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Stand Up Paddleboarding FAQs

Q: Do I need waves in order to paddleboard?

A: Even though paddleboards look like oversized surfboards, you don't need waves in order to enjoy this self-propelled sport. In fact, flat water is preferred for building your paddleboard skills.

Q: Where can I rent a board?

A: Most surf shops that sell paddleboards also rent them. It's a great way to test out the sport before you commit to buying.

Q: What size paddleboard is best for me?

A: The choice is determined by a combination of paddler weight and skill, your intended use and the local conditions. Talk to an REI store employee for help with choosing the right paddleboard for you.

Q: Why does the paddle have an angle?

A: The elbow in a paddle provides a more powerful, effective stroke. When you're paddling, the elbow causes the paddle blade to align straight up and down as it comes alongside the paddleboard.

Q: What should I wear for paddleboarding?

A: Wear clothing that lets you move and that can get wet: shorts and a T-shirt or a swimsuit work well in warm climates. In cold weather when hypothermia is a danger, consider a wetsuit or drysuit. Always wear a PFD (Personal Flotation Device).

Q: Do I need to wax the top of the paddleboard?

A: Most paddleboards sold at REI have a traction pad attached to the top of the board. These provide reliable grip and should not be waxed. If you choose a paddleboard that doesn't have such a pad or soft-top, you'll need to use a base wax and a grip wax (such as Sticky Bumps) to provide traction.

Q: How do I transport the board on my car?

A: You can transport your paddleboard on the roof rack of a car. It's best to use a bar pad on the rack in order to protect the board. Be sure to stack the board on the roof with the fin up, towards the front. Use surf-specific straps that won't crush the foam on the board when you strap it down.

Watch the Expert Advice video for tips on transporting watercraft.

Q: Can the fins on a paddleboard be removed?

A: The fins on underside of the board help with navigating through the water. They can be removed for travel and storage, but you won't want to paddle without them.

Q: Where is the best place to stand on a paddleboard?

A: Stand just behind the center point of the board. The nose (front) of the board shouldn't pop out of the water, and the tail shouldn't dig in.

Q: Can I take a paddleboard in rivers?

A: Yes, you can paddleboard almost any navigable body of water.

Q: Can you surf with a paddleboard?

A: Yes, but learn to surf in an empty break before you enter the lineup. When you get good, remember to share the waves!

Q: What does a full paddleboarding setup cost?

A: Depending on which models you choose, the cost of a board and paddle ranges from about $1,100 to $2,100. Take a look at REI's online selection of paddleboard gear.

Contributors: Leland Ching, Lea DeJarlais, Dustin Kingman, Joel Oerter, Jason Sutherland.