Essential SUP Safety Equipment for Every Paddle
The recent surge of popularity in everything SUP has led to hundreds of inexperienced beginners hitting the water all over the UK. Here at F-One, we couldn’t be happier that such a fantastic sport is finally getting the credit it deserves, however, this recent influx has further highlighted the relatively unmentioned safety concerns that surrounds the sport. As with any water-based activity, there are various considerations that boarders of all abilities will need to take into account, particularly as factors such as conditions and the actions of other watercraft remain out of our control. Staying safe is straight-forward and ensures you can continue to enjoy SUP for years to come, but it’s important to be prepared for every eventuality. We’ve created a list of the key safety gear to take along with you whenever you go for a paddle.
Fair-weather boarders or those travelling to warmer climates should be vigilant with sun cream application. The nature of large expanses of water means there’s virtually no shade on a clear day and you’re likely to spend several hours in direct sunlight. The water acts as a powerful reflector of the sun rays meaning you are exposed at every angle which can catch even those who claim they don’t burn, off-guard. Keep a bottle of sun cream in your bag at all times and consider purchasing other protective items such as a cap and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun at all times.
Whether you can swim or not, a lifejacket is a must-wear during your paddle. While you may have the balance of professional gymnast, you cannot control what those around you are doing or the conditions of the sea and could easily find yourself swept up in a dangerous rip current. Whilst admittedly not the most fashionable of items, wearing a lifejacket whilst paddle boarding has become second nature for most, meaning you are more out of place when you opt to leave yours at home. Businesses that provide safety devices are working to adapt current models so that they do not interfere with the stroke of a boarder, so do some research to find a slim, streamlined fit.
There’s something undeniably romantic about a sunset paddle and they make for the perfect Instagram story. However, should you lose track of time or your bearings, the whole expedition soon takes a turn for a worst as you scramble around in the darkness attempting to find wherever you launched from. Not a first date that’s likely to result in a second to say the least. While a torch won’t solve all of your problems at this point, it will provide reassurance to others in your trip and allow you to spot any landmarks that you could recognise and find your way back even quicker. It will also help you to identify and avoid any obstacles that come your way, further avoiding the complete disaster of capsizing.
While SUP is a relatively low-risk sport with all things considered, things can go wrong, and when they do it’s important to be able to attract the attention of anyone that can help. In water-based environments in particular, the speed of which you can receive help can be detrimental in the outcome and a whistle should never be far from your person whilst out for a paddle. If in doubt, tie it to your lifejacket so that it is easily accessible at all times.
Most reliable retailers will either provide leashes with the inflatable SUP board or will highly recommend them as an extra but making sure your board has an operating leash is of utmost importance. Lightweight, comfortable and small in size, you’ll soon forget you even have one on, but this easy piece of kit could save your bacon by stopping you from becoming separate to your board. In the case of currents, choppy conditions or rips, your board is vital to keeping your head above water, quite literally, and you will be able to keep hold of it as a visible flotation device at the very least. Leashes also protect others that are trying to enjoy the water, stopping your board from careering into anyone else. That said, those that are paddling on a river need to ensure the leash is in full working order and easy to release should you find yourself caught on something.
Basic First Aid Kit
As with any sport, knocks, cuts and grazes can happen. Buy a complete first aid kit or make one up yourself ensuring you have everything you could ever need during a paddle. Plasters, painkillers, bandages, rehydration sachets, antiseptic wipes and insect spray is a good place to start.
That concludes our guide to the must-have safety equipment for every single SUP session so that you can continue to love the sport. If you have any other questions regarding SUP check out our recent blog post, What’SUP? Paddleboarding FAQs Debunked.