Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is pretty straightforward: you need a board, a paddle and a PFD. Depending on your situation, there are other accessories you may need to cover safety. And there are options you can choose that add to your enjoyment on the water.
You’ll want to invest in some of these accessories as soon as you get a SUP board. Others can wait until your budget allows or you decide they’ll add to your fun.
Here's our list of the best paddle board accessories for all your paddling adventures:
Must-Have SUP & Safety Accessories
1. SUP Paddle
Of course, you can’t paddle board without a paddle! Most low and medium-end boards come with one as part of the package. Almost all these paddles are heavy and clunky, though.
We guarantee you’ll enjoy paddle boarding more with a well-designed and lightweight paddle that’s comfortable to hold and sized right for you. This is especially true if you want to make SUP a lifestyle sport, you plan to spend many hours at a time on the water or you plan to paddle longer distances than simply a local beach or cabin.
The better the materials that are used in a paddle and the lighter it is, the higher its price will be. Aluminum paddles are the most economical but also the heaviest. Carbon fiber paddles are the most expensive and also the lightest. We recommend you save 20-30% of your paddle board budget to purchase your paddle.
We make our SUP paddles from various materials including aluminum, fiberglass and carbon with choices for every budget. Take a look at our entire selection of SUP paddles.
Also see our SUP Paddle Sizing Guide
2. PFD or Life Jacket
PFD stands for Personal Flotation Device, also known as a life jacket or life vest. Most state/provincial governments have laws about PFD use when boating. So know the laws where you’ll be paddling.
PFDs vary widely in style, comfort level and price. We suggest you try on several brands and types and then choose one that fits your body well. If it’s not comfortable, you’ll hate wearing it.
Many manufacturers make PFDs that are paddling-specific, meaning there’s plenty of room for your shoulders to move. If you also kayak, choose one with a high back to accommodate kayak seats. You can use the same life vest for all your paddling excursions. Models that include pockets and D-rings are handy for stowing keys and other items you wouldn’t want to lose.
This vest-style inflatable PFD is super low-profile
If you don’t want to wear a traditional PFD with the bulky foam used for flotation, consider a self-inflating vest or belt style. These start on the pricey side but are very low profile. They inflate with a Co2 canister. Some inflate automatically upon impact with the water and others inflate only with a pull cord.
The water you paddle on, your skill level and your swimming ability all play a part in the decision you make.
Also see: Safety First: Wear a Life Jacket When You SUP
3. Paddle Board Leash
A SUP leash is another important safety accessory. This is especially true if you’re on moving water, in windy conditions or on big water. If you fall off your board, the leash keeps you connected to it. It won’t be 50 feet downstream by the time you resurface, or blown 30 feet across the lake.
Again, most low and medium-end boards include a leash in the package. If your board doesn’t come with one, plan to add it to your need-to-have accessory list.
Protect Your Things and Yourself
Look for a paddle board with bungee cords and/or D-ring attachments. That way you can secure the items you bring along in one or two containers and keep them dry.
4. Dry Bags
Dry bags of various sizes are a wonderful investment for any paddler, including SUPers. Some dry bags are made with lightweight nylon for water resistance, and others are made with heavier and fully waterproof materials.
They're perfect for storing extra gear and loose items like sunglasses, a hat, snacks, lip balm, rope and a water bottle. They're also ideal for a change of clothes, a first aid kit and even an emergency kit if you'll be out all day or in remote waters.
5. Board Cooler or other Waterproof Container(s)
If you prefer hard cases, there are some fishing cases on the market that are small, waterproof and ideal for holding chapstick, snacks, First Aid supplies, car keys, your phone and other small items.
All-in-one SUP set-up with cooler, seat and drink holder! (photo courtesy of Chris Funk)
Small coolers and other types of waterproof or water-friendly containers designed for SUPs are available, too.
6. Waterproof Phone Case
If you like the idea of taking pictures with your smartphone when you’re out paddle boarding, invest in a waterproof phone case designed for this purpose. It’ll include a lanyard so you can hang it around your neck. While your phone may be 100% waterproof, it won’t float if you drop it in the water!
(WARNING: Some of these cases aren't overly durable, so be sure to check seams and attachment points every time you use one. Yes, speaking from experience!)
7. Waterproof Waist Pouch
If your PFD doesn’t have pockets for your keys, ID or other important items you want to keep on your body rather than in a separate dry bag or container, get a waterproof hip bag to keep them in while you paddle.
8. Water shoes
Depending on where you plan to SUP, consider a pair of comfortable water shoes. They’ll protect your feet from hot sand, rough terrain like rocks and gravel, broken glass and other hazards while you walk to and from your launch point.
If you like the idea of paddleboarding in early spring or into the fall and winter (for those of you in regions with open water all winter long), invest in a pair of neoprene paddling boots or booties. These will keep your feet dry and warm.
If you don’t want to wear them on your board, you can always strap them to your bungees or put them inside a dry bag while you paddle.
Shoes like these are made for paddling
Protect your eyes from the sun's bright glare on the water with a pair of polarized sunglasses. You won’t have to squint on sunny days, and the polarization helps you see past the surface reflection into the water.
You may also consider a floatable retainer strap that keeps your sunglasses around your neck when you’re not wearing them. If it's floatable it will keep your sunglasses on the water's surface if you should happen to drop them.
10. Brimmed Hat
A brimmed hat is a great investment to keep the hot sun directly off your face and neck. You’ll still get some sun from the water’s reflection, but you won't have it coming from both directions.
Storing, Transporting and Using Your Paddle Board
11-14. For Solid Paddle Boards
If you opt for a solid paddle board, you’ll want to consider a storage rack system for your home. There are a variety of racks available for a garage or inside room to hang a board. You'll also want a roof rack for your vehicle so you can bring your board with you.
If you need to store your board outdoors, consider a cover that fits over it to protect the colors and finish from direct sunlight and its harmful UV rays.
You may want a shoulder strap or sling for easy carrying from your vehicle to the water. These are especially handy if you can attach your paddle to it, too, to leave a hand free to carry other gear.
15-17. For Inflatable Boards
An inflatable paddleboard doesn’t present the same kinds of storage and transporting issues a solid board does. If you have storage space in a closet and your backseat or trunk, you can store and transport an inflatable board. But there are inflatable paddle board accessories necessary that solid board SUPers don't need:
Inflatable paddle boards come with a manual pump for inflation. This is very doable—but it’s a lot of work to get a board up to the recommended PSI. If you enjoy a pre-paddle arm workout and have plenty of upper body strength, you’ll have no problem inflating your board with a hand pump.
But if you’d rather save your energy for the water, consider buying an electric pump to inflate your board. It takes about the same amount of time, but while the machine is doing the work of inflating to the high pressure needed, you can use that time to get the rest of your gear ready.
Inflatable boards come with their own repair kit. If you’ll be in the wilderness or other type of remote waterway, though, consider buying a more robust one. Keep it with you in a dry bag, waist pouch or other container you'll have along.
Adding a kayak seat and footrest to your SUP board makes it even more versatile
18-19. Kayak Seat or Kayak Conversion Kit
Being able to use your paddleboard as a kayak is super handy, especially if you're low on storage and transportation space. Some SUPs (both solid and inflatable) are made to convert to a sit-on-top kayak with an attachable kayak seat and maybe even a footrest. Other SUPs can accommodate a kayak conversion kit so you have that option.
Of course, if you decide to use your SUP board as a kayak, you'll need a kayak paddle in addition to your SUP paddle. We have plenty of those to choose from too, from economical aluminum to high-performance fiberglass, hybrid and full carbon fiber paddles. See our kayak paddle selection.
20-22. Fishing Accessories
If you plan to fish from your board there are several more accessories that will help rig you out to make SUP fishing easier for you:
- A fishing rod holder is handy to store your rod while you're paddling from spot to spot.
- Paddle board anchor or anchor kit helps keep you in a good spot if you're on current or in any kind of wind.
- Attachable paddle holders are very helpful so you don't have to worry about your paddle landing in the water while you fish.
Many of the accessories we've already mentioned will be handy for all your SUP fishing excursions too.
Dogs, Kids and More
You’ve likely seen the fun photos of people paddle boarding with their dog or a child or two. This is a great way to enjoy the water and spend time together. And more and more SUP manufacturers are offering adaptable or hybrid models, making a SUP a combo paddle board and kayak, as we already discussed.
23. Child-Size PFD
Of course it goes without saying that your child or children will wear a properly-fitting PFD of their own whenever they're on the water with you. The ones for very young kids include a neck flotation piece attached to the vest, and usually a strap that goes between their legs too.
Having a kayak seat (discussed above) can make it easier to use a SUP board with a small child, especially one that needs to be tucked in with you.
Many dogs love being on the water, too!
24. Dog Pad
If your SUP doesn’t have a non-slip surface over the whole thing and you want to bring your furry best friend along, there are dog pads available. These help your dog keep a good grip on the surface of the board and feel more secure.
25. Dog Life Jackets/PFD
While dogs can swim (and some can swim very well), it’s still a good idea to invest in a PFD for your pooch for a couple of reasons:
- In an emergency, you know your dog will safely keep its head above water.
- It will have a grab handle on the top in case you need to bring it back on board from the water. The handle makes it so much easier.
- The bright colors make your dog easily visible to other boaters if it's in the water. This is especially important when you paddle in the same water as motor boats.
Also see: Best Dog Life Jackets.
There you have it—SUP accessories you can start with and add to your collection as time goes on. Enjoy your paddle boarding adventures!
Do you have paddle questions our friendly Customer Service Team can help you with today? Contact them: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]
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