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December 20, 2021 10 min read

Whether you’ve spent a few hundred, or a few thousand dollars on a stand up paddle board, it’s important that you take proper care of your board and all your additional SUP gear. 

The harsh outdoor elements can cause major problems for SUPs, so if you’ve just bought a new paddle board, or you need a reminder of how to properly care for your current board, then keep on reading!

GILI adventure Camo and Blue

Caring for Your Paddle Board

Paddle boards are a big investment and you want to keep them in tip-top condition so they look and perform their absolute best. 

Taking the time to care for your board after every use or before storing it away for long periods can prolong the lifespan of your SUP, giving you the most use for your money. 

Cleaning Your SUP and Deck Pad

After you’ve finished paddling for the day, it’s best to rinse off your SUP and dry it completely before placing it in storage

If you store your board in a board bag and place the board in wet, mold and mildew will form and potentially damage your board. Make sure to properly wipe down your board and allow it to properly dry before putting it away. 

If your board has been in saltwater, it is even more important to rinse it thoroughly because the salt can corrode materials and weaken any seams.

If you want to give your board a proper clean once in a while, mix a solution of water and dishwashing liquid or purchase a soap specifically made for paddle boards and gently scrub the deck until clean. 

Rust Prevention

Some paddle boards have metal details like the fin box. To prevent rust from building up over time, take some WD-40 or household oil and coat all the metal pieces on your board.

Rust usually isn’t a problem on SUPs as the metal parts are made of marine-grade stainless steel, but it doesn’t hurt to give them some TLC every few years. 

Repairing Holes, Dings, and Scratches

Dings, holes, and scrapes are bound to happen from the average use of a SUP. Minor damages to your board can be fixed easily and don’t need to be seen by a specialist. 

However, for bigger dents, it’s best to take your board to a professional immediately to prevent any further damage.

Man waxing a hard board

If water seeps into the foam core of your traditional board from a hole or ding, your board will lose its performance and buoyancy. 

If there are any holes in your inflatable SUP, the air will seep out and deflate while you’re out on the water. 

It’s a good habit to check your board before and after each outing to spot any problems as early as possible.

Vent Plug

If you have a traditional paddle board, vent plugs help reduce the risk of damage to your board by built-up air pressure that forms inside its core.

The foam core of a board is sensitive to heat and if it gets too hot, the foam inside starts to expand and can crack the board from the inside out. 

If your board has screw-in vents, unscrew the vent plug to allow the board to equalize. Make sure to screw the plug back in before you head back out paddling. 

If your board has maintenance-free vents, you don’t need to worry as they allow air to pass through the board without letting water in.  

Check the vents and vent plugs are working properly every few months. 

Storing Your SUP

Paddle boards tend to be a seasonal activity for most, so it’s crucial that you’re storing your board correctly in the months that you aren’t using it. 

The ideal storage place has little sunlight, heat, or moisture. Sunlight and moisture damage the shell of your board, whereas heat can damage the core of your board. 

If your board does get too hot, it could delaminate. Delamination is where the fiberglass peels away from the foam core, causing splits and cracks. 

Another thing to think about when placing your board in storage is keeping it away from any objects that could potentially fall on top of your SUP or cause pressure dings when they’re rested on. 

Board bags can be used to prevent scratches or dings from happening to your board, but make sure you leave the bag unzipped to prevent heat buildup. 

How to Care For Paddle Board Gear

Your SUP gear is as equally important as your paddle board and needs care and maintenance all year round.

Although they aren’t as big of an investment as the board itself, having to replace additional gear because of poor maintenance can add up over the years and can easily be prevented. 

Life Jackets & Personal Flotation Device (PFD)

Woman on a GILI paddle board with complete gear

Life jackets and personal flotation devices (PFD) are important pieces of kit to use when you are out paddle boarding.

PFDs are designed to keep a conscious person’s head out of the water, whereas life jackets are designed to turn an unconscious person from face down to face up. 

Cleaning PFDs and Life Jackets

You wear your PFD every time you head out paddling, so you want to keep it clean, right? 

Here is the best way to clean your PFD:

  1. Rinse it with fresh water.
  2. Fill a bucket large enough to fit your PFD with water and a clean-rinsing detergent.
  3. If there are areas on your life jacket that need an extra scrub, apply the cleaner directly to the area and gently scrub with a soft-bristled brush. 
  4. Place your PFD into the bucket and clean the entire surface, including the straps.
  5. Rinse the jacket with water.
  6. Leave to air dry in a well-ventilated outdoor area (keep out of direct sunlight).

Eliminating Odors From PFDs and Life Jackets

Like with any outdoor gear, life jackets can start to smell over time, especially if they aren’t dried out properly before being stored away. 

To eliminate odors, there are a few steps you can take: 

  1. Fill a bucket with 5 gallons of cold water and submerge your PFD.
  2. Add 1oz of odor eliminator and stir.
  3. Soak your PFD for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the PFD and allow it to dry before storing it away.

Important Considerations When Cleaning and Maintaining a PFD or Life Jacket

  • Never apply a large amount of pressure to your PFD, as it will damage the flotation material.
  • Always rinse your PFD after every use (especially if you’ve been paddling in salt water).
  • Always test and inspect your PFD before and after each use.
  • Only use clean-rinsing detergent when cleaning.
  • Equip your PFD with a whistle.

Wetsuits, Drysuits, and Swimsuits

Wetsuits hanging on a tree under the sun

Depending on the water temperature in which you’re paddling, you’ll either be wearing a wetsuit, drysuit, or an average swimsuit. 

Wetsuits are made of neoprene that is thick and spongy. Tiny bubbles of nitrogen in the material trap the heat made from your body and act as a buffer between you and the cold water. 

Wetsuits allow water to enter the suit, whereas drysuits are waterproof and keep you dry. The names kind of give it away, don’t they? 

If you don’t take proper care of your wetsuit or drysuit, you’ll definitely know about it when you’ve paddled out in the water, and the cold starts to set in. 

Cleaning Your Wetsuit or Drysuit

  1. Submerge your suit in water.
  2. Mix in a wetsuit shampoo (read the measurements on the label).
  3. If there are certain spots that need extra care, apply the cleaner directly to the area.
  4. Let the suit soak for 10 minutes and occasionally knead it by hand.
  5. Rinse with clean water.
  6. Allow the suit to air dry completely.

If you’re lucky enough to be paddling in warm temperatures, swimsuits tend to be the SUP attire of choice. Swimsuits can be thrown in the washing machine with your regular laundry, but it’s a good idea to check the care label before doing so.

If you happen to find a tear or rip in your suit, you can easily repair it at home with the help of scotch tape or repair adhesive. 

Repairing Your Wetsuit or Drysuit

  1. Clean the wetsuit thoroughly with the steps above.
  2. If the hole is large, apply scotch tape on the opposite side that needs repairing, this keeps the adhesive from leaking through.
  3. Apply a thin layer of repair adhesive.
  4. Allow the adhesive to cure for 12 hours.

Wetsuits, drysuits, and swimsuits should be rinsed with clean water to rid them of sand, dirt, and other debris. Allow the suit to dry out of direct sunlight and never store them wet. 

Paddles

No matter what type of paddle you have, they’re all fairly easy to maintain. You want to make sure you rinse your paddle off after every outing, secure it properly when in transport, and store it out of direct sunlight. 

Waterproof Bags

Woman walking between rocky mountains with GILI waterproof backpack

Waterproof bags, also known as dry bags, are flexible containers with a roll-up closure that keep your possessions inside dry. 

If you regularly take expensive items out like your phone or camera, you want to ensure the bag is in perfect condition. One small hole or rip could let in water and ruin your equipment. 

  • Try not to get solvents such as bug spray or sunscreen on your bag as the ingredients can damage the exterior. 
  • Rinse the bag of any dirt or sand with clean water after each use. 
  • Don’t store your bag directly under the sun.

Stand Up Paddle Board Bags

GILI inflatable paddle board bag

Your board bag not only helps in the transport of your board, but it also helps protect your stand up paddle board from damage when in storage. 

  • Keep your board bag dry at all times to prevent mold from building up inside.
  • Keep your bag out of the sun. The sun can damage your bag the same way it damages your board.
  • Protect the bag from any physical damage.
  • Carry the bag correctly.

If your bag has a tear in the material, you can repair it by stitching it up. Alternatively, if you aren’t handy with a sewing machine, you can take it to a tailor. 

SUP Anchor

SUP Anchors are made to be in the water, therefore taking care of them is easy. 

Much like most of your gear, it’s best to rinse the anchor off with clean water after use. If your anchor rope is dirty, it can be soaked in a bucket of water and cleaner. 

Electric ISUP Pump

GILI electric pump inflating GILI Manta Isup board

If you prefer using an electric pump over a manual pump, there are a few things you need to keep in mind when using and caring for it. 

When inflating your paddle board, do it away from water. Electric and water don’t go well together and it can result in electrocution or the pump breaking entirely.

Electric pumps can overheat, especially if they’re used to inflate numerous boards. Taking breaks in between boards to allow the pump to cool will prevent it from overheating. 

Keep your pump away from mud, sand, or rocks as they can get inside the pump and affect its performance. 

Care and Maintenance Tips For Your SUP Gear

Most of your stand up paddle board gear should be cared for in the same way, and it’s a good idea to follow these tips when packing up your board and gear after a day out on the water. 

Freshwater vs. Saltwater

All gear should be rinsed off with clean fresh water after every use. Abrasive elements like sand or small rocks can cause pressure damage or tears to your equipment. 

If paddle boarding on oceans, it is even more important to rinse off your board. The salt in the water can dry out and eat away at your board’s materials.

Direct Sunlight

The sun and outdoor elements can cause ultimate destruction and discoloration to your stand up paddle board that sometimes is beyond repair. UV rays harm our skin in the same way they harm a paddle board. 

The sun can overheat the board, causing delamination. When delamination occurs, in traditional paddle boards, the fiberglass or epoxy shell separates from the foam core. 

If you have an inflatable paddle board that is left out in the sun, it can cause the seams to fail due to pressure increase.

Storing Gear

When placing your paddle board and gear in storage, follow these tips:

  • Store your paddle board in a place that has a cool temperature.
  • Make sure the area is free of any objects that could fall and cause dents or cracks to the board.
  • Keep the paddle board and SUP gear out of sunlight.
  • Make sure all items are dried off completely before being put away.
  • Check for any problems in the gear and board.

Caring for Inflatable SUP vs. Foam Core SUP

Sturdy deck pad of GILI Air paddle board

Inflatable SUP

Inflatable SUPs can be deflated and inflated whenever you need them. They are great for people living in small apartments with limited storage space. 

These tips will help keep your iSUP in its best condition:

  • Check your board over for any air leaks before and after heading out on the water.
  • Repair small holes with an easy-to-use repair kit.
  • Keep it out of direct sunlight. 
  • Make sure you don’t over-inflate your board.
  • Deflate your paddle board if it’s being stored for a long period of time.
  • Rinse it off with clean water and allow it to air dry.
  • Store it in a cool place.

Foam Core SUP

The care of a foam core SUP is similar to an iSUP and only really differs in the storage and transportation of the paddle board. 

Follow these tips to keep your foam core SUP in its best condition:

  • Check your board over for any dents or dings.
  • Keep it out of direct sunlight.
  • Rinse it off with clean water and allow it to air dry.
  • Store it in a cool place.
  • If you store your board in its bag, leave it unzipped to allow airflow.
  • Make sure there is nothing surrounding the board that could fall and cause a ding to the deck.
  • When transporting your board on a roof rack, use padding and double-check the straps are secure.

FAQ’S

🏆 How do you take care of an inflatable paddle board?

Taking care of an inflatable is fairly simple, and there are a few steps you can take to keep your board in its best condition. 

  • Check your board over for any air leaks before and after heading out on the water.
  • Repair small holes with an easy-to-use repair kit.
  • Keep it out of direct sunlight. 
  • Make sure you don’t over-inflate your board.
  • Deflate your paddle board if it’s being stored for a long period of time.
  • Rinse it off with clean water and allow it to air dry.
  • Store it in a cool place.

👍 Should you wash a paddle board after use?

Rinsing off your stand up paddle board with clean water is recommended after each use. 

Washing your board and drying it with a towel will prevent things like saltwater from eating away at the materials of the board.


🏝️ What do you clean an inflatable paddle board with?

Clean an inflatable paddle board with clean water or by using a soap specifically made for inflatable boards or inflatable boats. Run a cloth over the board and allow it to dry fully.


❓ Can you leave inflatable paddle boards inflated?

You can leave an inflatable stand up paddle board inflated if it is kept out of sunlight. 

If you want to leave your board inflated, it is best to release some air in case expansion happens while it’s stored away. 

If you plan to store the board for a long period of time, it is recommended to deflate the board entirely to prevent damage.

Megan Bryant
Megan Bryant

Based in Bali, her favorite SUP spot is the GILI Islands themselves. Travel is another passion of hers - she dreams to see the entire world one day.


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