Important gear for stand-up paddle boarding

November 3, 2015

Stand-up paddle boarding on a river can be thrilling, but take a class beforehand, paddle with a buddy and remember these eight important items.

Important gear for stand-up paddle boarding

1. Board

  • You have a couple of choices: hollow-construction polyethylene plastic boards or inflatable boards.
  • When choosing a river SUP, try to demo a few models, thinking about weight, flotation, stability and durability.

2. Paddle

  • River rocks will trash fancy, lightweight SUP paddles. For whitewater SUPing, choose a durable model that measures about 20 centimetres longer than your height.

3. Leash

  • To keep your board from getting away from you on the river, use a quick-release leash that's integrated with your flotation vest. Do not attach a leash to your ankle when SUPing whitewater.

4. Padding

  • Falls happen in SUPing, so learn how to do it properly. Try to fall back onto your board or sideways into the water rather than trying to land on your feet. Consider wearing SUP-specific elbow and forearm pads, knee pads and shin guards, and hip pads.
  • Alternatively, you can modify mountain bike, skateboard or other impact sport padding. Some whitewater SUPers even wear padded football shorts for hip and tailbone protection.

5. Dry suits and wet suits

  • Depending on the season, the water temperature, and river conditions, you'll want to SUP wearing a wetsuit, a gasketed dry suit, or a combination of the two.
  • If the sum of the air and water temperatures is less than 38 C, go with the dry suit.

6. Helmet

  • Do not skimp on this item, which protects your head from impacts due to tumbles on the river.
  • Wear a properly fitting whitewater helmet, choosing between an open-face kayak helmet, a whitewater helmet with ear coverage, or a full-face model.

7. PFD/life-jacket

  • A life-jacket or personal flotation device (PFD) is key when paddling whitewater on a SUP. Choose a low-profile Transport Canada-approved PFD with safety harness and quick release.

8. Footwear

  • Running rivers includes scouting, portaging, and walking on shore. You want river shoes or booties with a sturdy sole for climbing on rocks, gripping on the board, and ankle protection, and they must stay on your feet while you're floating in the whitewater swim position.
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