What do you need for paddle boarding? As a former instructor who has taught 200+ first time students, this is a question that I was regularly asked. To have a great experience, you will need a few things. However, I won’t simply list what you’ll need, I will also explain the reasoning why.
A GREAT ATTITUDE
A great attitude is important when learning any new skill. With proper instruction learning to paddle board is very easy. Without it, the learning curve can be quite difficult.
Every paddle boarder falls into the water. Beginners will fall more often as they learn balance and practice their skills. Often, people will stand up and immediately fall back into the water. This experience can be very frustrating. Keep a great attitude. Keep smiling and having fun. Soon you will be up and going!
You need to dressed properly for a great paddle boarding session. Dress for the weather and dress for the water.
If you’re in warm sunny destinations, make sure you wear a rash guard. It will keep the sun off your back to keep you cool and prevent sunburn.
If you’re in cold water, you may want to wear a wetsuit or booties.
When students would ask me what they should wear, I would always suggest they wear whatever they are comfortable wearing to the beach. You need to be comfortable in your skin as people on the beach will be watching you. Just don’t wear any heavy materials that soak up water, like sweatshirts or denim. They become very heavy and when you’re pulling yourself onto the board after a fall, they can hinder a beginner.
Normally, I recommend going barefoot while paddle boarding. The deck pad will have plenty of grip, and you don’t want to lose a shoe to the bottom of the ocean. Only wear footwear, if it is very rocky and shallow where you’ll be paddling. If you have to walk your board out 100 feet over rocks, some lightweight footwear would be nice.
PADDLE BOARD EQUIPMENT
As a first time paddle boarder, you’re probably renting or borrowing equipment, so you should have everything you need. However, you may have to figure it out on your own. In this case you will need the following items to paddle board effectively and safely:
It’s obvious why you need a board and paddle to perform this activity so I will only discuss the remaining three items. A center fin is required to keep your boarding travelling in the direction you want. A SUP will perform without the smaller thruster fins, but without the center fin, a paddler will have her work cut out for her.
A leash is more important than a life jacket for paddle board safety. It keeps you tethered to the board when you fall. Typically, when a person falls, the board is pushed in the opposite direction of the fall. Without being attached to the leash, you may have to chase your board for hundreds of feet. If it catches a current or wave, it could be gone leaving you stranded in the water without anything solid to climb upon. Staying connected to your board is VERY important. The board offers safety, stability and a place to rest.
Life jackets should be worn if you’re not a good swimmer and in some jurisdictions they are mandatory. However, I am not a fan of life jackets as I find them warm and bulky. It may also be the culture I grew up in as a paddle boarder. No one ever wore life jackets, but we also wore leashes.
At least 2 liters of water will be needed for a paddle boarding session. I suggest drinking a litre immediately before the session and then a litre after your done. Paddle boarding is hard work and you’re going to sweat. While living in Mexico, I would guzzle 1.5 litres of water before a session and I never became dehydrated.
If it’s going to be sunny, you will need sunblock. The water is highly reflective and you will become red as a cooked lobster if you’re not protected.
Don’t wear sunglasses unless they are strapped to your head, or you have them connected to a flotation device. The simple fact is, everyone falls into the water at some point. Unless you want your glasses to spend some time on the bottom of the lake, don’t do it.
What you might need for paddle boarding will depend on the person and the environment where you’re paddling. There may be more or less items on your list. Use this list as a guideline. I developed it from practical experience, and used it effectively to teach more then 200 SUP newbies.
Have a great paddle boarding experience. I hope you love it!
The Wappa Blog
Written by Wappa's founder Layne Pennell, the blog's aim is to educate and share his love of stand up paddle boarding with anyone interested in SUP.
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