Outdoor enthusiasts are flocking to paddlesports at record levels. According to the 2015 Special Report on Paddlesports conducted by The Outdoor Foundation, 21.7 million people reported participating in canoeing, kayaking, rafting or stand up paddling—an increase of more than 3 million enthusiasts since 2010.
As equipment manufacturers vie to capitalize on this sensational growth, they must develop innovative products that excite and engage with a diverse customer base.
Whether you’re designing for experienced paddlers or novices just dipping their toe into the water, there are characteristics that all enthusiasts desire. Here are 3 ways polymers can add these coveted aspects to your designs:
1. Paddlers appreciate products that reduce fatigue, minimize inefficient exertion and account for comfort.
- Compared to aluminum paddle shafts, fiber-reinforced composites reduce weight without sacrificing rigidity. Taking advantage of these high stiffness-to-weight ratio materials makes every stroke more efficient for the paddler. Plus, composites won’t conduct cold or heat as aluminum does.
- Enhanced tactile and sensory experiences make any paddlesports adventure more enjoyable. Soft-touch TPEs make it happen, letting you improve the grip of SUP paddle t-handles, for example, or cushion kayak seats and thigh braces. And comfort? Blisters are a thing of the past when gripping a soft-touch TPE.
2. Strong, durable products are a must. Without it, you’re sunk.
- Both ABS laminate sheet and fiber-reinforced composites produce a strong, stiff hull that won’t flex in rough water or when fastened down to a roof rack. These materials also offer exceptional impact-resistance so your vessels can take the beating of a rocky shoreline.
- Prolong the life—and the appearance—of your vessels with UV-stable additives that protect against sun fading and deterioration from environmental exposure.
- Using micro-layering techniques with polymer-based synthetic fibers can generate an exceptionally durable personal flotation device fabric that is also breathable and lightweight.
3. Coolness counts.
- Printed hydrographics and custom colorants open up a virtually unlimited world of eye-catching color and pattern. Brand your entire product line with a unique aesthetic or set off individual products to appeal to a niche customer base.
Consumer interest in high quality equipment that will last is growing right along with the popularity of paddlesports. How do consumers define quality? They’re looking for lighter weight, toughness, strength and durability. And don’t forget the cool factor. If you can navigate these must-haves, your ride downstream will be a smoother one.