Switching Out the Kayak for a SUP

Being an avid whitewater kayaker, experienced instructor and guide, I’ve always enjoyed sitting on my butt with two paddle blades. But with an open mind, I have grown to enjoy SUP.

This year, as I stepped into the role as Lead Buyer for CKS Online, I took an open mind to trying out new crafts. At first my nose was stiff and I crashed a lot, but I found that Class III can make me nervous again and I really dig the progression. Here are some questions that led me on this journey to self-discovery! 

Which SUP should I buy? 

After mulling over the options, looking at sales data, and asking professional and amateur opinions, I went with the Hala Rado Inflatable SUP. Just right in flat water or mild whitewater, the Rado could handle my 215 lb weight and provide the stability my noob skills desired! There's even extra bonus space for the dog on the lake when practicing.

Overwhelmed by all of our SUP choices like I was? We break all of our models down for you in this blog post from this past summer. I recommend you check it out to see what works best for you!

What gear do I need for SUP? 

The Hala Rado kit comes with everything you’d need to get going but I scooped up a couple upgrades:

Outdoor Master Shark II High Pressure SUP Pump

Especially for my wife, this thing is a game changer. 

Plug it into the lighter outlet in the car, set the desired PSI and 15 minutes later the board is ready to rock and roll!


Astral YTV PFD

It's pure and simple low profile fit offers the right amount of mobility to rotate for comfort, on and off the water.

Check out a full review of the YTV!

Astral YTF PFD Cherry Creek Red


NRS Axiom Drysuit

Being a beginner, I am no stranger to falling. Staying comfortable and dry out there has been easy with this suit. I'll have a follow up review as NRS has definitely given Kokatat a run for its money with the new high-end Gore-Tex Pro collection. 

NRS Men's Axiom Drysuit (Gore-tex Pro) Charteuse

Hala Gear Convertible Quick Release SUP Leash

This keeps my SUP from floating away on the river as I tend to go flying off the SUP on the regular. 

It clips to the PFD with a sailing shackle, or flip it around to use as an ankle cuff on the flat water in windy conditions. 

Hala Gear Convertible Quick Release SUP Leash


Where should I SUP? 

Being based in the Southeast, I started on the lake working on my stance and where to stand to find the most stability. Then I took the Rado to easier rivers such as the Little Tennessee and the Tuckasegee in Bryson City, working my way up to a couple Nantahala laps where I was destined to crash at Nantahala Falls. 

All in all, I am stoked about this new way to rediscover whitewater paddling. It has taught me to work more intimately with the water, channel the flow and push through mental barriers I did not know I had. Be sure to get out there and self discover!


Do you have any questions about getting into SUP? Leave a comment below or reach out to our gear experts--we've all been there!


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