Stand-up Paddleboard:
Starter Kit Recommendations

Paddling in the shadow of Mt St Helens, OR

As the days yawn longer and air gets warmer, my snowboard powder dreams recede and give way to the echo of hypnotic rhythmic waves of a good lake paddle. Several friends asked me about my SUP (stand up paddle board) equipment, all in this last week, so I thought it was finally time I jot something down for you.

Q: Which paddle board do you have? Thinking of making an investment.
A: Woohoo, SUP! I have this one from Isle Surf & SUP:

ISLE 10’4 Airtech Inflatable Yoga Stand Up Paddle Board (6″ Thick) iSUP Package

This set includes the hand pump and storage bag, both are very handy. I love my SUP board, it has brought me so much joy and tranquility.

That said, here is a size chart you can compare to your height so you get the right fit: SUP 101: Paddle Board Weight & Size Chart (Isle Surf & SUP)

Q: You’re happy with it? Inflatable sounds awful, but look a lot cheaper than the non-inflatable..

A: Yes, very happy! I’ve brought it with me all over the Pacific Northwest since Fall 2016, a feat which would’ve been hard and much less likely with a rigid board since I have a Honda Civic so it would’ve been hard to carry and store. Once inflated to proper PSI, it’s quite rigid and stable. I suspect that a different rigid one would be extra maneuverable, but not nearly so grippy for those nice yoga stretches. To me, inflatable is worth the trade-off for portability. How portable? Well, I even took it on my back on an e-bike to get it from my AirBnB in Bend to paddle the Deschutes River the weekend of the eclipse. Yup.

Q: I think I would need to get a dry bag too, huh?

A: Yes, I recommend these two, which I alternate between, depending on size I need for the trip. I have an earlier generation of the yellow and blue ones (5L and 10L), and regularly use the yellow one to carry the paddle and fin as I carry the board down to my neighborhood lake too.

(2 Pack) Dry Bags, Compact and Lightweight – sizes 2-20L in Water Resistant 500D PVC Tarpaulin by The Friendly Swede

Q: What else might make my life easier as I try this new thing?

A: For separation anxiety from your board, you can get a leash. For separation anxiety from your corporal body, get a life vest.
K was worried and got me this blue one, and we picked a decent one up from a garage sale for him for his more occasional water forays.

Unigear Leash
Neoprene Life Jacket

A serious note: if you live in King County, here are some resources on affordable ways to get life vests, compliments of a unit I used to sit across from and work with that got to work on policies to reduce preventable deaths such as water drowning. They also got to/had to review deaths related to such incidents. Seriously consider a life vest.

Q: Okay, it’s been about a year now and my arms are super buff from that hand pump. What’s the short cut?

A: This car plug-in air pump was a great follow-up gift I got a year later. Decreases pumping time, increases time on the water.
 Sevylor 12V 15-PSI SUP and Water Sport Pump In case you don’t feel like building more character with the hand pump, it is pretty rad. Update: this pump still works, but the gauge for PSI appears a little off. I end up knocking on the board as it inflates until it reaches the right tone to match the recommended PSI level (can check with the hand pump). Currently working to figure out if it’s actually the seal on my now-quite-old sup board or the seal on the pump that’s the problem for the gauge.


Q: But how do I take selfies on the water without dropping my phone in?

A: Phone case: I have this waterproof phone case, but have also been known to go cheap and easy with a quart size freezer ziplock too. If you don’t feel committed yet, this is a decent way to go.

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