If you’ve ever thought about getting started in stand up paddle boarding you’ve wanted to know what gear you will need to buy. It should be mentioned here that there are ways to learn to standup paddleboard before you purchase any equipment. Of course, that is the best way to figure out what you’ll need and if you’ll even like the sport to begin with. However, it doesn’t hurt to get a little preview of that gear list before you ever take a lesson, go to a SUP shop, or borrow your friend’s equipment.
Here’s a quick list of the SUP gear that you’ll need:
SUP BoardYou probably figured out that the main article of standup paddleboarding gear that you’ll be buying is a SUP board. The SUP board you buy will be specific to your weight, ability, type of paddle boarding, and budget. Boards have a number of components attached or built into them such as a deck pad, fins, handle, and even possibly a vent plug.
SUP PaddleThe next most significant item you’ll be buying is a SUP paddle. Like the board, SUP paddles are designed for different heights, abilities, budget, and the type of paddleboarding you’ll be doing. Plastic and aluminum paddles provide cheaper options. Carbon fiber shafts and blades are lighter and offer higher performance.
Type III PFDMost paddle boarders you see will not be wearing personal flotation devices, or PFDs. That is unfortunate. Since SUP is derived from surfing, there seems to be an anti-pfd bias out there in the SUP community. What is important to realize however is the law says SUP paddlers also need to wear PFDs, sometimes. The United States Coast Guard has classified stand up paddleboards as vessels and as such they must abide by these laws, namely they must have on board a Type III PFD. This only applies to paddleboarding that occurs beyond the limits of swimming, surfing, or bathing areas.
LeashIt’s always a good idea to have a SUP leash whether you see others using them or not. It is quite easy when falling off of your SUP to get separated from your board. You’ll fall one way which will send the board off in the opposite direction. It’s really just a matter of preference whether to buy a straight or coiled leash. Be sure your board has a leash cup to attach your leash to.
Board BagBoard bags will keep your stand up paddle board from damage during storage. It can also be used during transportation. As board size varies in both length and width, so will your board bag.
Roof Rack, Pads, and StrapsYou’ll need a way to transport your SUP once you buy it. A standard factory roof rack will do the trick. Board pads that are made for the roof rack should be used to absorb the pressure of the board against the crossbars. If you don’t have a roof rack, you can buy pads that are made to just rest on top of your vehicle. You’ll also need to buy straps to attach your board to the rack.
Storage AccommodationsStand up paddle boards are large and somewhat delicate. You’ll need some sort of rack, shelf, or way to hang your board from the ceiling so that you don’t damage it. If you must place your SUP on the floor, place a thick cloth in between your board and the floor and wall.
Sound Device, Signaling Device, and LightAs I mentioned above in the PFD section, if a SUP is paddled outside of the surfline the USCG classifies the SUP as a vessel. That means that a PFD is required attached to the SUP or on the body of the paddler. Additionally, the paddler must also have a whistle or other sound device, a signaling device, and a handheld navigation light. These can all fit within your SUP PFD. Please refer to the USGA regulations for full details. Also, remember as a "vessel" SUPs are subject to the “rules of the road” when it comes to paddling around other vessels.