Standup paddleboarding , aka SUP, was the sport of the moment several summers ago for a variety of reasons. Some of them: (A) It’s fun to be on the water; (B) a paddle and a board keep things simple; and (C) paddling upright adds a fitness component. Judging from the competitive races and requirements on the World Paddling Association website (yes, there are elite pro SUPers), the young sport hasn’t hit the ceiling. From a consumer standpoint, inflatables continue to sell well, and their makers continue to refine boards that are lighter but are more stable, like their harder brethren. Some makers, too, are looking for ways to add fishing gear and mount photography gear.
“It’s definitely been interesting to see it evolve,” said Peter Mogck, whose Minnesota company Paddle North (co-owned with Matt Frakes) is known for its signature boards wrapped in sturdy but lightweight bamboo. “It is a young sport, but it not just young people doing it. It’s a pretty broad range that is getting out on boards.”
Mogck said the fitness element is one of the sport’s lasting draws because it is a low-impact activity that is good for the heart. He said he sees paddleboarders finding new ways to use their boards the way trail runners might seek out new trails. “They’re jumping from lake to lake, and river to river.”
Consumers also want to do the sport together. It is not as solo as it appears. Paddle North has come up with the Paul Bunyan, a 12-foot, 35-inch wide behemoth that can support 400 pounds for tandem rides.
Paddle North began business in 2014. It sold five times the boards in 2016 compared with 2015. And this year’s sales already have exceeded 2016. Mogck said part of the company’s sales growth has been in inflatable boards (it has the Portager that it calls the “utility truck of paddleboards”). Still, the best seller is the Loon XL, Mogck said, a do-it-all 11.6-foot board that can handle most any size (up to 250 pounds) but light enough for a young person to carry to the water.