Standup paddleboarding is now in it's roughly twelfth year on Lake Coeur d'Alene. Back in the day, there was a small group of local hardcore enthusiasts that had early versions of the boards and paddles making waves in many ways.
The very beginning of standup paddleboarding started back in the late 1990s. The story goes that surfing legend Laird Hamilton and a group of prominent wave surfers began catching massive waves standing on oversized longboards that they controlled with large outrigger paddles. With big named surfing gods repurposing longboard action, it didn't take long for standing on longboards and using a paddle to catch on, making it the massive industry it is today.
Over the last twelve years, north country lakes across the country have all embraced this alternative to kayaking and boating. North Idaho is no exception with some of the best scenic flat-water you could hope to paddle. With the beauty of the area and so many lakes, Coeur d'Alene and the surrounding area has become a mecca for flat-water boarding.
I have written about standup paddleboarding a few times over the years and much has changed in board design in just the last five years. Here's a breakdown on board types and some other useful information to consider if you're looking to start this fun and recreational activity.
1. Inflatable boards - Inflatable boards are perfect for people with limited space, and limited transportation options. They are easy to store, place in a car and blowup on the go. They are not as durable as an epoxy board, but they are also not as expensive. A great board for people who are just starting out.
2. All around boards - These boards are a perfect choice for first-time and beginner paddlers. They are typically more stable and have the standard full paddle board shape. With the broader form in the middle, they are very versatile for the whole family and you can even get your dog on board.
3. Touring boards - These boards are a perfect choice for beginners to hardcore paddlers, giving you the ability to get a high-intensity workout in and travel long distances. The hulls on touring boards are designed to cut the water like a boat and be reasonably agile for maneuvering through tight waterways. Touring boards have seen some significant engineering changes in their design, making them an excellent choice for a serious paddler.
4. Racing boards - These boards are designed for speed and maneuverability. Typically they are 12 to 14 feet in length and very narrow, making them a real challenge for newbies and non-serious paddlers. Racing boards are also a great workout board and can put you through a grueling workout. The narrow width and extra length generates fast sprint speed and long glide efficiency to help win the race.
5. Yoga boards - These boards are usually shaped differently than other boards. They are designed specifically for yoga on flatwater and can be used for other fitness related exercise. The size of the deck is full and more extended to allow room for yoga or other workout routines. These boards are all about stability and not great for recreational paddling.
6. Fishing boards - These boards are great options for those who love to go fishing, but don’t have a boat. Fishing boards usually are the most substantial and most stable, keeping you out of the water and relatively dry. Fishing comes with pre-installed Scotty mounts along with giving you the option to add rod holders, fish finders, and other specialized fishing gear.
If you're a newbie to standup paddleboarding, here are a few things you should know before you get started:
* Should you rent or buy? I would recommend a try before you buy approach. Rent a few times and take a few lessons before you buy, then dive into ownership if you feel passionate about your standup paddleboarding.
* Which paddleboard fits me? What is the best size and style of board that will fit my needs? Your weight and level of expertise will determine which board size. SUPs typically range from 8 feet to 14 feet in length, 28 inches to 32 inches wide, with a thickness of 4 inches to 6 inches on average. The heavier you are, the longer the board should be. For better stability, the more full the board, the better and easier it will be for novice users.
* Choose a paddle that fits your height. I would recommend staying away from a fixed height paddle and buy an adjustable carbon paddle. On average, it is recommended that the paddle be 7 inches taller than you are. Carbon paddles are lighter and more costly, but worth every penny.
* It is required to use a Personal Floatation Device (PFD) and have a whistle with you. Pretty much any U.S. Coast Guard approved life vest will work. The Sheriff's Marine Patrol will ticket you if you do not have a PFD on your board!
No matter how you look at paddleboarding, if you're active and love an excellent adventure, you can find your groove on a paddleboard. I would recommend anyone who loves being on the water to give it a try and you will also get much-needed exercise in while you're on the water.
A recognized health and wellness presenter, fitness trainer and now primal health coach in the Inland Northwest. Now in his eighth year of bringing health and wellness through his writing, teaching and coaching, Judd delivers his well-rounded message of mindfulness, nutrition and fitness to readers and clients alike.