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Paddleboarders only need a few things to be on the water – SUP, fin, paddle, leash, PFD – but there are lots of other things that can make your paddle sessions more enjoyable. Here’s a list of our Top 8 favorite SUP accessories that help make our time on the water a blast!
#1 – Safety First: PFD, Whistle and Lights
Staying safe on the water is the first step to having fun while paddleboarding. PFDs – Personal Flotation Devices (also called Buoyancy Aids or Life Jackets) – are often a requirement for paddlers in certain areas and being caught without one can lead to a hefty fine.
I’ll be the first to say skip the bright orange horseshoe PFD’s that you’ll never want to wear. Instead, pick a well-fitting device designed for paddling and you won’t even notice it’s there!
Two of my favorite options for flatwater (lakes, bays, ocean, etc.) are the Astral YTV – a very low profile inherently-buoyant PFD, and an inflatable belt pack PFD like the Onyx M16. For the SUP anglers out there, I’m a fan of the Astral Sturgeon. The large front pocket doubles as a tray when changing lures or flies.
Pealess whistles like the Fox 40 Safety Whistle may be small, but are loud enough to be heard even over a crashing wave. They work when wet and make it easy to signal for help (for you or for someone else). Every PFD I own, and I’ve got quite a few, has a pealess whistle attached to it – even my inflatable belt PFD.
For those who paddle at night – or even near sunrise or sunset – a set of navigation lights can help keep you visible and safe (and like PFDs and Whistles, may be required in certain places). Nixy Makes a fantastic set of Navigation Lights that meet most local requirements at an affordable price.
- Get the Astral YTV from REI.com
- Get the Onyx M16 from iRockersup.com
- Get the Astral Sturgeon from REI.com
- Get the Fox 40 Whistle from REI.com
- Get the Nixy Safety Navigation Lights from Nixysports.com
#2 – Electric Pump
Pumping your board is absolutely a great way to warm up for your paddle. It’s also absolutely a great way to use a bunch of energy before your paddle! Thinking of the amount of time and energy I’ve spent inflating SUPs by hand is a little painful.
Most recently I’ve been using the Nixy Ventus Paddleboard Electric Pump and battery, and I am loving it. The Ventus pump has an internal fan to prevent heat build up (the number 1 enemy of electric pumps), and is easy to use with boards of all makes and models. The battery has enough juice to reliably pump two all-around iSUPs, and sometimes a third as well depending on conditions. If the battery is out of juice, you can still plug the Ventus pump into any standard 12v socket found in most vehicles. You can also quickly, and completely, deflate your iSUP with the Ventus.
#3 – Dry Bag
Paddleboarding is an inherently wet sport, but you can thwart soggy sandwiches, bricked batteries, and saturated spare clothes with a high quality dry bag.
Dry bags come in all shapes and sizes and some can cost $300, or more, depending on the specifications and features. One of my favorite dry bags are the SealLine Baja series. These rugged vinyl-coated dry bags are designed to stay dry through full submersion, not just splashing, and offer a great value at a very reasonable price. I recommend a 10L for most daily essentials and a 20L if you plan to bring along a towel or extra layer. They come in a variety of colors, including a clear option so you can easily find what you are looking for.
#4 – Paddle Upgrade
Without a paddle, paddleboarding gets a little tough. Intermediate and advanced paddlers may want to upgrade from their kit paddle to something that is lighter, or has a different blade shape depending on their needs.
One of our favorite paddle upgrades is the Honu Evolution carbon fiber paddles. Honu has a 3K Carbon and 12K Carbon/Bamboo version. Both are lightweight and feel great on the water. Both have a medium-to-small blade with a 9° angle for efficient paddling over long distances. The Evolution series 3 piece paddles are incredibly lightweight at 21.5oz and offer pro performance at a fraction of the cost.
#5 – Cooler
One of the best things about SUP is being able to beat the heat out on the water. While you can go for a dip off the board to cool down, a quality cooler can keep your drinks chilled and your lunch fresh during your SUP adventures.
Small Deck Bag Coolers are perfect for a small snack and Beach Plum LaCroix for yourself, while a larger Backpack Cooler can keep cans cold for your whole group while still fitting under a cargo bungee. But the ultimate in SUP chillaxing (do we still use that, or am I just getting older? howdoyoudofellowkids.gif) is a 25 Quart Rotomolded Cooler. Not only will it keep your drinks cool all day, but strapping it down on the back of your board gives you the perfect spot to sit and relax while you paddle with your drink.
- Get the Deck Bag Cooler from irockersup.com
- Get the Backpack Cooler from irockersup.com
- Get the 25qt Rotomolded Cooler from irockersup.com
#6 – Fish On!
If you have ever fished then you know the feeling that the next lunker is right over there – just out of reach from where you are. SUP fishing is, in my opinion, the finest way to close that distance. Of course carrying all of your gear does pose some logistical questions. Threaded Rod Holders are the best way to keep your rod and reel secure while paddling from spot to spot. These rod holders use a standard M8 bolt to screw securely into threaded action mounts like those found on iRocker, Sea Gods, Thurso and a number of other iSUPs.
#7 – Footwear
Bare feet on your board is often preferred, but you still need to get your board to the water, or maybe you’re paddling when it’s a little cooler out and want something warm on your feet. If you happen to paddle where the beaches aren’t so sandy, a little bit of protection for your feet can go a long way.
The Astral Loyak is my favorite piece of footwear for paddleboarding. The shoe itself is ultra lightweight with a thin, soft sole that still lets you feel your board under your feet. The soles are developed with a special tread pattern to stick to wet surfaces (and they stick really, really well) and there are drain holes in the front and back to let any water out that may splash in. And they look great for heading into town for après-paddle festivities!
When the weather starts to cool down I put my Loyaks away and reach for my NRS Paddle Wetshoes. These 3mm neoprene booties act like a microfiber-lined wetsuit for your feet to keep your toes warm. If you want something a little lower profile, NRS also makes the Kicker Wetshoe.
- Get the Astral Loyak from REI.com
- Get the NRS Paddle Wetshoe from REI.com
- Get the NRS Kicker Wetshoe from REIi.com
#8 – Tune in Without Tuning Out
I like to paddle for long distances. I also like listening to music to help keep me entertained and, if I’m training for a race, paddling at a certain speed. My favorite way to do that is with my Shokz OpenRun headphones. These waterproof, bluetooth, headphones sit in front of your ear (rather than in it) and use bone-conduction technology to deliver sound to your inner ear. That also means they leave your ears open to let you keep track of what’s going on around you – be that your friends, approaching boats, or listening for birds and other wildlife.
#9 – BONUS – Another SUP!
Maybe this should be Number 1 on our list of best SUP accessories? After all – paddling with a friend doubles the fun! If you are thinking about upgrading your iSUP or getting a more specialized board, we recommend you hold on to your old board. It’s great to be able to take someone with you, introduce them to the sport, or let them borrow your old board for their own adventures. SUP also happens to be a quiver sport – the more you get into it the more you realize that having different boards for different purposes can really make a difference. An all-around board is always good to have on hand, even if you are getting a dedicated touring SUP or surfing SUP.
Thinking about getting another iSUP? Check out some of our favorite recommendations: