Whether you’re looking for a great workout, the serenity of being out on the water, or the excitement of reeling in the big one, stand up paddle boarding is for you.
It seems like with proper paddle board equipment, the activities you can pursue are endless.
But what will you need to get started? The right paddle board equipment, for one thing.
You’ll need to start your paddle board equipment collection with the right board. Standup Journal’s Marina Andriola writes that there’s never been a better time to pick out a paddle board, thanks to growing interest in the activity.
“In general, a wide board of 30 inches or greater should provide a good starting point for a beginner sup enthusiast,” Andriola writes. “Carbon vacuum-bagged boards are light, durable, responsive and expensive. While soft-top boards are usually heavy, durable, easy to learn on and inexpensive.”
The wide range of choices can make finding the right board tough. But there are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind.
“First and foremost, you need a stable board,” writes SUP Connect. “For most people, a board 11-foot in length and 30-inches wide will offer plenty of stability. Now there are features of the board that can make it more or less stable, even if having the dimensions above. Nonetheless, most boards with those dimensions should fit the bill. The goal of your first paddle session is to have fun. And for that, you can’t be struggling to keep the board stable.”
You will also want to take into account how you’ll be using the board, whether for fishing, yoga, touring or light recreation. Considering what kind of use you’ll be putting it to is key for any paddle board equipment.
This guide from REI Coop can help. You could also check out the best boards from the 2017 Paddle Sports Retailer trade show. And by consulting your local paddle board equipment shop, you can get to the right choice.
When it comes to paddle board equipment, the paddle is right up there with the board in order of importance. Standup Journal rates it the second-most expensive item you’ll need in order to get started.
“Just as boards have evolved, so have paddles. The general rule is that the paddle needs to be anywhere from 4 to 7 inches taller than you,” according to SUP Journal. “Lighter paddles are made from more expensive materials, but are well worth the extra investment as they greatly reduce the hand fatigue that occurs with heavier paddles.”
Danny Mongno, Werner Regional Sales Manager, writes on the NRS website that the right paddle makes a huge difference and it’s worth investing in lighter paddles.
“In addition to being lighter, higher-end blades are also stiffer,” Mongno writes. “The inherent flexibility of most lower-quality blades diminishes the force in your stroke, whereas a stiffer high-quality blade transfers more of your paddling energy to the water. For the casual paddler, this means fewer strokes, less fatigue, and more time on the water. For the performance-minded paddler, it means more BOOM every time your blade digs in.”
And as with other paddle board equipment, you’ll want to take into account how you’ll be using your paddle. That’s especially true when gauging the size blade you want on it.
“Blade size and shape is also important,” Mongno writes. “A smaller, narrower blade is best for dynamic surfing and turning. But since they’re easier on the joints and let you paddle with a faster cadence, they also work well for flatwater paddling. A larger, wider blade puts more power into a lower-cadence stroke.”
The leash may seem like an extra bit of paddle board equipment to a novice. But it can save your life.
“If the paddling conditions change on you, or if you are tired, lost and/or far from shore, in a current, the leash will keep your board tethered to you,” Green Water Sports writes on its website. “Your board gives you floatation and a chance to stay alive. Without a leash, even in a light breeze or small waves or current, your board will drift out of your reach in a matter seconds.”
As to what kind of leash you want, coiled or straight, that depends on the kind of paddle boarding you plan to do.
“A leash should be about a foot longer than your board,” writes Standup Journal. Some paddlers prefer flat leashes that attach at the ankle, especially for surf. Some flat water paddlers prefer coiled leashes that attach to the wearer just below the knee. The coiled leash has the advantage of not dragging in the water behind you while paddling. But for ocean or river paddlers, the coiled leash can become too easily tangled in the turbulence of white water.”
Personal floatation device
Most localities, and the U.S. Coast Guard, treat paddle boards as boats. That means you’ll need a personal floatation device among your paddle board equipment.
“With the growing popularity of SUPing the Coast Guard has reclassified the boards as ‘vessels,’ which means that life-jackets are required by law when paddling outside the surf zone,” writes Mountaineers Books. “PFDs might seem too hot or restrictive, but ultimately provide both flotation and insulation in case of an emergency, especially when you’re just starting out. A Type 3 PFD is a great option as it offers thermal protection, and comes in a vest style, so it is easy to wear while paddling. If you live in a warmer climate look for a Type 5 PFD as this is co2 inflated and therefore a cooler option.”
The Hold Fast Anchor
Your paddle board equipment collection is not completed without an anchor.
But fun stuff isn’t the only reason you’ll want an anchor. There’s also safety to consider. Whether you’re caught in wind or current or just need a rest, the Hold Fast Anchor is designed so that you can just drop anchor and get that rest.