Since falling off the board is inevitable at one time or another, the first rule of thumb is to make sure you’re equipped with everything you need to make the fall as pleasant as possible.
Life jacket: Technically known as a PFD, or personal floatation device, life jackets might make you think of toddler swimming lessons. But the U.S. Coast Guard requires them to be on board your board in open waters (since paddleboards are classified as vessels).
Kids must wear PFDs on a paddleboard in any type of water. Adults don’t have to. But you’re going to want to, especially if you don’t want to replace your expensive sunglasses. Life jackets ensure your head doesn’t go plunging beneath the water when you take those inevitable falls.
Leashes: Leashes consist of long, twisty cords with Velcro cuffs that attach things together that might otherwise float away. You want one around your ankle, attaching you to your board. If you're looking to go the extra mile, you want another one around your paddle, attaching your paddle to your board.
Dry bag: Optional, though most people would advise against leaving your phone in that hot oven of a car. A must-have if you’re taking anything on the board that can’t get soaking wet. I mean, why wouldn't you want photos anyway?
Paddle: You’ll need one paddle at a time on your board. But you may as well get two. Always good to have backup. A SUP paddle has a tear-drop-shaped blade and a handy T-grip at the top.
Most are adjustable to fit your height. You want the top of the handle to reach your wrist when your arm is raised above your head and the paddle is standing in front of you.
Paddleboard: And don’t forget the actual paddleboard. While you could rent one for 6 months, you could also just jump on in and buy one. Beginners do best on boards that are at least 30 inches wide and 11 feet long. You have several choices:
· Standard boards: Made of lightweight material and easy to carry by hand. Not so easy to transport by sports car. SUV, truck, or roof rack required.
· Inflatable boards: Made of rubbery material and obnoxious to carry by hand. Easy-peasy to transport by sports car, plane, train, or other vehicle since it deflates and packs neatly in a bag. You do need a pump to inflate it once you get to your destination—and at least a 15-minute break when your arms feel like they’re going to fall off from all that pumping. Once you’re done, simply deflate it.
· Yoga Stand-Up Paddleboards: Wider and blunter nosed than standard SUPs, yoga SUPs are designed for doing yoga while you’re floating around in bliss. We don’t recommend trying a handstand your first time on the board, maybe downward dog instead.