websites, titbits picked up from perceived luminaries of the sport may make you doubt your purchase.  Dan in your SUP club has got a new super AirTechLight Multivariate (AirTLM) paddle.  And the new OxyTech iSUP.  And you think Dan’s also got a bit faster, since their new purchase.  And at this point you doubt your purchase which is no long as new, or shiny as Dan’s. And the next thing you know you’ve traded in your board an alternative.  And the arms race begins.  The next thing you know Dan’s seen the latest advert by Sunboard and must buy the new rail technology, and you really fancy the new BluePaddle RamStick.  And this vicious cycle happens again the next year, and the next, ad infinitum!

And this repeat cycle doesn’t actually help most riders develop skills or improve their enjoyment of SUP.  All it really does is help move money from your bank account into someone elses!

So what’s the solution?

Parting with cash for a new SUP will yield a craft which WILL work. After all, that initial research and demo period does pay off. Therefore the performance differences you’re being led to believe can be found more efficiently elsewhere are only at best incremental, and at worst are non existent. Take paddle surfing for instance. A board that a mag review has said to turn tighter may well do so in the hands of an professional SUP surfer.  But the difference between your board and the contender is likely to be minimal, and the subtle nuances will only to be felt by higher skilled riders. In reality, you’ll only get to the same level having developed your own bag of tricks on kit that’s appropriate for your skill level, and kit that you’ve stuck with for a while and learned to love. The point is: your new SUP will do everything you ask of it (unless you’ve really made the wrong decision and bought a duff). It’s now time to make it happen.

So the best advice? Research, make your choice and then learn how to ride your SUP well over a period of time. In time you’ll be surprised how much progression you’ve made and all without the headache of constantly swapping kit for supposedly something better. As with everything in life the grass ISN’T always greener… And constantly buying brand new kit certainly isn’t green!


If you want to demo our new 2017 McConks board and paddle lineup, you can find out more here

And you can read more about our 2017 touring board here

And our 2017 all round board here

 

 

 

 

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How to design a multi day touring SUP board

About 6 weeks ago, we got an intriguing email from someone we didn’t know that just said:  “Are you a UK SUP company? Where are you based? Where are your SUPs made?”

Being pleased that someone had even heard of McConks, we drafted a short reply, saying that we were UK based, and that we designed our boards in the UK but sadly, like all of the other iSUP brands, had to use overseas manufacturers to make them, simply because the supply chain isn’t available in the UK.

We then got an even more intriguing email that said: “I’ve got something that might interest you”.

The emails were from Georgina Maxwell, an outdoors professional and coach. She certainly knows how to generate suspense, because we couldn’t find out what was so interesting for a whole afternoon!  We didn’t know it then, but that’s when our involvement in the #malteseSUPproject began.

George explained why her and three of her close friends were going to be paddling around the three islands of Malta in November 2016. George’s enthusiasm was infectious, and we were sold on the concept almost immediately. There were two things that George said that made our decision to be involved really easy.

– The trip is all about how accessible SUP is. They want to show how easy SUP is, even for their friend Sonja and her battles with Malcolm.  Read Sonja’s blog for more information
– She wanted to work with us because she really valued our concept of providing good honest fantastic quality kit, at an affordable price that made SUP much more accessible and inclusive.

We had been beavering away over the summer designing our lineup for 2017, and an expedition board was already set to be part of the lineup. However a prototype hadn’t yet been ordered, let alone manufactured. We worked with George to refine and improve the design of the explorer board, although we refused point blank to make it in shocking pink as requested! It was then a case of working with our supplier to get the board made as quickly as possible.

So, what was behind the design of the George’s board?

Deckpads are a compromise between non slip and comfort. Some of the most ‘grippy’ deckpads, are fine to stand on for a few hours, but not for days on end. Some deckpads actually make McConks feet go numb after a few hours paddling. We therefore worked hard to find the best compromise between grip and comfort.

The Mediterranean can be quite choppy and stormy in November. The board needed to be easy to paddle, stable, and carry lots of kit. Using 3D modelling we settled on a 12’8 x 31″ x 6″ as being ideal for these conditions.

The expedition will be a multi day expedition which could involve carrying the board, plus the attached kit, a decent distance from the shore. Comfortable handles were therefore a must. We’ve worked hard to make sure there are plenty of handles in just the right place for portage. The added benefit is that they can also be used for additional items, such as the obligatory trombone or trumpet, to be lashed to the handles when short of space. These handles also allow George to haul herself out of the water when her expedition partners decide it’s time for her to swim!

Paddling upwind, upcurrrent in the Med in November can be a real challenge. The board has paddle gloves which allow a kayak paddle to be securely held in place, and attachment points for a SUP seat to allow George to sit when two blades are the only thing that will make headway against a 20 knot headwind and 10 knot current!

A standard US fin box with a 6″ fin designed to keep the board on the straight and narrow is supplied. Two additional Futures Fins boxes allow additional side bites to be plugged in in strong cross currents or cross winds. And allow for the board to be used to ride downwind runs, and to bite into what surf swell there may be.

12'8 board
McConks new explorer iSUP. Now with high pressure fusion enhanced drop stitch technology.

Secure storage was essential. A multi day, long distance trip means that George needs to carry all her kit with her, on the board. We therefore designed two separate storage areas, both fore and aft. We also put non slip strips on the deck under the storage to stop kit shifting about on the water and impacting on board trim.

Transportability was hugely important on an international trip, so a good quality bag was essential. Our new bag is sturdy but lightweight. With supersize wheels, the bag is easy to pull through most environments, whether it be a grassy field or airport concourses. For more difficult or uneven terrain, the stowable shoulder and waist straps are really comfortable for long hikes. The internal straps keep the board secure, and the external pockets allow all the accessories to be kept securely in one place. Chunky plastic zips will not be affected by corrosion, and fastenings inside the bag allow safe storage of George’s 3 piece carbon fibre and bamboo paddle.

The weight of the board was an important factor, and we are super pleased to introduce EDS technology to our boards for the first time. EDS technology stands for Enhanced Drop Stitch, and means a stiffer and lighter board than most other double layer boards. EDS means that the drop stitch is surrounded by an airtight and super-light polymer layer just before the outer PVC is fused to it under high pressure. This all happens at the raw material stage, and gives a much higher quality cosmetic finish with no air bubbles or creases. It also makes the boards a lot lighter than traditional two layer boards and much stiffer than normal two layer technology boards at the same pressure. Other brands call this technology MSL.

This board will be available in early 2017 in a package with our light and powerful carbon fibre paddle for less than £700.  Package price is still to be finalized.  Preorders will be delivered in time for Christmas, so if you’re seriously interested,  contact andy@mcconks.com to let us know.

To keep up to date with McConks developments,  keep an eye on our website , or follow us on @mcconksUK (twitter , instagram and facebook).

To find out more about the #MalteseSUPproject, follow George’s blog here.

 

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