Paddleboarding tips for beginners

Stand up paddleboarding (SUP) has become increasingly popular in the UK in recent years. However, if you’re a beginner, it can be daunting knowing where to start or what equipment you need.

What board to choose?

The most important piece of equipment for paddleboarding is the board itself. While you might choose to rent a SUP for your first go to see if you like it, if  you are going to be doing it regularly it is worth investing in your own board.

Cotswold Outdoor have a wide range of paddleboards available, and can help you find the right board for your adventures. The first thing you’ll want to consider is how you’re going to use your SUP and how it will perform in the water. This is determined by the hull shape. Most SUPs have either a planing hull or a displacement hull, and whilst both can be used by beginners, it is worth understanding the differences.

SUPs with planing hulls are flatter, wider and rounder at the front and are designed to ride on top of the water. They are easy to manoeuvre and offer great all-round performance. SUPs with displacement hulls have a more pointed nose which can help slice through the water more quickly They require less effort to paddle allowing you to travel longer distances at faster speeds, so are ideal for touring adventures.

Next, you’ll then need to think about whether you want a solid or inflatable board. Solid boards travel faster and smoother on the water and usually require slightly less effort than inflatables. However, they take up a lot of space when not in use, and you’ll need to think about how you’ll transport one, as they don’t pack down like an inflatable.

Inflatable SUPs are a lot more versatile. They usually come in a storage bag, so you can easily carry them on your back when out and about and store them away neatly at home. They still feel rigid when inflated and are often more stable when going over bumps in the water.

What to wear?

Most people wear a wetsuit when they SUP, but in warmer weather your swimwear is all you really need. If your balance is good and you’re not worried about falling in, gym kit is a good option too.

Some people also like to wear water shoes, although this is a matter of preference and often depends on where you’re planning to go paddleboarding and what is underfoot.

Whatever you choose to wear on the water, it’s always a good idea to put on a life vest, just in case.

What else do you need?

Alongside your SUP and paddle, there are a few other pieces of equipment you may want to consider getting. A waterproof phone case allows you to take your mobile out onto the water with you without the worry of it getting damaged. You may also want to use a dry bag to store your kit in  if you’re going on a SUP adventure and won’t be returning to the same spot you left.

A reusable water bottle, sunglasses and some sun cream will also come in handy if you’re  out on the water for a while.

Where can you go?

You can take your SUP on lakes, rivers and even the sea, as long as the conditions are right.  Some areas require you to have a license to SUP, including some canals and other maintained waterways, so it is  worth checking before you set off – GoPaddling is a great resource for this.

If you’re wondering where the best locations to go paddleboarding are in the UK, the experts at Cotswold Outdoor have pulled together a list of their favourites.

How can you help to stay safe?

If you’ve never been on a paddleboard before, you’ll want to try and find a small, calm body of water free of obstacles, like boats, weirs and buoys. Try to choose a sunny day with little to no wind. If it is windy, make sure you use the wind to your advantage by getting a boost on your way back when you’re getting tired.

If you’re going out on the coast it is important you understand the tide and any currents or riptides that could pose a danger.

Once you’ve launched your board, practice falling in and getting back on, to ensure that you feel confident if you do fall off later.

It is also wise to go out with a friend, so you can keep an eye on each other and always take your phone with you if you can, so you can call for help if you get into any difficulty.

Cotswold Outdoor are passionate about helping everyone make the right choice and find the best kit for lasting adventures. For more information and expert advice or to find your nearest Cotswold Outdoor store, visit 

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