Five Rules for Stand-Up Paddleboarding

Getting started is easier than you think.

“The beauty of stand-up paddleboarding is that it’s super easy and accessible,” says John Bridenbaugh, owner of Altitude Paddleboards in Littleton, which rents and sells equipment and also offers lessons. “Most people can do basic paddleboarding with no instruction—they can have fun right off the bat.”

1. Outfit yourself

“If it’s cold, wear a polypropylene base layer on your top and legs, a windbreaker or paddling jacket, nylon wind pants, and some neoprene booties; you don’t need a wetsuit. In the summer, just wear a swimsuit. You also need a life jacket, a leash to connect your ankle to the board, and a single-blade paddle.”

2. Choose a board

“For a hard epoxy board, if the volume of the board in liters is higher than your weight in pounds, a beginner rider will be stable. But in Colorado, inflatable boards are also super popular—they are easily transportable and more forgiving, so you can bounce off rocks and they’re fine.”

3. Start out in still, shallow water

“Carry your board into still, shallow water. When you’re knee deep, put the board into the water so the fin, which extends down about nine inches, is not touching the bottom. Get onto the board on your knees and center yourself over the carry handle, in the middle of the board. That’s the balance point. Make your knees shoulder width apart.”

4. Now stand up

“While on your knees, put the paddle horizontally across the board in front of you. With your hands on the paddle, put one foot where that knee was and then do the same with the other foot so you are squatting. Then stand up.”

5. Start paddling

“Look forward, not down at your board. Draw the paddle along the rail of the board, starting at the nose, and repeat. You will do just fine, but at some point you should take a lesson to learn proper paddling techniques so you learn how to go straight and turn.”