One of the great things about stand up paddling, is that it's easy to grab your gear and head out for a quick paddle or for an all day adventure. But before just grabbing your board and paddle and hitting the water, there are a few other pieces of equipment that you'll need to have for a safe, enjoyable stand up paddling experience. And that's what we're going to look at in this video.
First off, its important to know that paddle boards are considered a vessel by the U.S. Coast Guard. This means that you need to have a life jacket and whistle on hand if you're outside of a swimming or surfing area. If you can't swim its definitely a great idea to wear an inherently buoyant life jacket. There are some great paddling specific models on the market that are comfortable to wear and won't restrict your movement. If you're a swimmer you can consider an inflatable life jacket. The most popular inflatable life jackets for stand up paddling are belt packs, which are worn around your waist, but they're also available as vests. If you're going to use a belt pack, they're best worn in front so they can be easily and quickly inflated when needed.
Although a life jacket is a crucial piece of safety gear, one could argue that the board is your most important piece of safety gear, because without it you'll be in the water and unable to move anywhere quickly. This is why a leash is such a key piece of safety equipment in most, but not all, environments. A leash connects you to your board with an ankle or calf strap. Unless you're specifically paddling in white water rapids or moving current, where your leash can get snagged on a branch, or a rock, or even the shore, it's very important that you wear a leash when you're on the water, because it's amazing how quickly your board can get separated from you, due to wind and current.
Other than a life jacket and a leash, the only gear you need is the clothing that you'll wear on the water. Dressing appropriately is pretty straight forward when the air and water are warm. You just need to wear clothing that works well when its wet, that dries quickly and that keeps you cool and protected from the sun. Things like rash guards, board shorts, a hat, and sunscreen all work well. A good water shoe is also a great idea for keeping your feet protected.
Dressing for the cold is a bit more complicated. You need to wear something that will keep you warm, whether you're in or out of the water, wet or dry. The best options are neoprene wetsuits, or drysuits with latex gaskets that keep water out. You'll also want some neoprene booties to keep your feet warm and protected.
So there you have it, a quick rundown of all the gear you'll need for a safe stand up paddle boarding experience.
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