Getting into paddling is a good call. Blowing your money on unnecessary gear is not. Here’s exactly what you need.
Assuming you already own a pair of swim trunks, the answer is yes. Here are five wallet-friendly essentials to get a beginner stand-up paddleboarder onto flat water for the first time.
Costco Wavestorm 10"6' SUP ($600)
The board is the most expensive part of the kit. While the Wavestorm won’t win any races, it offers a stable platform to learn on. The composite core, foam exterior, and three-stringer design make this heavy workhorse very durable. I know a raft guide who’s put hundreds of hours on this board over the course of two seasons, and it’s still floating solid today.
NRS Big Kahuna Inflatable PFD ($100)
It’s worth spending the money on a good PFD. Sure, there are noninflatable PFDs that cost less than the Big Kahuna, but they don’t have the fanny-pack-like fit or buoyancy of this vest. Just pull the plastic-handled cord and a CO2 cartridge will inflate the bag, giving you 29 pounds of flotation—plenty to keep your head above water in an emergency.
SealLine Storm Multisport 2.5L Dry Sack ($13)
A simple, reliable drybag like this one from SealLine will transform your SUP into an floating adventure vehicle. Fill the pack with food, electronics, and other small essentials, then attach it to the rigging on your board (the Wavestorm has a single line at its nose for this purpose). You can explore your local lake all day without having to return to your car.
Sunski Headlands ($48)
Polarized sunglasses are mandatory on the water. I like the Headlands for their optically sharp polarized lenses and top-notch lightweight frame. They’re as good as sunglasses that cost three times as much—and look better, to boot.
Dakine Paradise Trucker ($15)
Hats aren’t optional, either. I like this inexpensive trucker hat from Dakine. It fits well, looks good, and, most important, keeps the sun off my face and neck.