November 27, 2023

Exploring the Rapids: Tips for River Stand-Up Paddle Boarding

Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) has become a popular water sport in recent years and for good reason. It offers a unique way to enjoy the water while getting a full-body workout. While most people associate SUP with calm waters such as lakes and bays, there is an increasing number of people who are taking their SUP boards to the rapids. River SUP offers a thrilling adventure and a chance to experience nature in a way that few other activities can match. However, it also requires a different set of skills and knowledge than traditional SUP. In this article, we’ll explore tips for river stand-up paddle boarding to help you get started on your next adventure.

Choose the Right Board

When selecting a SUP board for river use, there are a few things to consider. First, make sure the board is designed for river use and is not just a recreational board. River SUP boards tend to be shorter and wider than recreational boards, which makes them more stable in rapids. Additionally, the board should have a rocker (upward curve) on the nose and tail, which helps it navigate through rough water. Finally, consider the board’s volume. You’ll want a board with enough volume to stay afloat in fast-moving water. As a general rule, look for a board with at least 200 liters of volume.

Wear the Right Gear

Just like any water sport, safety should be your top priority when river SUPing. Always wear a properly fitting personal flotation device (PFD) and a helmet. Additionally, wear a wetsuit or dry suit depending on the water temperature. A wetsuit provides insulation and protection against the elements, while a dry suit keeps you dry and warm. Finally, wear appropriate footwear, such as neoprene booties or water shoes, to protect your feet from rocks and other hazards.

Learn the Techniques

River SUP requires a different set of techniques than traditional SUP. One of the most important skills to learn is how to navigate through rapids. This involves reading the water and understanding the different features of the river, such as eddies, waves, and holes. You’ll also need to learn how to brace (use your paddle to stabilize yourself) and how to ferry (move across the river laterally). Finally, practice your strokes to improve your balance and maneuverability.

Start Slow

If you’re new to river SUP, it’s important to start slow and work your way up to more challenging rapids. Start on easy, Class I, or II rapids and gradually progress to more difficult rapids. This will give you a chance to hone your skills and build your confidence. Additionally, always paddle with a group or a guide, especially on more challenging rapids

Be Prepared for the Unexpected

Even with the best planning and preparation, things can go wrong on the river. Be prepared for the unexpected by carrying a first aid kit, a whistle, and a throw bag (a bag with a rope that can be used to rescue someone in the water). Additionally, make sure you know how to self-rescue and how to rescue others. Finally, always check the weather and river conditions before heading out, and be prepared to cancel or postpone your trip if conditions are not safe.


River stand-up paddle boarding offers a thrilling adventure and a chance to experience nature in a unique way. However, it also requires a different set of skills and knowledge than traditional SUP. By choosing the right board, wearing the right gear, learning the techniques, starting slow, and being prepared for the unexpected, you can enjoy the thrill of river SUP while staying safe and having fun. So, pack your gear and hit the rapids for an adventure you’ll never forget!

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