While SUP Essentials can be boiled down to the basics of a board and a paddle, accessories can make a world of difference in the enjoyment level. Some accessories are actually required by law in some situations, so it’s good to know what you need when you head out.
Some time ago, The United States Coast Guard (USCG) classified stand up paddleboards (SUP) as a vessel. If you’re older than 13 and head out beyond inshore waters (basically where people wade and swim), you are required to have an approved Personal Floatation Device (PFD). While you don’t have to wear it, it certainly makes sense to. If you’re under 13, you have to wear it, no ifs, ands, or buts. PFDs range in price, comfort, and performance, so shop around until you find one that makes sense. If it’s comfortable and it works, you’re more likely to wear it. For me, the NRS Ninja ticks all the boxes and it does double duty for kayaking, which is a definite plus (and a cost savings). Plenty of adjustments make it easy to fit a variety of body types and it feels stretchy, so not overly confining. It includes a front zippered pocket for on-the-water essentials, a lash tab for your rescue knife, and, my favorite, a gap between the front panels where you can stash your phone for quick access or warm up your hands when it’s chilly.
A secondary lifesaving device is the SUP leash – when you fall off the board, the leash will keep your SUP attached to you, which could be the difference between life and death, depending on the situation. Coiled or straight, length, and wearing at the knee or ankle are all personal preferences, so you just have to try them out. For river or whitewater, coiled leashes could get tangled with the paddler, which ain’t good, so keep that in mind. I went with the FCS Stand Up Paddle Board Partially Coiled Regular Leash – at 10′, it’s a little shorter than my board, but I like the feeling of really being connected to my SUP. Since it’s a partially coiled regular leash, it’s designed for both flatwater (which I currently do) and surf (in the works as I get better).
Not lifesaving, but certainly protection for your eyes, the adidas sport eyewear Tycane Pro are great for watersports. The head strap keeps them on you and, if you manage to drop them, a float makes them retrievable. With hydrophobic lenses that shed water and dirt, these sunglasses feature a wraparound design that is compatible with prescription lenses and comes in 2 sizes. The LST (Light Stabilizing Technology) technology, paired with polarization, makes for improved contrast vision and compared to normal polarized lenses and balances rapid light and shadow changes that can be so vexing on the water. (*Review Sample)
I take my smartphone everywhere and for several years (after some mishaps), I’ve only trusted Catalyst cases to protect that essential piece of gear. Waterproof to 33′ (WAY deeper than most competitors), drop proof from over 6′ (been there, done that), snow, sand, and dirt proof, these case have your back. Add the Floating Lanyard and not only can you keep your phone on your wrist and close at hand, it also keeps it close and retrievable if you happen to drop it. (*Review Sample)
Sometimes you don’t have access to your car or other safe place while heading out onto the water, but you just don’t want to bring everything with you. Maybe you forgot a waterproof case for your phone or maybe the keys you have are big and bulky, uncomfortable in the pocket. SAFEGO is a pretty unique product that is a portable secure location for you to leave your valuable unattended for short periods of time. (Let’s face it, given enough time, a thief will break into or take off with anything of value eventually.) Made of heavy duty ABS plastic, these are designed for durability. The patented lock mechanism is made of nickel-plated zinc alloy, making it rust and water-resistant. SAFEGO’s 17″ adjustable steel cable means you can attach it to a thin or thick anchor. Super handy and this would work for hiking and camping as well. (*Review Sample)
Apart from the PFD, none of these are a requirement to go paddling, but all of them will make you a safer and more comfortable paddler.