Putting standups to the test.
Paddleboarding has changed the way many folks enjoy lakes and rivers in the summertime. This is of course nothing new for anyone who’s spent time around the Great Lakes, where every house within a mile of the water has had a paddleboard for decades. (Mind you, they’re the heavy wooden numbers that double as benches around the campfire, but they allow folks to explore water standing up just the same.) For everyone else, paddleboarding is new, it’s cool, and it’s even got a kitschy acronym by which to refer to it. We of course turn up our noses at such things—but then we tried one. Fact is, no matter how trendy they are, paddleboards are actually pretty fun, and they come in a range of styles, materials, prices, and applications. Here are a couple we recently tried out.
When the Weekender from Ten Toes Board Emporium arrived at the office, we thought there’d been a mistake—it came in a box big enough for a medium-sized cooler, not a ten-foot water vessel. But the Weekender is inflatable, meaning it rolls up and stores easily in the trunk or back seat. That doesn’t mean it’s light—don’t plan on packing it up to Pine Creek Lake. But for an afternoon float around Fairy Lake, a jaunt down the Jefferson, or a weekend camping out on Canyon Fairy, this is just the ticket. It’s easy to inflate, rigid as a standard board, and highly maneuverable, with a non-slip deck pad and convenient carrying handle. It’s also great for viewing wildlife, as you can approach animals stealthily from an angle they generally don’t suspect. The Weekender has three detachable fins, meaning it can hold a straight line when the winds kick up, which they’re apt to do around here. $600; tentoesboards.com.
If you want to fish or camp with your paddleboard, or are simply ready to get more serious about the sport, the Boardworks Tracker is the craft for you. Made of Krypto-Mat fiberglass, a strong and impact-resistant material, the Tracker is eleven feet of pure versatility. It’s stable in stillwater, maneuverable in the current, and it has numerous tie-downs for lashing gear, equipment, even a small cooler or two. A removable touring fin offers better tracking and speed in deeper water, and the soft, grippy deck material provides both cushion and traction. Pick up the optional quick-release leash and you can rally this through the rapids, too. Regardless of water type, the collapsible center handle allows easy transport from roof rack or pickup bed, and also lets you lock up the board if you’re bike-shuttling back to the put-in. The Tracker’s not cheap, but odds are, it’s the last paddleboard you’ll buy. Available at the Round House. $1,850; boardworkssurf.com.
- O/B Store