The Ultimate Quiver
SUP is here to stay. Whether you live in Miami Beach, Missoula, MT or Buena Vista, CO you have undoubtedly seen people in masses paddling on boards of all shapes and sizes. Here at CKS we are fortunate enough to have access to all of the “latest and greatest” gear, and test it out on everything from world class surf waves and down river runs, to large mountain lakes and reservoirs. We’ve even have been known to bring a fleet of SUP’s to Mexico for a month or 2 when Colorado is covered in a few feet of snow. Over the past 4 years, the sport has progressed at an amazing rate (in both coastal and mountain communities). What was once a sporty, revolutionary design, is now an antiquated board that has been replaced by something newer, lighter, faster, more durable, more stable, cooler looking, etc…
Many of us at CKS have really taken to SUP. The sport has diversified itself into a few distinct genres (downriver paddling, river surfing, touring, racing), and various staff members have spent many hours perfecting their favorite discipline. We came up with a list of “must have items” that we cannot live without.
Here’s the list:
1. Surftech B-1– This sexy board leaves little to be desired. If you could only own a single SUP, and wanted one that excelled at surfing and hard charging downriver paddling, as well as it cruised on flatwater, this would B the 1. The B-1 was derived from the 10’6′ Universal template, but has some tweaks and additions that make it a superior river board. An example of this are the channels that run down the bottom of the deck. They provide tracking and stability both on the river and flatwater. The B-1 is also a pleasure to surf on a glassy wave, and it’s deep seeded ocean surf roots (Randy French design) become immediately apparent.
It’s built with Bounce Technology, which is a space age polymer that is as light, as it is durable. You can chuck your B-1 down the stairs to the put – in, and it will still float you over a bony, manky, shallow run. It comes with a single longboard fin in the center; maybe they’ll come out with a tri fin soon…
2. Badfish MVP 7’6” –If you want to learn to river surf, this is the tool to take you to greatness. There’s quite a bit of hype behind Badfish Stand Up Paddle, and it’s for GOOD REASON. The MVP is basically a SUP short board with extra width and secondary stability to keep you upright. It has what looks more like a kayak hull than a than a surf board deck on the bottom (see accompanying photo below) . That is part of the reason that the MVP is so rad. Not only will it ferry you onto a fast and steep wave with ease (and over some pretty gnarly eddy boils), but it will shred with the best of them. The river surfing learning curve is about 5 times a fast on a MVP as it would be on a comparable SUP short board surfer. Cutbacks, ollies, deep carves and 360’s are all attainable. You can literally go from zero to hero with the MVP, and we say that because it’s the board that many of us learned to surf on. By the way, the MVP is also super fun as a downriver board for lighter paddlers.
3. Badfish River Surfer 6’11” –So you’ve learned the basics of river surfing, and want to take things to an entirely new level. The 6’11” river surfer is the most high performance, river specific, surfing SUP available. It’s got rails on it that will keep even the most hard core surfers happy. At almost 7′ long, with no rocker in the tail, some kick rocker in the nose, and 5 ¼ “ inches of thickness, this board is short enough to tuck into the smallest of river waves, yet stable enough to make it over gnarly eddies onto massive features like Glenwood, The Lochsa Pipeline and Lunch Counter. Watch out…the River Surfer is as addictive a river toy as anything out there. Even at at meager 300cfs of flow this summer in BV, many of the locals have 100+ days on the water jibbing and slaying the local waves.
4. Starboard 10′ Astro Whopper – If your going to pull the trigger on an inflatable SUP, why not us a board that one of the best inland stand up paddlers in the world uses? Dan Gavere has more miles on this board than most people will ever see in a lifetime. If it’s good enough for Dan, it’s good enough for you…The whopper is a stellar design. It’s 35” wide at the waist, has a tapered (18.9” wide and slightly rockered) tail for easy turning and high performance when surfing , a rockered nose and 4” of thickness. Bam!
This thing paddles downriver as well as it surfs; a true do it all board. It comes with 2 permanently attached twin fins, and a removable 6 ¾ “ center fin. The center fin can be replaced with a smaller 4” if need be.
The Astro Whopper just feels right. It’s one of those boards that you can figure out and get dialed in a matter of minutes. The huge balance point, primary stability, maneuverability, playfulness and predictability all make this beast of a board very manageable and useable for mid sized paddlers as well as the big guys. Last but not least, a pump, repair kit and back pack are included.
5. The Werner Nitro 1 Piece Paddle – The Nitro should almost be a requirement for anyone interested in high performance river surfing or paddling. Forget about the myth of carbon foam core paddles being dainty and not durable enough for heavy use on the river. The CKS demo blade has seen over 150 days on the water (in low water manky surf and attainments) this season and has nary a scratch on it.
This paddle is as light as stiff as it gets. It feels like a hot butter knife in a tub of Land O’ Lakes, even in aerated swirly eddies. You will have more precision and control, and a higher cadence by using this paddle as compared to a glass or plastic blade (and also compared to a lot of other carbon paddles).
The Werner Palm Grip is also a thing of beauty. Many SUP blades are hard to get the right grip on, or make it too easy for your hand to slide off of. This is not the case with the Palm Grip; it’s shaped and indexed to intuitively let you know exactly where your hands go (similar to AT bent shaft whitewater paddle pistol grips). This comes in handy when your surfing a fast wave, and the last thing on your mind is trying to find the right place to grip your paddle. The 1 piece Nitro is lighter, stiffer and also less expensive then the 2 and 3 piece versions.
6. The NRS Radiant Wetsuit – If 1.)warmth, 2.)comfort 3.)durability and 4.)value are your requirements (in that order) for a SUP wetsuit, the Radiant is the best deal out there. NRS set out to design the ultimate suit for the inland SUP population, and the result was a new item that is right up there with the best designs on the planet, including ones that cost more than twice the price. With 3mm of titanium lined Terraprene, The Radiant is warm enough to be worn on a 40 degree day in the snow, fully immersed in 40 degree water, surfing for hours on end. We can say that with ernest because we’ve tested this sucker out since March (at 8,000 feet above sea level).
By far, the best feature of the Radiant (even ahead of the incredible thermal value of the Terraprene) is the VaporLoft lining. This hydrophobic synthetic fiber, adds even more warmth to the suit, and also is soft against the skin (feels like fleece). Best of all, it does not absorb water, which eliminates the issue of putting on a cold, damp wetsuit after repeated use.
Besides that, it has some extra reinforcement on the stomach and chest for long days on the board, heavy duty YKK zippers, and is backed by the best customer service in the industry.
7. The Teva Gnarkosi –These water shoes have almost become an industry standard in the inland SUP scene. The Gnarkosi’s are basically a self draining river shoe that has the style, comfort and support of a sneaker. Nothing feels better when surfing or paddling downriver, than having traction, cushion and lateral support underneath your feat. These shoes excel in downriver paddling. With thick soles and plenty of drainage holes, you can swim, kick off of rocks and sharp river debris, and then wear them to any apres activity. If your going to sink some money in water shoes, why not have them double as city kicks too?
We had a few more items that made the short list, but we had to stop somewhere…Here they are in case you are interested:
- Werner Carve Fiberglass 2 piece adjustable – If you want a high performance, lifetime SUP paddle for the entire family, this is the one.
- Badfish MCIT – This is one of the most popular inflatable’s that we sell / rent. It’s ultra stable (both primary and secondary stability), maneuverable and has a unique multi chamber design. Click here to read the complete blog review.
- Salamander SUP leash – This SUP leash attaches around your waist, and has a quick release (similar to a whitewater rescue vest) as well as a unique adjustable Velcro break away tensioner at the end of the leash. Click here to read the complete blog review.
- The Astral Sea Wolf PFD – This is basically a recreation of the ultra mobile and comfy Willis design, with a HUGE pocket in front. The pocket is padded and sleak on the outside, for easy climbs back on the board. Best of all, it’ll fit a few 4” fins, a FCS key and a 12oz. Soda can in it too. Click here to read the complete blog review.
- NRS ???? – We can’t really tell you because it is still under wraps, but NRS has some BIG plans for SUP next season…Stay tuned.