I want to learn how to paddleboard -- recommendations?
May 26, 2015 8:26 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for a new fun activity to spend time doing this summer and decided that paddle boarding sounds like loads of fun. I live in an area where there are great lakes, large and small to paddle on. I am planning on renting and taking some lessons before making a decision to purchase or not. However, since I am pretty sure I'm going to be hooked, I want to get an idea of what I'm looking at expensewise and what experienced paddle boarders would recommend.

Here are some specific questions...

1. Do you need lots of lessons or is this something that is easily picked up?

2. I'm a short woman, will that make a difference in the type or size of paddle board I should rent and or possibly buy?

3. For those who own paddle boards, what are your recommendations for boards and paddles?

4. What am I missing? What else should I be asking?

Thanks for all of your advice!
posted by OkTwigs to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
1. Paddleboarding is something that you can easily pick up. If you rent one and take it out to a calm lake for a day you should have no problem teaching yourself (with some hilarious early falls) within a few hours. I would recommend this even before considering a lesson. If you enjoy yourself and want to get into it, you can always consider a lesson to learn proper technique afterwards. If you don't enjoy yourself (i.e. you can't stand up on the bloody thing), then a lesson might be a good idea anyhow.

2. Absolutely. Two good things about being a short woman: (1) you should have a low centre of gravity, making paddleboarding easier; (2) you can buy a smaller paddleboard, reducing your cost.

3. Depends on where you live. Try your local outdoor co-op, if you have one.

4. Do you want a touring board (for longer adventures?); a racing board (for speed?); an inflatable board (for portability?)

Paddleboards come in varying lengths and widths, varying weights, and have different design characteristics that affect balance, speed, and maneuverability. If you do take lessons, you can ask your instructor what she or he thinks is suitable for you. You can also find paddleboards designed specifically for beginners.
posted by ageispolis at 9:14 PM on May 26, 2015

I'd recommend just doing it first in a short lesson and asking the instructor(s) more about your questions, too. It feels different than it looks.

I would not have been successful without having an introductory lesson. Simple, dumb things like how to hold the board to get onto it, how to carry the board, and how to climb back on after falling off went much better with an instructor showing me the hacks than without it.

I was dismayed to discover how expensive paddleboards are.
posted by Miko at 6:08 AM on May 27, 2015

I had fun just trying it with no lessons, but it was good to look up info on proper technique to be more efficient once I started doing it more often. A lot of people have the most trouble with getting back on after falling off in deeper water, so a lesson might be specifically helpful there.

Kind of like a bicycle, the best paddleboard is the one you will use. I have an inflatable paddleboard which makes excursions more likely since I often just keep it in the trunk vs. having to take it out and lash it to the top of the car etc. But I'm lazy that way. Try as many different kinds as you can and consider where/how you'll be using it - calm lake, ocean, etc.

Miko, overstock.com sometimes has good deals on paddleboards, especially the inflatables (that's where I got mine). Still not "inexpensive" but some good savings.
posted by mikepop at 7:23 AM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm a big fan of all human powered craft on the water. Don't forget to give kayaking and/or canoeing a try too. You may find that any human powered craft is your thing, or you may find things you like better worse about one or the other which can help cement a decision before investing in equipment.
posted by garlic at 10:34 AM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

My local outdoor store does outings throughout the summer where you can try out the different SUPs they sell. Maybe a retailer near you does this?
posted by workerant at 2:11 PM on May 27, 2015

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