12 things to take paddleboarding with your family

Over the past few years as the boys have grown up, we’ve been getting into and enjoying paddleboarding more and more. We are still total beginners but paddleboarding is an incredibly fun and family-friendly activity that offers a unique way to enjoy the water while staying active. It lets us spend time together outdoors, and away from screens, whilst having fun.

SUP is like a cross between canoeing and surfing. Paddlers can be seen on rivers, canals, lakes, the ocean, and even on white water. Whether you're planning a day at the beach, a lake excursion, or exploring a calm river, we have found that paddleboarding can be an excellent adventure for the whole family.

However, to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience, it's essential to pack the right gear and equipment. In this blog post, we will discuss the things we think you should take when paddleboarding with your family.

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Paddleboards and Paddles:

Yes, pretty obvious, but the most crucial equipment for paddleboarding is, of course, the paddleboards and paddles themselves. Make sure to choose paddleboards that are suitable for beginners and large enough to accommodate multiple family members. Adjustable paddles are ideal as they can be resized to fit different heights, allowing everyone to have a comfortable paddleboarding experience.

You can spend anywhere between £150 – £1500 on an inflatable SUP. We share a Blue Fin Cruise inflatable SUP which we bought on an Amazon Prime day and saved about £100, and I’ve just bought an additional Hydro-Force SUP so we can all go out together in a sale for £199.


Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs):

Safety should always be a priority, especially when involving children in water activities. Ensure that every family member wears a properly fitted personal flotation device (PFD) or life jacket. Look for PFDs specifically designed for paddleboarding, as they offer better freedom of movement and comfort.

The boys have PFDs which are appropriate for their weight. After trying one on from a kind SUP hire business in Devon I bought a Yak PFD as I found it was comfortable as well as meeting the safety requirements and regulations.


Waist and Ankle Leash:

Safety is key, and a quick-release waist SUP belt is top-level safety for your leash. Most boards come with an ankle leash but depending on the environment and conditions you may also need a waist leash which enables you to quickly release the leash to avoid becoming trapped if such an occasion arises. Watch this video to find out more about the dangers of ankle leashes on rivers.

On rivers, we attach the waist leash to the ankle leash. Thankfully so far it's not been an issue but it's good to be prepared for any eventuality.


Sun Protection:

Spending time on the water means exposure to the sun's rays. Protect your family when on and around water by applying waterproof sunscreen with a high SPF rating. Additionally, wide-brimmed hats and rash guards can provide extra protection from the sun. It can get pretty bright out on the water, so protect your eyes with a set of sunglasses. You can even get floating sunglass straps in case they fall off.

Dry Bags:

To keep your belongings safe and dry, pack them in waterproof dry bags. These bags are ideal for storing items such as cell phones, wallets, keys, towels, snacks, and extra clothing. Opt for brightly coloured dry bags to ensure visibility and make it easier to locate them if they accidentally fall into the water.

We were recently sent a 10L roll-top dry bag from Rooster to try out. Made from 500D PVC this simple bag offers you the easy way to take your spares, food and warmer clothing on the water. Perfect for keeping your dry things dry and especially useful on those days it rains!


Water Shoes:

Invest in a good pair of water shoes for each family member. We have neoprene booties if it’s really cold water and water shoes to protect our feet from sharp rocks, shells, or any potential hazards hidden beneath the water's surface. They also provide excellent grip on the paddleboard, enhancing stability and preventing slips. 

Luckily, they come in lots of different colours so we can easily tell them apart even though we have pretty even-sized feet amongst us now.


First Aid Kit:

Accidents can happen, even in the safest of environments. Prepare for any minor injuries by carrying a basic first aid kit. Include essentials such as adhesive bandages, antiseptic wipes, adhesive tape, gauze pads, and any necessary medication. Why not also keep this in your dry bag.


Warm clothes or at least a dry set of clothes

A dry set of clothes is a must unless it is really warm weather and you’ll get the chance to dry off. On cooler days we use oversized fleecy hoodies to keep warm or you could splash out on a dry robe. A changing towel is also invaluable when you need a bit of privacy to change into those dry clothes.


Snacks and Water:

We always get hungry and thirsty when paddleboarding. As it can be physically demanding, and it's essential to stay hydrated and energised. Pack plenty of water bottles and healthy snacks like fruits, energy bars, or sandwiches. Avoid bringing glass containers, as they can break and pose a safety hazard. We always take flasks of coffee and hot chocolate to warm us up if we fall in.


Waterproof Camera pouch:

If like me, you like to capture unforgettable moments and create lasting memories but don’t want to risk ruining your phone then use a waterproof camera pouch. These clear devices allow you to take pics of your family's paddleboarding adventure while protecting your smartphones from water damage. It also enables you to have your phone on your person to make and receive calls in an emergency. I also use mine to keep the car keys safe and dry.


Bottle of water and a cloth:

Cleaning down your SUP before deflating and putting away not only saves you the bother when you get home but also prevents accidentally spreading algae to other bodies of water. We simply take a bottle of water to rinse the board and then some microfibre clothes to dry it thoroughly before packing it away.



To canoe, kayak or paddle board on many rivers and canals you need a licence. National association membership of organisations such as British Canoeing offers you licences covering 4,500km of waterways for as little as £29-£47 a year.


We have found that paddleboarding with your family can be a fantastic way to bond, have fun, and enjoy the great outdoors. By ensuring you have the essential items listed above, you can ensure a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable experience for everyone. Prioritise safety, protect against the sun, pack your necessities in waterproof bags, and don't forget to capture those special moments. With the right gear and equipment, you'll be well-prepared for an incredible paddleboarding adventure with your loved ones.

If you don’t have your own equipment but want to give it a try check out reputable hire places to give it a go!

Deb x

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