How to SUP on a Dime
Written in collaboration with Hala Gear, by San Juan SUP Co. Founder and Hala Gear Ambassador Nola Svoboda
We all know that getting into a new sport can leave the wallet feeling a tad thin. Stand up paddle boarding, like any other sport, doesn’t have to cost and arm and a leg if you know how to do it right! We've compiled six ways to stand up paddle on a budget.
1. Events, festivals and demos!
The cheapest and easiest way to get into stand up paddle boarding is to try it for free! Reps and team riders from all walks of life gather at SUP events, races and festivals where they offer free board demos from the brands they represent. Check out any SUP event and you are guaranteed to have a good time, and to find a paddle board or a few to try!
Another option is to talk to your local stand up paddle board shops to discover if they host free demo days throughout summer. Most often, SUP brands partner with retailers to offer free demos, which just happens to be great way to try a variety of boards and find out exactly which models you like best, like the weekly free River Surfing Demo Nights with Montrose Kayak & Surf! If you’ve never paddled before, reps and staff are typically on hand to give you some beginner pointers. Luckily for you, Hala Gear is partnered with a number of retailers who just happen to host demos all summer long!
2. Find a weekly SUP club, outing or event!
Once you’ve found your local shops, find out if they have a weekly SUP club, outing or event, or if they know of any you can join. You may be able to join for free or for a very small fee and you are guaranteed to get out on the water at least once a week! Many clubs such as the Telluride SUP Club in Telluride, Colo. go on weekly outings all summer long on area rivers and lakes with boards provided by local Hala Gear retailer Jagged Edge Mountain Gear. Or if you're on the front range, join the Colorado SUP Club in Denver and check out their events! Weekly events are also a great place to meet fellow like-minded SUP friends!
You can find information on festivals, events and demos on our Events Page. We continuously update our calendar with SUP related festivals, events, demos and classes from all around Western Colorado. You can also can check out the Events Calendar on Hala Gear's website to find events and demos near you!
3. Rent a board or take a lesson or join a class.
Most stand up paddle board retailers offer rentals. Many offer rates from half days to whole days and even multiple days. For example, you can rent a board from the Hala GearSpace in Steamboat Springs, Colo. for a full 24 hours for only $45! Now that’s a sweet deal! If you break down the average daily rental cost from the average price of a stand up paddle board, at most shop’s rates you could stand up paddle upwards of 10-20 days for the price of purchasing a board! This makes renting a stand up paddle board a very affordable way to get out on the water! Visit our Local Shops page to find board rentals near you!
Along with rentals, there are a number of businesses that also offer lessons, classes and guided clinics. Generally, lessons can be a little more costly. However, if you are new to the sport, want a solid introduction and want to learn skills you otherwise wouldn’t know about, all with the safety of a guide by your side, a SUP lesson or clinic is the way to go! If you're in the San Juan mountains, we recommend booking a stand up paddle board clinic through Telluride Outside! And if you're anywhere else on the Western Slope, snag a SUP lesson with Grand Junction Stand Up Paddle!
4. When in doubt, shop the swap!
So you’ve gotten into stand up paddle boarding and have fallen in love! Now you’re dying to find SUP equipment of your own. Gear swap and sales events like the Annual 4 Corners River Sports Swap and Sale in Durango are a great places to find great deals on gently used stand up paddle boards, PFDs, helmets wetsuits, drysuits, booties and river shoes, and anything else you never thought you needed! Often times, retailers hosting the swap will have discounts on new gear as well! Generally, most swap and sales events take place later in the spring/early summer so keep an eye out! And don’t forget to check out online sites such as Craigslist, Ebay and even various Facebook SUP groups for folks who may be upgrading their gear!
5. Shop end of the season sales!
Save up throughout the summer and shop end of the season sales! Many rental shops end up selling their gently used rental fleet toward the end of the season at heavily discounted rates. Most will even include the entire package (board, paddle, pump, bag). Score! At the same time, as with any other sport, once the end of the season nears, retailers will discount prices on their new SUP gear in order to make room for next year’s models.
6. Start with the basics!
The paddle board itself typically takes the biggest chunk of change, so if you can find a cheaper used model or a new model on sale, everything after that is easy!
Start with the most important pieces of equipment first, your paddle and PFD. Try to purchase a paddle board that comes with a paddle, like Hala’s Rival series (Rival Hoss, Rival Straight Up, Rival Nass)! If it doesn’t, don’t fret. There are hundreds of paddles out there ranging from $30 to $300, aluminum to fiberglass to carbon fiber, adjustable, non-adjustable, 3-piece, etc… Paddles are the one piece of your SUP equipment that will wear down the quickest, so find the least expensive one that will work for your style of paddling. Heck, buy two just in case!
Your PFD or personal floatation device is actually a requirement for you to have on board while stand up paddle boarding.
Because SUP boards are considered vessels by the U.S. Coast Guard, all stand up paddle boards are required to have at least one PFD per person on board at all times.
The type of PDF you purchase also matters. Make sure your PFD is a Type I, II, III, or V. What brand you get and where you purchase it from? Who cares! Just make sure it’s the right type, functions properly and doesn’t have any rips, tears or busted seams or zippers.
Then add on the other occasional essentials such as a helmet (if you’re planning on being on shallow or rocky rivers), booties/river shoes (to protect and keep your feet warm), and even a wetsuit or drysuit (if you plan on falling in cold water, a lot). Like your paddle and PFD, these items don’t have to be the top of the line, most expensive products on the market. Just find what works for you and don’t forget to support your local SUP shops as often as possible!
Now that you know the secrets to stand up paddle boarding on a budget, there should be nothing holding you back! Be sure to check out these events this summer and we'll see you on the water!