Stand-up paddling is fun because it's a challenge but hard for a beginner. This article is designed to reduce some of the pain from learning lessons the hard way.
The top six SUP tips for new stand-up paddlers are to make your entrance into the sport as smooth and fun as possible, so let's get right into it.
1. Use an electric pump
The first tip relates to inflatable stand-up paddle boards. Because about half of the boards sold these days are inflatable stand-up paddle boards, if you have an inflatable stand-up paddle board, I would highly recommend considering an electric pump instead of a hand pump.
Inflatable stand-up paddle boards are made with drop stitch construction, meaning this bladder-filled board has all these threads on the inside that hold it together and keep its shape. When you put a lot of air pressure in, it holds intact. Otherwise, it would pop or blow up like a balloon without it. It means that you can pump the board up quite heavily. For example, you can pump up a particular board to 17 PSI, but a non-drop stitch construction board would only go to maybe 2 PSI. You have to put a lot more air to the board, and it's a lot of work by hand.
With an electric pump, you need to plug it into your vehicle, set the PSI, and turn it on, and then it does the rest. It takes about 10 minutes. You can enjoy a coffee instead of doing 10 minutes of the pretty leg, arm, and back braking work.
2. Wear the safety gear
Stand-up paddle boards are considered vessels by the coast guard, meaning you must wear a life jacket. Paddling-specific life jackets are the best option.
They provide flotation all the time.
They're comfortable to wear and paddle.
They have pockets.
There is another option for strong swimmers and experienced stand-up paddlers. They can choose an inflatable PFD or belt pack life jacket. Belt pack life jacket wear around your waist, if you fall in and you need the flotation, pull
the tab, and it auto-inflates.
Another key piece of safety gear is a leash. The leash attaches you to your board. It goes around your ankle, and sometimes it goes around your calf. It may not seem important, but if you fall off, there is a little wind and a bit of current, and the board will get blown across the surface way faster than you could ever swim. A leash keeps a board with you, so you're not swimming a long way to shore. The only problem is the leash would get snagged on something when you're in flowing rivers.
3. Stand-up paddle boards can be used as kayaks
Many people have considered whether I want a kayak or a stand-up paddleboard when buying a stand-up paddleboard. Stand-up paddle boards can be used as kayaks. You can sit there and paddle it like a kayak if you use a kayak paddle.
Many stand-up paddle boards have attachment points where you can buy an aftermarket kayak seat and put it on the board, and boom, and then you got a stand paddle board with a seat, you can paddle with a kayak paddle.
There are boards designed as both a stand-up paddle board and a kayak, it comes with a seat, and a footrest, so you can also be quickly converted to an actual kayak paddle.
4. How to deal with waves
If you're paddling on a body of water with power boats, you must deal with some boat wake.
You'll see the waves come in. The first thing you need to do is get down on your knees, lower your center of gravity, put the paddle on the deck in front of you, and then one knee at a time, drop into a kneeling position, with one knee on each side of the center, handle your center of gravity is much lower. Now you're much more stable, and you can paddle, hold the end of the paddle, or even hold the paddle choked up to move around.
The next thing is to point your boat directly at the rolling waves. Your board is much more stable, hitting waves straight on when it's sideways and pitching back and forth.
5. Practice getting back onto your board from the water
If you're unable to get back on your board, it'll changes where you can paddle. If you paddle enough, you probably will fall off, and you must be close enough to swim to shore. You'll have more confidence when stand-up paddling if you can get back on the board when you do fall off. So practice before you find yourself in the middle of a lake, having to learn the hard way.
Here's how it works.
If your paddle board has bungees on the front deck, you can stow your paddle under the bungees while you get on. If not, you'll have to hold it in one of your hands. Either way, you can start from the side of the board or the tail of the board. You'll pull your chest up and onto the board either way and then worm your way to the center of the board. From there, you'll move to your knees with a knee on each side of the center grab handle, and then you can stand up, putting your feet where your knees were, one step at a time.
6. Dressing for a swim
If the air and the water are warm, you can wear what you want to wear to stand up paddle boarding. But when the air and the water are cold, it's much more important to get that right because hypothermia can be a life-threatening situation that can pop up very quickly. If you get soaking wet and cold in these situations, you need your best options a thick wetsuit or a dry suit. A dry suit is the ultimate in cold conditions.
A dry suit is quite expensive, so if you want to paddle in cold conditions and cold water, you need to invest in gear.
The toughest situation to dress for is when the air is warm, but the water is cold. If you dress with too much gear, you can just be sweating buckets and overheating while you're paddling, but you have to dress appropriately so that if you go for the swim, you're not hypothermia. It would be best if you balanced what you wear. A good piece of gear to use is a wetsuit. A wetsuit provides good protection in cold water but isn't as stifling as something like a dry suit when you're out of the water. Whatever you choose to wear, clothing should keep you warm, whether dry or wet. Cotton is not the choice in any cold environment because it does not keep you warm when wet. It draws heat from your body. That's why wetsuits are great because they insulate you whether they're dry or they're wet.