Two years ago, I moved to a neighborhood just a couple of miles away from the beach, and immediately my husband and I began to discuss getting stand up paddleboards (SUPs, if you’re fancy). It took a while (because they certainly aren’t cheap!), but we’re now officially a two-SUP family.
We’re also a one-car garage family. And a family where one of us is frequently on the road.
I have a point, I promise.
Since getting SUPs, Jared and I have learned a few things about being a SUP owner. You can find great advice on what kind of board will best suit your needs all over the internet, but when it comes to having one’s own, there are a few things I’ve learned (and a few products I’ve purchased) that also would’ve been nice to know before saving up and making that big purchase.
1. Where to Buy It
If you know a lot about SUPs, you can probably walk into any store that carries them and pick out exactly what you want. If you’re not sure what length, width, or material is best for you, then you might want to consider shopping at a specialty store with staff that’s really knowledgeable about the boards. That way, you can just describe what you want to do (leisurely paddling, racing, surfing, yoga) and they can point you to the best board for you. Doing the research ahead of time (which we did) might save you some cash (because if you know what you want, you can buy it anywhere), but saving a few bucks isn’t worth it if you’re not getting just what you want.
SUPs are big. Really big. Like, you’re probably not going to want to just try to stash it in a guest room. As I mentioned, we have a one car garage and no basement (thanks, Florida), so when we brought the first board home, we had some planning to do. Fortunately, Jared is quite handy and kind of a master at creating a space for everything in that tiny garage, so he found a way to hang the board from the ceiling of the garage — and even left enough room for us to do the same with the second board while still being able to pull the car in.
There are lots of storage options available — wall hooks, bags, etc. — so if you’re determined to store your board at your house, I have no doubt you can do it. (A friend of mine has his proudly displayed on the wall inside his house, and honestly, it looks awesome.) Just know that it’s something you do need to consider.
3. Your Vehicle
If you’ve only ever rented a board, you probably never worried about any transportation beyond toting it down the beach. But, unless your back door opens up to the water where you’ll be paddling, that’s not likely to be the case once you’re embracing the BYOB (bring your own board) life.
I assumed this would be a piece of cake because, hey, I have an SUV with roof racks — you’d think I’d be all set! What I hadn’t realized was that, despite the fact that I’m pretty tall, my car’s roof is a little too high for me to comfortably load and unload a board alone. If you plan to paddle by yourself frequently, you might want to seek out lighter weight boards, a roof rack system that offers some loading assistance, or, if you’re really serious, a vehicle with a roof that’s low enough to make the process manageable.
4. Waterside Transportation
Will you be walking far from your car to the water’s edge when you paddle? It’s not a big deal to carry a board with just your arm for a little while, but if you’ve got a bit of a trek (and we do — our beach is long), it might be smart to consider picking up a shoulder sling designed to make carrying your SUP a bit easier. Seriously, it make a world of difference. (This is what we got, but there are tons of options.)
5. Clothes and Gear
When you take out a board for an hour or so during your beach vacay, you probably just wear your swimsuit and some sunscreen. But if you’re heading out for a long paddle (and doing so frequently), sun protection becomes more important, so having a rashguard (or lightweight, quick drying long-sleeved top with UV protection) and a big hat is really helpful. Water-friendly, leggings are also a good idea.
Do you have a stand up paddleboard, or are you thinking about picking one up? Got any questions? Lay ’em on me. —Kristen