SUP instructor, racer and paddlesurfer Duncan Slater recommends nine of the best paddle board accessories on the market right now
Stand-up paddleboarding is a pleasingly simple activity: essentially all you need is a board and a paddle. But of course there is a little bit more to it, so getting the best paddle board accessories can live your best paddle board life.
Many boards – especially entry-level inflatable paddle boards – are sold as complete packages including paddle, pump, fin, sometimes more. But to keep the package price low and the perceived value high, these peripherals are often not of the highest quality.
On the plus side, this gives scope to upgrade and really appreciate the difference.
Your paddle is a great place to start, as that’s what you’ll be swinging around several thousand times a session! You might also consider a different size or shape of fin to suit your style.
For safety, a good quality leash is a must, whereas a buoyancy aid is up to you, as is much of the rest your clothing when you choose what to wear paddle boarding. Plus it’s worth having something waterproof to keep your phone in. If you have an inflatable board, you’ll certainly want a decent paddle board pump. And wearing the right clothing is vital too.
And to protect expensive boards and paddles, a paddle bag and board sock are both worth considering.
Here we look at nine of the best paddle board accessories for recreational stand-up paddlers…
Best paddle board accessories
Starboard Enduro Paddle
The paddle delivers power to your SUP, so of course it’s one of the best paddle board accessories to buy – rather than an optional extra.
But actually, if you’re upgrading from a complete entry-level or all-round package – which often comes with a cheap, heavy, 3-piece – investing in a new paddle will have an enormous positive impact on your paddle boarding.
A fixed one-piece paddle will always be lighter than an adjustable 2-piece or 3-piece. Better construction – usually with a higher carbon content – will be lighter still, and deliver power more efficiently as it will flex more dynamically.
The Enduro from Starboard is a brilliant all-round blade and among the best paddle board paddles on the market. Various sizes and constructions are available, and this ‘UD Carbon’ laminate offers superb value for money.
Buy it now from Tri Ocean Surf
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K4 SUP Race Fin
Another prerequisite for paddle boarding is a fin – without one, you’d just go around in circles!
In waves or on the racecourse your choice can have an appreciable impact on performance. Yet for most all-round paddling you’d be hard pushed to tell the difference between two fins.
Basically, the longer and straighter a fin the more ‘directional’ it will be to help keep the board tracking straight. Whereas a smaller, more swept-back fin will make a board ‘looser’ and easier to turn.
As long as your finbox is the ‘classic’ US screw-in type, there are plenty to choose from.
This example from K4 is very much a flat-water fin, designed for racing but also brilliant for shedding weed thanks to its 45° rake. Constructed in composite moulded material rather than carbon, it won’t break the bank either.
Red Paddle Coiled SUP Leash
The last paddle board accessories essential; a leash is an absolute must for safety in almost all paddle boarding situations.
As long as you’re attached to your board it will keep you afloat in case of emergency. If needs be you can always paddle home prone, like a surfer, much more safely than if you lost your board and had to swim for it.
Unless you’re catching waves, a straight surfer’s leash isn’t ideal as it will trail in the water behind you and can get caught on all sorts of stuff.
Hence a coiled leash, that will sit on the board until you need it to extend to it’s full length, is the best option for most flat-water situations.
Red Paddle’s coiled leash can either be worn around the ankle or just below the knee as a calf leash, for better access to the quick-release. (For fast flowing water, compatible waist belts are available.)
Palm Glide PFD
Paddle boarders should always wear a leash. (The arguable exception being in very fast-flowing water, when a buoyancy aid becomes the safety essential instead.)
Hence PFDs – personal flotation devices – are an optional accessory for most.
In practice, a bulky buoyancy aid can impede an effective stroke and ironically makes it more difficult to climb back onto your board if you’ve fallen in. And beyond the learning stages, in flat-water conditions most paddle boarders are rarely in the water anyway.
For peace of mind, a popular option is a ‘waist-belt’ PFD, such as this example, the Palm Glide.
Most of the time it will be unobtrusive and out of the way … until you need it! Then at the pull of a cord a CO2 cylinder provides instant flotation with a 100N pullover bladder.
Overboard Waterproof Phone Case
Talking of safety, it’s always good practice to carry a mobile phone on the water, just in case… Consider it an insurance policy in the very unlikely event that something goes wrong.
While some top-end phones are water-resistant these days, salt water really isn’t good for them and regular immersion won’t do your tech any favours.
It’s therefore wise to put your phone in a decent waterproof phone case – and this OverBoard is a trustworthy option.
Although many complete board packages come complete with a waterproof phone case, they’re often not so well made and can soon develop leaks.
Whereas this is built to last; made from eco-friendly TPU fabrics and featuring OverBoard’s trademark 100% waterproof ‘Slide Seal System’.
Red Paddle Titan II SUP Pump
If you own an inflatable paddle board, you’ll soon get to know your pump very well indeed. Pumping by hand can feel like a chore, but actually it’s quicker than electric inflation.
As long as you consider it a warm-up and leave yourself enough time to inflate at a sensible pace before your paddle, it’s really not so bad once you get used to it. A good quality pump does help though – and Red Paddle’s Titan is the best out there.
Newly redesigned for 2022, the Titan II is a double-chamber pump. Use both barrels to get the volume into your board up to 5 or 6psi, then flick the switch to take it to the low-volume, high-pressure chamber and pump up to full pressure.
Look out for our feature on the best SUP pumps, both manual and electric, coming soon…
Olaian Surf Poncho
Changing towels are ubiquitous in surfsports, and even if you don’t tend to get wet whilst paddling this sort of garment is ideal for getting changed before or after a SUP too.
Decathlon’s own-brand Olaian Surf Poncho is a great example of the genre.
Thanks to stretchy underarm panels and hip cut-outs there’s enough room inside to comfortably strip off, dry yourself on soft, 100% organically produced cotton, then climb back into your civvies – modesty intact!
Obviously this isn’t a garment to wear while paddling though.
ItiWit Paddle Cover
If you’ve opted to upgrade your paddle to a one-piece, particularly if you’ve gone for a lightweight high-carbon option, a paddle bag is on the list of must-have SUP accessories to protect from knocks, scrapes and scratches.
Decathlon’s own ItiWit brand offer a nice budget option. Fully padded for maximum impact resistance, it’s a simple slide in with velcro closure to keep your blade in tip-top condition.
Suitable for paddles of up to 1.95m long, it’s adjustable for shorter shafts with a rip-tab size adjustment strap. Constructed from Polyethylene with a Polyurethane coating, in grey with orange trim.
Maybe not the most prestigious brand, but does everything you need of a paddle bag.
FatStick SUP Sock
Paddle boards are generally pretty robust – especially good quality inflatables. Yet if you’re planning to leave a SUP aboard your boat it’s wise to get a boardbag to keep it protected from the elements and your boat protected from the board.
Or if you’ve invested in a solid paddle board, it’s nice to have something to keep scratches at bay whilst you store or transport it.
A full-on paddle board bag will offer maximum protection for delicate boards, yet in most situations a simple paddle board sock should be more than enough.
This SUP Sock from FatStick is 10’6” long but will happily extend to 11’+. With a protective nose cover and draw-cord closure, made from super-soft thick material it protects your board yet remains light and stretchy enough not to hinder carrying it.
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