We Love SUP

Standup Paddleboarding (SUP) is quickly rising in popularity in both fresh and salt water enthusiasts around the world. For those unfamiliar, SUP is just what it sounds like – standing up on a board, with a paddle. The paddle in this case, is what is used to propel and steer the rider.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding

We’ve compiled a list of the essentials you need to know about SUP before you go on your first trip! Keep reading to see read our helpful tips.


Standup paddle boarding originated in Africa as a way for warriors to silently sneak up on their enemies during times of duress. It was also used as a common method of transit for the local peoples on rivers and other similar bodies of water. SUP, in a bit of a more familiar form, can first be seen in the 16th century in Hawaii, where surfers needed paddles to move their boards because of their sheer size (up to 5 meters).

In the 20th century, SUP started to gain attention, but rather than as a sport to be appreciated in its own right, it was used by surf instructors to stand on their boards during swells. In the 1990’s, SUP began to have a regular place in many Hawaiian surf schools as an alternative to surfing during times of little swell. From there it continued to gain notoriety, with many recognized surfers choosing to participate in it when given the opportunity.

Today, SUP is available around the world in a variety of climates and bodies of water. You can find people participating in SUP on the beach, in a river, on a lake – really anywhere! It has become so popular partially because at a basic level, it is fairly easy to pickup and doesn’t require too much equipment. When you try it for the first time with an outdoors company, you’ll receive everything you need, but that generally will consist of:

  • The board (yep) – the size will be based on where you are, your weight and skill level, and also what you plan to do with it.
  • The paddle – also very useful. Paddles for SUP have an angle to allow them to be more efficient. The one you use will probably be somewhere between 6″-10″ taller/longer than you.
  • The lifejacket – safety first!
  • The leash – so that if you and the board part ways, it won’t be for very long

Of course, your instructor will help you will all of these things to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable SUP experience. If you’re looking for a little extra reading about equipment, many sports companies such as REI offer information blogs with information about SUP gear and much more!

If you’re planning a weekend getaway, SUP is great way to spend more time on the water in a manner that is a bit more relaxed that whitewater rafting tends to be. In other words – if you’ve got some time on your vacation that you want to use to unwind, without feeling as though you’ve wasted it, then SUP might be the sport for you.

Do you love SUP? How did you get started with it? We want to hear your story!


On Instagram? Don’t forget to tag your whitewater rafting (and SUP) pics with @river.expeditions and #riverexpeditions for your chance to be reposted on our feed!

Related Content:

Paddling Made Easy

More FAQs About Whitewater Rafting

White Water Rafting History