What you will Need to Start
It can be Inflatable or fiberglass hard board. See the differences below
Sometimes a paddle will come with the board! Many times though, they are not of great quality and not all of them float.
A whistle is great to have if you are going in deeper water and are further away from shore. In fact in many places you have to have a whistle with you to go out paddling.
This is especially important if you are in the surf zone and you fall off your board. The board leash straps around your ankle and insures that your board will not stray too far away from you.
A PFD or (or personal flotation device) comes in a variety of different forms for Paddle Boarders. The most common PFDs are Belt PFD’s and Vest PFD’s. Both of these are more ideal than your typical bulkly life vests because they do not get in the way of your paddling motion .
Unless you consider yourself a nudest this is pretty self explanatory. If conditions are colder you will need a wet suit or a dry suit for winter like conditions
Be sure to get something that covers your whole head and not just part of it if you are paddling the entire day.
Ideal to get polarised sunglasses with a strap at the back. in case they fall off of your face.
SPF 30 is usually acceptable, go higher or lower depending on your preference and skin tan.
Renting vs Owning a Stand Up Paddle Board
There is no right or wrong in this answer it depends on how often you are going to paddle and where you live. Starting off I went to a local rental shop close to where I live. Their price is around $20 an hour although their definition of an hour was pretty loose. This allowed me to judge how I liked the sport and if I would do it again. You can probably guess that I did as I am currently writing this article about this subject!
Inflatable Paddle Board vs Hard Board
Inflatable Paddle Boards are great for
Fiberglass Hard Boards are great for
- On Water Performance
- More Challenging Conditions
- Being More Rigid
- Having a Smoother Ride
- Paddling at a greater speed
Types of Paddle Boards
Below are some direct comparisons of each type of SUP to help you judge which paddle board you should try. Of course it’s hard to peg the exact stats of each paddle board model so the charts are simply generalised representations of that type of board, not the models in the pictures.
Paddle Board Pictures respective rights go to BIC, NSP, Naish, Focus SUP, Isle and California Board Company.
Recreational/ All- Around
These boards are rounder in looks and are usually wider as well. These are the ideal types of boards to start off with as a beginner. They won’t win you any races on the water but they give you that stable feeling that you need before heading out. Typically the measurement sweet spot for these boards is 10’6” to 12’ length and 30- 34 “ width. All around paddle boards can be found in both hardboard and inflatable varieties. The Inflatable ones will generally be cheaper though.
Hybrid Touring/ Flat Water Boards
Touring and Race Boards
Surfing Paddle Boards
These boards are often hardboards that look like a hybrid between a paddle board and a surfboard. There are a few types of surfing paddleboards but the most common tend to be the longboards and the shorter surf paddle boards. These boards are more for people who are experienced and have access to coastal surf. As a result, they are less stable and have a higher rocker (side of the board that has a curved appearance). This rocker allows you to have more control while riding a wave.
Yoga Paddle Boards
These are the most stable boards you can find that are meant for, you guessed it! Yoga! If you are already a big yogi then I would highly recommend using these boards as part of your practice. This is because it allows you to work on your core stability muscles that are essential for keeping the board steady on the water. SUP Yoga boards come in inflatable and hardboard varieties. The inflatable ones are usually more popular because of the convenience factor.
Fishing Paddle Boards
Fisherman you are in luck! There are fishing paddle boards and they can be used for the same purposes as stand-up fishing kayaks. The fisherman who goes with these boards typically wants something more versatile. They have the ability to stand, sit, lie down or kneel while on the water. As a result, these boards are very steady and can be used as beginner boards. These boards come in inflatable and hardboard preferences. Both a great, but it just depends on what your needs are.
Where to Stand Up Paddle Board
Quick Beginner Tips Before You Begin
Before you get into the water here are some things to keep in mind to make your pregression seamless.
Adjust Your Paddle Height
Adjust the paddle to your ideal height. How you do this is by extending the paddle to how high up your arm can extend upwards. You then lower the knob to where you can rest your wrist onto it. If you are going to start off kneeling you can adjust the paddle on the fly, although this will be more difficult.
Engage Your Core
Engaging your core will help you paddle for a longer period of time. This is because a lot of the actual paddling motion is your core being activated. As a result, this lessens the burden on your arm muscles. See this video for more information.
Look and Face Straight Ahead
You will feel much more balanced at ease when looking ahead as opposed to looking behind. I cannot begin to recount how many times I’ve lost balance just because I looked behind me to see what my friend was doing. It is also a good idea to keep your head up because that allows for maximum stability. In many ways riding a paddleboard is a lot like riding a bike. When you ride a bike do you look down? Of course not! While looking ahead keeping your posture will also allow you to keep stability in the water.
How to Tackle Wind and Water
How to Get up on a Stand Up Paddle Board
- First Wade in knee-deep water with your board facing in front of you. Make sure that the water is deep enough so that the tracking fin does not scrape the bottom
- Place your paddle perpendicular onto the board for balance. You will then place your right knee a few inches to the right of the board, make sure you are holding the board steady when doing this. Next, you will place your left knee onto the other side of the board handle and stabilize
- Assuming this is your first time you will want to paddle along on your knees for a while. This is to get used to how the board handles while on the water.
- To stand up (assuming you are in the kneeling position) place the paddle onto your board in front of you with your hands over it. Place your toes onto the board, then place one knee in front of you in front of your chest and let the other one follow. You will then be in a squat position so you straighten your back and rise up so that you are standing.
- Once you are up we recommend that you place your paddle into the water quickly so that you get extra balance. This also gives you instant momentum moving forward and there for stabilizing the board in the process. It’s the same principle as getting on a bike.
- Once up you want to ensure that you are on the “sweet spot” of the board. This sweet spot is where the board is perfectly balanced. That is the front end is not too much in the water and neither is the back. If you are not within the “Sweet Spot” of your board. Simply place the blade of your paddle onto the board for stability and move up or down.
Our friends over at Höga Kusten Surf suggest the following technique for people who may not be able to do the above technique
- Start from the side of the board
- Lay the paddle over the board by your side facing front of board
- Put your arms far onto the board as you manage
SWIM with legs to get your body horizontal in the water
- KICK your feet hard use your elbows and under-arms as a hinge to get the board under your chest.
- IMORTANT : Do NOT grab the far end But put your hands on the near side of the board, by your waist, and push your body inwards until you’re over the boards.
Just because you are on a stand-up paddleboard doesn’t mean you actually have to “stand up” on it. I find that you actually get better strokes from your paddle by kneeling as opposed to standing up. Still, it is a good idea to at least attempt to stand at some point or another as it will work more muscles and become a more compounded exercise.
How to Paddle
There are a few principles you should note when paddling. The first is the position of your paddle. Typically a SUP paddle has a bend before the shaft. You want this bend to be forward-facing. This allows the paddle to hit the water at the proper angle. From here will learn a few techniques. REI explains it best in the video below.
When paddling forward you should start off with the paddle reaching about two feet in front of you. Place the blade into the water and move it down to your foot. Use your torso and core while doing this motion and keep the paddle in a straight line. I usually like to do 3 to 4 stokes on each side before switching sides if I am trying to keep a relatively straight course. If you want to turn to keep paddling to the one side.
This one can be a little bit more tricky for newbies as you are not used to backward momentum but it is an important skill to practice. You can use this stroke to slow down (like when you see that sunken log too late that could hit your fin), to stop or turn. You want your stroke to be about 2 feet behind you going to your foot.
This is handy for making sudden turns where you want to do a 180. For this one, you bend over and stick your paddle out further than the forward stroke. You do a Rainbow motion (half-circle) from the nose of your paddleboard all the way to the tail of the board. When doing this motion you want the blade entirely submerged. This is to get the most power possible as this motion often requires the most amount of effort.
How to Fall off a Stand Up Paddle Board (And Get back on)
How to Transport a Stand Up Paddle Board
Getting on a paddleboard for the first time is not the hardest thing to do in the world but it is also not the easiest. If you follow these above steps and watch the videos closely. You will be well prepared for your maiden paddling journey. Hopefully, you pick up a new hobby or obsession that you enjoy doing during the spring and summer months.