10 tips to buying your first SUP

1. Try before you buy.

Almost every store that sells SUPs will have demos. If not, the owner should have some of their own. If not, don’t buy from them. Not all boards will have demos. I’m not saying every store should have a C4 demo version of every size and shape. You should get on a board first.

2. Look for used boards.

Your first board will not be your last board. Most likely, it won’t even be the board you’re riding in 6 months.

3. If you buy new, buy smart.

If you are beginning, get a board that you can then use for friends, kids, whatever. A big first board will get you stoked on paddling, but still give you something to lend out when you move to a more advanced or specialized board. Buying a SUP from a shaper/company with a good reputation will help resale value.

4. If you buy new, protect it.

Get rail tape so it doesn’t chip. When you first learn, you hack the crap out of the rails. When you resell a board, the chips, even cosmetic, are what the buyer sees first. They aren’t big enough to fix, but too big to hide.

5. If you just want to SUP, go all-around.

At first, you don’t know what you’re going to do, so try to find a good all-around board. One that surfs and is good for paddling the flat water.

6. If you’re getting into it for a specific reason, be specific.

If you’re a surfer and you want to surf a SUP, look into entry-level surf SUPs. If you’re looking to race or tour flatwater, look for a entry-level flatwater boards.

7. If you’re starting out to race, start stock.

You need to learn to handle a 12’6″ board before you can handle a 18′ board. There is a learning curve. It takes time. You need to learn how to pull yourself through the water first, then you can work on technique. Going to the open division without learning the basics on a stock board will hinder your growth.

8. Get an appropriate paddle that fits you.

A paddle should be 8-12 inches above your head depending on the use and the theory. They are expensive, too. If you’re starting out and are swapping paddles with members of your family, an adjustable version isn’t a bad option as an interim step towards getting your own. Don’t let someone cut your paddle down and set the handle who doesn’t know what they’re doing. The last thing you want to have happen is to cut a paddle down to a size that doesn’t fit you. Find someone with experience customizing paddles.

9. Borrow Boards.

There are plenty of people around who have SUPs and who would be willing to let you try them. Also, the forums on this site and Standup zone are amazing. If you have questions, ask them. The top pros and super experienced paddlers in this sport are surprisingly accessible and willing to share info.

10. Take things from whom they come.

I know I’ve said to make sure the seller practices what they preach. You wouldn’t go to an obese physical trainer. Don’t get surf advice from a non-surfer, race advice from someone who doesn’t race, fishing tips from someone who doesn’t fish. Find the people who are doing what you want to do and ask them, buy from them. Unless you know exactly what you want and it’s a good price. But price isn’t everything. For instance, I’m not a pro, but I’ve taken the time to learn to SUP in surf, downwind, flatwater and races. I’ve bought my first board, made good and bad decisions and have learned a lot from really great paddlers, from all over the US. However, I don’t know everything.

  1. #8 Paddle length.

    I always try to reccomend and show people how to cut and glue their handle on. I reccomend starting at 12″ over their head and as they progress cut down from there. A longer handle gives beginners a angle on their blade and they do not tend to beat the rails off teh board as much. I use hot glue. Just heat the stick with a lighter and smear it around the bottom of the handle you may have to several times to get a thin coat of glue 3/4″ around the handle end. Then heat the glue on the handle end with the lighter and quickly slide it in the paddle shaft it will squish out the top seal let it cool down and then simply peel it off and hit it with the flame on a lighter quickly and it will smooth off and create a nice seam/seal.

    If you do it this way cut your shaft long and you can remove the handle and cut it down again or to get the condinsation that builds up in the shaft out or if you have a leaky shaft.

    To remove the handle you can lightly heat the shaft by putting it under a hot water faucet or use a heatgun or lighter flame. It does not take much heat and the glue will melt and the handle will come right off.

    I get flack from store owners saying the handle MUST BE EPOXIED On. Aparently they have no clue on how many tight fitting things they own that are held together this way. When you do it right and the glue is cooled down you cannot move the glued handle by force.

    For those who have had paddles delaminate by being in a hot car, hot glueing the handle in will stop that from happening because the glue will soften and the pressure that builds up will be released by the handle pushing out of the end.

    Rail protection: I use 3m heavy duty clear packing tape. 1 layer of it get a stiff plastic squeegee and a exacto knife to get the air bubble out. It gives a nice glossed look to the rail and when done right it is a bear to get off. The only bummer the glue on the tape is tough to get off. But it looks much better than the tape they are selling for 25$ for 15ft of it.

    About choosing surf SUPs or SUS: Be honest are you a decent surfer? Advanced, intermediate ect… If intermediate-advanced ask yourself do I want a SUP I can ride right now or one I will be ripping in 2 or 3 weeks? Every time I drop board size its like learning how to SUP all over again. I know have a quiver of SUS boards from 7’6″- 9’6″. I started on a 11’6″ Laird and got board of that thing in 2 months. Went to a 10′ Infinity and floundered for a few weeks paddling it but ripped it surfing. Now 2.5 years later and build my own boards and ride nothing but SUPs better than I ever surfed prone boards and love every minute of it.

    “Share the STOKE”

    Awesome Site by the way… Read it everyday…

    Peace and good waves to all,

    Capt Ron

    Absolute Trip Standup paddle surfbaords

    Proudly made in the USA…

John Beausanghttp://www.paddlemonster.com
Writer, Small Business Owner Father, Husband, Paddler, Surfer Sixers & Eagles Fan Proudly Independent Publisher, @distressdmullet Co-Founder @Paddlemonster

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