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10 Things You Can Do on a Paddle Board

by Bev Hosford

Have you heard anyone say “SUP” recently and they weren’t using it as a greeting? (What’s up?) This acronym is buzzing around town. Stand Up Paddle boarding (SUP) is growing at a fast pace in Bozeman. Attending the 2nd annual SUP Festival at the East Gallatin Recreation Area opened my eyes to the possibilities… 

Test Drive a Paddle Board
You can sample SUP by renting one, taking a class or going on a tour. FLOW Outside and Bozeman & Beyond Adventures provide classes and touring options, Roundhouse rents inflatable boards for $35/day, FLOW rents hard top boards for $30/day, Madison River Tubing rents boards and paddles for $25/day.

Buying a Paddle Board
Like many Montana toys, paddle boards range in price. You can purchase an inflatable paddle board for as little as $500 to back pack and travel with more easily. Or, you can invest in a hard top version for $1,000 and up. Research them before you buy. REI (Recreation Equipment Incorporated) has a great blog post about how to choose the right one and whether or not you need a fin for the bottom.

Give it A Try!

Method #1 - Kneel and paddle. That’s right, you don’t actually have to stand up! If kneeling isn’t comfortable, I’ve seen people sitting with their legs up in front also. Jen DuCharme, a local paddle board instructor says that this is the preferred method for beginners, until they get more comfortable with their balance. She says, “It’s totally acceptable to stay kneeling the whole time.”
Being low helps with balance and makes the board less likely to tip over.

Method #2 - Relax on the paddle board. Take a rest by laying down in the middle of a lake. The board is wide and stable, so long as you’re in a calm body of water and it can be an ideal place to stop and stare at the sky. Consider putting on your life jacket if you’re likely to nod off. A personal floatation device (PFD) (life jacket) is required when on a paddle board in most places, because it’s considered a water vessel.

Method #3 - Stand Up and paddle. (SUP) This is an excellent workout for the upper body, core, legs and feet. If you’re new to the sport, start on a lake. The East Gallatin Recreation Area is a good spot that’s smaller and more defined. Hyalite is the next step up with more wind and much colder water. That might motivate you to stay afloat!

Practice balancing ahead of time by standing with one foot right in from of the other like you’re on a tight rope. Balance is the biggest challenge for beginner paddle boarders. Being able to get up and down from a kneeling position is also handy for beginners to transition. Make sure you bring the sunscreen, a hat and PFD!  

Method #4 - Do yoga on the paddle board. FLOW Outside offers classes at 8:45am on Sundays and 6pm on Wednesdays at the East Gallatin Recreation Area for $19. Sign up on their website and get your Zen on while floating on the water. They anchor the boats in a cove and it’s appropriate for beginner yogis and paddlers.

You’ve gotta try this at least once! Most people are surprised how well they stay on the board while holding various yoga poses. The classes are geared for beginners, but you can always schedule a private session with some friends to work on intermediate and advanced moves.

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Nice Kierstan. Enjoyed experiencing your Gallatin stories. Thanks for sharing!

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Mary Pat McNeil

Jun. 3, 2015

I remember those school bus rides from Bear Canyon. Hope you are doing well.

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May. 24, 2015

Wonderful article..Heather paints a beautiful and warm picture of Bozman. We have been there numerous times and I can see the beauty of Montana.Heather has a great talent and we will be waiting ...

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Boo Bowman

May. 1, 2015