A Guide to Using an Inflatable Paddleboard

There’s nothing quite like getting out onto open water and stand up paddleboards (SUPs for those in the know), are a fantastic way to experience it. Sturdy, fun and a great workout, paddleboards are becoming more and more versatile and are used for a wide range of activities from surfing to fishing. 

Inflatable paddleboards now come in all shapes and sizes, and they benefit from being lighter and more transportable than their non-collapsible cousins. Using them is pretty straight forward; however, there are a few things when it comes to safety, technique and size that are worth knowing.

Basic Kit for SUP

Preparation is key, and the right kit will not only make your experience more enjoyable but also a lot safer. As well as the essentials listed below, consider what you’re going to wear (consider a wetsuit in colder months) and any extras you might want to take such as a drybag and water if you’re going to be out for some time.

The Paddleboard

Inflatable paddleboards are fantastic for beginners because they have a wider deck pad allowing for improved stability. Some more advanced boarders will also go for an inflatable option due to their portability and durability, amongst other things. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to inflate your board.


The leash is an essential piece of kit and should be used at all times. It keeps you safe by keeping you attached to the board, and it keeps your board safe by stopping it from floating away. Simple.

The Paddle

Paddle length will vary depending on the preferred use of the SUP; for example, surfers usually go for a shorter paddle, where flatwater paddlers opt for longer. As a beginner’s rule, the paddle should be 6-10 inches taller than the height of the paddler.

An orange SUP paddle for paddleboarding

Life Vests (Personal Flotation Devices)

While it is ultimately up to the user (although some places have specific rules), it is highly recommended to use a personal flotation device (PFD) or a buoyancy aid (BA). These bits of kit help you to stay afloat in the water should you come into any trouble.

When is the Best Time to Stand Up Paddleboard?

It is vital to check conditions such as tide, wind speed, weather and possible hazards when planning a SUP. Routes should also be considered, and it is recommended to always inform someone of where you are going and what time you expect to be back.

How to Stand Up on a SUP

Getting going is the first step, and the first thing to master is standing up. It’s best to start in calm flat water.

  • Make sure the board is level in the water.
  • Start off by kneeling; you can also get someone to stabilise the board if it helps. Take a few strokes on either side of the board.
  • One foot at a time, slowly stand. When both feet are on the board, try to place them about shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep a slight bend in the knees and begin to paddle strokes on each side of the board.
  • Don’t worry if you fall off! It’s all good practice.

Person carrying an inflatable paddleboard to a lake

Basic Techniques for SUP

Remember that paddling should be done with the core, not the arms! Make sure you’re holding your paddle the right way around; the blade should be angled away from you. Keep your head up and eyes level, remember that your head is in charge of your centre of gravity and is essential for balance.

There are three basic strokes:

  • Forward stroke.
  • Reverse stroke.
  • Sweep stroke.

You can learn the fundamentals of these either from online videos or a professional instructor.

Once you’ve mastered the basics, paddleboarding is a great all-rounder for both fitness and fun. At KAYACAT, both our versatile Puma and Cougar models can be used for SUP as well as paddling. The COUGAR goes that one step further and can sail too! For more information, discover how to get the most out of your KAYACAT. KAYACAT has created the ultimate personal watercraft that can fit in a backpack and be taken anywhere. For more details and to book a slot at one of our UK test centres, explore our website.