Stand up paddle boarding, commonly referred to as SUP, offers a fun new way to get a full body workout while spending time on the water. The sport is growing at a rate of 200% in the past year alone because of its beginner friendly nature.  It also appeals to every adventurer looking for a new water sport.

Together we are going to dive into the world of stand up paddleboarding. We will go over everything you need to know, including, but not limited to: different styles of boards, how to selecting the right board for your activity, accessory options, and a paddle boarding 101 tutorial.  Read on to find the best inflatable sup for you.

Who Is This For

This article is geared towards the beginner, but contains solid information that will benefit all stand up paddle boarders. I will focus on inflatable paddle boards, since they are lightweight, durable, and easy to carry, making them ideal for beginners and intermediate paddle boarders alike.  Finding the best inflatable sup board for your can be harder than you might think.

In addition to the reviews, I have added a comprehensive guide to paddle boarding, towards the end.

How We Rank Paddle Boards

Our rankings are based on multiple factors including but not limited to: the design and materials of the paddle board, such as the style of the hull, length, width, and thickness of the board, the overall weight and volume of the board, along with their weight capacity, and a combination of customer feedback and product testing and reviews.

Best Stand Up Paddle Boards

Inflatable paddle boards are durable, lightweight, and easy to store making them the perfect first choice for most people. Here are the top ranking paddle boards fit for your needs:

Best SUP for Multi-Use

$406.00
PEAK Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Boards Complete SUP Package
323 Reviews
PEAK Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Boards Complete SUP Package

  • Inflated: 10’6 x 31″ x 6″ | Rolled up: 11” x 36” | Weight 23 lbs.
  • Rigid and Stable Shape, Great for All Skill Levels and Conditions.
  • Paddle, Carry Back Pack, Coil Leash, High Pressure Pump.
  • No more worry about dings or damage.
  • Ride it and Love it or Return it within 30 Days.

From hitting the waves to paddling around the lake, the PEAK Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board is ready for you. At 10 ‘and 6 inches tall and 6 inches thick, this board offers a very stable surface perfect for the beginner to expert.  It has a non-slip deck pad that helps even new riders stay up.

From recreational explorations, yoga practice, and fishing this paddle board can take you there. And with a 300 pound limit it can handle most riders.Overall, I found this board to be extremely stable and buoyant but also fantastic in flat water conditions.

It inflates quickly, although the last 2 psi will take some muscling through with the pump provided, and deflates even faster. When rolled up it fits comfortably into the storage backpack provided, and at only 23 pounds is easy to carry.  It has durable drop stitch seams that hold up well with normal use.

Pros

  • Planned hull and medium length makes it great for multi-uses
  • 10’ x 6” length and 31” width makes it easy to balance on
  • 6” thickness makes it sturdy and rigid
  • 23 lbs. makes the board easy to carry and store
  • 1 year warranty
  • Comes with removable fin, paddle (adjustable from 65 to 86 inches), leash, backpack, pump, and repair kit

Cons

  • 10‘ x 6’’ length makes it hard to maneuver extremely quickly
  • Too long to be idle for SUP surfing
  • More expensive than other similar designs

Best SUP for Racking and Touring

iRocker Paddle Board 10' Inflatable SUP Package
59 Reviews
iRocker Paddle Board 10' Inflatable SUP Package

  • Weight Limit of up to 350 lbs – Similar to a hard board when fully inflated to 15 PSI Max.
  • Constructed with military grade materials, Run it into the rocks or drive over it with your vehicle.
  • No need for roof racks, throw it in the trunk of your car or travel the world with it in your luggage.
  • 1 board, dual action high pressure hand pump, adjustable aluminum paddle, carry bag, and repair kit.
  • You’re covered on everything outside of normal wear and tear.

With the combination of a sleek displacement hull, medium length of 10’,and a 6” thickness the iRocker Paddle Board provides both stability and speed making it an ideal inflatable, touring and racing board for paddle boarders.  

Additionally, this board has a weight capacity of 350 pounds.The only quirk I had with this board is that the gauge does not being to register until the SUP reaches a pressure of 7 psi, about 120 is pumped in.  I also loved the deck pad.

However, the board was easy to pump up and maintained its shape perfectly. To my surprise, the iRocker board even tracked straight in the wind.  This has become one of the best inflatable sup boards on the market

Pros

  • Non-slip EVA diamond groove desk making sure your do not slip during your long journey
  • 6” thickness makes it sturdy and rigid
  • 20lbs. makes the board easy to carry and store
  • 2 year warranty
  • Comes with removable fin, aluminum paddle (adjustable from 63 to 85), backpack, pump, and repair kit

Cons

  • Slightly shorter than the traditional long (12 to 14 ‘) racing and touring paddle boards
  • The narrow width of 30” can make it harder to balance
  • The package does not include a leash

Runner-Ups

Ten Toes Weekender 10’ Inflatable Standup Paddle Board SUP

Ten Toes WEEKENDER 10-Feet Inflatable Standup Paddleboard
137 Reviews
Ten Toes WEEKENDER 10-Feet Inflatable Standup Paddleboard

  • This is the most stable inflatable standup paddle board for people of all skill levels.
  • Made of military-grade PVC, making it virtually indestructible.
  • Measures 10’x30x6″ when inflated & is just as firm & stable as other SUPs.
  • ISUP bundle comes with indestructible iSUP, 3PC adjustable & lightweight aluminum paddle.
  • Includes Ten Toes’ 1 year warranty.

Slightly narrow at 30 inches wide, this board is 10’ long and has a textured deck and planned hull make it easy for beginners to balance on. I have found it hard to pump up to full 15 psi, but is possible with some extra muscle.

That being said, the board tracks straight even under hard conditions but is probably best for flat water. It has a good deck pad and the package includes the stand up paddleboard and fins, paddle, manual pump, & repair kit.  However there are no bungee cords on the deck for your gear.

PathFinder Inflatable SUP Stand Up Paddle Board

PathFinder Inflatable SUP Stand Up Paddle Board
183 Reviews
PathFinder Inflatable SUP Stand Up Paddle Board

  • Measures 9’9″ long x 30″ wide x 5″ thick.
  • Great for wide range of water and use conditions.
  • Amazing Durability – PVC material and strong multi-layer drop stitch.
  • Large deck pad, bungee for securing on-board cargo, and D-ring to attach a leash.
  • Adjustable aluminum paddle, pump, detachable center fin, carry bag, and valve wrench.

An excellent choice for a beginner, this medium length inflatable stand up paddleboard offers flexibility towards uses due to its unique hull shape; a mixture between the standard planning and displacement hull designs.

Compressively priced at $349 it is a great buy for an inflatable board.  The kid includes bungee cords for gear storage and a stainless steel D-ring on the back.

Solstice Bali Stand-up Paddle board

$17.87
Solstice Bali Stand-Up Paddleboard
175 Reviews
Solstice Bali Stand-Up Paddleboard

  • High-pressure inflatable stand up paddleboard. Sleek, lightweight and fast.
  • Extremely rigid and strong.
  • Includes 4 stainless tie-downs for securing gear.
  • Durable 1000 Denier 3 ply PVC reinforced fabric material.
  • Kit Includes: Carry bag, pump & gauge.

This is a well-priced solid, fast, and reliable medium sized board. It is a good, multi-use board ideal for a beginner just starting out. The 4 stainless steel tie-downs are a great option for securing extra gear.  The price makes this our best value of the inflatable boards we tested.

The board is slightly heavier than similar designs, weighing around 30 lbs. Be aware that the package does not include a paddle or leash however it does have a carry bag.

Best SUP for Fishing

$100.00
Atoll Inflatable Stand up Paddle Board
280 Reviews
Atoll Inflatable Stand up Paddle Board

  • 30% lighter than comparable models.
  • High Pressure Bravo Dual Action 3rd generation dual action Hand Pump.
  • ISUP also comes with 2nd Generation Aluminum Adjustable 3 Piece Paddle with nylon blade.
  • Backpack Carry Bag now doubles as a dry bag.
  • Fully wrapped with second layer of material on the top and bottom.

When fishing on a stand-up paddle board you want speed and agility, but also need have a large non-slip surface that allows you to move around as necessary. The Atoll 11 Foot Inflatable stand up paddle board has a displacement hull that ends sharply and a long body that makes it able to easily cut through the water.  In fact I have friends that have replaced their inflatable kayak with a fishing paddle board.

At 6” thick and 32” wide it is slightly thicker and wider than other paddle boards in the category, but provides extra stability. It has a weight capacity of 250 pounds, which is ideal for most people, but take into account your fishing equipment when estimating your weight.  It has excellent drop stitch seams that showed no wear after our tests.

The Atoll continued to surprise me during use. It is clearly an extremely durable and well made paddle board with an overall thought out design. And the D-rings for tying down gear were extremely useful.

The aluminum paddle that come in the package are slightly heavy, but average for a combination package, and easy to use for a beginner looking to get into a durable stand-up paddleboard

Pros

  • 14 D-rings to tie down all fishing equipment
  • A large anti-slip surface for easy movement around the board
  • The combination of the length, design style, and width offers a balance of agility, speed, and stability
  • 2 year warranty
  • Comes with an aluminum adjustable three piece paddle, hand pump, repair kit, front and back bungee tie downs, and a travel backpack with waist strap

Cons

  • The package does not include a leash
  • At 38 lbs. it is heavier than similar paddle boards
  • The pump’s maximum pressure is 15 psi

Runner-Ups

Ancheer 10' PVC Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board

$369.00
Ancheer PVC Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board with Backpack
23 Reviews
Ancheer PVC Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board with Backpack

  • Any age or no skill level can easily learn how to use this SUP board.
  • Unique 3 fins design which provides additional stability for the beginner.
  • Made from high grade PVC material and drop-stitch construction.
  • UV-resistant PVC will endure the harsh summer sun and salt water corrosion.
  • Comes with an adjustable paddle, dual action high pressure SUP air pump, and lightweight backpack.

With a unique three-fin design and 5.9” thickness, this paddle board is excellent for beginners worried about maintaining their balance. The large anti-slip deck covers most of the board allowing you to become comfortable moving around.

Yet, with 10’ length and 28.9” width it is still easily maneuverable, making it ideal for fishing. It can also support a whopping 350 pounds and still manages to weigh only 35.3 pounds including it's carry bag.

ISLE 10'5 Versa ® Standup Paddle Boards & Adjustable Carbon Shaft

$250.00
ISLE 10'5 Versa ® Standup Paddle Boards & Adjustable Carbon Shaft
46 Reviews
ISLE 10'5 Versa ® Standup Paddle Boards & Adjustable Carbon Shaft

  • 10’5 x 32” x 4.5” | Volume: 175 Liters | Weight 27 Lbs. | Supports Riders Up to 245 Lbs.
  • Includes Traction Pad + Adjustable Carbon Shaft.
  • New Thermal Molded Technology eliminates waste in the construction process.
  • Comfort Grooved Carry Handle makes this stand up paddle board easy to transport.
  • The All Around shape is perfect for paddle board yoga, surfing and fishing.

This paddle board can handle the rigors of fishing, but is also versatile enough to be used for yoga practice or touring. Although the anti-slip surface is smaller than the two previous boards, its center fin and width provide excellent stability for a inflatable standup paddleboard.

At 27 pounds it is lighter than similar paddle boards in its category, making it easy to get in and out of the water, and still supports up to 275 pounds.  It rides as well as a good hard board but travels great.

Best SUP for Kids

Lucky Bums Blue Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board

Lucky Bums Blue Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board iSUP Kit
10 Reviews
Lucky Bums Blue Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board iSUP Kit

  • Our 7′ Paddle board is made with 500-denier 3-ply PVC reinforced fabric.
  • Our 11′ Board is made out of military-grade 1000-denier 3-ply PVC reinforced fabric.
  • Our Stand Up Paddle Board Kit allows you to easily store, pack, inflate, and deflate.
  • Smaller riders can learn to ride with this Paddle Board.
  • The 4″ thick drop-stitch provides rigidity and volume to keep rider balanced.

With a length of 7’ this paddle board is ideal for kids. Its lightweight, coming in at only 17 pounds, makes it easy for smaller people to maneuver, while the three-fin design (2 fixed and 1 removable) makes it sturdy and easy to balance on.

Their design is well thought out and is great for any beginner or for simple flat water adventures. The weight limit on this board is an appropriate 120 pounds. This board does have an adult model in 9 and 11 foot lengths.

Pros

  • Lightweight and easy to maneuver
  • Comes with 5mm foot traction pad and gear bungee, dual-action high pressure hand pump, pressure gauge, 3-piece adjustable paddle, removable fin, carry bag, repair kit, and valve wrench
  • 1 year warranty

Cons

  • Low weight capacity

Runner–Up

Bimini H2O Inflatable Kids Stand Up Paddle Board

Bimini H2O Inflatable Kids Stand Up Paddle Board Kit
1 Reviews
Bimini H2O Inflatable Kids Stand Up Paddle Board Kit

  • Highly durable & extremely rigid – constructed from military grade reinforced 1100D PVC.
  • Oversized EVA non-skid top designed for increased stability & safety.
  • Board, back pack carry bag, ankle leash, dual action pump with pressure gauge, adjustable aluminum 2.
  • Roll up design easily fits in your trunk, no need for roof racks.
  • Full size is 9 ft L X 30 inches W X 4 inches D with removable fin, no tools needed.

Slightly larger with a total length of 9’, this kid’s paddle board set will have you in the water in no time. The package includes: board, back pack carry bag, ankle leash, dual action pump with pressure gauge, adjustable aluminum two-piece paddle & repair kit.

It weights in just shy of 18 pounds, making it slightly heavier than the Luck Bums kid’s paddle board, but has a slightly heavier weight limit of 130 lbs making it ideal for older kids.

Stand Up Paddle Board Bags and Accessories

Leashes

SBS 10 Inch Coiled SUP Leash
214 Reviews
SBS 10 Inch Coiled SUP Leash

  • Super Strong 7mm urethane cord, new molded-in 316 Stainless Steel swivels.
  • Voted #1 over DaKine for it’s ultra comfortable padded neoprene ankle cuff.
  • Strong enough to handle the longest and heaviest of boards.
  • The super comfortable double over Ankle Cuff has an easy pull tab with a hidden key pocket.
  • The Triple Lock Railsaver is easy to attach to your board and prevents rail wear or dings.

I will admit that I have two favorite leashes. They are both similar in design and price point. Most importantly, both leashes have a stainless steel swivels that keeps the bungie cord from getting tangled as you moved, while the coils allow for a 10’ stretch and keeps the leash from dragging.

$2.00
STORM PREMIUM SUP Leash 10-Inch COILED
747 Reviews
STORM PREMIUM SUP Leash 10-Inch COILED

  • With a super comfortable padded Neoprene cuff you will forget you are wearing it.
  • The coiling of this leash eliminates leash drag totally.
  • Grab yourself the best quality coiled SUP leash you can find.
  • Now included as a free extra is BPS’s Water Wallet for SUPing.
  • The coiled leash happily absorbs wave impact, easily stretching up to 5 times the coiled length.

There is also additional padding around the ankle, and a hidden key pocket for safe keeping within the cuff. Both come with a lifetime guarantee. Personally, I find the SBS leash to be slightly more comfortable than the Storm Premium leash, but they are both good options.  Frankly you should always have a good iSUP leash on your SUP adventures.

Paddles

Advanced Elements AE2057 Alani Adjustable Fiberglass SUP Paddle
13 Reviews
Advanced Elements AE2057 Alani Adjustable Fiberglass SUP Paddle

  • Blade Size: 16″L x 7.5″ W.
  • Heavy-Duty Paddle Grip.
  • Easy flip-lock Adjustable length from 170-213cm.
  • Rigid and ultra light-weight fiberglass shaft for optimum performance.
  • Translucent hard candy orange polycarbonate blade gives great performance.

At only 2.1 pounds the Alani Adjustable Fiberglass SUP Paddle, from Advanced Elements, is a great option for lightweight gear.

The blade has a moderate curvature making it perfect for beginners and intermediate boarders, while the fiberglass shaft keeps the paddle lightweight for optimal performance. Personally, I am in love with the orange color, since it makes the paddle extremely easy to find at all times.  One of the best investments you can make is to replace your pvc material paddle with a fiberglass one.

Are you ready to go explore the world on your paddle board? Then the Adjustable SUP Paddle is for you. It breaks down into three sections, with the longest section being 36”, making it easy to load in most SUP travel backpacks.

$20.00
Adjustable SUP Paddle - 3 Piece Travel Stand Up Paddle - Explorer Series
116 Reviews
Adjustable SUP Paddle - 3 Piece Travel Stand Up Paddle - Explorer Series

  • They are ideal for beginners and rental shops who want an affordable, high quality paddle.
  • Our paddles float in fresh and salt water alike.
  • Therugged, easy to use paddles are built to endure punishment from beginners and renters.
  • The paddles are constructed with a aircraft-grade aluminum shaft and a durable polypropylene blade.
  • Our paddle adjusts from 67 to 85 inches (1.7 – 2.15m) within seconds.

Its shaft is constructed from aircraft-grade aluminum keeping it lightweight and is paired with a durable polypropylene blade. The total weight of the paddle is 2 lbs and 2 oz. And continued peace of mind is provided by the 1 year guarantee.

Bags

BIC Sport HD Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP) Board Bag
21 Reviews
BIC Sport HD Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP) Board Bag

  • Durable, High quality, protection for your SUP board available for Touring.
  • Reflective deck + hull material to reduce heat exposure when exposed to sunlight.
  • Durable 600D material in nose, tail, and rails for extra protection + 5mm foam padding.
  • Multiple carry handles and paddle holder + extended zipper for easier board loading.
  • Note that BIC board bags have been sized for an ideal fit to the BIC SUP Range of boards.

The BIC Sport HD Stand Up Paddle Board Board Bag offers an easy solution for those of us that keep our paddle boards inflated most of the time or have a hard SUP.

This bag offers an extra layer of protection while you are moving the board between your home and paddling locals without requiring you to constantly deflate the board. This form fitting bags is available in six size options and can hold boards ranging from 9’ to 14’.

$56.00
ISLE Inflatable SUP Carrying Bag – Fits any iSUP
69 Reviews
ISLE Inflatable SUP Carrying Bag – Fits any iSUP

  • Heavy Duty Nylon Outer Shell.
  • Shoulder and Waist Straps.
  • Outer Bungee System for carrying Inflatable Pump.
  • Fits most inflatable paddle boards / Bag Dimensions.
  • Easy to carry, perfect for checking it on to flights.

The ISLE Inflatable iSUP Carrying Bag is great for storing your board in a safe and compact manner. It also has provides the board with ventilation and dries extremely quickly, which is great for beach goers that constantly need to be washing sand off.

The backpack straps make it effortless to carry when you are ready to take to the water. The main storage compartment has a Velcro closure, which makes it easily accessible, but not the best option for intense traveling.  It should also hold your hand pump and a bit of extra gear.

ISLE Wheeled Travel Bag for Inflatable Paddle Boards
24 Reviews
ISLE Wheeled Travel Bag for Inflatable Paddle Boards

  • Reinforced bottom with heavy-duty polyurethane wheels.
  • Shoulder and Waist Straps.
  • Noncorrosive, heavy-duty zippers.
  • Fits most Inflatable paddle boards Up to 12 Feet 6 inches.
  • Easy to carry, perfect for checking it on to flights.

Perfect for longer commutes and travel, the ISLE Wheeled Travel Bag is large enough to fit boards up to 12’ and 6” and heavy duty enough to handle being checked at an airport. The additional wheels make transport ridiculously easy.

Travel paddles that collapse or break down into three sections usually fit into the larger pocket, alongside the board. The large front pocket provides enough room for stashing a pump, leash, and some clothing.  This is a great bag for any iSUP adventure and is light enough to stay under most airlines weight limits.

Shoulder Straps

$3.00
SUP Padded Carrier/Storage Strap
194 Reviews
SUP Padded Carrier/Storage Strap

  • Work great for paddleboarders of all heights and fits all paddleboards.
  • Whether you are 6’5 with a large paddleboard or you are 4’3 with a small surfboard.
  • We include a removable drawstring bag to hold your water bottle, or other personal items.
  • The SUP-Now Strap utilizes two industrial strength velcro straps to hold your paddle.
  • Our shoulder strap is triple padded and made from durable neoprene for maximum comfort.

Sometimes the parking lot to the beach or lakeside is a bit of a hike. Try the SUP Padded Carrier Strap to make life easier. The strap has triple padding for comfort and is adjustable to fit anyone from 4’3’’ to 6’5’’. Best part yet: it has two Velcro straps to hold your paddle easily against your board, keeping your hands free.

Racks

$25.04
COR Board Racks Stand up Paddleboard
234 Reviews
COR Board Racks Stand up Paddleboard

  • SUP paddle boards, surfboards & long boards.
  • Now has a 190 degree bend to account for any sagging when storing two heavy boards.
  • On the Wall, Dock or Ceiling.
  • Made from galvanized steel and is powdercoated black to keep from rusting.
  • Simple design allows for quick installation. All mounting hardware included.

Tired of constantly pumping up your paddle board every morning? If you find yourself close enough to the water that you do not need to constantly be deflating and packing away your board the COR Board Racks will make life simple.

These racks can be installed on the wall, ceiling, or even dock. By keeping your board off the floor you will protect its coating and minimize its wear-and-tear; therefore, sustaining the overall life of your board.

A Brief History of Stand-Up Paddle Boarding

Most ocean civilizations have a tradition of boats that are steered by standing paddlers; think back the Venetian gondola. Stand-up paddle boards, commonly referred to as SUPs, in their modern form are credited to the Waikiki Beach Boys of Oahu, Hawaii.

They were first used in the 1960s, but have only become extremely popular in the past decade. This movement towards SUP has been further encouraged as many pro-surfers, including Laird Hamilton, have taken to paddle boarding to stay in shape when the waves are too flat to catch good surf.

Over the past decade the sport has only continued to grow in popularity, as it is very adaptable to any body of water – be it an ocean, bay, lake, or river.

SUP is the fast growing sport in the USA currently with an increase participation rate of 200% within the past year alone.

Why Choose Paddle Boarding

The number one reason to start paddle board is for the health benefits. Paddle boarding offers you a great cardio workout, while also being effective at toning your muscles. However, most people are drawn to the sport for its relaxation aspect.

Being out on the water allows you time to relax and take in the nature around you, while seeing a different perspective of the horizon than is offered by a seated kayak.

The Health Benefits of Paddle Boarding

There are many benefits to paddle boarding, but they all start with being easy. Paddle boarding can take place on any body of water, making it an ideal sport across the United State and internationally.

Unlike surfing, it is not limited to people living on the coast. Additionally, paddle boarding offers you a full body workout, while being extremely low impact.

With proper posture, a paddler will work out every part of their body, especially the latissiumus dorsi of the back, deltoids of the shoulder, triceps and biceps of the arms, and abdominal muscles.

Additionally, the posture will work on a person’s balance, while the overall pace of the paddle will determine the cardio output.

What Gear Does Paddle Boarding Require

Paddle boarding requires limited gear, and is therefore a friendly sport for the novice. The necessary gear is: a board, paddle, PDF (personal floatation device), proper clothing, least, and sun protection.

Additionally, to help the novice, many paddle boards are sold in sets that include a paddle and sometimes leash, making it easy to get out on the water without too much shopping around.

Parts of the Paddle Board

The paddle board itself looks very similar to a surfboard. Paddle boards can be made out of many materials, depending on their function. Solid paddle boards are commonly made out of EPS foam or polyurethane foam.

Inflatable paddleboards are made with a PVC exterior and then drop-stitching constructions that allows for an airspace within the structure. This makes them light, durable, and easy to store.

The shape of hull of board, which is most prominently seen at the nose (front end of the board), is what determines the board’s function. A planning hull, which is rounded, will provide easy balance and is well suited for most purposes.

While a displacement hull, which have a pointed tip similar to a kayak, improve the efficiency of the board and are commonly used for racing or long tour paddle boards.The volume of the board determines the weight capacity.

The larger the volume the more easily the board will be able to stay afloat with increased weight. Always be sure to take your weight into account when buying a board.The paddle boards are then divided into three categories of length.

Short boards, under 9’, are commonly used for surfing, since they are more maneuverable. Medium boards, 9’ to 12’, are the typical “multi use” boards. And the long boards, ranging from 12’ to 14’, are used for racing and touring, since they tend to be the fastest boards and track straighter.

There are also two sub-categories of width. The narrow boards run between 29” and 30” and are faster, while the wider boards are 31” and above and therefore tend to move slower and tend to be less maneuverable.

Like surfboards, paddle boards have fins that provide stability and control. Inflatable paddle boards will have either flexible rubber fins that are attached or semi-rigid detachable fins.

Gear Beyond the SUP

The board is the biggest purchase when you are starting out. However, the other gear is also important.

Paddles

When selecting a paddle make sure that it is between 4” and 7” taller than you. Lighter paddles will be more expensive, but will be easier on your body. Too heavy of a paddle will commonly cause you to hunch, creating bad posture habits and unnecessary fatigue.

Leash

This simple cord might seem like nothing, but it is the tether between you and your board and a means of safety. The leash will keep your board near you in case you fall off.

Remember that your board can also be used as a floatation device, especially if you are far from land.

PFD (Personal Flotation Device)

A PFD, most commonly a life jacket, is a personal choice and depends on local laws. What device will work for you depends on the type of paddle boarding you plan to be doing.

If you are surfing, wearing a PFD makes it nearly impossible to dive under waves with your board. However, if you are on a long touring trip, a simple vest could be easily worn.

Select the device that makes the most sense to you. And even with a PFD, a person that does not know how to swim should never attempt paddle boarding.

Proper Clothing

This is also a personal choice. A summer afternoon at the beach, all your might need is a bathing suit and maybe a rash guard.

However, if you are heading into colder temperatures or water, be aware that hypothermia is a concern if you fall of your board. Therefore, consider a wet suit or dry suit as needed.

Sun Protection

With the sun’s glaring reflection off of the water use sunglasses and sunscreen as necessary to keep yourself safe both short and long term.

Paddle boarding 101: How to Use A SUP

Getting the SUP To Water

Once your board is inflated you still have to get it from the parking lot to the water. Some people will be able to carry their board one-handed under neither their arm. However, most people balance the board on their head and use both hands to steady it.

Here is how to properly lift and carry your board:

Some people will find this process easier when kneeling. Remember, the goal is to use your head to support the weight of the board and your hands to balance it.

  • Place your paddle on the ground to the side.
  • Stand the board up on its tail end with the fins facing away from you.
  • Place yourself in front of the board and slowly continue to walk backwards as you slowly lift the board over your head by moving your hands along the rail (edge of the board).
  • Continue to bring the board over your head until you are located at the halfway mark from nose to tail (front to back).
  • Kneel down and grab your paddle.
  • Continue to use both hands to steady the board as you walk towards the water

How to Stand Up on a SUP

Be sure that the first time you go our paddle boarding is on calm, flat water. This will allow you to get comfortable standing up and balancing on your board.

Here are the steps to getting you standing on the board:

  • Place your board on the water and walk it out to at least knee depth. You want enough water bellow you to catch you if you fall, but still want an easy time raising yourself out of the water.
  • Place the paddle alongside the rail (edge) of the board with the grip resting on the board and the blade in the water. You will need to continue to keep one hand on your paddle at all times.
  • Grip the rails of the board, keeping one hand also on the paddle, and pull yourself up onto the board.
  • Once on the board take a kneeling position and get used to the feel of the board.
  • Try moving around a little until the board is balanced, with neither the nose (front) popping out nor the tail (back) digging into to the water.
  • Feeling balanced? Now try to stand, still gripping the edge of the board, move your ‘one at a time to where your knee previously was, and then stand up straight.

SUP Stance

Proper positioning on the board is important both for overall balance and ease of movement. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Your feet should be parallel on the board about hip distance apart, but they should not touch the edge of the board.
  • Similar to doing a squat, keep your toes pointing forward, have a constant slight bend in the knees, and a straight back.
  • Move from the ‘and balance with the hips. Don’t be scared to walk around your board, but be sure to keep your weight centered at the lower half of your body. Unless you are doing yoga on your board, you don’t need to be bending forward and moving from the shoulders or upper body.
  • Keep your eyes on the horizon! Staring at your ‘will make you wobbly and off balanced.
  • Start paddling! A forward momentum will help the board stabilize. So don’t be scared, steady movement at a comfortable rate will provide a more balanced surface.

Now Fall Off Your SUP

It may seem funny, but the most important thing to practice is the fall. Go into slightly deeper, but calm water for this practice, and never attempt paddle boarding if you cannot swim.

Your leash will keep the board close to you when you fall, but whenever possible try to fall away from the board and paddle. This will protect your head from hitting the board.

Remember that there could be rocks bellow you, so try not to fall headfirst and be careful of your surroundings. Once in the water, grab your paddle and place it back onto your board and practice getting on and standing up again.

Continue this routine until you are comfortable.

Stroke Technique for Paddling a SUP

The best way to learn is by doing, but here are a few necessary tips to keep in mind about the basic stroke patterns of paddle boarding.

  • To grab the paddle place one hand on top at the hold and the other along the shaft. Your arms should be straight and create a triangle with your body.
  • The bend in the paddle should always be facing behind you. The paddle will also have a divot in the front, which does not make sense until you realize that you move by a pocket of water rushing past you.
  • Twist from the center of your body, instead of bending. You want to feel your abdominal muscles engaged as you paddle, which will provide stability allowing your arms to focus on the pull.
  • The common paddle stroke will start near the nose of the board and end towards the tail, going from a reaching position to closer to your body. Remember to try to keep your arms straight throughout this process.
  • Switch sides regularly to keep the board moving straight ahead. And be aware that short, small strokes are more effective than long strokes.

Moving Around on a SUP

Now that you know how to hold your paddle it is time to start moving from place to place. After all, the whole idea of a paddle board is that it allows you to go explore.

Keep in mind these tips and try practicing in calm water before going on your first exploration.

  • To maintain a straight line you need to switch off between paddling on the left and right side.
  • If you paddle on the right side only your board will turn to the left, while paddling solely on the left side will turn the board to the right.
  • If you want to turn faster, try dragging your paddle backwards along one side. This will create a sharper turn.
  • To move backwards move the paddle from tail to nose and remember to switch off between sides or you will start going in circles.
  • Once you feel comfortable paddling you can try walking around your board or changing your foot placement. How you manage your weight distribution can effect how fast you change directions.

    Intermediate paddlers are able to quickly turn their board around by placing more weight near the tail of the board, allowing the nose to slightly pop out of the water, and using a sweeping stroke.

Wrapping It Up

After reading this guide, you should now have a clear understanding of the variations in style designs between different paddle boards and their uses.

Knowing this, select the paddle board that will provide you with the function and flexibility you need: be it yoga practice, fishing, or touring.Now go get moving already!

Go find a calm body of water and practice standing and moving around, get comfortable with your board, and don’t forget to fall. In no time you will be surfing the waves on your paddle board or become addicted to the long tour every weekend.

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