Stand Up Paddle Boarding: Let’s Get Started – A Beginner’s Guide

Maybe you’ve taken a few lessons or you’ve rented a paddle board for a weekend. In any event you’re still new to the sport and you’re looking for some pointers.

This guide will cover all of the fundamental the equipment, in part II of this beginners series we’ll talk about how to paddle board.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding Gear: The Goods

The best part about SUPing is the minimal investment required. Sure paddle boards aren’t cheap but they’ll last a long time and the “field” is free to play on. Also, unlike a ton of other water sports you can go for a paddle on just about any body of water.

Most sports require a membership, a specific facility and expensive gear. Paddle boarding doesn’t really require any of the three and is a killer workout whether you’re cross training or just looking to stay in shape.

For a more in depth look you can head over to all of our SUP reviews. This is the most expensive and the most important piece of equipment. Obviously you’re not going to have a time SUPing without a paddle board.

Looking for a cheap paddle board? Check out the Solstice Bali.

If you’re in the market for a higher quality board at a reasonable price? The lineup of Tower Boards is pretty hard to beat. Finally, the Naish Nalu is our personal recommendation if you’re looking for a paddle board that’s a little more versatile that you can grow into.

A Paddle: Taking You From A to B

The paddle serves as an extension of your body. When you’re surfing the paddle is vital for carving in and out of waves. When you’re on flat water or touring the paddle is your engine, vroom vroom hombre!

When you’re sizing a paddle look for one that is approximately 8” bigger then you. Another way to measure a paddle is to simply make sure the start of the actual paddle blade itself is eye level when it’s placed flush to the ground.

You’ll also notice a stand up paddle board paddle isn’t like a canoe or kayak paddle – it has an elbow in the middle which is designed for maximum efficiency.

Personal Floatation Device: Keep You Afloat

Not much to say about a PFD, most of us aren’t going to wear one but you should – it can literally save your life. Like a surf board, paddle boards can easily knock you out if it gets caught in a wave or you fall awkwardly. If for whatever reason you get blown off course and you end up exhausted it can be a life saver.

A SUP is a vessel so it’s also illegal not to be wearing a SUP Life Jacket.

Stand Up Paddle Board Leash

You can probably get away with not wearing a leash if you’re just going for a flatwater cruise and you’re a confident paddler. If you’re reading this guide you should have a SUP leash. If you’re racing or surfing buy a leash – if not for your own sake then the others around you.

Without a leash you run the risk of having your board sail off into the ocean.

SUP Traction Pads

Most of the better boards will come with some form of traction pad. If it doesn’t you have two options. You can use surf wax but I find it’s not as a good (or very practical). Just buy a traction pad. Pretty straight forward.

Clothing & Protection From the Sun

If you’re in cold waters consider throwing on a wet suit. Being cold isn’t particularly pleasant while paddling. If you’re going to be out in the sun all day, do yourself a solid and throw on a Raiden Hat and some sun screen. Better yet just suit up in a full Raiden costume. The last thing you want is sun stroke or a nasty burn.

Transporting Your Board

There are a few ways to transport your board. If you’re a big enough dude with long enough arms you can carry it under your armpit. More realistically you’ll either have to carry it above your head or rock a handle, sling or a pair of trusty wheels.

To carry it over your head:

  1. Stick the tail on the ground with the nose pointing toward the sky and the traction pad (top) facing you.
  2. Grab both sides by the rails – at this point I like to have my paddle in my dominate hand.
  3. Walk your body towards the center of the board until the board is balanced.

Alternatively you can get a handle for $13 or a sling for $30 – both which work really well and make carrying a SUP significantly easier.

Now that you’ve got everything that you need to get started let’s talk about the basics of paddle boarding.