In this article, we will cover :
This article is part of our paddleboard series;
Here in Canada, we are fortunate enough to have endless amounts of lakes and coastlines to explore on our paddleboards. In Whistler alone, we have 5 lakes that could keep you busy for an entire summer! Venturing out and exploring these lakes on your paddle board is one of the best things to do in Whistler, but its also important to make sure you are safe at the same time.
Staying safe is something our parents tried to drill into us as kids. Yet sometimes excitement or overconfidence wanting to explore new terrain can push this into the back seat. Paddleboarding can be a very safe adventure whether on the ocean, a lake or on a river. All it takes is a few items and some basic training to help make all of your adventures safe and fun. Let’s start with the basic accessories, no matter where you are paddling.
A paddleboard leash is one of the must-have safety accessories. Falling off the board isn’t the problem, this will likely happen many times and is all part of the learning process. The dangerous aspect is what happens if the board gets away from you. Here in Whistler, and this will be the same for most larger open lakes and definitely the ocean, strong winds would easily blow your padedleboard downwind as fast or faster than you can swim for it. It’s crucial that your SUP stays attached to, that way if you fall, it’s a harmless accident. All you do is just pull yourself back up on your paddleboard and off your paddle. Red Paddle board have an attachment point for their leashes so it’s easy to keep your board and leash together.
Make sure it is attached correctly just below your knee to keep the leash stretched so it doesn’t get stood on, then practise getting out of the water and onto the paddle board.
Learn More: Inflatable vs hard paddle board
In our stores in both Whistler & Squamish, we get the same question a lot.
“What is the difference between a PFD and life jacket?”
The fundamental goal of both a PFD and a life jacket is the same – to keep you afloat whilst in the water. The difference is that a PFD is usually used for longer periods of time and therefore designed to be more comfortable. A PFD will offer the same amount of protection as a life jacket when paddle boarding, whether you are conscious or not.
Life jackets are usually made from foam and are less expensive. The problem with life jackets for paddleboarding is that they often cause chafing.
The best combination of both we believe is a jacket from Mustang called the Khimera. This is a foam jacket adjustable to different sizes and shapes and is very easy to paddle in. The jacket itself provides some floatation and a bit of warmth. If you fall in the water and feel like you need extra floatation due to wave state or your own comfort level. All you do is pull the inflation tab and it gives you a full 15 LBS of floatation. This is the industry standard for most Coast Guard Authorities. This PFD gives you an excellent combination of active range of motion and the least chance of chafing whilst also giving you maximum safety if you need full flotation.
To practice getting onto your board from the in the water, you can “T bone” the SUP. By using the handle and the far edge of the paddle board and kicking onto it. Or you can go to the back of the board, pushing down on the tail while sliding it under you. You can then wiggle and pull yourself up onto the board. Practice makes perfect!
You can also buy inflatable lifebelts. These are awesome if you want zero chance of chafing and it’s very warm where you paddle. However, an Inflatable lifebelt is not always Coast Guard approved and you need to make sure your pressure cartridge is correctly installed and in date. You also need to know how to use it and inflate it correctly.
Dog Life jacket
Keep your four-legged companion safe on the water this summer. The Dog life jacket is designed to keep your dog upright and swimming in a comfortable position. The Red Paddle Co dog life jacket has strategically placed foam around the life jacket which has varying amounts of thicknesses. This supports the dog in key areas to help them swim less and conserve more energy.
The jacket has a ton of features to make it easy to use and comfortable for your dog. Check out our page for more information on the life jacket.
The last of the essential paddleboard accessories to make everything complete and keep all your belongings safe. We recommend a 10 L dry bag or small dry pack. 10 L is ample space for you to put in your mobile phone, food, water and a windproof jacket. You’ll need to make sure your paddleboard has a tie-down system in order to stop your dry bag from rolling off your paddleboard.
Here in the sea 2 sky we have world-class whitewater at our doorstep. If whitewater paddleboarding interests you, your skillset and ability to read water will be different than a beginner SUP paddler. If you are brand new to paddling, you might not want to start in the whitewater. However, if it is something you’d like to explore, personal protection like a helmet is mandatory and you might want to consider footwear, knee pads and elbow pads.
What’s also crucial is a detachable leash. If you go one way around a rock and the paddleboard goes the other way, you will want to release yourself so that you can swim to shore and not get caught in the water. River paddling is a ton of fun!
Level up your Paddling
Finding proper training so that you don’t get into trouble is a great thing. Ocean paddling has tides, waves and weather conditions that you might not have to worry about at your cottage lake. You can find great training at Paddle Canada and if you are on the west coast make sure to see Norm Hann and his team to get your training done. Norm and I have done a lot of paddling together and I have never seen such a capable and patient teacher or expedition leader. Click here.
Lastly, don’t forget a sun hat, sunscreen and water to drink on those hot days as well. Get out there and have some fun!
Check out the rest of the Paddleboard series;