Somerset Family Adventures


Beginners Guide to SUP Boarding

A beginners guide to Stand Up Paddle Boarding

If you are considering taking up paddle boarding, read on for a beginners guide.

What is stand up paddle boarding?

Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) is a water sport whereby you stand up on a large board – similar to a surf board – and move through the water using a long paddle. Standing up on the board, floating on the water requires the paddle boarder to balance whilst manoeuvring the board. It is suitable for all ages whatever your level of skill.

Paddle boarding on river

Why take up paddle boarding?

As one of the fastest growing sports in the world, Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) has taken off and I can understand why. It is a super fun way to get outdoors and spend time with your family and friends.

Stand up paddle boarding isn’t just a fun activity, it is also a great way to keep fit. Other potential health benefits include: help to reduce stress, toning core muscles and help to improve balance. Paddle boarding offers a different way of exploring new places from a different perspective – the water. Finally, paddle boarding is an activity that can be done solo or with a group. As a low-impact sport, stand up paddle boarding is ideal for all ages and abilities.

Before we bought our first board, I’d often see people paddle boarding on our local lake in the summer and wanted to give it a try. I knew paddle boarding was an activity my children would love.

Whilst on a summer holiday in Dorset a couple of years a go, we saw another family purchase a paddle board from a beach seller. We watched while they excitedly unpacked it, inflated it and tried their board out for the first time. They all had so much fun and it didn’t look difficult to do. From that moment on, I was determined to get a board for our family too. But buying a paddle board from a beach seller goes against my nature because, let’s face it, they aren’t cheap. For big purchases like that, I’m the type of person who likes to do some research first. Find out what type boards are on the market, what to look for when buying a paddle board and read reviews. At that point we knew nothing about paddle boards, except that it looked a fun activity and something we could do as a family.

Read on to find out which SUP board we chose and why.

How to choose the right Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP)

Finding the right paddle board for you depends on what you’ll be using it for and where.

To find the right stand up paddle board for me, the first thing I did was to look online. I researched the best stand up paddle boards for beginners. There is so much choice out there you need to decide what is important for you.

The most crucial things for me were:

  • Type of board
  • Stability
  • Price
  • Quality
  • Manufacturers Guarantee
  • What accessories come with it

Type of Stand Up Paddle Board

I discovered there are two main types of paddle board: an inflatable board and a rigid board. An inflatable stand up paddle board (iSUP) will need to be blown up but folds up smaller for storage and transportation. A rigid board (fibreglass and epoxy) is hard, offers better stability and doesn’t need inflating. There are pros and cons for each. But I knew I wanted an iSup because we have limited storage space and it folds down for easier transportation.

Stand up paddle boards also come in different lengths. They range from short boards (under 10′) which are best for children; medium boards (9’8″ – 12′) which are best for every day paddling and leisure; and long boards (over 12′) which are best for long distance and speed.

The type of board you buy will depend on where you’ll be using it. If you want to use it for surfing or racing, you’ll need a different shaped paddle board than if you want to use it to tour or as an all-rounder.

As a beginner, I wanted a medium, all-rounder board to use on lakes, slow-flowing rivers and flat, calm sea.

Where will you be using your paddle board?

In the UK, you can paddle on lakes, rivers, canals or the sea.

Lakes are probably the easiest place to start if you’re a beginner, staying close to the shore to begin with. It’s a good idea to get some local advice or, have a few paddle boarding lessons before starting.

If you plan to paddle on rivers and canals in the UK, some will require permissions or a waterway licence. Please check before you paddle. Managed waterways in England and Wales (eg. Environment Agency or Canal & River Trust) require you to have a licence to paddle on them. Some harbours require a licence too, Bristol Floating Harbour is one example. This doesn’t apply in Scotland who fortunately have ‘The Right to Roam’.

If you plan to SUP on tidal waters this will require a bit more planning. You will need to check the weather, wind direction and be aware of currents. A strong off-shore wind can blow you out to sea! Always wear a personal floatation device (PFD), a leash and take a phone for emergencies.

Which paddle boards are the most stable

For me, stability was an important factor to consider. From my online research I discovered that the board construction was important for stability. The technology that manufacturers use vary between the different brands. For example, the more PVC layers the iSup has, the more rigid and therefore more stable the board will be. As a beginner, I was looking for a board that was very stable in the water because I knew I would be wobbly to start with.

Other factors that affect the stability of the board are the width and thickness. The wider the board the more stable it is. The most popular boards are usually between 31-35 inches wide. The thickness/height of the board affects how high the board comes out of the water. Boards are usually between 4-6 inches thick. Your weight will also need to be taken into consideration. Another factor, is the recommended pressure (psi) a board can be pumped up to – the higher the recommended pressure the more rigid and stable it will be.

I realised that the build quality varies between the different SUP boards on the market, and this is one of the main reasons why the price varies between brands.

How much do paddle boards cost?

The price of paddle boards vary enormously from brand to brand. Prices start from about £200 and increase to over £1000. Prices depend on the type of board, the brand, the build quality and what comes with the board. In my opinion, you usually get what you pay for.

Boards are often put into three different price categories:

Budget paddleboards: These affordable boards range between £200 – £400.

Mid-range paddleboards: These cost between £400 – £750

Premium paddleboards: These cost between £750 – £1500+

My budget was between the affordable and mid-range price. I didn’t want to spend too much on my first board in case I ended up not using it much. A good second-hand board was also an option.

Which paddle board did I choose and why?

After much research and deliberation….

I chose the Bluefin 10’8″ Cruise.

Since writing this post I joined the Bluefin Affiliate Programme. *Ad –This post contains affiliate links. These are marked with *. Should you click to purchase, it is at no additional cost to you, but I receive a small commission.

There is so much choice of SUP boards on the market at the moment and there are lots of great boards to chose from.

These are the reasons I chose a Bluefin 10’8″ Cruise board:

  • The price was in budget and had £100 off when we bought it. Keep an eye on the Bluefin Website* for the latest deals and offers.
  • It is one of the most stable boards on the market.
  • The package included extras such as a waterproof phone case and a kayak seat which I thought the whole family would love.
  • It came with a 5 year manufacturers warranty.
  • Bluefin paddle boards had great reviews.

What do you get with your Stand Up Paddle Board?

What you get when you purchase a paddle board varies between different brands and how much you spend. Typically, in your package you’ll receive the paddle board, a manual pump, a paddle, a leash, fins (if they detach), a puncture repair kit, an instruction manual and a bag to carry it all in.

There are many other accessories available, some may be included in the price. This varies between brands and the price you pay. Otherwise, accessories can be purchased separately.

Other accessories available include kayak seat, waterproof phone case, deck/dry bag, water bottle, quick release waist leash (QR belt), electric pump, silent air remover, SUP shoulder carry strap and personal floatation device (PFD).

Preparing for your first trip on the paddle board

When you receive your paddle board you’ll be excited to open it up for the first time. It is a good idea to familiarise yourself with your new SUP equipment. If you have enough space at home or in the garden, roll out the new board and get to know how it all works by pumping it up. I watched a You Tube video before I went out for the first time on my SUP. Many brands will have “How To” videos on their website. You can find the Bluefin videos here.

What equipment should you take paddle boarding?

The essential gear you need to take paddle boarding are:

  • The paddle board
  • A pump to inflate it
  • Fin(s) (if they detatch)
  • SUP Paddle
  • A leash, or QR belt (especially if you’re going in rivers or fast flowing water)
  • Buoyancy Aid (PFD)
  • Phone/Waterproof phone case (For emergency and photos!)
  • Weather-appropriate clothing/wetsuit/change of clothes/towel.

Other items that are a good idea to take with you as well are:

  • Water bottle
  • Sun cream
  • Cap/hat
  • Dry bag
  • Snack
  • First aid kit
  • Sunglasses (with strap)

Pack all the necessary items in your SUP board bag. There should be extra space and side pockets for the additional kit.

Some brands have wheels on their carry bags. This is such a great feature, particularly if you have some way to walk with your bag. Stand up paddle boards are quite heavy. My Bluefin Cruise 10’8″ weighs about 12kg plus the weight of the accessories and bag. Unfortunately, my Bluefin bag didn’t come with wheels so I bought a trolley. The trolley has large tyres which are excellent for pulling the SUP board over sand.

Top Tip:

Dress for the water temperature not the air temperature. It is likely that you’ll fall in, particularly as a beginner.

Going out for the first time on your SUP

Planning your first outing on your new paddle board is important. You want the experience to be a positive one. Firstly, you must decide where and when to go. The ideal first trip should be on calm, flat water. A lake or bay is best where it isn’t too busy. Choose a place where it’s easy to launch. Some river banks can be tricky.

We are incredibly lucky in North Somerset to have two marine lakes (in Weston-super-Mare and Clevedon), which are ideal places for beginners.

Check the weather forecast in advance, and check again before you set off. Choose a warm day with no wind so you can have an enjoyable time.

It is a good idea to go with someone else on your first expedition. Keep your expectations low – you may not want, or be able to stand up on your first outing. Sitting or kneeling is the best way to start.

Remember to wear all your safety equipment, attach your leash/qr belt and wear a PFD.

A paddle boarding lesson can be a good idea. There are lots of places that offer lessons and rent equipment. There is plenty to learn: the correct height of your paddle, how to hold your paddle, how to launch, how to stand up, body positioning, how to get back on your board after falling off, paddling techniques, how to manoeuvre, and so on. If you don’t want any lessons because you’ve watched lots of ‘how to’ videos and familiarised yourself with what’s involved, it’s good to just give it a go and start practising. Remember to have fun!

What is stand up paddle boarding like?

Stand up paddle boarding is a fun activity and a great way to spend time outdoors. You feel a great sense of achievement when you stand up on your board for the first time. It’s a great work out for your arms, legs and core muscles. The view from the water is lovely and offers a different perspective. It’s certainly calmer, more peaceful and a brilliant way to relax.

Stand up paddle boarding is a great family-friendly activity that all ages and skill levels can enjoy. We’ve noticed that paddle boarding has increased our children’s water confidence. It’s an incredibly easy sport to pick up and something that our children love just as much as the adults.

I recommend you give it a try and hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Happy paddling!

*Disclaimer – All words and opinions are my own. Our Bluefin SUP was not gifted. When starting a new water sport, please take professional advice.

If you’re looking for an outdoor activity with the kids, why not check out one of our walks .

Somerset Family Adventures is a free online resource. If you enjoyed this blog post, you can show your support by buying me a coffee. Thanks so much!

Don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top