Imagine an awesome watersport that is a cross between kayaking and surfing, and you’d get Stand-Up Paddle Boarding (SUP). SUP is a Hawaiian watersport where paddlers stand upright on their boards and use a paddle to propel through water. Unlike surfing, you can take this sport even without the waves and strong currents.
It’s no wonder that it’s such a craze among fitness enthusiasts because it trains your cardio fitness, balance and core strength without the impact. With a breathtaking view and a closer look of life underwater, you’d hardly think it is a workout in the first place. It is also a great recreation for the whole family.
The beauty of stand-up paddle boarding is that you can take it to the oceans, lakes or even rivers. Starting out with this sport has become more convenient than ever with the increase of manufacturers creating quality gear. If you’re ready to take on any body of water as your playground, gear up with the essentials!
Stand-up Paddle board
Obviously, this is the first essential you need to take care of. What’s there to paddle on without a board? SUP boards can be made up of different materials including glass-reinforced plastic, polyester, or epoxy resin. Carbon vacuum-bag boards are pricey but light and durable. In contrast, soft-top boards cost less and easy to learn with but are heavy.
Choosing the perfect paddle board is a trade-off among cost, quality and convenience. You can select from a variety of boards to suit your preference and budget. General advice for beginners is to get a board that is 30 inches wide.
Also read: How to choose the best Stand-up Paddleboard
Now that you have your board, let’s head on with the paddle. A SUP paddle looks like a canoe paddle that is longer, lighter and with a slight bend near the blade.
Hunting for the right paddle may seem like a hard task, but it doesn’t have to be the case. Rule of thumb is to have your paddle 4 to 7 inches taller than you. A nice paddle is defined by a light swing weight and a stiff blade. A nice paddle also means longer and better paddling sessions for you. Choose a paddle that suits your budget, height and preference, and make the most of your SUP experience!
Life Jacket or PFD
Personal floating devices, such as a life jacket or belt PFDs, are also essential for your safety. SUP is not necessarily a life threatening sport, but some states classify the paddleboard as a water vessel, thus requiring PFDs. But to be sure: check with the local lifeguard or coast guard regarding the required gear for paddling in your locality.
As for comfort, waist belt PFDs are great and have the durability and quality especially designed for paddlers. As the name suggests, they are wrapped around your waist and will not hinder your paddling strokes. If you’re worried about the stiffness you’d feel with a life jacket, worry no more! There has been a recent innovation where life jackets are designed to give paddlers freedom of movement. Shop for a PFD that assures your comfort and movement so that you can have a great time with paddling.
The leash is another important item to have before you go paddle boarding. When stand-up paddle boarding, it only takes a few seconds for you to lose hold of your board, and that’s even with a fair current! A leash keeps your board within reach at all times by attaching it to a Velcro strap on your ankle. Find a leash that is secure and durable.
Wetsuit (or Drysuit)
Making the choice between a wetsuit, a drysuit or regular swimwear lies entirely on preference. Usually, paddlers prefer the wetsuit for cold water paddling and for its snug fit. A waterproof drysuit is also preferred by paddlers who also do diving or kayaking, although it is not designed to give warmth. You can also stick with your swimsuit and swim trunks especially in the ocean, under a tropical climate, or on an exceptionally hot day.
Take Few Stand-up Paddle Boarding Lessons
Are you worried that the sport is for the highly athletic? Not really, anyone can learn the sport. You can always learn tricks and techniques that can range from beginner to advanced levels. The basic things that you will learn in these lessons include the following: standing on your paddleboard the first time, stroke techniques, basic stances and safety precautions.
If you prefer not to attend stand-up paddle boarding classes, you can always start learning with YouTube video tutorials, like this one:
Also read: Teach Your Kids to Stand Up Paddle Board
Falling in the Water
You might be surprised how this ended up in the list, but really it makes sense. Falling in the water is as much part to the sport as paddling is. They say that once you fall in the water, you are an official stand-up paddler. It is important for beginners to learn in shallow waters first since it is unavoidable to fall while you are still learning. Remember that SUP is all about getting wet and having fun!
Stand-up Paddle Boarding may seem like a heavy investment at first, but this initial investment leads to years of low-cost recreation. Once your gears are all set, you will be delighted to know that the sport incurs no ongoing costs. This sport has been gaining popularity for good reasons. If you are already comfortable with paddling in calm waters, you can go for the currents. Once you get the hang of the basics of SUP, you may take on one of its other disciplines—the possibilities are endless!