Gear Guide: SUP Surfing

In Equipment, Spotlight by Daniel

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SUP Surfing Gear Guide

sup surfing gear

Every SUP surf session requires the right gear on the water. Often, what you bring will depend on your skill level, the environment you are in, and the time of the year.

To help you collect the necessities we've decided to put together a gear guide on what you'll need to start SUP surfing - today!

Before we get into the list however, if you are new to SUP surfing, be sure to check out our comprehensive guide on the activity: Introduction to SUP Surfing.

In it we discuss the nuances of SUP surfing from understanding the waves, tides, wind, to how to read a surf report, types of waves, risk assessments, practical exercises you can use to get into better paddling shape, and more!

Be sure to check it out before you proceed.

SUP Surfing Gear: The List

SUP Surf Board:

Boards come in all types of shapes and sizes. Each one is specifically crafted to fit the skill level and body type of the rider.

In order to keep this section short, we’ll be briefly discussing the differences between two categories…

Flat-water SUP boards and SUP surfboards.

Regular Boards

SUP boards, ones that are built for flat-water paddling, beginner lessons, leisurely touring, etc, vary in shape and size. However, they usually fall in the range of 10’4’’ in length up to 12’.

They are often characterized by a square tail and rounded nose. Typically, these boards paddle well in flatwater and can be taken into the ocean to catch some small waves.

These are the types of boards you will usually see at outfitters used for rentals and beginner lessons. Consider these boards your average, everyday cruiser.

SUP Surfboards

Compared to regular SUP boards, SUP surfboards are typically smaller in length (anywhere from 7’ to 10’), more narrow (26” to 30”), and will offer more variability in fin count and size (4 fin setups).

In addition, SUP surfboards have less volume than a cruising board. The length, width, thickness, and shape of a board will determine how much water it will displace, or what is known as its volume.

Most SUP boards have enough volume to support the weight of the paddler (determined by height, weight, physical shape of the paddler). However, some SUP surfboards are sub-volume and will sink unless the paddler is paddling. This will allow for more performance on the waves but offer a challenge to stand in the water in between sets.

When it comes to SUP surfboards, It’s always a give and take between stability and maneuverability. You may choose one board shape based on the wave you are paddling or what type of surfing you plan on doing - longboard style, short board style.

Whichever it is, the volume of a board can be an important number to know when shopping or demoing a board.

Due to these size restrictions, SUP surfboards do not paddle as well on flatwater because of their decreased size and pointy noses (plus higher amounts of rocker).

Side note: Rocker is the curve in the board from tail to nose that helps with dropping into waves. The higher the rocker, the more the prevalent the curve, the better it will be to use to drop into a wave without burying the nose. Flatboards will typically be undertaken by the wave if the rider is not standing far back enough.

Inflatable Boards

In addition, you can also surf an inflatable board. They are great for beginners because they are durable, are soft to land on, are not as dangerous in the surf, and more stable.

Really, it all depends on your skill level and the size of the waves you are looking to surf.


Fins on boards come in three different ways. Single fin, where there is only one long fin in the center of the board. A thruster setup, where you have two side bite fins next to the center fin. Or a quad setup, where there are four fins in total.

Each setup will depend on your skill and feel in the water. Most SUP surfers begin with a single center fin and as they progress, along with the size and shape of their boards, they will begin to experiment with different fin set ups.

To learn more about fin size, shape, and position be sure to reference our previous guide: Fin Size, Shape, and Position Explained


The best paddle for our SUP surfing gear list has to be fully carbon fiber that is cut to fit. This option is the lightest so you'll be able to paddle in quick bursts to catch a wave. And there isn't as much give in the handle since it is cut to fit and not adjustable.

However, any paddle will do when you are first starting out!


Always use a straight leash for SUP surfing. Coil leashes work great for flatwater as the leash will not drag in the water behind you. But in the surf, they can cause the board to recoil back to you which is dangerous, and they tend to get very tangled and will be a chore to untangle. Best to use a straight leash in the ocean! To learn more about leashes, refer to our previous article: Straight or Coil Leash for SUP?


We suggest a brand that is healthy for your skin (no chemical additives) and is biodegradable to keep the ocean healthy.

Warm Weather/Water


Rashguards are a great way to keep the sun off your back with also offering a layer of protection.

Wetsuit Top

If the water is a bit too cold to go with just a Rashguard, opt for a wetsuit top. These usually come in 2-3mm in thickness.

Board Shorts/Swimsuit

Always wear board shorts or a swimsuit that is a tight fit. You can get thrown around in the waves and you don't want your suit falling off!

Cold Weather/Water


A good wetsuit is a surfer's best friend. What thickness you decide to buy will depend on the climate you are going to be surfing in.

To have a good understanding of what is best for you, check out our previous article: What to Wear for Cold Water Paddling


There is nothing worse than cold feet! Whatever wetsuit you decide to purchase, bump the thickness of your booties up. It's better to have warm feet than freezing toes while in the water.


Take the same advice we just gave for booties and apply it to your gloves as well.


If you are in very cold water you will need a hoodie to go along with your wetsuit. You can purchase a hood as a separate piece or buy a wetsuit with one already attached. It all depends on if you want the flexibility.


If you are still brand-new being in the ocean, we hope this comprehensive SUP Surfing gear guide will give you a better idea on what to bring with you on your first time.

Still have questions? Then be sure to check out our article Introduction to SUP Surfing where we break everything there is to know about surfing. Including the lingo, how to read surf reports, proper water etiquette, the proper stance to take, and more!

About the Author


Daniel is a travelling author with a passion for exploring new waterways and sharing his experiences with the world.

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