Would you like to give stand up paddle boarding a try? As one of the most popular board sports out there, you’re not the only one. Paddle boarders need to get a few things before they can start their workout though.
In this post, we’ll look at what to pack for stand up paddle boarding. Some things you’ll need whenever you do it, while others depend on the weather. And there are some extras that while not strictly necessary, can make your trip more fun or comfortable. Let’s check them out!
No matter when or where you’re going stand up paddle boarding, be sure not to forget any of the following five items!
Stand up Paddle Board
Arguably the most important SUP equipment, a paddle board is integral to your adventures. Don’t just settle on the first one you find though. All around SUPs are a great option for beginners, but there are also types that are purpose-built for certain sports – such as yoga and surfing. You’ll also need to choose between an inflatable and hard board SUP.
Remember, if you choose an iSUP, you’ll need a way to pump it up. Happily, it’s not hard to find a paddle board pump which can plug into the cigarette lighter of your car. If you’re looking to buy your first SUP, check out which paddle board is right for me.
Just as important as your board is the paddle. Height adjustable paddles are a great multi-purpose tool – but the rule of thumb for regular SUP is that the paddle should be 6 – 8 inches longer than your total height. It’ll need to be a little shorter for surf SUP though! Paddles can be made of many different materials. Casual paddlers will be fine with an aluminium paddle, but for better performance, lighter materials such as fiberglass and carbon fiber are out there.
Personal Floatation Device
A PFD (or personal floatation device) is the sort of essential equipment that you have but hope not to use. Especially as you gain experience of SUP! The PFD has one single purpose – and that is to keep you afloat should you fall from your board. You should always wear your PFD, even in calm and tranquil waters, even if it’s just to get into the habit of doing so.
Another key safety feature, your leash is something that you ideally won’t notice until it’s needed. It attaches to your ankle and keeps you tethered to your board if you fall in the water. Surf leashes are shorter and thinner than SUP leashes, so if you practice both sports, you’ll need two separate leashes. Don’t mix them up!
Regular paddlers are exposed to the sun year-round, and if you’re not properly protected this can lead to health problems. Be sure to take sunscreen and constantly re-apply it – don’t let being burned ruin your day out! Reef-safe sunscreen is a popular choice to not only keep yourself safe, but protect the environment too.
What to pack for warm weather
Now that the essentials are covered, let’s look at what will make warm weather paddling more comfortable.
Though you’ll often be offered a wetsuit when renting a paddle board, sometimes it’s just too hot for it. Better to wear your own swimsuit so that you can slip off into the water when you pitch up at a deserted beach or on an island. Make sure you choose a flexible swimsuit so it’s easy to paddle.
Lightweight Swim Shirt
While a full wetsuit may leave you too warm, an extra layer of sun protection is welcomed. Lightweight swim shirts are a comfortable option that won’t get heavy when wet, like a cotton t-shirt would. For an added layer of protection, you could also wear a rashguard underneath.
What to pack for cold weather
If you’re planning on cold weather SUP, you have to plan ahead carefully. The following equipment is not just to keep you comfortable, but also safe.
Wetsuits are essential in cold weather paddle boarding. You have somewhere between 4 and 6mm of protection from neoprene soaking and combining with your body heat to form a layer of insulation. Sometimes, water can feel even colder than the air temperature outside, so if you’re somewhere like Alaska’s glacier bay, a swimsuit just isn’t’ going to cut it.
There are times when even a wetsuit isn’t enough. Thankfully, when that happens you can bring out the drysuit. This works especially well if the temperature is below seven degrees. Though a drysuit keeps a layer of air between you and the suit and you won’t feel the water itself, you’ll definitely feel how cold it is. So, be sure to wear thermal base layers too!
Neoprene Boots and Mittens
For an added layer of protection on your hands and feet, get neoprene booties and mittens. They probably won’t be quite as thick as a wetsuit, but they’ll still do more than enough to these body parts going numb. Be sure to get grips on your gloves to make it easier to hold your paddle.
These extras aren’t necessary, but they’re nice to have as you paddle!
Sunglasses can be used year-round to protect your eyes from the sun. Though regular sunglasses can do that just fine, get some that have a strap so they won’t fall into the water and float away!
A dry bag is great if you are planning a long trip on your SUP. Perhaps you’ll be doing a few miles and going from beach to beach, or heading out to an island. Rather than risk your belongings getting wet, put them in a dry bag which is completely watertight – as long as you close it the right way!
For shorter journeys, you might not want to take lots of things with you. However, having your phone is good for emergencies and/or taking photographs. Get yourself a waterproof phone case which hangs around your neck!