What Should You Bring Along When Paddleboarding? SUP Essentials

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Expert: Cameron – I have been active in all water-based adventures since 2014. In my youth I would stay with my uncle in Florida who introduced me to paddleboarding and have enjoyed SUP ever since. While traveling I frequently rent paddleboards to explore coastlines. I also surf out of tropical areas such as Hawaii and Guam to include my shoreline at home on the Emerald Coast with my SUP. So I certainly have a no-nonsense SUP packing list.

Paddleboarding has surged in popularity as a captivating water sport that combines tranquility and excitement.

As you anticipate embarking on a memorable paddleboarding journey, it’s essential to recognize the significance of proper preparation and gear selection.

In the rush or chaos of packing, we all inevitably leave out or miss something for our paddleboard trip.

So, what are the essentials you will need for paddleboarding?

While paddleboarding, you should bring a PFD, SUP leash, sunscreen, first aid kit, and basic tools to cover you safety wise. Also consider and bring your paddle and SUP fins that are most suitable to you. Considering the weather and conditions, choose appropriate attire, a dry bag, and a waterproof camera.

From safety essentials to communication tools, this guide outlines everything you need for a successful paddleboarding experience.

Everything You Should Bring on Your SUP

Depending on the time of year your headed to the water with your paddleboard there are plenty of considerations to keep in mind.

This Listing is broken down by level of importance.

Safety Essentials

The number one concern when heading into any water is your personal safety.

Ensuring this safety is paramount when venturing on you SUP adventure so do not venture out without these items.

Personal Flotation Device (PFD)

Paddleboarding with gear and equipment

Prioritize your well-being by wearing a properly fitted life jacket (personal flotation device or PFD) that conforms to safety standards.

Consider the type of paddleboarding you’ll be doing when choosing a PFD – inflatable PFDs or vest-style PFDs both offer excellent options.

If you are worried a full life jacket will be too cumbersome or get in the way then you can opt to using a PFD belt that stays out of the way.

SUP Leash

Additionally, a leash is a crucial attachment to prevent separation from your board and enhance rider safety.

There are plenty of lengths and styles to choose from if the one that is with your paddleboard is giving you issues.

Most come with ankle attachments but I have on occasion seen SUP users have their leash on their wrist with a longer cable.


I have a lot of references on this section so be ready.

According to the CDC a sunburn is not immediately apparent and can take up to 4 hours after the initial exposure to see symptoms.

You will be in potential direct sunlight the entire time you are on your paddleboard.

Be sure to bring along a bottle with you on your SUP to reapply throughout the day.

Be mindful that some sunscreens are banned in areas like Hawaii.

Because chemicals in some sunscreens can wash off our bodies and harm coral and other marine life, the County of Maui passed a law called Ordinance No. 5306.

Basically banning the use of certain sunscreens from ocean enjoyers and to keep environmentally aware and their waters thriving.

First Aid Kit and Basic Tools

First Aid Kit

No I am not joking when I tell you that I have a mini kit that goes in my backpack on my SUP and a larger one when on shore.

You would be shocked at how many times you will use both of them.

Consider that you may not know the area and could have things like broken glass or jagged rocks on the shore.

First Aid Kit

Safety comes first, so assemble a compact first aid kit with essentials like adhesive bandages, antiseptic wipes, and basic medications.

In my mini first aid that I bring on my SUP I have alcohol pads, waterproof Band-Aids, a drying cloth, sterile gauze, and a waterproof bandage wrap.

Basic Tools

Carry basic tools for minor repairs, such as a multi-tool or duct tape.

Address common issues like paddle adjustments or minor board damage swiftly to prevent disruptions.

Communication and Navigation Tools

Stay connected and informed with waterproof phone cases that allow you to access your phone’s functions and use navigation apps in case of need.

Carry a whistle or signaling device to alert others in emergencies.

With my whistle, I also have a small mirror attached in case I need to signal boats or planes in an emergency.

Familiarize yourself with the local waterway’s layout and landmarks, enhancing your navigation skills.

Paddling Gear

I won’t mention you paddleboard because why would you forget that when going out to SUP.

However, there are things with your other gear you defiantly don’t want to forget or reconsider.

Paddle Considerations

Selecting the right paddle can greatly impact your performance and enjoyment on the water.

Choose a paddle that matches your height, ensuring optimal stroke efficiency.

Paddle length affects the distance each stroke propels you.

Paddles are constructed from materials like aluminum, fiberglass, and carbon fiber.

Lighter materials reduce fatigue and allow for longer outings.

Related: How to Hold a Paddleboard Paddle

SUP Fins

There are plenty of options when it comes to what fins you need for your paddleboard.

This article will not dive in depth on the fin selection but be sure to bring something along.

Without your SUP fins the boards general direction is all on your arms and this will get exhausting quickly.

From personal experience, I brought an inflatable SUP with me on a military TDY and forgot my fins.

This left me so exhausted when exploring new waters in Guam that I was sore for a week and a half.

Moral of the story, don’t forget your paddleboard fins or just rent another SUP.

SUP Attire

Related: What Attire to Wear When Paddleboarding

Your choice of attire affects both comfort and safety.

Go for comfortable swimwear or activewear that allows unrestricted movement.

Given prolonged sun exposure, sun protection is vital.

Wear UV-protective clothing, including a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses that shield your eyes from glare.

Protective footwear, such as water shoes, safeguards your feet from rocky shores and hot sand.

Personally, I use my dive boots when on my SUP, no reason to break the bank on a whole different set of shoes.

Hydration and Nutrition

Staying hydrated is essential during physical activities.

Bring a reusable water bottle to ensure you have a constant supply of water.

If I know I will be out on my SUP most of the day I use a water bladder that attaches to a small backpack with a drinking hose.

Paddleboarding can be demanding, so pack portable snacks that offer quick energy boosts while you’re on the water.

Items like energy bars, nuts, and fruit are convenient choices.

Dry Bags and Storage Solutions

Safeguard your personal belongings from water exposure by using dry bags.

These waterproof containers keep your items dry and secure during your paddleboarding adventure.

Utilize techniques like lashing the dry bag to the board to prevent movement and potential loss.

Store essentials like keys, wallet, and electronics in the dry bag to keep them safe and dry.

There are plenty of cheap options online and are in every convenience store I have been in near the water.

Weather and Season Considerations

Red Beach Flag

Adapt your gear and attire to suit various paddleboarding environments.

For calm lakes and rivers, prioritize comfort and sun protection. In ocean and coastal waters, be prepared for varying conditions.

For challenging environments like strong currents or waves, consider advanced skills and gear.


Before embarking on your paddleboarding adventure, check local weather forecasts.

Be aware of wind patterns and tides that may affect your experience.

Adjust your plans based on weather changes to ensure your safety on the water.


With paddleboarding you are able to head onto the water in all except frozen waters.

This being said, if you are heading to SUP during colder seasons, bring or rent a wetsuit for that specific temperature.

I have seen many times where paddleboarders will bring their land jackets or even hoodies and sweatshirts on the water.

This sounds like a great idea until you have a fall and now you are not only wet but your cloths are soaked.

Wet cloths can immidiately sap out any warmth your body was conserving.

During this, you can risk hypothermia, especially if you are far from the shore.

Photos and Videos on the SUP

GoPro in Hand

Capture memories of your paddleboarding journey with waterproof cameras or action cams.

Ensure these devices are safely secured to the board to prevent loss.

I don’t usually tie my camera to myself but I do have a flotation buoy if my camera does end up in the water.

Wrist straps or SUP mounts are also available widely online.

Packing and Transport

Efficiently organize your gear to simplify setup and packing.

Utilize car racks or inflatable roof racks to transport your board safely.

Prevent damage during transport by using padding and securing straps.

I use float noodles for pools to ensure nothing scratches anything.

They are cheap and you can just cut everything up to fit the sizes you need.


As you prepare for your paddleboarding adventure, ensure you’re equipped with the necessary gear and knowledge.

Keep safety in mind and be sure to bring a PFD, SUP leash, sunscreen, first aid kit, patch tools, waterproof phone case, a whistle, and signal mirror in the off chance a great day turns terrible.

Paddleboard gear like your paddle, SUP fins, and attire cannot be left out of your mind when packing up.

Staying hydrated is incredibly important during all watersport activities since you may not realize if you are getting dehydrated.

While you pack, don’t forget a drybag to keep everything dry and safe on the water in case of a fall.

Lastly, don’t forget your camera to capture another wonderful day on your stand-up paddleboard.

By adhering to safety practices and packing thoughtfully, you’ll be well-prepared to enjoy the tranquility and exhilaration of paddleboarding while connecting with the water and nature.

[Sources and References]

“Sun Exposure – Sunburn.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 31 May 2018, www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/sunexposure/sunburn.html.

“Mineral Only Sunscreen Maui County: Maui County, Hi – Official Website.” SiteID, www.mauicounty.gov/2483/Mineral-Only-Sunscreen-Maui-County. Accessed 18 Sep. 2023.

Bill No. 135 (2021) a Bill for an Ordinance … – Maui County, Hawaii, www.mauicounty.gov/DocumentCenter/View/130826/Ord-5306. Accessed 18 Sep. 2023.

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