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A Complete Guide On Stand-Up Paddleboarding and SUPs

What is a stand-up paddleboard?

Ok, so you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out that a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) is a board that you stand upon and paddle. But what we’re actually talking about is very similar to a surfboard.

The difference is that SUP’s are longer and wider with greater buoyancy. This makes standing on them much easier which means you can comfortably balance whilst paddling.

SUP’s can be used on flat water but also in the sea. They are popular with surfers when the waves aren’t producing and are a great way to explore the sea.

When did stand up paddle boarding start?

As mentioned, stand up paddle boarding in its modern form is a variation of surfing. It is thought, however, that SUP originated in Africa where people would stand up on their canoes.

Jump to the 1500’s and Hawaiian surfers began using boards of up to five meters long, where a paddle was necessary to be able to keep them under control. This method was later adopted, in the 1900s, by lifeguards who wanted to maintain a good vantage point on swimmers. This allowed them to make timely rescues.

More recently SUP has been taught in surf schools as a way for surfers to enjoy the water when the swells aren’t great. From there it has grown in popularity with SUP racing becoming popular in 2012.

Currently, SUP’s are massively popular and used in a variety of ways from sightseeing and fitness to yoga and even paddling with dogs.

What is a stand-up paddleboard made of?

The earliest SUP boards were made with hollow wood construction, boards built in this way are still available today. Most modern-day SUP boards, however, are constructed of expanded polystyrene foam encased in glass reinforced plastic and epoxy resin.

Latest construction innovations have seen the rise of thermoformed composite materials which create highly durable, abrasion resistant, boards. Creating boards in this way is also proving to be a more eco-friendly manufacturing process and will most likely lead the way in the future.

What are inflatable stand up paddle boards made of?

The desire to travel with SUPs led to the development of inflatable boards. They are made of a material called drop-stitch which consists of thousands of nylon stitches. When inflated, the boards are almost just as rigid as their epoxy counterparts. When deflated, the board and pump fit into a carry bag that is much smaller than a regular SUP.

What is the best stand up paddle board for beginners?

Your main concerns when choosing a beginner paddle board should be flotation and stability. The overall volume of your board (length, depth, and width) determine the buoyancy and flotation. Also, the longer and wider your board then the greater the stability.

You don’t want to be struggling for balance on your first outing so as a general rule, choose a large board. This way the only thing you need to concentrate on is having fun. If you have a little more time or options when choosing a board then there are other things you can take into consideration.

What size stand up paddle board is right for me?

As mentioned, the board’s volume is extremely important when choosing a SUP. You don’t want to order a board that you think looks nice, get it delivered, put it in the water and then realize it sinks with you on it. As a general rule, your ideal board size will be at least twice your weight in kilos, but in liters.

Firstly, work out your weight in Kilos, bear in mind there are 2.2 lbs in 1 kg. Next, you need to multiply your weight by 2. So if you weigh 100kg then you would be looking for at least a 200L board.

Bear in mind that simply having the right volume is not enough. The wider and longer the board is will determine your stability. Look for a board at least 30 inches wide and 11 foot long

How much weight can a paddleboard hold?

In short, there are boards that can hold 450lbs plus. However, it’s difficult to determine a weight that SUPs can hold as a whole. This is because there is an abundance of different shapes and sizes of boards. There are shortboards, longboards, thin boards, and wide boards. It all depends on what the board will be used for. A Surf SUP, for example, may hold a lot less weight than an all-around board that will also carry the paddler’s children or dog.

How much does a stand-up paddleboard weigh?

To give you some ball-park figures, boards can weigh anything from around 15lbs to around 50lbs. On average, most boards will weigh around the 30lb mark. The weight of a SUP all depends on the type of board in question, the size of the board and the material it is made from. In general, lighter boards, although more fragile than heavier boards, are the most expensive.

What are the different types of stand up paddle boards?

When choosing to purchase a paddleboard it is important that you are aware of the different types and uses. Also be aware that the different types are not always hard and fast. There are often crossovers between the most popular types of SUP.

All-around SUPs

All-around SUPs are the most versatile and can be used in most conditions. This makes the all-around board shape the most popular. Being great for the beginner, and first-time paddlers make them a family favorite. They’re even good for the dog!

Check out All-around SUPs

Surf SUPs

Surf Sups, so named because they’re shaped like over-sized surfboards, are more suited for intermediate to advanced paddlers. This is because they are a lot more maneuverable than all around SUPS.

However, more maneuverability means less stability. Which means there’s a lot more chance of falling off. But if you’re an adrenaline junkie then Surf SUPs may be for you!

Check out Surf SUPs

Touring SUPs

Designed for long distance in flat water, Touring SUPs are the choice of the paddler in search of longer trips and more intense workouts. Built to maximize float and sail performance, these SUPs can also be used by beginners. This same stability and efficiency are what allows for long journeys across flat water oceans, lakes and bays.

Check out Touring SUPs

Racing SUPs

Racing SUPs are designed to be longer and wider than the average SUP in order for generating speed. They can be a little tricky for beginners but are well received by the more adept paddler.

Check out Racing SUPs

Fishing and Yoga SUPs

Fishing and Yoga SUPs have the most volume. They’re designed to be large platforms of stability where the rider can concentrate on things other than paddling and maintaining stability. This means you are less likely to lose balance and end up in the swim, meaning you can more confidently carry things such as your fishing tackle or your yoga posture.

Check out Fishing SUPs

Check out yoga SUPs

Should I choose an Inflatable or epoxy paddleboard?

After deciding the type of board you want, you now need to decide whether you prefer an epoxy or inflatable board. Determining factors may be performance, where you plan to store your SUP or how you plan to transport it.

Inflatable SUPs are more stable than epoxy. This means they can be better for beginners. However, epoxy SUPs have much more maneuverability and are the choice of more serious boarders. When it comes to performance, epoxy boards are the way to go.

If epoxy boards perform better than inflatable boards then it makes sense that inflatable boards are easier to store and transport. They will deflate and roll up into a bag, as would a tent, which means they are stored and transported quite easily. Epoxy boards, on the other hand, will require a little more thought and effort when it comes to transportation and storage.

How do I store my paddle board?

Storing an epoxy SUP can become an issue for some. Let’s face it, they’re not exactly small. Not only that but it is advised that SUPs be stored indoors to prolong lifespan. Both epoxy and inflatable SUPs should be stored out of the way of direct sunlight. You also want to look for a cool, dry place.

Board Bags

Board bags are a necessity when storing your SUP as they make sure that they don’t get scratched and will help to protect them should they fall victim to an accident. They will also help keep your board safe during transit.

SUP Racks

If you have multiple boards and plenty of floor space then free-standing floor racks are the way to go. You can store anything from 1 to double-figure boards on these racks and they are great for the collector.

SUP Wall Mounts

Wall mounts are a great idea if you have just the one or two boards. These are great in the garage or a back room. But, for the board fanatic, they can also be used to create a feature wall in the home.

SUP Ceiling Hoists

Ceiling hoists are also available which are great for if you want to store your SUP without losing any floor space. A cheaper way to create the same effect is to use ceiling hooks and ropes. Be careful if choosing this method, however, as there is more risk of damage to the board.

How do I transport my stand up paddleboard?

When using a car to transport your SUP, there are numerous types of car carriers. From carriers that utilize straps to ones with built-in board locks, should you need to leave the vehicle for a time? You can even utilize a general surfboard roof carrier should you have one. If you’re low on funds or caught short without a carrier, then it is not unheard of for people to lay towels to protect the car and strap the board straight to the roof.

When wishing to transport your SUP through the skies you need to bear a few things in mind. Firstly you need to find an airline that is willing to transport your SUP. Some will charge more than others so it’s worth shopping around.

Secondly, get insurance for your SUP. Arriving at your destination to find that it has been broken or damaged is bad enough, but to then find yourself footing the bill just adds to the nightmare. Get insurance.

To avoid damages or breakages don’t just trust your board bag. Wrap your board in bubble wrap or something else soft, such as towels, before putting it in the bag. Be sure that your bag is locked securely.

Why is there a plug on a paddleboard?

The purpose of the plugin a SUP is to maintain the correct amount of air pressure inside the board in relation to the air pressure outside. This comes in handy when traveling to high altitudes or during flights, for instance.

The main purpose of this is to avoid delamination. This is when the fiberglass and the plastic finish of the board come away from one another. If left untreated this will cause a hole in the coating of the board and will greatly affect its water resistance.

Speaking of water resistance, if you ever remove the plug, for whatever reason, make sure it is replaced before you hit the surf. Getting water inside your SUP is asking for trouble and could lead to you needing a new one.

How many fins does my paddleboard need?

As with most things, the simple answer is, it depends. Larger boards made for cruising will usually have one large fin. Whereas boards used for more surf style paddling, where more maneuverability is required, are likely to have three or more fins.

The larger the fin then the more stable they will make the board. The overall purpose of fins is to make it easier for your board to move forward in straight lines. The bigger the fins then the more lateral resistance they will give.

What is Rocker on a stand-up paddleboard?

In simple terms, the rocker is the upward curve from the flat middle of the board. Nose rocker is what keeps the board from pearling. Pearling is a term used to describe the board beginning to submerge in the water from the front end.

Tail rocker is what helps the board pivot when performing turning maneuvers. In general, it is believed that larger amounts of rocker equal less speed but increased maneuverability. It is said that most board designers keep their rocker profiles a secret as they strive for the perfect rocker balance.

Is stand up paddleboarding a good workout?

SUP is regarded by some as one of the best workouts on offer. This is because anybody can do it, all different ages, sizes, and shapes. Constantly having to keep your balance, whilst using your strength and endurance, provides a full body, low impact work out. As well as constantly utilizing your core for balance, you are using your legs, arms, shoulders and back whilst paddling your board.

Not only this but you do not have to endure the crowds at the gym or the embarrassment of running around your own neighborhood. You will be out on the picturesque, tranquil, water away from the grief and stress of the city. This in itself is a great workout for your mind and SUP will help you to relax and improve your mental health.

What size paddle do I need to stand up paddleboard?

A general rule of thumb is that the paddle should be six to ten inches taller than the person using it. Where it is to be used should also be taken into consideration, leaning towards the shorter side when in the surf and longer for flat waters.

SUP paddles come in an array of materials with different handles and blades so the best thing to do is take a good look and see which you’d prefer.

How do you hold a paddleboard paddle?

Paddleboard paddles contain a slope or scoop in their blade. Most beginners will naturally hold the paddle so that the scoop aims towards them as if to scoop through the water, as you would with a spoon in ice cream for example. This is wrong, however, the scoop on the blade should face away from you allowing for smooth paddling and even smoother sailing.

The opposite hand to the side you are paddling should always be on the top of the paddle. So when you’re paddling on the left, your right hand should be on top of the paddle and vice versa. This means that as your paddle switches sides your hands should switch places. Although this may sound complicated it will soon become commonplace and is a great habit to start from the get-go.

How do I do a forward stroke on a stand-up paddleboard?

If you’ve ever seen Mike Tyson throw an uppercut you may have noticed that he does this by locking his arm and then uses his torso to propel the arm through his opponent. Ok, we’re not trying to encourage you to start boxing but the same idea should be utilized when paddling your SUP.

Don’t just rely on your arms to do the paddling, they will soon become tired and slow you down. Bring your whole torso into play and you will find paddling becomes a lot less effort, gives you a better work out and allows you to move your SUP easier with more fluency.

Keep a little bend in your legs and your eyes out in front, focusing on your intended destination and not your feet. Hold your back straight, keeping your shoulders level. Rather than trying to scoop the paddle through the water, push it straight into the water out in front of you and pull your self towards and as if you are going past it. As the paddle reaches your side pull it back from the water then go again. Be sure to keep switching sides in order to maintain a straight trajectory.

How do you stand on a paddleboard?

Try to start on as calm water as possible, you don’t want to make your first couple of times any more difficult than they need to be. Get into the water with your board and get to a depth that ensures that the fin is clear of the bottom and will continue to do so as the board takes your weight. Get on the board in a kneeling position, to begin with, making sure you are in the middle to avoid imbalance.

Start paddling and once you feel comfortable position your first foot flat on the board. This will leave you in a kneeling position as you would be if you were about to propose. Keep paddling and once you are sure you are stable, stand with your other foot.

Make sure you are in the middle of the board, with your core centered. Feet should be shoulder-width apart. Make sure there’s a slight bend in your knees and you are looking forward. You should now be paddle boarding. Don’t worry if you fall off, it’s going to happen at some point so don’t let it discourage you.

How do I get back on a stand-up paddleboard in deep water?

The first thing to consider is positioning. You need to swim to the center of the board, where the handle is located. This will give you the most stability and is the easiest place for you to re-mount your board.

Your strongest hand will determine the side of the board in which you need to position yourself. If you have a predominant right hand, then you need to be on the left side of the board, and vice versa. Use your weak hand to keep hold of the paddle. Reach right across the board and grab the handle on the opposite side before pulling yourself onto the board.

Swing your legs round onto the board and get yourself into a sitting position. Lay your paddle on the board so that you can push up with your hands. Begin to regain your standing position as in the same way as in the previous section of this article. Don’t let falling discourage you, its all part of the experience. Have fun with it and keep practicing.

How do I turn on a stand-up paddleboard?

Using a general paddle stroke, place the paddle on the opposite side you’d like to turn and perform a strong stroke from front to back. Whilst doing so, keep a low stance with knees bent and twist your torso into the side of the board that you wish to turn. The board will turn in the direction you wish to go.

Using a reverse sweep stroke, place the paddle on the same side you wish to turn and perform a strong stroke from back to front. Again, keep a low stance with knees bent and twist your torso while leaning into the side of the board you wish to turn. The front end of the board should quickly shift in the direction you want to go. This is a more aggressive way to turn and may require a little more practice.

What should I wear to stand up paddle?

The main thing when using SUPs in the summer is to wear sunscreen. You need to be sure to protect yourself from the sun. Remember that when you are on the water you have a lot more chance of getting burnt.

Wear something light and breezy but be sure to cover your skin. Where a hat and shades where possible, you want to ensure that the glare from the sun will not affect your vision and cause you to hit something.

During the winter, the least you will need is some thermal clothing and a waterproof outer layer. This will be fine when using an all-around or touring board but if you are planning on being a little more adventurous then you will need a full-length wetsuit and gloves. Be careful out there in the winter and always make sure you are with a friend and have informed someone of where you are and what time you plan to be back.

What shoes should I wear to stand up paddleboard?

A lot of people will choose to go barefoot, especially in the summertime. Others will prefer to have SUP shoes all year round, everybody should consider using them in cooler situations.

The main things to consider when seeking a SUP shoe are weight and usage. You do not want to be using shoes that are going to weigh you down when attempting to re-mount the board after a fall. Also, you do not want to be using shoes that you use for other things, such as hiking, which could damage your board.

We recommend using a Vibram style shoe. They are light which is great for swimming. They allow you to grip with your feet, as you would with a barefoot and they will give you protection from the sun and cuts or grazes when falling.