Before you pick up your SUP

imageI was at Costco this week and saw that they are carrying Stand Up Paddle (SUP) boards.

This is AWESOME!

I have been a SUP’er for many years and I’m glad to see the sport expand.

With growth comes new users. People that are new to the sport may do things that can hurt them, cost them money and may cause other problems too. If you are thinking about picking up a SUP take a look below. Here are a few things to think about and do Before you pick up your SUP.

SUP’r Tips - I have also listed a few SUP’r Tips. Feel free to add your own in the comments.


imageIn case you don’t know SUP’ing it is a great way to explore waterways at a pace and angle you might never have expected to see them. Whether you are on vacation or traveling on business see if you can find a place that rents boards. When I go to Austin, TX I always plan time to hook up with the local SUPATX crew.

Closer to home … there are likely to be local lakes and rivers, ocean coves and lagoons and perhaps a waterway just down the street from you that can explore in a new and fun way. Plus … you get to work your core in a way you probably never imagined either.

    The view of Town Lake, aka Lady Bird Lake

Things to know and do Before you pick up your SUP


Know how to tie at least the first two of these. Bonus points if you can tie a bowline with one hand.


imageDings Happen! Get over it. You’ll hit things, you’ll drop your board, you’ll tie the board down too tight and ding the rails (note: respect this last point --- it’s expensive to fix rail dings)

Be Ready! There is an old trick in the Surfer’s Toolkit. It’s called a sticker. When you go to a trade show … pick up some stickers. They can be used temporarily to cover a ding.

SUP’r Tip – Buy some epoxy (make sure you get the right kind – perhaps I’ll write another post about this) and repair dings yourself.

SUP’r Tip – Talk to a Pro. If you have large dings, rail dings and anything where you can see the foam inside … talk with a pro about fixing the dings.


Don’t be a Dick! Know the rules of the water and waterways. Expect other boaters to be on the water with you --- there are different rules for motor boats, sail boats and human powered craft. The bottom line is … be responsible for your own actions.

SUP’r Tip – Be respectful of private property. If you are paddling on a lake or river you may be exploring a little too close for some people’s comfort. Be aware of the people in the houses along the water. You may have a right to be there, but don’t be intrusive.


Think like a Boy Scout … Be Prepared!

  • Life vest – Whether or not they are required
  • Booties – Protect your feet and keep them warm
  • Water / Snacks - Think Hydration Pack
  • Leash --- It can save your life and a LOT of swimming

Know Before You Go

Some waterways require life vests and others don’t. My recommendation … Have one with you. There are several options. Some can just be plopped onto the board and others you can wear around your waist. A lot of the newer boards are including strap points to secure vests and other gear.

SUP’r Tip - If you are in the surf you typically are NOT required to wear a life vest. Why? Because you’ll need to duck under the waves.

SUP’r Tip – Don’t go in the surf until you are VERY SKILLED. The life you take in your paddle hands may not be your own. Surfing on a SUP is a specialized skill that requires knowledge far greater than beginner SUP skills.

Life Vests – A Few Options (West Marine has all of these)

On the deck or your waist

Old Style
Bonus: It’s Safety Orange


Traditional vest
(Not great for paddling)

Less than $10
Safety is this Easy!


These are just a few of the

Things to know and do Before you pick up your SUP

Use your common sense. Be prepared to have fun. Be prepared to Smile!

See you on the water. Get on your feet!

imageFor More Tips --- See REI’s Excellent Guide Here 

Here is a post I wrote in 2011 about a trip with SUP ATX’s Jeff Berres. Austin is a great place to get wet.

Shout Out to some of my SUP’r friends. If you see them on the water say hello and chat them up. They know where to go and they know lots of SUP’r Tips too.

Meghan Khody Todd
image image image

Image Credits: West Marine, Meghan, Khody, Todd, NetKnots, CatchSurf


Jonathon Colman said…
Awesome! Have been wanting to try SUPing and I think you've just convinced me to give it a go. Thanks, Jeff! :)
Jeff Shuey said…
Excellent Jonathon. If you want to give it a test run with me just let me know. I go out pretty often. Of course, at REI you probably have great gear to borrow (and buy ), but I'm happy to share mine too.
Dean said…
Ding tape is a good repair tool as well. I knew it as Ding Tape when i surfed long before I ever found out it was actually called duct tape!

I see SUP'ers out on the lake by my condo...I may have to rent one one day and give it a shot.