When I first started paddleboarding, I lived maybe 100 yards from Lake Michigan. 50 yards up a dune, and 50 yards down a steep set of stairs. Needless to say, I pretty quickly started looking for an easier way to carry the board to the water.
My first cure was a board strap system with a thickly padded shoulder strap. The board would swing around, my shoulder would get sore from the weight. It was useless on the stairs, as it didn’t hold the board up high enough to not hit the stairs. I still have two sets of them, I use them to hang boards in the garage, and while they are great for that purpose, I have to admit, it’s kind of hard to get the straps in the same place twice.
I tried a set of wheels next, it was much easier to get the board up the hill, of very little use down the stairs. I also have to admit that steering a 14” behind you sometimes can take some planning.
The next two houses were much closer to the water, and it was a non-issue. The only time I have to carry my board more than 50 feet, was at races, where parking can occasionally be a little far from the water.
Life was good, until this spring. Due to a bit a property rights dispute, despite living 50 feet from the water’s edge, I now have to walk 100 yards again. I know I know, I know, it’s a rough life. I count my blessings, and happily walk down the street to launch. It’s relatively flat, and I’ve just been carrying it with the center handle.
A couple months ago, I saw a facebook ad for the SUP Hipster, a gadget that mounts a hook to your hip and is designed to “holster” your board on j-shaped hook and carry the weight on your hips and not your shoulders. I remember thinking “that’s cool”, but then went about my day and forgot all about it. After all, I don’t have a great track record with these sorts of things.
A couple weeks ago, a non-paddling friend tagged me in one of the ads. I actually clicked the link and found out the thing was $60. My response was, it looks cool, but for $60, I can just carry my board. Within an hour one of the founders of the company wrote me and offered to send me one to try.
I didn’t have a lot of expectations, it looked like a pretty good design, but so did the other stuff I bought.
It arrived amazingly fast, but my doubts and a weekend paddling trip preventing me from checking it out right away. Once I got around to opening up, I‘ve got to say I understand why it’s $60. It’s built pretty solid, with a thick padded belt and heavy webbing.
I put the thing on, and it was pretty comfortable, I’m little on the thicker side, but there was plenty of room to go larger and smaller, looks like it will fit most people. I grabbed my 14’x24.5 SIC RS and got it into the hook first time, but it was way too low as the board was below my knees, it’s clearly designed for much wider boards. However, I cinched up the adjustment on the hook and found a comfortable height.
It took me a second to get the hang of getting the board on the hook and getting it centered, but it’s getting easier, the more I do it.
I took my first few steps with my board balanced on the hook gingerly, not quite confident that my board wasn’t going to go crashing down into the pavement, but after those first few steps I got more and more comfortable. By the time I got to the water, my arm was comfortably resting on the rail of the board. It was easy to control the board and I have to say, pretty comfortable.
I am pleased to say, my doubts were unfounded. This thing works great.
In fact, if I didn’t have one already, I’d buy it.
Now it’s not perfect. Your probably not going to be super happy if you are left-handed. The hook only attaches on the right side. The hook is designed for a 6.5” thick rail, my SIR RS works fine, but probably won’t work for dugout owners. There have been some requests for a bigger hook, but until it comes out there are some limits.
The SUP Hipster is designed to be worn while you paddle, there is a loop in the back that the hook is designed to fit in to keep things out of the way, or it’s an easy clip to remove the hook and strap it to your deck. I wear a belt pack PFD, and just was not comfortable with two things around my waist. I leave it on the dock with my shoes.
Talking with the founders Paul and Jeremy, there are a host of accessories coming including a gear bag and hydration options.
The next test for me, will be loading in for a race. Luckily, it’s looks like that will be an option for me in a couple weeks.
Bottom line is that this thing actually does what it says it does, and works pretty well. If you struggle with your walk to the water, or just want to be less tired when you get there, the SUP Hipster is a great option.