I have been paddling SUPs for the better part of a decade, and I have learned a lot of fun things along the way. So, without any delay, here is my list of “SUP HACKS” that will save you money, make your life easier, and let you have more fun…hopefully.
1. $3 Car Carrier
I know. You can get a decent carrier from Walmart for less than $50. And If you leave them on your car, It will be quicker to pop your board on the car, strap it on and head off. But hey, I like to save money.
So, I bought 2 pool noodles ($1 a piece) and a 4 pack of ratchet straps ($2) from the bargain bin at Lowe’s. I only use two straps for my SUP so I’m just counting the single dollar. Granted this isn’t an everyday price, but you can get a 4 pack on Amazon for less than $20 and some even less than $15. Here is a look at what I’m talking about (yes, it’s an Amazon affiliate link) That would make your Carrier a whopping $12 on the high side. Still quite a savings.
All I do is slide the pool noodles under the side racks on my van. Then I lay 2 straps across the top of the car, place the board or boards (sometimes I take 2) on top of the pool noodles. This protects the roof of my car from scratches. Then I just toss one end of the straps over the board, hook the hooks together and ratchet it tight. Works like a charm and nice and cheap.
After a day of paddling I take everything off the van and make sure to rinse it down. One note on this method. I do have to remove my antenna that is right in the middle of the back of my van. That’s okay though. I just listen to a CD on the way to the ocean.
I have written a post on how to get on your board. If you are a beginner, you might want to check that out first How to get on a SUP. If you have mastered the basics or are feeling frisky, here is a quicker way to get on a stand-up paddleboard…The Insta-Mount
To perform the insta-mount. All you have to do is place your board in the water, making sure that the fin is a couple of inches above the bottom. (For these shots I actually took the fin off. I caught the tide wrong. At low tide, there is a very steep drop off, less than a foot from shore.) Then with a quick running start, grab your paddle, gain some speed and hop right on. You get to skip the knee stage altogether.
This method is much easier from a dock because the water should be plenty deep enough to keep the fin off the bottom. From a dock, make sure you position your board far enough so that in the unlikely event that you misjudge and go flailing into the air, you won’t hit your head on the dock. Also, make sure the water is deep enough for you to fall into. No broken necks here.
From the beach, as I said above, make sure your fin has some clearance from the bottom. When you hit the board with all your weight, the SUP will briefly go farther down into the water. You don’t want to break your fin off. This little hack can keep you from getting wet up to your knees or if it fails, you get soaked. It all depends on how much risk you want to take to keep your ankles dry. 🙂
3. Shallow-Water Fins
One Item I really like, especially when I fish on my SUP along a shallow bank, is a shallow-water fin. The fins I use for cruising and Touring are generally 8-10 inches long. When you add my weigh, I need about a foot of water to be sure my fin doesn’t hit the bottom.
On my three-fin board, this isn’t such a big problem. I just remove the center fin and leave the two (much shorter) side fins on. There is some loss of straight-line tracking, but when I am maneuvering for a cast in shallow water, paddling in a straight line is an afterthought. These shallow-water fins are also well suited for river paddling in skinny water.
Shallow-water fins come in two designs. The first design tries to keep as much surface area while remaining short. These are longer and shallower than the deeper and thinner touring fins. If this is something that you would be interested in, check with the manufacturer of your SUP first. You will have the best luck compatibility-wise there. Here is an example, but there are many more. (yes, this too is an Amazon affiliate link as are the ones below)
The other type of shallow-water SUP fins is a really nifty design by Frogfish. This fin will pivot when it hits the bottom but is spring-loaded to return to its proper position when water depth will allow it. This gives you the benefit of a deep fin with the ability to paddle in shallow water. The best part is that when you do hit bottom, you aren’t thrown from the board when it stops abruptly. Check it out Here.
4. 5 Gallon Fishing Center
I love 5-gallon buckets, always have. They have a lot of uses around the house, but my love of them comes from their ability to help organize my fishing supplies. And organized fishing gear on a SUP is a must.
My 5-gallon bucket was a pickle bucket that I got for free from my Chef neighbor. (Yes, even after years of use it still smells of pickles). For my fishing setup, I attach 2 rod holders to the bucket with a couple 12″ zip ties that I attach with 2 small screws. Along with the handle, I will hang an assortment of baits, rigs, and lures I plan to use that day. Then I put my cast net in the bottom of the bucket, coiled and ready. I carry a tackle belt with my other gear. knife, pliers, extra hooks, etc.
I attach the bucket to the SUP with 4 short bungee cords. I attach the bucket in the stern so that I can put out a line or two while I paddle and troll for whatever is biting that day. Around here it’s usually a Bluefish or Lizardfish that will take my slow trolled spoon. I will occasionally pick up a Spanish Mackerel on my way between fishing spots. It does help to attach the rod holders at a slight angle so that you have a better spread behind you.
5. Padded SUP Seat
My son plays baseball and I learned this one from his coach. He, the coach, would dump a bucket full of balls out on the ground and replace the lid which was a cushion. He would then sit on the padded lid and soft toss pitches to my son from behind an L-screen. I only had to see that once before I put a cushion on my lid.
Conveniently, this padded seat is just a lid for my 5-gallon fishing center. There are a million ways you can pad the lid to your bucket. Or you could even buy one already padded up from Amazon here. Of course, I went the cheap way.
I decided to multi-task. The USCG requires that I have a PFD on board for myself, but I don’t have to wear it. So, I chose a throwable seat cushion for my required PFD and it doubles as a nice comfortable cushion on top of my 5-gallon fishing center. The cushion won’t fit if the rod holders are on the bucket, that’s why I used zip ties; so I could remove them when I wanted to sit.
By the way, my wife thinks this looks like a floating port-a-potty. Now, I’m always self-conscious when I take a break.
6. Inflatable SUP Doubles as a Bed
For the longest time, all I would paddle was a rigid SUP. I had a preconceived notion that inflatable SUPs were no good. I finally broke down and bought an inexpensive one and my mind was changed almost instantly. You can read my post about that SUP here.
Anyway, once I got an inflatable and discovered how comfortable it was to sit on, kneel on and stand on. I decided to take it on our next SUP camping trip. (read all about SUP camping HERE) Long story short, I quickly learned that using the SUP as my camp bed worked almost perfectly.
I say almost, because of 2 things. Number 1, The 11 foot SUP does not fit into the tent I am currently using. But I can just leave the bottom of the door unzipped and have the excess of my paddleboard sticking out. Sometimes I will skip the tent altogether if I’m not expecting any weather. On those occasions, I will just crawl inside my sleeping bag after our evening fire and watch the stars from the comfort of my SUP/Air mattress.
The second reason the SUP is not quite perfect to sleep on is because it is designed to be as rigid as possible. The rigidness is great on the water. It helps reduce sag and flex when paddling but is not so great on this old man’s back. The quick answer is to release a few psi of air. It’s like having your own dial a firmness mattress out in the wild. In the morning I just pump it back to correct psi and off I go.
7. Leash Plug Adapter
I have used bungee cords for all of my cargo needs on my SUP forever. Then I stumbled across a leash plug adapter. A leash plug adapter is an ingenious invention. It consists of a hooked bolt that can be attached to the bar in your leash plugs or tie-downs on your SUP.
I personally use the adapter for mounting my action cam to the bow of my board. In the past, I would just bungee it down, but that would leave me with a pesky cord in all of my videos. With the leash plug adapter, I can simply screw the camera into place.
There are tons of other attachments that can be connected to the adapter. These include stand-alone fishing rod holders, phone holders, paddle holders, drink holders. Amazon does a better job with all the pictures and descriptions. To check out all the possibilities take a look at the basic model HERE, and just have a look around. I wish I had found these things sooner.
8. Use Your SUP as Home Decor While Storing it Safely
Your Stand-up paddleboard is a big investment and you want to make sure that investment lasts a long time. Proper storage is a vital part of that investment elongation strategy. So, don’t store your SUP in direct sunlight. Don’t store it where it will remain moist and grow mold. Don’t store it where little critters will treat it as a chew toy.
So, you want to keep that SUP nice and clean and safe. Why not bring it inside and display that beautiful stand-up paddleboard? I have to admit, I am a pretty fair weather SUPer. When the temperature drops into the 40’s for highs, I put my boards away until spring.
My inflatable boards are cleaned, dried, neatly folded, and tucked away in a closet. My paddles and rigid board have a place of honor in our living room. I simply lean my board against a corner with the paddles right there with it. (gotta keep those out of the elements too)
I have stored my rigid SUPs in the garage for years with no problems, but I thought that having a pleasant reminder of the warm fun days that lie ahead wasn’t such a bad thing. My big paddleboard in the corner is also a great conversation starter when we have friends over.
Just in case you are asking yourself, Does Tom really like having a board in his house as decoration? Well, This piece of surf art was a present from my wife and kids and has hung in our kitchen for 10 years. So, yea. I really do think boards in the house have their appeal.
9. SUP Training Wheels
Do you remember when you were first learning to ride a bike? A lot of people took the added step of using training wheels. You could get used to how the bike felt, but you also had the security of not falling over nearly as much, if at all.
Well, there is a similar device for stand-up paddleboards. It is called SUP Training Wheels, coincidentally. These are basically outriggers for your SUP. They attach on each side of your paddleboard and add extra buoyancy and stability.
They are great for beginners just learning how to SUP. They add that little extra layer of confidence. But these are not just for beginners. SUP training wheels are also great for adding stability to SUP fishing and SUP yoga.
Doing a Side Plank or Downward Dog is hard enough on land. On a SUP there is the added challenge of wind and waves rocking your paddleboard back and forth, to and fro. These stabilizers help to absorb the waves and decrease the side-to-side rocking of your board.
It’s the same with fishing. With all the moving around to find bait, or lures, or a net. A SUP can, at times, be a little unstable. This device really gives you a much stronger platform to fish from.
10. Add Some Shade to your SUP
Ok, the last fun SUP Hack I have for you today is a way to stay out of the sun when you are relaxing on your SUP. Not terribly original, but it makes use of the 5-gallon bucket I usually have on board, so I like it.
All I do is get a cheap beach umbrella and stick it in one of the rod holders that is attached to my 5-gallon fishing bucket. And boom, you have yourself a nice piece of shade in the middle of whatever body of water you find yourself in.
This method doesn’t work very well if there is a heavy wind, I’m sad to say. but on those hot days where the air is heavy and still (and you still go paddleboarding instead of sitting in the AC), It works great. I particularly enjoy hanging my feet over the side of the board with a rod in hand and a piece of shrimp on a hook, waiting for a nibble in my shady oasis.
There you go. 10 fun SUP hacks.
Thanks for reading. See y’all next time.
For more, check out How to Get on a Stand-up Paddle Board | Step-By-Step Guide.