When you think about SUP (stand up paddle boarding) safety, the first thing that probably comes to mind is likely having a personal flotation device or life jacket. But we’re here to raise the awareness about having a SUP leash, and why it may be your most essential safety device. It’s a matter of life and death.
If you’re just getting started, check out our post on proper paddle board technique here.
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SUP Leash Basics
There’s really no excuse to stand-up paddle without a leash. You don’t have to spend much… and it can save your life.
Here’s a highly rated SUP leash that’s widely available.
Read on for a sobering reminder of why you should never head out on the water for a paddle without a leash. Really.
Taking up a new sport is exciting, and sometimes you don’t stop to think about the things that can go wrong. In the SUP world, there are two main safety devices that should be standard: a lift vest or PFD (personal flotation device) and a SUP leash.
Having A SUP Leash Can Save Your Life
It may not be exactly what you want to think about when you’re getting ready to head out for a lovely and enjoyable day on the water with friends, but it’s important to realize why this simple safety device is worth it’s weight in gold.
Following, we’ll explore some of the top scenarios that can occur… and if they do, you’ll be relieved to have a SUP leash. These examples demonstrate why this simple device may be even more critical to your safety on the water than a life jacket!
Falling – Your Board Can Get Away From You
If you want a real life example of why having a SUP leash is so critical (just when you least expect it), we think this video will do a pretty good job of convincing you.
Mountain / Cold Water Temps – It Doesn’t Take Long For Hypothermia To Set In
I remember reading a first-hand account of a SUP’er who fell into a cold mountain lake (in the middle of summer), and her story was sobering. Because she was dressed for the outdoor temps, and not the temp of the mountain lake – she was not in a wet suit.
She described losing her balance and taking a fall, and that her board got away from her. When she was unable to reach her board right away, her body temperature dropped faster than she could have imagined. By the time she was able to reach her board, she was so cold that she was having a hard time controlling her movements. She said it was a very scary experience, and she was really alarmed by how quickly she was losing her ability to control her body due to the extreme cold of the water.
Thankfully, her story had a happy ending (she was able to get up and onto her board, but only barely). She posted as a cautionary tale, so that others would be aware of the risk of cold water, and its fast effects on your body.
Your Board IS Your Flotation Device If You’re Paddling Without A Life Vest
Hopefully having a life jacket is a no-brainer (and it’s on your person when you paddle), but if not… it’s worth considering what can happen if your PFD is attached to your board.
Imagine the scenario where your board gets away from you, and now you are in the open water without your board OR your life jacket. Things can get dangerous quickly.