Paddleboarding, or SUP riding, has been growing in popularity a lot lately. With the right board and a bit of experience, you can do just about anything. From on-the-water yoga to fishing for your next trophy bass, a paddleboard can let you experience some pretty unique things.

However, everyone has to start somewhere. If you’re just now learning about the paddleboard craze, and you want to try it for yourself, take a moment to familiarize yourself with this brief primer before you go buying anything.

1: Get a Beginner Paddleboard

Paddleboards aren’t exactly cheap. A lot of work and attention to detail goes into making one worthwhile, and that drives the price up quite a bit.

Since you’re new to the hobby, and you don’t know if you’ll stick with it or what you’ll eventually want to specialize in, we recommend browsing beginner paddle boards

Beginner paddleboards are no-frills boards that are designed to provide an accessible product without requiring massive investment. Don’t worry, though. These are still high-performance boards, and as you grow in skill, they’ll do almost anything you want them to. You might just have to upgrade if you start doing something very specialized such as yoga or fishing.

2: Life Vest

Learning how to swim efficiently is key to ensuring you’re safe on a paddleboard, and life vests aren’t commonly used by racers. However, when you’re starting out, you should make sure you have a life vest on at all times; even if you’re a great swimmer.

You’ll take a lot of tumbles off your board as you’re building your balance up, learning to turn properly, and generally getting used to the art of riding it.

You do not want to get taken by surprise by a big wave, fall off your board, and get confused without a life vest on. Safety definitely has to come before style.


3: Don’t Drop the Tether

Your paddle board will come with a tether. This is a long string that attaches to your board and loops around your wrist or ankle. This is to make sure your board is kept nearby if you fall off; instead of letting the waves drag it off never to be seen again.

Many beginners make the mistake of not tethering themselves to their boards. After all, some experienced riders prefer not to use them for various reasons. However, you put yourself at a major disadvantage, and possibly in danger, by doing so.

First, even in the shallows where you’re more able to stay safe, taking a hard fall can lead to your paddleboard being dragged off before you even pull yourself back up to the surface. Good luck catching it before it’s gone forever.

Then, you have to consider the risk. Your paddleboard is your safety net out on the water. If you’re far out, get injured or tired, or otherwise can’t handle the swim all the way back to shore, losing your paddleboard can be disastrous.

Take Your Time

Finally, take your time and progress at your own pace. Everyone learns differently, and you want to make sure you develop your skills in a safe and meaningful manner. There’s no need to rush it.