How to buy your first board

Looking to buy your first SUP?

- Decide which type of paddling you want to do. Rivers, surf, casual flat water, racing, long distance, overnights, expeditions requiring airline travel, or all of the above?

- Rent as many boards as possible to find the one that best works for you. You can also demo boards at races, surfing contests, and public SUP events.

- If you've never paddled before, get a wide (29"-34") board that is easy to stand up on. A tippy board will be frustrating to learn on.

Basics of board profiles -

All around paddling - the most basic sup to start out on for all genres of paddling is a stable and long board up to 12'. If you're tall like me, 12' is appropiate, if not so tall, try 10'-11' boards. Demo before buying to make sure you find the best one. Widths should be 29-34" wide.

Race or fitness boards - these tend to be narrow, 26-29" wide, tippy, and long. Not best for beginners unless you specifically want to race. But it may still be easier to learn on a wider board, then move to a narrow race board once you get your balance. There's several great race boards out now such as Bark, Starboard, Ohana, Infinity, and Hobie.

Surfing - All boards can surf. For performance surfing, especially if you're an experienced surfer, use short boards 6-10' long. Beginners should start out on a wide (to 34") and longer board (to 12').

Rivers - Inflatable or rotomolded (plastic) are best to prevent dings or breaking of the board. Consider Uli, Tomahawk and Imagine Surfboards to try. Shorter boards are best to work in between rocks and slide into eddies with short turns, etc. See my posting on rivers prior to going out.

Expeditions / Overnight boards - for overnight trips, consider a longer board from 12-18' to carry your gear without effecting your effeciency. Lighter is better, but lighter boards in carbon are also most expensive. There's a folks out there that have done extensive trips with just 12' Laird boards. Attach NSI or EZ Plugs on your board with bungy or rope to attach gear bags. Condider a break-down kayak paddle for upwind paddles and a backup.

International Travel / Remote Trips - Inflatable boards are great for travels requiring airline connections or 3rd world and remote locations. Inflatables will require less maintenance (no dings) and can roll up for easy stowage.

Other things to consider when starting out -
- PFD (lifejacket). Check your local regs. Many areas require PFDs for non surf zone paddling.
- Always wear a leash. You'll be surprised how far you're board will go when you fall off, especially in wind.
- Always hydtrate either with a bladder in a fanny or backpack, or with water bottles stashed on you or the board.
- Check for local info on where you're paddling. Are there books, online, or a surf or paddling shop with info on tides, weather, and any tips or precautions?
- Take a class on stand up paddling to get the basic strokes, or ask an experienced paddler to give you a lesson.
- Visit a kayaking or SUP symposium to try boards, take paddling clinics, and network with other paddlers.
- Dress for the conditions you're paddling in. SUPs have the reputation for keeping paddlers dry, so many avoid wearing wetsuits in colder temps. If the water is below 70 degrees F, wear a wet or drysuit until your sklll are solid enough to choose otherwise.

Check out our SUP classes in Seattle - Beginning to advanced instruction including freighter and tug wave surfing, coastal surfing, rivers and racing, plus PSUPA Certification.

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