As we come closer to the 2015 stand up paddle board season (bring on summer!) let’s take a look at some of the basics to paddle boarding. This, the first article in our 2 part series, is great for people looking to get into paddle boarding or people looking for a few tips to improve their time on the water. We cover the absolute basics of handling your board, getting on and paddling around. We also cover some of the essential bits of equipment in your paddling boarding kit.
Let’s also take a look at the standard equipment needed for a stand up paddle board session:
Stand up paddle board: Duh! You’ll certainly need this bit of equipment! It’s by far your most significant gear investment. Which paddle board you buy is determined by a combination of paddler weight and skill, your intended use of the board and the local conditions you expect to paddle in most frequently. Read our guide on choosing the right paddle board.
Paddle: Quality SUP paddles are lightweight, have some flex (for comfort) and have an angle or “kink” where the paddle blade extends from the shaft, this improves paddle efficiency. Adjustable paddles are ideal unless you are experienced and know your desired length. Choose an adjustable SUP paddle that can extend to about 6″ to 8″ taller than you are – depending on your board style, thickness and type of paddling you’ll be doing.
Leash: A leash tethers your paddle board to you, keeping it close if, or more likely, when you fall off. The paddle board itself is a large flotation device, so being leashed to it can be important for your safety, and the safety of others. Leashes come in different styles and attachment points. Basically: calf or ankle, coiled or straight. Then there are also river leashes which are more easily released in case of entanglement or hold down.
PFD or Personal Flotation Device: For better or worse the U.S. Coast Guard classifies SUPs as vessels, so always wear or carry a PFD. Exemptions to this rule are SUPs in surf zones but always check with your local authorities as not all of them observe the USCG suggestions/rules or may enforce extra requirements. If you do need a PFD a popular option is an inflatable PFD, which is lightweight and compact until it is inflated. Paddlers should also carry a safety whistle and use a light if you are paddling after sunset.
Sun protection and appropriate clothing: It always pays to be covered up from the sun or insulated from the cold. Yes, a tan looks great and a little sun has it’s health benefits, but as with everything in life, in moderation is best. Wear sunscreen, sunglasses, shirt with sleeves, hat, etc. For the cooler areas or times of year, wear an appropriate wetsuit or drysuit.
Check out part 2.