Paddle Boarding Basics

Posted by Taylor Music | 07.15.2018

As the heat begins to climb, stand-up paddle boarding is a great way to stay cool with your friends and family. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or looking for a new summer activity, paddle boarding provides the fun and excitement your summer needs! JAX can prepare you with all the information and essentials you’ll need for any type of paddle boarding trip.


Need to test out a stand-up paddle board (SUP) to find out which one is right for you? Looking to rent a SUP for the afternoon? Curious how tall the boards are in real life?


You can find answers to these questions and more at any of our JAX Outdoor Gear store locations.


JAX provides SUP’s from brands such as Solstice and Boardworks.


What you need to know for your paddle boarding outing:


Choosing Your SUP

SUP’s come in two styles: hard fiberglass boards and inflatable boards. Both materials are water-worthy, but the size, weight, durability, and overall use of the SUP can determine which board is right for you.


Inflatable Boards:


  • Easy to transport because they deflate and roll into a pack, which is great for bringing your SUP along on vacation!
  • Lightweight and easy to carry from camp to the water.
  • Require time to inflate and deflate before and after each use—usually with an electric or hand pump.
  • More durable than fiberglass boards when encountering water with rocky bottoms.
  • Inflatable paddle boards are an excellent choice for a leisurely day on the lake or where durability counts!


Hard Fiberglass Boards:


  • Fiberglass SUP’s need to be transported in a large vehicle or with car racks.
  • Heavier and cost more than inflatable boards.
  • Fast launch time from camp to water because you don’t need to inflate it.
  • Fiberglass boards are easily subject to scratches and dents.


If you’re looking for the best performance for waves, long distance, and speed, fiberglass boards are the way to go!


SUPs also come in many different shapes and sizes.


The length of the board determines how fast and how straight the board will move through the water. The longer the board, the straighter and faster it will be.

The width of the board determines how stable the board will be. The wider the board, the more stable it is.

For beginning paddlers, it’s important to find a board that is long, wide, and easy to carry to and from the water.


Before You Go Checklist:

In addition to your board, you’ll need to pick up a few additional items from your nearest JAX to maximize your paddle boarding adventure.


  • Your Paddle – It is important to make sure you get the right size paddle. Your paddle should be 7-10 inches taller than you are. Paddles can also come in adjustable sizes for multiple users.
  • A Life Vest – Although usually optional, some areas require a personal floatation device (PFD). Make sure to check rules and regulations for your destination. Some waters may also require a rescue whistle.
  • A Leash – Leashes are safety features that make sure you aren’t separated from your board or paddle.
  • A Pump and Fin for Your Inflatable Board - Your inflatable board most likely will come with a detachable fin for smooth sailing and a pump to inflate and deflate your board before and after each use.
  • Car Carrier for Your Hard Board - If you have a hard fiberglass board, unless it fits inside your car, you will need a car carrier rack.
  • Cargo Net - A cargo net can strap onto the top of your board to hold water resistant items such as sunscreen and a water bottle, making them easily accessible while you’re out on the water.
  • Dry Bag - A waterproof bag (dry bag) protects your phone, camera, car keys or any other items that you have to keep with you while you’re paddling.
  • Water Shoes and Clothing – Although some people choose to wear a swimsuit or go barefoot while using their SUP, some prefer the comfort and safety of wearing water shoes and quick-dry clothing depending on the temperature of the water.
  • Sun Protection - Don’t forget sunscreen, hats, sunglasses and sun protective clothing.


On the Water:

Once you’re ready to get on the water, there are a few things to remember to ensure your paddle boarding experience goes smoothly. Getting on and standing up are the first steps to a smooth sail.


  • Before getting on your board, take it out onto the water far enough that the fin isn’t hitting the bottom.
  • Hop on your board into a kneeling position. Make sure you are centered on the board and your feet are shoulder-width apart.
  • Once you are on your knees, paddle out to some deeper water. When you’re ready, place your paddle horizontally across the front of your board. Use your paddle and your hands to slowly bring your feet up to take the place of your knees one at a time and stand up.



How to Paddle:

Now that you’ve stood on your board and have gained full balancing control, you can now begin to paddle.


  • Your paddle will have a bend at the blade. It is important to always make sure that the blade bend is facing away from you.
  • When you begin your strokes, place one hand gripping the handle at the top of the paddle and the other in the middle of the shaft of your paddle. Remember to keep your arms loose and slightly bent.
  • Whichever side you’re paddling on, that is the hand that you will place on the shaft.
  • The most common stroke when using your SUP is the forward stroke. Simply bend your knees a little and place the paddle into the water a few feet in front of your body, ensuring the entire blade is all the way under the surface. Bend forward and bring the blade back toward your feet and then out of the water. Repeat on each side.
  • Make sure that you use your entire body to paddle, mainly your torso.
  • To turn your board, use the sweep stroke. Start by bending your knees to reach the paddle all the way to the top of your board and make a big arch in the water to bring your paddle all the way to the back of the board.



Now that you know the basics on how to use a SUP, stop by your nearest JAX Outdoor location to meet with our in-house experts who can help you prepare for your adventures on the water.


P.S. Don’t forget to ask for a recommendation on the hottest paddle boarding spot near you!

Customer Service: (970) 488-3250 EXT 1 Monday - Friday 9am to 5pm MTN                  WE'RE HIRING!