When you first buy a SUP, you’ll probably be super excited to get on it and start having fun. However, we think you should slow down a bit and take a moment to make sure you’re ready.
Besides familiarizing yourself with some basic safety rules, getting an idea of how you control your SUP, and other basic stuff, you need to make sure you have a few accessories.
We’re going to go over those accessories now so you know what to look for before you finally hop on your SUP for the first time.
SUPs are not cheap, and water is incredibly unpredictable. You do not want to fall off your SUP just to realize it has floated 100 feet away before you got an eye on it again; lost forever as you’re highly unlikely to catch up to it. Not to mention, it can be extremely dangerous if you’re not a very strong swimmer, and you’re a bit further away from shore than you should be.
A tether prevents that from happening. It’s a string that ties to your wrist or ankle, and it connects to your board. If you fall off, you’re still connected to your board, and you can get back on it pretty easily.
If your board didn’t come with a tether, or the stock tether doesn’t inspire confidence, pick one up immediately. You’ll appreciate it when you fall off the board several dozen times trying to learn the ropes.
2: Maintenance Supplies
Would you buy a phone without buying a case or some cleaning supplies along with it? Probably not. You shouldn’t neglect your SUP’s maintenance and protection needs, either. SUPs aren’t cheap, and if they’re not taken care of, they can wear prematurely.
The basics are a case to protect it from sunlight and abrasions when you’re not riding, some Dawn dish soap to clean it between uses, wax in some cases, etc.
Here’s a complete guide on how to maintain a SUP. We recommend understanding it inside and out before you even commit to buying a board. It’s better to start off on the right foot, so to speak.
3: SUP Clothing
Finally, you need some SUP clothing. What you need will actually change depending on the weather and what you’re doing. It’s not like a boat where you can store different outfits to change on the fly. So, make sure you know what you’re riding out into before you get dressed and head out.
If the water is warm, you’re just doing some light paddling and maybe taking a dip near the shore, and the wind isn’t an issue, your swimming suit is perfectly fine. It’s recommended to get a quick-dry suit in case the temperature drops when you quit for the evening, but you don’t have to think too hard about this type of situation.
In cooler weather, or when you’re going deeper into the ocean to race or hit big waves, you really need a wetsuit. That water gets colder as you move further out, and just spending a few moments in it with bare skin can start to affect your fine motor skills; something you definitely don’t want to happen when you’re standing on a fiberglass board in the ocean waves.
Shoes are optional. Many SUPs have a grippy texture on their surfaces to ensure bare feet don’t slip around dangerously on them, but you can opt for some non-slip swimming shoes like the ones you’d find at your public swimming pool. These will help you grip your board without losing the ability to swim if you happen to fall off.