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5 Reasons To Buy Your Board At A Box Store

The “real” paddlers of the world often times scoff at buying a kayak or SUP at a box chain store.

What??? An AQ Ambassador saying don’t buy an expensive boat??

Fair enough here’s why you should stop shaming others for it and why people often head to the big stores to buy their first watercraft:

1. It’s Not About Performance

Many times when I head to a local lake with friends for a full moon paddle I’m not sure we even paddle much. We float, watch the moonrise/sunset, talk, paddle, talk and become enamoured with the environment around us.

For most recreational paddlers it is about the stress relief they get on the water and how they feel free.

They could care less about the performance of their watercraft.

2. Affordability

Imagine I’m a mom with four kids under the age of 10. Can you imagine spending $1200 on a paddle board or kayak only to watch your kids ram it repeatedly into the dock, rocks or another board for “fun”.

If you can’t, you obviously don’t have kids. Their whole purpose in life is to test the limits of anything they’re using.

So now I can buy two SUP’s for the cost of one board…which one will I pick? Cheap ones!

3. Re-sale

I’m going to be able to sell my entry level kayak far easier than a $1200 one when it comes time to realize the kayak dream was just that; a dream.

Just like buying something we think we will use a lot, the reality of life and work demands sometimes over take our reality.

If you’re selling a cheaper kayak or SUP online, guaranteed someone else will buy it because they are in the same position. Not wanting to spend much to see if they like a sport.

4. Stepping Stone

Entry level gear as unstable or uncomfortable as it might be is the first experience for someone to realize if they want to further their knowledge or skills in a sport.

Myself I bought a Costco paddle board, spent a summer on it and knew I wanted to upgrade after using it a lot that year. Better stability and more glide were just some of the trade-offs I was willing to spend $1500 on a new board as I appreciated those qualities now.

5. Intended Use

The general public usually doesn’t start out in their mind thinking: I’m going to run white water on my SUP. No, usually you meet someone who convinces you or you watch a video of it which spurs you towards purchasing specialized gear.

I fished on my first non-specific paddle board for a year, I never fell off, it wasn’t ideal but I had a lot of fun.

Is my Badfisher better? Heck yes! It’s built for fishing and it’s a big step up. Ironically, suffering a little with something that isn’t ideal helps you appreciate the subtle nuances of good gear.

What you shouldn’t cheap out on?


The biggest problem with purchasing your gear at a box store is you get no knowledge or advice with your watercraft.

Did you know that Transport Canada Regulations oversee your kayak, SUP, canoe or raft?

Check out Paddle Canada’s courses and schools to find a class today! Why spend hundreds of dollars on a boat just to be in the dark about how to use it safely and efficiently?

Can you rescue a friend on the water if the worst case scenario happens? It happens.

I hope your answer to the friend who just bought a kayak at Costco is different now that you’ve read this instead of the secret eye roll you’re doing inside.

People have all types of reasons to purchase a watercraft somewhere other than a paddling store.

Chances are if they like it sooner than later they will realize the limitations of their boat and sell it to upgrade if that’s the path they choose to go down.

Happy Paddling

Lisa Stocking

AQ Ambassador Advanced Flatwater Instructor

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