Stand Up, Inflatable Paddle Board Season is Back and Better Than Ever

Like most things in life, fads come and go. Some fads actually end up staying, and becoming a real thing, like fire, or sliced bread. It happens. Last year’s fad though, due to the world wide pandemic, was stand up paddle boards. I fell victim to the fad, and it has actually become one of those “real things” for me. I will never not have a stand up paddle board in my possession. I love it too much.

Because of the pandemic known as COVID-19, a lot of businesses shut down. Whether it was temporary or not, is a moot point for this article. You see, with a lot of places being shut down, people had to either stay home, or go outside, while still keeping a (recommended) six foot distance from others. Now, that certainly limits your interaction at, say the grocery store or gas station, but not so much on a lake, or at a park. Keeping your distance at a lake or park is much more doable. And more fun.

Camping trip I took September of 2020.

This is exactly why golfing became more popular. Fishing sales went through the roof. Camping and hiking peaked (no pun intended). And yes, stand up paddle boards became impossible to find (unless you overpaid like me, online).

Stand up paddle boards are unique in that they can be solid surf board-like pieces or inflatable. I went the inflatable route because of their ease of access and ability to be transported anywhere at anytime. I keep mine in the back of my SUV in its zip up bag. That way, whenever I am near a body of water and am itching to take it out, I can be on the water within minutes. Literally minutes.

It takes about ten minutes to go from a folded up heavy duty rubber paddle board to a fully inflated, rock hard floatation device. Mine measures in at 11 feet in length and about 3 feet in width. Plenty of space, as you can imagine. The bag that holds the deflated, folded up paddle board also houses the detachable oar, bottom balancing fin and the pump, complete with a pressure gauge attached as well. All of this fits in a knapsack type of bag, in which you can strap to yourself and carry wherever you need, or like me, keep in your vehicle, ready to go at the drop of a hat.

With stand up paddle boards, you can use them in a myriad of ways. I’ve seen people use them as surf boards. I’ve seen people use them as tandem carriers (two people on one). I’ve seen people bring their dog or child with. I’ve seen and used them myself, while standing up, laying down and kneeling. Once the paddle board is on the water, it’s entirely personal preference. It’s your choice, in how you want to paddle.

When I first got on a paddle board a couple years ago (I believe it was the summer of 2018), I was at a boat tie up party by my cousin’s lake. I would hop on the board while in shallow water and would fall off within seconds. I kept treating it like a surf board because of my skateboarding background, and was told to steady my feet, and not act like I’m skating. Instantly my center of gravity held and I was stable. Just by switching the way I was standing on the board I could paddle myself all over the lake.

As free as can be on the water.

I wasn’t sold then, however. It was fun, and a nice, new way to get around the water, but the novelty wore off after about 30 minutes for me. I’m someone who loves water. I love to be in it, swimming, fishing, boating, you name it. But standing up and paddling myself around just didn’t have the same appeal as floating in the water or fishing on a boat. 

As fate would have it, two years later, when the pandemic struck and we were all limited in what we could do outside, my cousin mentioned taking his paddle board out and fishing. I thought that was a weird way to fish, as I had never seen or heard of such a thing. Well, he did so and reported back to me that once I try it, I will never go back to being in a boat again.

Naturally, I tried it and he was right. It was the most free way to fish and chill on the water at the same time. But Noah, don’t you love to swim too? No problemo mi amigo. Just make sure all of your gear is strapped down (a lesson I’ve learned quite a few times) and hop in the water, swimming around at your leisure. If your gear is not strapped down, well, it can fall in the water without you knowing until it’s too late if you’re swimming around. I’ve lost a few fishing poles and beers this way.

Fishing on Beaver Lake in Hartland, WI.

Back to the fishing though, which could probably be a whole other article in itself (hey, another idea). Once I tried fishing on a paddle board, I had zero use for the kayaks I had and no desire whatsoever to own a boat of my own. It was paddle board or bust. Not to say I won’t ever use a kayak or go on a boat somewhere, I certainly will, but I will always prefer my paddle board if I can help it. Especially for fishing. 

I used one of my cousin’s paddle board (he has a few of them) until I purchased my own towards the end of last summer. I can’t believe I waited so long to buy one. I can also say with 100% honesty that it is one of the best purchases of my life bar none.

Being a fisherman, I do most of paddle boarding on lakes, fishing. But, it’s also nice to just take the inflatable board out and just chill on the water. Since mine measures 11 feet in length, there is plenty of room to stretch out and lay down. I’ve taken the board out on two Great Lakes (Lake Superior and Lake Michigan) and ridden some gnarly waves. I’ve watched fireworks on a lake while drinking beer. I’ve even taken the board through some narrow rivers that only a paddle board could do versus a motor boat.

The possibilities are endless with an inflatable paddle board. Their joy and freedom are like nothing I’ve ever experienced. The peace and happiness mine brings me is well worth the price, which I just realized I never even mentioned. That’s because you cannot put a price on all the paddle board offers and delivers on. I paid $400 for mine, but you can get them for as low as $250 and as high as $1,500. Again, it’s all personal preference.

Fourth of July fireworks on Okauchee Lake in Oconomowoc, WI.

I paid $400 for mine and hope to have it last another five to ten years, but if something were to happen to mine, I would immediately buy another one. That day. Heck, if I had to spend $400 at the start of EVERY summer, I would in a heartbeat. You just cannot put a price on everything I have felt and done on a paddle board. I’m only scratching the surface even. There’s still so much I haven’t done that I would love to do.

I’d like to attempt surfing a bit more. I’d be interesting in taking a road trip throughout my home state of Wisconsin with the board. I’d really want to see what it’s like to reel in a musky, a true champion fish. Or maybe a shark from the ocean. OK, that last one might be a reach, but you never know! 

Stand up, paddle board season has arrived and it’s here to stay.