Best SUP Gear Guide (Standup Paddle Boarding). It’s warm out and you are thinking about stand up paddle boarding but you’re not sure on what you need or how to go about it. We’ll look no further than Best Outdoors best SUP gear guide, your one stop shop for everything standup paddle boarding. Here you will find information on every aspect of the key kit you will need to SUP this summer as well as links to buy your kit. Also, a beginner’s guide on how to SUP.
Stand up paddle boarding is a great way to enjoy the weather, the water, and get a good workout. Stand up paddle boarding takes you into the heart of nature and gives you a unique vantage point. You will see things few ever see, from wildlife to mountains, forgotten history to wondrous landscapes.
Before you head out on your SUP for the first time, it’s useful to know how to paddleboard and what kind of equipment you should take with you. Also, you need to know a few basic paddling skills in order to get started. After reading this guide, you’ll feel like a pro, ready to grab your kit and hit the open waters, a little bit better educated and ready to have lots and lots of fun.
Stand up Paddle Board
At the top of the list is the SUP. A quick google search and you will see there are tens of thousands of options available on the market. So what is key when choosing a Stand Up paddle board? How do yo separate the wheat from the chaff?
SUP Construction Options – Inflatable SUP vs Solid SUP
Solid SUP boards
Solid boards are generally more expensive and are better suited to more advanced levels like Stand Up surfing, touring and racing. Negatives are they are harder to transport. You will need to invest in a roof rack and have ample storage at home, i.e an enormous garage or shed.
Inflatable Paddle Board
Inflatable boards are becoming increasingly popular in the last few years. These are most likely the kind of SUP you have seen around your local loch or river and the boards your friends have recently purchased. Inflatable stand-up paddle boards are strong, flexible, and can be easily transported and stored. The rigidity of the inflatable boards increases as they are inflated. When you put air into the board, the board expands. The top and bottom of the board is pulled against each other by hundreds of individual wires (known as drop stitching) woven into the board. This gives the boards strength and stiffness and also allows them to be really light. Over the last few years, the boards have become stronger, more portable and cheaper, which has allowed more people to enjoy being a paddle boarder.
There are different designs and constructions available to suit different people and different budgets. These are single layer and double layer.
Simply put, the core which is drop stitched is either wrapped in one layer or two layers of outer material. Two layers means it can handle more PSI, more pressure, effectively making the board stiffer.
Double Layer Standup Boards
Double layer drop stick construction is stronger and stiffer, but also more expensive and heavier. A more rigid board means that more of your effort will be directed towards propelling the board forward rather than being lost to flexing the board. Double layer will be heavier than single layer inflatable boards, as there are more layers of material on the board. These boards are primarily used by serious SUPers, SUP rental shops, Standup Paddle boarding centres, heavier users etc. i.e by folks using them regularly.
Single Layer Standup Boards
Single lined will be lighter for you to carry, as there is less material in them, but they may flex a little more, so it’s much more important to pump them up to the pressure that the manufacturer recommends. Single-lined boards are a little more fragile and generally cheaper. These boards are perfect for folks using their boards a few weekends here and there.
Another thing to consider is weight. A stiffer, more rigged board will be better for heavier sup users.
What Size Of SUP Board Do I Need?
There are many ways to calculate what size of board you need, but there is no exact science involved in choosing the right board. It really depends on your budget, your weight and your use case. New paddlers are going to be wobbly on any board they start out on, but the more time you spend on the board, the more stable they will become. Having some lessons or joining a SUP group will help you and make paddling easier.
Stability And Weight.
1 litre of volume will displace 1 litre of water, water weighs 1kg per litre. So 1 litre of volume will float 1kg of weight.
If you weigh around 75kg (remember to add in your kit, clothing dry bag and food etc), a board that has twice the volume of your weight should be stable. So anything 150L and above. Most all round paddle boards are built to have a volume of around 250L to 300L, so they will be very stable for most users, including heavier users.
Another factor of stability is width. A wider board will be more stable, making it easier for you to balance. We advise that beginners avoid narrower boards to learn on.
The last thing to note is PSI. PSI stands for pounds per square inch. The PSI rating tells you how much air pressure your board is able to take and how much air your board needs to perform optimally. Typically, SUP boards are inflated to a point that is anywhere from 10 to 20 PSI. The higher the PSI, the harder the board will be.
Please follow the manufacturer’s directions, but in general it is best to inflate your paddle board to around 10 to 15 PSI, depending on the type of board you are using. A higher PSI will help you if you are riding in water that is cold, choppy, for heavier users and for those riding on rough waters or rapids. If you want your board to provide a bit more stability, if it is flexing, you may want to increase the PSI on your board.
Types Of Stand Up Paddle Board
Which board you choose really depends on the types of water and the type of paddling you plan to do. Do you plan to tackle the wild white water rapids of a raging river or do you plan to take it out on calm, sunny days for some fun and exercise? For most, an all round board will be the perfect board and the best option.
All Round Boards
Boards are generally thick and wide, which provides excellent stability. These are suitable for most people. These boards are great for all levels of paddle boarders. They are strong and very stable. Most all-rounders are around 30 – 35 inch wide and 4 to 6 inches thick. Also, make sure the nose and tail of the board are wide. This will help to provide better stability. These are the best options for most and especially heavier paddlers. Most all round boards come as part of a package and include a pump, paddle and carry case. It is also with all rounders that you will find the most reasonable price.
Touring boards are great for flat water and paddling across open oceans in a downwind direction (i.e. going from point A to point B with the wind at your back). Touring boards are designed to be stable and wide enough for beginner paddlers. Boards are generally between 11 and 14 foot long and have a width of around 28 to 34 inches wide. The longer and narrower a board is, the more efficient it is at cutting through water, but the cost is stability.
Race boards are designed to be fast and manoeuvre quickly, comfort and stability are sacrificed in favour of being agile and responsive. They are like a touring board in the fact that they are long with pointed noses, but their width is significantly narrower, at about 27 to 28 inches wide. Race boards are usually 12 to 14 feet long. These are the race standard boards.
Surfboards are shorter, have a narrower nose and tail. Surf boards are perfect if you plan to spend all your time surfing. It is possible to paddle these surf SUPs faster on a wave, but they are not suited for flat water, being slower on flat water and being less stable. Mainly suitable for a more experienced paddler.
Best paddle board accessories
SUP paddles comes in a variety of styles and materials. A key differentiating factor that will change the price is the material. Carbon fibre paddles are lightweight and stiff and cost the most. Aluminium is the cheapest and of great value, as it is still lightweight.
Other things to consider are a rubber coating on the shaft, will help keep your hands warmer. The next thing to think about is, do you want a 2 piece, 3 piece paddle or a telescopic paddle? Also, some SUP users like to carry an emergency telescopic paddle, just in case they lose their main paddle. Sounds ridiculous until you lose your main paddle.
Pump (To Inflate Your SUP)
They may look like a standard stirrup pump that you would use to inflate your inflatable double camping mattress. However, they are not the same. The SUP pumps are designed for far higher PSI ratings and therefore using the right pump is key, especially if you want the board stiffness. The two main pumps are stirrup pumps and digital pumps. Make sure the pump you buy can handle the maximum PSI rating of your board.
Fins allow you to move in a fairly straight line, or track. They keep your board on track as you paddle forward. They help stop the tail from sliding sideways when you put pressure on either side of the board while you paddle. The design of the fins on your SUP can affect the speed and stability of your board and also affect how quickly and easily you can turn it.
Leashes attach to you to your SUP, if you fall off and into the water, your SUP will be close by. There are leashes that are specifically designed for surfing, flatwater and rivers. Be sure to purchase the right leash for the water that you intend to use it on. Flat water leashes attach to the ankle, this could be a hazard in a fast flowing river. White Water SUPing requires the leash be attached to the BA. So do your research and pick the right one for your activity.
It’s a small piece of kit, but when the shit hits the fan, either with you or with someone in your group, having a whistle and the ability to signal can be the difference between life and death. For a few pounds, it’s worth carrying a whistle and knowing how to use it.
Best Wetsuits For Paddleboarding
Wetsuits are a key part of SUPing in the UK. This is not California! Check out our How does a wetsuit work guide. Essentially, for standup paddle boarding you want a suit that fits well, has ample thickness around the chest for insulation and warmth and an outer coating to the neoprene to make it harder wearing. You do not want a Japanese smoothskin swimming triathlon wetsuit for paddle boarding. Possibly some thinner neoprene around the shoulders for better mobility when paddling.
Wetsuits keep you warm whilst your having fun and adventures SUPing, but they really come into their own when you get into difficulty, if you have to spend an extended duration in the water for whatever reason, this is where wearing a wetsuit comes into its own.
PDF, Buoyancy Aid.
A PDF, a flotation device, rescue vest, life jackets or buoyancy aid. These are devices that keep you afloat in the water when you go in. Here at bestoutdoors.co.uk we always recommend that if you are doing any form of watersports that you should use a buoyancy aid. Again, like the wetsuit they come in to their own when shit hits the fan. Remember that nature is ruthless. They can also add an extra layer of warmth.
Standard BAs help you float, however, purchasing a kayak or white water BA will add pockets, a rescue harness, cow’s tail and the ability to secure a knife, radio, watch etc to it. It depends on how serious you are about SUPing. At a minimum, you should have a basic buoyancy aid.
Neoprene shorts and tops
Always safety first, lochs are deep, water is cold. When you are hundreds of metres from shore and something goes wrong, the neoprene will help keep you warm enough until you form a plan. Standard shorts and t-shirt are all good and well, but a pair of neoprene shorts and top, even at 1 or 2mm thick is better.
Some paddleboarders swear by gloves, others never use them. Benefits of gloves are warm hands and a secure grip. If your hands are prone to getting cold, grab a pair. Thin neoprene gloves are best as they work when wet.
Neoprene socks will keep wet feet warm. Wet feet is something almost every paddle boarding adventure can guarantee. Some socks have thicker soles and grips and on good days can be worn without shoes.
You can of course, just wear an old pair of sports trainers. However, there are many shoes designed specifically for watersports. And yes there are shoes for paddle boarding! From thin neoprene booties to full on boots with specialist soft rubber soles that will grip to almost any surface, wet, algae covered the lot.
The water reflects the sun back at you, the wind cools your skin continuously, all whilst the sun burns you. It is very important for SUPers to wear sunscreen out on the water on those how sunny days. As soon as you stop moving you will feel the sun beating down on you.
Wind blasted and sun blasted lips, not good. A good lip balm will soften the lips, provide miniaturisation, as well as help repair dry, cracked lips.
Sunny days and large bodies of water equals lots of glare, reflection and sun spots. Grab a good pair of glasses with UV and polarised lenses. Another thing to consider is floating glasses, so they can be easily recovered if they fall in to the water and a strap to keep them on when you’re athletically paddling.
There are several watches available that will work well with Standup Paddle Boarding. The main thing is that it is waterproof. Second, you need to consider if you want every single bell and whistle and there are a lot of options.
GPS – Allows you to track your adventures.
Stroke Count and Stroke Rate – Allows you to measure your output.
Heart rate – measure your heart rate during the workout.
Compass – Gives you the direction of your travel.
Barometer – Handy to predict weather changes.
Phone notifications- Your phone will most likely be in a dry bag and secure. Getting access to it via your watch is handy.
These are key bits of kit for any and every water sport. Paddle boarding there are some specialist drybags, like the deck bag, a specifically designed bag that can be secured to your SUP. Other common bags are the standard dry bag. These are great for keeping valuable items dry when on your adventures, also for transporting dry kit to the adventure and wet kit home.
First aid kits
Again, safety first. Every adventure should be accompanied by a first aid kit and knowledge of how to use it.
The first time you are eaten to within an inch of you life by a ravenous hoard of midges whilst you attempt to enter the water at the side of a Scottish Loch, will be the last time you will enter adventure without midge spray. Trust me. Get some and thank me later.
Action cameras, still cameras, and even your phone are great tools for recording SUP adventures. You can even create a YouTube Channel! Why not! You never know when you may start your own channel and it could change your life. You can record everything you do while you SUP, vlogging from the middle of a loch could be pretty cool. Many different types of action cameras are available, but choosing a camera that is waterproof is most important, second is getting one with good mounting options, so you can attach it to you and or your board
Its a watersport, yo will need a towel. Ether take one from home or buy micro fleece towel, these can pack small and are lightweight. Perfect for SUP adventures.
It can be cold before and after a watersports adventure, so we recommend that you use a warm robe or towel to get changed. A changing robe protects you from the elements whilst you are getting changed. There are many things you should look for, but the main ones are that it is big enough to allow you to comfortably get changed in. It is spacious, has two ways zip and has a waterproof exterior.
Check our Best Changing Robes Guide.
Most SUPs come with some basic bungee cord or at a minimum some attachment points. Installing some bungee, or some webbing allows you store and hold dry bags, emergency paddle, dry boxes, a drink and more.
Maps and Apps
There are many apps now available to make your life easier, from navigation to video production, weather to trip loggers. Get downloading and enjoy.
Ask any kayaker and they will tell you, “Yes, I carry a rescue knife”. Why? because again nature is dangerous and your always best being prepared. From being caught up in old fishing line, to fishing nets, to a rope rescue gone wrong. To simple things like cutting some cheese, I knife has a lot of use in the world of adventure. Get one.
Throw bags are 10, 15 or 20M stuff sacks of floating rope and they are primarily used for rescue. They can also be used for any other rope related use case. Buy one and learn to use it, it could save your life and of those around you. Safety first, always.
Be it digital, on your watch or a good old plastic classic. Remember, red in bed and you onto a winner. Knowing how to read a compass and a map is a life skill everyone entering the great outdoors should get to grips with. Mastering the basics is a skill everyone should have.
A simple strap system that makes carrying your Standup Paddle board that much easier. Perfect, simple and practical.
Great for washing kit in after the salty sea waters, like socks, cameras, glasses, etc . So many use cases.
Paddle Boarding Basics.
You’ll need a paddle board and a few other things to get started. If you have read the guide above, you’ve probably added a few items to your shopping list. But shinny toys don’t make the adventure. You do! To start the adventures, you’ll need to learn some basic paddleboard paddling techniques. These little tips and tricks will help get you started and soon you will be paddling steady on your board.
Most beginners are able to quickly stand up and start paddling their SUPs, but don’t threat if it is taking you longer to learn. You will get it soon enough.
1: To stand on a stand up paddle boardwalk the board in deep enough that the fins on the board do not hit the bottom.
2: Holding the board by its edges, work your way down to the centre of the board on your knees to the centre of the board (usually by the carry handle.)
3: Stay with your hands on the boards to help stabilize them and go one foot at a time to place your feet where your knees are.
4: Do not try to stand up in one motion — instead, try to raise your chest up and bend your knees while you do that. Once your chest is high, extend your legs toward the sky and try to stand up straight.
1: Place your feet about hip-width apart on a large, flat board to stay centred.
2: Keep your feet pointed forward with your knees bent. Keep your back straight.
3: Move your hips to shift your weight. Keep your head and shoulders steady and straight.
4: Your eyes should be level with the horizon. Do not stare at your feet, keep your head up.
The blade of the paddle is like a big spoon. Dig it deep into the water and move as much water as you can. You not slicing the water, you’re moving it.
One hand on the T Grip the other hand on the shaft. Real paddling feels like hard work. Hard but fun.
Getting Back On.
1: When you lose your balance, try to fall into the water, their less chance of an injury fall into the drink than onto the board.
2: Don’t lose your paddle. You need it. So if you fall off, remember to keep a hold of your paddle.
3: You’re now in the water, you have your paddle in hand. Position yourself next to your paddle board, aim for the centre.
4: Place your paddle up onto the board, long ways. Grab the centre of the board. Now be like super man, float yourself right out flat on the surface of the water with your belly to the surface. Kick your legs and pull yourself up onto the paddle board.
It’s here that you can start to paddle your SUP, and that’s when the real fun begins.
The Forward Stroke is basically what you do to get yourself moving. Plant the blade in the water in front of you and drag it back towards you, try to move as much water as you can.
Top Tips For The First SUP Trip
Here are some top tips to help you get started on your first SUP trip.
1: Choose a calm body of water that doesn’t have lots of obstacles, like boats and buoys.
2: Find a beach or other place where you can walk into the water and launch your stand up paddle board.
3: Choose a day that is sunny and has little or no wind.
4: Go with a friend, as that will allow you to keep an eye on each other while you paddle.
5: Set a time, plan to paddle for a couple of hours.
6: Have fun and don’t push your luck.