If you’re reading this you’ve probably already got a SUP board and paddle but want to know how to kit yourself out from there. Choosing the right paddleboard can be a process that is equal parts painstaking and time consuming. There’s no reason selecting the rest of your gear should be such a time suck. We’ve compiled a straight-forward list of items that are as useful to a SUP yogi as a future SUP race junkie. Don’t worry, there’s no need to harvest all of this at once. Over time as your paddling experience and interests expand these bits and pieces will allow you to make the most of your SUP.
1. SUP Route Planners
There are an increasing number of platforms available to help paddlers plot their next journey. These are a great resource for finding inspiration as well as getting an idea of what to expect from a certain route. You can go high end and buy your own GPS system which will let you track your speed and distance, even calories burned. You could also stick to the free resources available to plan your next trip from your phone.
For UK specific options, check these out:
SUPexplorer.co.uk has detailed interactive maps for a few coastal areas in the south. They are broken down by beach and river specific categories, quite a few of which involve both. If you’re paddling in Dorset, Hampshire, West Sussex or Swansea this site is worth checking out.
Canal & River Trust is probably the biggest library for information on UK waterways and it is 100% free. This site will give you detailed maps for inland routes as well as safety & licencing information for all kinds of watercraft. If you plan to do any SUP angling, you’ll find detailed guides on all things fishing related as well.
British Canoeing might not have the word “Paddleboard” in the name, but there aren’t many places a canoe or kayak can go that a SUP can’t. You can search a comprehensive list of paddle trails by location and difficulty. Better still, you can choose one way or circular routes.
2. Dry bags & Deck Bags
No matter how short or far you’ll be paddling, I bet you’ll have some gear that you’d like to keep dry. Dry bags are essential to any paddleboarder and come in every shape and size imaginable. Strap them onto the nose of your board with your cargo net or even a couple carabiners if the going is rough. Always keep in mind that there is a difference between waterproof and water resistant dry bags.
For long range touring you’ll want something higher volume to store clothing and possibly even a tent and sleeping bag. Go for 12 to 22 litres if this is the case. You can also use your SUP’s carry case to consolidate dry bags.
- For long range touring you’ll want something higher volume to store clothing and possibly even a tent or sleeping bag. Go for 12 to 22 litres if this is the case. You can even use your SUPs carry case to consolidate dry bags.
- Phones need their own little dry bag. A good one can be fully submerged for at least brief periods. If you get a clear bag you can still shoot pictures from your phone.
3. Folding or Grapnel Anchor
If you’re into SUP yoga this is especially useful but it’s also handy if you’d like to stop and take a break at any point. You won’t need one that’s very heavy, 2 to 4 kg will do the trick so long as the water is calm. If there is nothing for the anchor to grab on the seafloor it’ll at least slow you down unless the current is ripping.
4. Tow Strap or Rope
Having a tow strap or a meter or 2 of rope is handy if you’re paddling in pairs because you can raft together when stopped. If one paddler is less experienced (or a child) a tow rope will allow you to keep making progress while they rest. Another handy use for this is getting a tow from a boat or kayak if needed.
People have strong feelings about straight versus coiled leashes. No matter your stance, you definitely need one. For SUP surfing, a straight leash is the better option but for river running most people go for coiled. There are specialised leashes for racing that are worn on the hips but these tend to be pricier. In flat calm water the choice is up to you but in any scenario getting separated from your board could leave you stranded and unsafe. Be sure to find a leash that works for you and try it out on your ankle and your calf to see what you prefer.
6. PFD/ Life Jacket
No matter how strong a swimmer you are, life jackets are always a good idea if you’ll be paddling in open or rough water. The sky is the limit with pricing but a good middle of the road option can be purchased from any paddle-sport speciality store without breaking the bank. Windsurfing gear is also well-suited to SUP so check that out too. The type of PFD you buy will be determined by how specialised the activity and if you plan to do much whitewater paddleboarding you’ll definitely need a solid PFD.
As we are located in northern England, cold weather kit lets us extend our paddle season and get more use from our boards. If you plan to SUP year around or in chilly water, a good wetsuit is a game changer. Wetsuits come in different grades so be sure to buy the appropriate thickness for the temperature of the water you’ll spend most of your time in. They may feel a little foisty when dry but they can also save your life if you fall in.
8. Electric Pump
Manual pumps are low maintenance and no fail but they do require effort. If you’ve got an inflatable SUP you will likely appreciate the convenience of an electric pump at some point. People who manage to get the whole family paddling and don’t want to get stuck inflating multiple boards will definitely find this handy.
9. Solar Phone Charger
Phones are essential on long range SUP trips for more than just calls. A solar charger will keep your battery juiced so you can navigate and take pictures while staying in touch the whole route. Even if you’ll only be paddling through the day, they are handy to have if you’ll be shooting a lot of video.
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A fantastic out of season #SUP adventure along a 40mile stretch of the Great Glen from Laggan Locks to Inverness this week. The weather was abysmal for the first half of the trip but became perfect with 2 days of surfing along #LochNess with a helpful F5 breeze behind us. #SUPBoarding #supboardermag #SUPboarder #scotlandhighlands #scotland @bluefinsups #bluefinsup #bluefinsups ?♂️ ? ?♀️ ?
10. Marine Duct Tape/Repair Kit
Hopefully your SUP came with a repair kit including PVC patches and glue. If not, you can assemble one yourself with marine glue and marine PVC patches. Another handy item for inflatable paddleboard repairs on the move is marine duct tape. Although this won’t work as a long term patching solution, it can buy you time in scenarios where doing a full scale patch up isn’t possible.
We hope this list helps you make the most of your SUP whether casually paddling for short stints or logging serious mileage. You can always get by with less but as time goes by adding this equipment to your gear closet will allow you to do more and keep you occupied for longer. Do you have anything to add to this list? If so, leave it in the comments below.
A Big Bluefin Thank You:
Ian Burton & Charlotte Lever for the gorgeous shots of their Great Glen SUP expedition.