Rail Height HooDoo
Straight Into It
Let's hit this one head on as it seems to be a topic that raises lots of opinions, and is also a topic that is often mis-reported! Like a lot of tings in the Stand Up Paddle Boarding world, lots of people like to over complicate things, when in reality, it's so simple!
Having been to our factories, and other factories making other brands boards in China, we have witnessed, helped create and experienced the construction of a board, from cutting to glueing, rolling to packing.
As such, we're in a good place to talk about this topic and feel confident in our thoughts. There aren't many brands or magazines that have had the luxury of actually spending several days in a paddle board factory.
Forums are often the best place to get answers, however, it is inevitable that you WILL get a different opinion, and usually from the following;
- Brands who sell boards with a certain size rail
- People who own that size rail
- People who have been 'told' about the correct rail height
In fact, the real answer, and we invite anyone from anywhere to challenge this - it's subjective! Yup....you couldn't get a more beige answer. But, it's truthful and not one driven with sales in mind!
Let's Get On With It
What is Rail Height?
The rail is the edge or side of the board.
What are the different rails heights?
Rail heights are predominantly 4", 4.5/4.75 & 6"
Why are their different rail heights?
The reasons vary. Length of the board is a big driver, but there is also a factor surrounding the quality of the 'drop stitch' material used - don't panic, we're about to expand.
Inflatable stand up paddle boards are made from a PVC material that has 'drop stitch' strands or strings holding the top and bottom together. These strands help the board maintain its shape once inflated. Think of the drop stitch strands like a rope. The more there are/the more dense the strand compilation, the heavier the user can be without the board bending/deflecting/bananaing - they are all the same thing.
Cheaper brands and the 'pop-ups' that appeared during lockdown, went CHEAP, and we mean proper cheap! This means it looks good but it its unstable, the nose and tail lift out of the water when you stand on it and it feels wobbly.
This is because there is very little rigidity in the board.
What a lot of people won't tell you is, there are only a few factories in China that make the actual paddle board material. The cheaper boards are made from air track material, which is fun and bouncy on dry land, but isn't strong enough once it gets on the water.
Most brands that have been around for some time will use good material (forget the height for now) and you will get a board that is rigid, holds it's shape and gives you a good experience. So don't worry about this if you're buying from a reputable brand that hasn't just popped up out of nowhere and flooded your feed with bad adverts that seem too good to be true.
Right...here we go. We make 4.7" rails for several reasons. Here they are;
- It's closer to the feel of a hard board as most all rounder hard boards have 4" rails.
- We like to be closer to the water. Getting our feet wet is part of the experience and is amazing for grounding.
- Lower to the water = Lower centre of gravity. It's a fact, nothing more. This obviously helps with balance and stability.
- (We think) It looks way nicer.
- Less material, less weight.
- 4.7" still holds a rider of 200kgs+
- Easier to carry.
- Looks nicer....we know we've said that already, but we're just checking 😉
- You paddle 'in' the water, not 'on' it. Therefore, it has less of the feeling of a boat and more of a board.
- 4.7 still holds its shape, even with heavier riders.
80% of those are actual facts and cannot be argued. The 'looks good' is very much subjective.
The easiest things is to actually try a board. If you have the luxury of having a location that hires boards close to you, or you're close to the brand, you should try get on the board. Failing that, fuelled with all these facts, you can safely buy a board based on what you know.
The facts you new have in your arsenal are;
- Good 4" Boards can 100% do the jobs of 6" boards.
- Good quality & reputable brands use good material - therefore, your height and weight shouldn't matter. We have a rider that paddles a blue Pure Art and he is tipping 150kgs. Both he and the board are happy!
- If you don't like getting your toes a little wet from time to time, get a 6" board, but if you like to experience the water and it's healing/grounding, it's 4" all the way baby!!!!
In our next blog we'll talk single, double and Multi/Fusion layering of the PVC material. Once again, people like to over complicate, but it is crazy simple to understand! Don't be baffled into buying a board with facts and figures.
Do ya like it? Do ya want it? Can ya afford it? Is it from a good brand that are responsive? Boxes ticked!
Any questions.....fire them over!