How to Make Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) a Lifestyle

Stand up paddle boarding or SUP for short is so much more than a sport or a leisure activity.  For many of us, SUP has become a lifestyle. Find out why.


sup paddleboard

So you recently have gotten into stand up paddle boarding and now you are ready to fully and completely embrace the SUP lifestyle. Where does one even begin to build their SUP cred? Well friends, as a company that has had a passion for all things SUP for the past twelve years we are determined to answer all of your SUP questions!

How does paddle boarding translate into a lifestyle?

stand up paddle board

The wonderful thing about being a SUP paddler is the fact that you can practice the sport on every waterway imaginable: whitewater rivers, flat water alpine lakes or surfing the ocean. You can keep your SUP board and SUP paddle in your vehicle whenever you are driving around - especially if it's an inflatable paddle board. Wind is pretty much the only thing that is not your friend when taking your SUP board out.

So many SUP disciplines

sup paddle board

We know several outside sales reps that will bring their SUP gear with them while visiting customers. Then they will look for spots to surf or whitewater SUP, fish or even practice a little SUP yoga once they are done with work.

SUP Racing isn't just for the very athletic paddlers

inflatable sup board

Some will even search out flat water to hone their SUP racing skills. Although carting a racing SUP can be difficult as they are pretty long paddle boards but who doesn't want to look cool with a paddleboard on the roof of their vehicle?

SUP racing isn't just about going fast in a straight line. You need to be able to turn quickly around buoys and to be able to stay upright as you make your way through the chop that all those other boards and paddles kick up.

The proper SUP board equipment


Whether your choice is a rigid board or an inflatable SUP you are going to need other gear in addition to your SUP and paddle. The Coast Guard considers SUP boards to be vessels which means that you need to have the same safety equipment that you would have on a boat.

It's like a boat you stand on

inflatable paddleboard

This doesn't mean that you need to know the difference between "starboard" and "port" on these particular SUP vessels (for the record starboard is the right side and port is the left). You do, however, need to carry the safety gear that could save your life like other boaters.

Safety gear and paddle boards

inflatable sup

The Coast Guard does require beginners and advanced paddlers alike to carry a life preserver or personal flotation device with them on their SUP board. It's also a good idea to use the Personal Flotation Device (PFD) in combination with a leash that is attached to the SUP.

Surfing SUP boards play by different rules

If you are surfing, you don't need to carry a PFD because you will be within 100 yards of the shoreline although you will want to used a leash when surfing so that your SUP doesn't hit another surfer. For fishing and SUP yoga, you are covered if you you just store your PFD under the bungees on the tail or nose of the board.

Expert advice on equipment for whitewater SUP padding

advanced paddlers on a sup board

If you decide to get into the sport of whitewater SUP - whether it's shooting down river rapids or surfing a standing river wave - you will want to purchase some additional safety gear since there are usually rocks right below the surface or the water that you can hit and break a bone...or your skull.

Helmets are required

You will definitely want a paddling specific helmet for river rapids - possibly one with a face shield on it. Paddling helmets are pretty light so they won't drag you under surface of the water.

Padding for your limbs is recommended

You will also want to protect your knees, arms and shins with padding. There are many types of pad options for knees, shins and elbows, just make sure that they are durable.

Make sure you can disconnect from your board

Obviously you will want to be wearing a heavy duty PFD vest but it's also recommend that you have a leash that goes around your waist and has a quick disconnect. An ankle leash is a bad idea in case your foot hits the river bottom and the leash wraps around a rock.

Invest in a blade

It's not a bad idea to carry a knife blade with you to cut yourself loose from your SUP board if it gets pinned under a river waterfall so that you can move forward without it. You can always search for the board later.

Dial in your stance

inflatable sup

You will use a more athletic stance when heading down river rapids. You will need to stand with your knees slightly bent and your body a bit forward to stay balanced. This position typically changes to a surfing stance when you are trying to stand through heavy rapids.

Invest in durable SUP paddles

Make sure that your stand up paddle has a durable shaft and blade that can survive rock strikes. This applies even if you are only playing on your board in river surf.

Getting the kids involved in SUP

stand up paddleboard

The whole point of the SUP lifestyle is to enjoy it with others. If you can't get your friends motivated to get a stand up paddle board, you can expect that your kids will want to be riders on your SUP board.

A challenge for you, fun for them

Kids are fairly light but they will add enough weight to challenge your paddling ability a bit. For SUP beginners, we don't usually recommend adding riders to the mix until you've had quite a few SUP paddles under your belt.

Keeping the kiddos safe on paddle boards

Make sure that you coat the kids in sun protection because you usually are pretty exposed to the sun on a paddle board. Also if the wind is over 10 knots, you will not want to teach kids about the dangers wind brings in paddling. A light wind is not dangerous.

Teach them the joys of fishing

paddle boards

One of our favorite customers likes to paddle while his child tries fishing off the starboard side of the paddle board. It seems only fair that the kid carries his weight while they are paddling.

What the inflatable paddle board adds to the SUP lifestyle

Beginners and experts may not start out with an inflatable paddle board but they usually become inflatable SUP customers at some point. The reason for this is that to fully take advantage of the SUP lifestyle you will want to have the ability to travel to remote spots either on a plane or hiking in with your SUP board.

Inflatable SUP boards are the standard on rivers

An inflatable stand up board can be folded up into a backpack which makes it incredibly easy to transport. Inflatable paddle boards have become the standard for river paddling. Some paddlers even swear by them for river surf.

A stand up paddle board turns you into an inland surf god

inflatable sups

Sure, we're aware that stand up paddle boards aren't always used for surfing but it's hard to discount the cool factor that carrying a hard board or inflatable SUP lends those who strap them on their roof rack as they drive through town in their landlocked state. The surfer aura is bestowed upon the SUP board enthusiast, even if the paddler only has the ability to paddle in a straight line on very calm water.

Paddling boarding is the perfect social activity

inflatable sup board

Once you tire of ferrying your children or dog around on your paddle board, it's high time that you find other like minded paddlers to paddle with. You may have to put up with beginners for a while but the learning curve on paddling is pretty quick so they will be up to your level in now time.

Talking while you paddle

inflatable paddle board

As you search out like-minded paddlers, make sure you settle on friends that you enjoy talking to. The beauty of a stand up paddle board is that it allows you to carry on a conversation (much like you can while walking) while both you and your friend are getting a great cardio and strength workout.

SUP paddles build comradery

inflatable paddle boards

Being out in the middle of a scenic lake on a paddle with a buddy allows friends to share all of the other details of their life that they might not feel comfortable offering up in a crowded bar. Connections like this are truly the essence of life.

SUP trips are the best!

inflatable paddle board

Planning a SUP trip can be an absolute blast. An inflatable paddle board gives you the ability to hike into remote mountain lakes where you can set up camp. Or you can plot out a trip on a large waterway whereby you paddle from campsite to campsite.

So many different ways to enjoy the SUP lifestyle

paddle boards

Stand up paddle boarding is quite different from surfing even though the boards look similar. Things you can't do on a surfboard: run a river, yoga, fish, race or explore a lake.


sup yoga on a paddleboard

If you have made if to this point in the article, it's not just because you really enjoy spending time on paddle boards. I'll wager that you are looking to turn this enjoyable and healthy pastime into a lifestyle. For this, we salute you!