Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) is a great ways to get out and discover new ways to combine exercise and fun on lakes, rivers and open water. Fans of SUP love this option because it’s easy to get started on a stand up board. As with any other watercraft, contacting an outfitter who can show you the ropes and provide expertise on your first or early mini-journeys is a great way to get started.
You won’t be alone out there on your SUP. According to the Outdoor Industry Foundation 2013 Outdoor Participation Report, 56% of all the first-time participants of outdoor activities in 2013 were to try Stand Up Paddleboarding.
You need only a few basic items to get started: your outfitter will provide all you need for a first time out. Check our Outfitter Search by Activity to find an SUP outfitter near you.
Stand Up Paddleboard
They come in many shapes and sizes in both rigid and inflatable designs. The sizes range widely: it’s best to start out with one that is nice and wide, and therefore stable. Longer boards, like other boats, are likely faster so will make better time when paddling long distances. Shorter boards are likely more nimble and better for turning, surfing and paddling on moving water and whitewater rivers. When you visit an outfitter you’ll likely try a model or two they have determined good for first SUP experiences.
Stand up paddles are similar to canoe paddles, but are much longer since you stand when using them, vs. sit while paddling a canoe. They are available in a wide variety of materials with a variety of blade and handle, or grip shapes.
A leash is familiar to those used with surfboards, connecting you with a hook-and-loop closure strap at your ankle to your SUP. Since SUPs can be paddled on different bodies of water, regulations for wearing leashes vary, as well. Check with your outfitter or those who have paddled Stand Up Paddleboards where you are headed to learn the local requirements.
PFD (personal floatation device)
It is ALWAYS good practice to wear a Coast Guard approved pfd, even though they may not be mandated if you are within a swimming zone at the beach. There are many great looking, comfortable pfds designed for SUP paddlers.
Preparing for the Water and Sun
The weather and water conditions help you know what’s best to wear. If it’s hot and sunny and the water is warm, shorts or a bathing suit may be fine, combined with a shirt that won’t get in your way as you paddle. If the water is cool or cold, you should consider wearing a wetsuit or drysuit for you may spend a good deal of time in the water!
Remember to wear your favorite waterproof sunscreen and sunglasses, and reapplying sunscreen during the day.
A few strokes will give you confidence to get out to where you are going to paddle, maneuver when you are out, and back to your home base with confidence. Your outfitter or instructor should provide the basics of a Forward Stroke, Back Stroke and Forward and Reveres Sweep Strokes used for turning.
There’s plenty of time left this season to find an outfitter near you who can introduce you to SUP. Have fun!