3 years ago, SUPing scared the crap out of me—but it quickly became a sport I wanted to master with one hand. Since learning, I’ve paddled in some pretty epic locations, but I have to say, swift water rivers have become my favorite!
Many of you have asked about my SUP gear (particularly which paddle board I use), and how to get started paddling That’s AWESOME because it means more ladies are gettin’ after it on the water!
To answer your question, I learned to white water SUP on a Hala Atcha board. I love it because it’s extra wide for stability, it has a big front rocker (which makes it easier to cruise right over waves) and it’s just my size which makes it easy for me to carry on my own. Here are my most-loved pieces of gear for stand-up paddleboarding. All of these products have been tested and approved based off of my personal body, abilities, and experience. These pieces are treasured!
You can get one (and everything else I’m wearing in these photos) on @Backcountry If you’re looking to get into white water paddling, please, please, be sure to always wear a helmet and a personal floatation device! Save 15% off your first order when you use my code SARAH15 at checkout. Some exclusions may apply.
Stand-up Paddleboarding Gear
With the exception of my SUP, all of my river gear works twofold for whitewater rafting trips. **ALL opinions of gear are my own. There may be affiliate links below, which allow me to earn a commission off of product sales. As a small business owner and gear tester, I appreciate your support.**
The missing link between rashguard, board shorts, and swimsuit. The Playsuit offers UPF30 – 50+ sun-protection, and has a “control” fitting so I feel confident with the twists and turns SUP’ing requires.
I swear, nearly every non-secluded river trip I’ve been on, I see another lady wearing this PFD (personal flotation device)! For good reason. This design is 20 years old! It fits the curves of a woman’s body including chest space. Plus, the material is really soft. If you need a PFD with more features, check out the other great choices.
I love this SUP because it’s extra-wide for stability on turbulent water. It also features front rocker, which makes it easier for me to paddle over waves or rapids. It also has a nice padded handle in the center, which makes it easy for me to carry on my own.
This helmet is designed specifically for whitewater use, which makes me feel safe when I SUP! Often rocks or shifting debris sits beneath the surface of the river or along the edges of lakes. The multi-impact shell is designed to disperse impact. And the internal retention system keeps the helmet snug, even when it’s soaked. There’s also a visor to help block the sun. Plus, the helmet is only 1.45 pounds.
This compact waterproof case is so handy and durable. I keep it strapped to the top of my SUP, but you can also attach it to your belt. It’s the perfect place to hold my phone, wilderness search and rescue card, cash, ID, chapstick, and face sunscreen. And it’s streamlined, so it’s easy for me to quickly grab at stops and camp.
Nothing feels as liberating as being fully protected against freezing whitewater when I SUP or raft. I really like how streamlined this women’s specific wetsuit is beneath my PFD. This full suit is 3/2mm thick, which is recommended for water that’s 62 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. The first number represents the suit’s thickness around the torso, and the second number is the thickness around the arms and legs. I also love that this has a back zip entry, which is the easiest type of wetsuit enter and exit. (Read more about how a wetsuit should fit here—don’t try to upsize!)
When summer heats up in Colorado, our river runoff is still freezing but the ambient temperature is too high for a full wetsuit, especially if you’re paddling. This women’s shortie wetsuit still protects my core, shoulders, chest, and upper legs from water shock and blasts of wind. It’s cute, too! The suit is 3/2mm thick, which is recommended for water that’s 62 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. The first number represents the suit’s thickness around the torso, and the second number is the thickness around the arms and legs. I also love that this has a back zip entry, which is the easiest type of wetsuit enter and exit. (Read more about how a wetsuit should fit here—don’t try to upsize!)
The Riviera hat keeps the sun off my face at camp and on the river—as long as it’s not windy! I like how light and airy this hat is. But, if this one doesn’t match your style or outfit, check out a huge variety of hats here.
I wear sunscreen, but sometimes that’s not enough when you’re outside all day or on the water. This women’s specific lightweight, long-sleeve sun hoody keeps my skin healthy under direct light and heat—which also keeps me from wilting mentally! I love that there’s a hood to shield my neck and ears. Plus, the merino-nylon fabric is soft.