Are you thinking about trying wintertime whitewater stand up paddleboarding? This article should provide information that will help you get ypu prepared! We'll stick with the basic here but we know there are many other things people may take on the water with them :)
I`m going to break the gear down into 3 categories "Hard goods", "Soft Goods", and "Protective Gear".
Hard Goods - Board and Paddle
- Although there are 3 kinds of materials being used to make whitewater SUP's fiberglass, plastic, and inflatable which uses a rubber like material, I truly believe that inflatable SUP's are the best boards for whitewater. It's true they are not the stiffest but the durability factor out weighs the lack of performance.
- Along with materials choosing the right size is important too. I'll keep it simple and say 6" inches thick with a minimum of 30"inches wide, and 9'ft-11.5ft will cover 90% of paddlers. Larger paddlers should stick with 10ft and above. Wider almost always means more stable. Shorter often means the board will turn easier which can be good and bad. Shorter boards often work better with fins which make paddling during low water more difficult do to the risk of catching them while paddling. The ability to remove or add fins as needed is ideal for whitewater.
- A one piece paddle designed for whitewater is best. Adjustable paddle can work but have the tendency to sink if water accumulates in the shaft. A shorter length then those designed for flatwater helps to force a lower stance which aids in balance through rapids and unpredictable currents.h
Soft Goods - Wetsuit or Dry suit, Footware, and Gloves
- If you want to take advantage of the best whitewater paddling the NW has to offer Fall through Spring then you will need to get a wetsuit or drysuit. If you go with a dry suit you will want to get one built for whitewater kayaking or rafting preferably no tunnel. Insulating under layers will also be necessary since the waterproof/breathable material of the suit doesn't offer warmth, its main purpose is to repel water.
- My personal preference is a full neoprene wetsuit or long leg and long sleeve wetsuit that's 3mm-5mm thick depending on personal preference. I like the simplicity and warmth wetsuits provide, also not having the baggy drysuit when your in the water is a plus. Footwear should have a sturdy sole and also provide warmth. A 3mm-5mm neoprene bootie with a good sole or a kayak type water shoe with a neoprene insulating sock. A 3mm -5mm neoprene glove with good dexterity and grip is ideal.
Protective Gear - Helmet, PFD (personel flotation device/life jacket), Quick-release Leash, and Pads
- A full coverage or full face kayaking helmet is the best choice, a good fit is a must.
- The PFD should be designed for whitewater and have good mobility.
- There are 3 different kinds of quick release leashes available waste-belt bag type, re-leash style, and leashes that attach to a rescue PFD. My favorite is the waste-belt bag type.
- When paddling around rocks pads are a must the minimum I would suggest are shin, knee, elbow, and spandex style shorts that have sewn in thigh, hip, and coccyx bone pads.
These items cover the basics to get you started, as you spend more time on the water you`ll find things that may be essential for your whitewater sup adventures! Check back here for more articles about paddleboarding gear.