By now you’ve either heard of the ever-so-popular water sport, stand-up paddleboarding or have seen people paddling while standing up out on the water. Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), is a water sport filled with physical activity and relaxation at the same time. Yes, it’s true.

Beyond having a blast on the water with your friends, if you’ve never participated in the water sport, you’d be surprised at the benefits it has to offer.

In a 2016 study on unexperienced SUP participants, found cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, and psychological improvements, following three one-hour sessions over a six-week period. That’s both physical and mental health improvement just by giving stand-up paddleboarding a try.

With that, if you’re curious to get out on the water and experience the benefits SUP has to offer, you’ll need to make sure you have the essentials to provide a fun and safe experience.

Beyond hiring a qualified instructor, you’ll need the proper equipment that will not only keep you safe but make your experience a great one. From a board to safety gear, ISLE’s VP has got you covered.

Jimmy Blakeney, VP of Product for ISLE and paddlesports and instructor for the ACA is here to guide beginners into their best paddleboarding experience ever with his recommendations for the best stand up paddleboarding gear.

Why You Shouldn’t ‘Go Cheap’ When Buying Stand-Up Paddleboarding Gear

Not all SUP equipment is the same explains Blakeney. “You get what you pay for with the cheaper stuff,” he says.  “One of the things you’re getting when going cheap is the lowest quality accessories possible because that’s how they’re getting the price so low.”

Whether it’s your backpack, paddle, or leash – anything that comes with the kit, when going cheap, these items will be cheap and flimsy.

  • A good reminder: Choose the brands that have been around the longest and are known for their quality products. Great products equal a great experience.

How to Select the Right Paddleboard

  • Don’t Get an Undersized Board: An easy rule of thumb when selecting a board is to choose a board based on capacity (the biggest person who is going to use the board regularly). This allows for all parties and weights to use the board effectively.

If a man weighing at 250-pounds and a woman weighing 120 pounds purchase a board with a weight capacity of 300- pounds, the woman will feel as though she is on land when paddling. The man, at first, will feel a little “tippy” on the board but will soon get the rhythm down making the board a good choice for both of them. If that board was fit for a 120-pound woman, the 250-pound man would not have a good first-time SUP experience. Aways go with the highest weight capacity for the best results/experience.

  • Keep in mind: “The closer you are to the recommended highest weight capacity, the more challenging it’s going to be as you get started,” says Blakeney. “It’s a learning curve, and with the right board, you’ll get the hang of it – as long as your board isn’t undersized.”
  •  Opt for a Hard Board : Hardboards have a better glide than their inflatable counterpart and can be shaped for more specific uses, like racing or touring. The best part about hardboards Blakeney explains is they will not “flex” or create a “taco effect” under your feet like the inflatable boards do creating a bend in the middle of the board. You’ll have more stability on a hardboard creating a better paddleboarding experience.

With that, Blakeney explains ISLE has launched a new technology: Inflatable hardboards that bridge the gap between hardboards and inflatables. They are about 300% more rigid than a normal inflatable giving you the best of both worlds. (Not ‘taco-ing’ under your feet while remaining stable).

How to Select the Right Paddle

“A bad paddle is a bad day on the water,” says Blakeney. So, when selecting a paddle, keep in mind, a quality paddle is going to make a huge difference in your SUP experience.

However, selecting a top-notch paddle reaches beyond the material it’s made of. While aluminum is considered good, fiberglass is even better, and carbon is known as the best, the problem is, you can’t simply choose a paddle solely because of the material it’s made of. Why? Some of the paddles that are considered “good” (aluminum), can actually be really great.

So how do you choose a dependable, high-quality paddle? Blakeney recommends going with a reputable brand – one that has been around for a long time and has a history in the sport.

Essential Stand-Up Paddleboard Gear