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Beginners Guide To Stand Up Paddleboarding

Paddleboarding is the perfect way to explore and adventure. Ancient sea caves, hidden beaches, a serene picture of the ocean life beneath your feet... SUP adventures unlock the potential for discovery like nothing else.
The beauty and appeal of Stand Up Paddleboarding comes down to its accessibility. You don’t need to be a seasoned paddleboarder to be able to take to the water, escape your everyday worries and adventure into new worlds of calm and natural wonder. From what to wear to what to pack, how to stand up to how to explore, this is your ultimate beginners guide.

Paddleboarders explore the Cornish coastline in Finisterre clothing

What To Wear For Paddleboarding


Should I wear a wetsuit paddleboarding?

If you're a beginner paddleboarder, it's pretty likely that you'll fall off at some point. So a wetsuit is a good idea for paddleboarding in the UK, until you're confident you're not going to get wet. Depending on ability and conditions, more experienced paddleboarders may opt for shorts and t-shirts and a lightweight waterproof or insulated jacket, if the weather requires it. 

Do you wear shoes paddleboarding?

Usually paddleboarding is done barefoot, as your feet are likely to get wet whatever your ability level. However UK waters can be pretty cold most of the year, so wetsuit boots or reef shoes are a good way to keep your toes toasty while you paddle. Remember you'll need grip and balance on your board, so make sure you select footwear accordingly. 

What do you wear when paddle boarding in the cold?

A fast drying insulated jacket, like our classic Nimbus, is a great option for keeping warm on colder days. Lightweight, water-repellent and packable, it will keep you warm and dry whilst packing away into your bag if the weather warms up. Wearing this over your wetsuit, or selecting a warmer wetsuit is a great way to stay out paddleboarding for longer in colder weather.

Can you SUP in the rain?

Sure! Paddleboarding is just as fun in the rain as blazing sunshine. A lightweight waterproof, like our best-selling Rainbird Jacket, is ideal to keep the worst of the wet out. Worn over clothes or a wetsuit, it'll keep the water out and keep your core warm too.  

What kind of bag should you take paddleboarding?

A waterproof bag is pretty essential for paddleboarding, to protect any supplies you need for the adventure. A dry bag, or a waterproof pack like those in our Drift Range means you can take food, water and safety supplies on your paddle in the full knowledge that they'll be as dry at the end as when you set out. 

Front of womens black lightweight waterproof jacket by Finisterre Front of womens black lightweight waterproof jacket by Finisterre

The Rainbird Waterproof Jacket

Winner of Wanderlust's Gear Of The Year - Best Travel Waterproof. The Rainbird is a brand new addition to our range. Waterproof with a 10,00

Drift Waterproof Dry Bag Drift Waterproof Dry Bag

Drift Waterproof Dry Bag

The perfect waterproof protective bag come rain or sail.Whether you're keeping your gear dry and protected while by the water or separating

  

Tips For Beginner Paddleboarders

Check the wind direction

Wind is one of the biggest factors to consider when paddleboarding. If the wind is offshore, it will push you out to sea and it can be harder to paddle back to shore. However onshore winds can be just as dangerous, creating choppier waters and posing the risk of blowing you into rocks or cliffs. Paddleboarding in winds of over 15mph can be challenging, whatever direction they are blowing, so make sure to check the wind strength & direction before you set off.

Use your leash!

Your leash is the number 1 piece of safety kit you have. It attaches you to your life raft, keeping you physically connected to the thing that's keeping you afloat. There is NO GOOD REASON not to wear your leash. If you're paddling in winds and happen to fall off, it's easy for your board to float away much faster than you can swim, potentially leaving you stranded in open water.

So, to recap: Wear. Your. Leash. 

Correct Paddleboarding Posture

For correct balance and posture, place your knees or feet in the centre of the board, either side of the carry handle. For beginners, it's often easier to start on your knees as you get used to the strokes needed to manoeuvre. When you can make it to your feet, it's recommended to have your feet stepped (one slightly in front of the other) rather than completely parallel as this enables you to balance backwards and forwards using your heel and toes. (See video above for more info.)

Learn how to fall off

As a beginner paddleboarder, you're probably going to fall off at some point. But that's all part of the fun! As long as you're wearing your leash, you can jump away from your board safe in the knowledge that it will still be there when you come out of the water. Make sure to keep hold of your paddle too! 

Start in calmer waters

Calmer waters are ideal for beginner paddleboarders as they provide a flat surface to practice paddling technique and balancing on the board. Calm bays, lakes, canals and rivers are all great places to get started, before tackling the often choppier and more challenging waters of the ocean. The best thing you can do if you're a true beginner is book a lesson at your local paddleboard centre to get an understanding of the basics from a trained instructor. 

 Shop Paddleboarding Kit 

 

Paddleboarding FAQs

Is paddleboarding difficult?

Paddleboarding is possibly one of the easiest and most accessible water sports in the UK. If you're just going for a paddle on your local river or in a sheltered bay, there's a very low skill requirement. Beginners can start on their knees for extra stability, but still enjoy the great exercise and connection to nature that paddleboarding offers.

What muscles does paddleboarding exercise?

Er... pretty much all of them? Paddlebaording is a great full-body workout; from your arms and shoulders used for paddling, to legs and core used for balance. It may look peaceful and serene, but every muscle group is engaged at some point in your paddleboarding session, making a great exercise option for those who prefer exercising outside to being stuck in the gym.

How should a beginner stand up on a paddleboard?

As we've touched on a little already, beginner paddleboarders can start on their knees to get used to the paddle strokes, positioning themselves in the centre of the board with knees either side of the carry handle. To progress to a standing position, place your hands on the deck of the board so you are on all fours, and slowly raise yourself to a standing position, with feet either side of the carry handle and slightly stepped for increased balance. 

Is an inflatable SUP better for beginners?

There are a whole host of different paddleboard set ups out there; from hard SUPs to inflatables, and even within these categories there is a lot of variation. An inflatable paddleboard has the advantage of packing down small, so if you have a way to travel to get to your paddling spot, this might be your best option. It's also handy for storage if you're short on space. However inflatable constructions are more prone to damage, and solid SUPs take the edge here. But there are also varying styles within inflatable and hard SUP categories, so you may want to try a few different models at your local paddleboard centre before committing to a purchase.

 

Check out the full set of tutorial videos and more over on our YouTube.

Full Paddleboarding Guide  

 


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