It’s no surprise that more and more people are getting into the sport of standup paddle boarding. It’s fun, great exercise and allows a person to continually challenge themselves as they gain more experience. Many advanced paddle boarders surf, race, fish and even do yoga on their SUP boards. As easy as they make it look, remember that they all had to start somewhere.
The longer and wider the board, the more stable it will be, but it will also be heavier. The trade off with a large board is speed and maneuverability. Lighter boards are out there, but they are also more expensive. It’s advisable to test out several different boards before settling on one. If you decide that this is a sport that you intend to stick with and you can afford it, invest in the lightest board possible. Carrying and attempting to load a board onto a vehicle with fatigued arms can be a chore.
Beginners should choose a board that’s at least 30” inches wide. This allows for a good shoulder-wide stance in the center of the board. Narrow boards are better for what is referred to as a surfer’s stance, where one foot is planted forward of the trailing foot. This stance allows for faster turns and catching waves. Length is equally important. Unless you’re an experienced surfer wanting to crossover to SUP, choose a board that’s over 10 feet.
As mentioned earlier, heavy boards are less maneuverable. They require more room to turn and can be hard to lug around without a set of wheels or a SUP carry bag. While those two items are useful, so is a board with a built-in carry handle. This is particularly useful if you don’t have the upper body strength to hoist a board overhead and trudge from parking lot to water’s edge.
Many states now require that paddle boarders also wear life vests, but don’t fret over the thought of wearing one of those large, bulky boater’s vests. There are belt pack life jackets that inflate with an included air canister that cost between $50 and $100. Next you’ll want a paddle for that new SUP if it didn’t come with one, and for transporting your board you may want to purchase a SUP carry-bag, tie-down straps and foam pads to protect the vehicle or board.
Other than those few necessities, there aren’t that many extras needed unless you want to carry extra gear or you plan to turn your board into a fishing platform. Shop the end-of-season sales at local board shops or shop online for the best deals. Buying a board from Craigslist has quite a bit of risk as SUPs are easily stolen and resold. Be sure to invest in a good locking cable to keep your board safe. Once you have everything you need, get out there and have fun!