SUP Safety at The Houses of Parliament

StandUpPaddleUK in discussions on SUP Safety at the Houses of Parliament #QRbelt

Firstly, what an experience. For two guys who are not political, this was a one-off attendance. Hats off to Sam Foyle for getting this issue into the forefront. I’ll say now, as myself and Dale did at the meeting, Sam has the full support of our platform and we are 100% behind this effort and commend the work he has done, along with several other campaigners in the industry.

The conversations from our pre-meeting point to the Houses of Parliament felt constructive. I had the pleasure of speaking to Will from Sea Lion Boards. He had a progressive way of thinking about his business, and it hit home with me how he wants to ‘be better’.

The 30+ strong group walked by the River and the discussions were excellent
Following our pre meeting breakfast we entered the Houses of Parliament

The background of this Meeting;

As you’ll be aware, we have always tried to champion safety and the education of products. None have been more important to understand than the use of the Quick Release belt. In 2020, after a whole summer of deliberation about posting an article about Leashes and QR, we were convinced to proceed following an incident in Cornwall..

The article in question was several months in the making during 2020

In August 2020, a teacher named Simon Flynn was in Cornwall with his friends, including Sam Foyle. Simon was out paddling in the Camel Estuary, became entrapped by his ankle leash in a mooring, was unable to free himself, and subsequently lost his life. Notes from the coroner pointed to this being an ‘issue for manufacturers to look at’… A tragic accident.

*Courtesy of the BBC* – Many people would have seen similar articles online

We were concerned about the sheer grey and unclear guidance that was available

Mid 2020, myself and Dale had been discussing, writing and deciding whether to post the Leash article (Link Here) – we were concerned about the sheer grey and unclear guidance that was available but following the above incident we felt we could no longer stand by and allow ‘grey guidance’ and had to act as a duty of care as paddlers. We’ve always been VERY cautious about advice or guidance we issue, speaking to training providers to gain the correct advice. We are aware that our platform is followed by many paddlers nowadays!

We’ve always been very, very cautious with advice on Safety, and we practice what we preach – @StandUpPaddleUK paddling in Cardiff

Upon completing the article. We published it, received thanks and the community on the whole confirmed clearer guidance had helped them. We did receive some negative comments but this is the world we live in, everyone has an opinion.. We then contacted several brands. When I say several, I mean the bulk of brands based in the UK selling boards. We will not name the names of who refused or didn’t respond but we can safely say, FatStickSup picked up the mantle immediately. Dale called Andy Warner, co-owner of FatStick, who instantly said he agreed that QR Belts should be a part of the SUP package and free within them. Within days, we had a FatStick prototype belt being tested. Soon after, he had contacted customers to let them know they would retrospectively issue them a belt. How amazing is that? Andy is a legend at the best of times, but this was peak Andy. So hats off to him and Reuben for this.

Ben, from Pandaboard Sports has been doing huge things in the community with QR Belts and making them accessible to all, including other brands for a low cost. It’s a no-brainer. The ‘cost over safety’ discussion isn’t worth the words – it’s a minimal cost to the manufacturers. We have tested his belt and can confirm it is an excellent budget belt.

The Meeting:

Hosted by MP Alex Chalk, with attendance from the likes of RNLI, RLSS, UK Harbour Masters Association, Water Skills Academy, British Canoeing, various brands / companies including FatStick, Red Paddle Co, Active 360 London, Pandaboard Sports, Sealion Boards, Sandbanks amongst many others! We met in a Chamber, and the speeches followed. MP Alex Chalk spoke well on the matter, and it was clear to see he had a connection with Sam and Simons story and the incident. Lee Heard from the RLSS then spoke and commented “It was a monumental event to consider how a collaboration of organisations can continue to support the growth of Stand Up Paddleboarding whilst ensuring that safety is first and foremost”. This was followed by a short outline of paddleboarding by John Hibbard, Red Paddles’ own QR belt, and their P.L.O.T campaign.

MP Alex Chalk introducing Sam Foyle and other MPs

This was followed by discussions between all parties in the room. How to improve, what other companies are doing that they weren’t or maybe doing differently. The general ethos was that within that room was the recipe for change. Several brands on discussion all said the same thing, this is a big day and the time for change is upon us. Comments of incorrect use of QR belts were quickly brushed aside, with the correct education. It is a simple tool that is potentially life-saving.

Andy of Fatstick (Centre right) and Darren of @StandUpPaddleUK (Far right) discussing the matter with Sam Foyle (Far left)

There are various belts out there, some independent of board manufacturers. I’ll list a few with some links – this is not extensive, or in any means a ranking or endorsement that StandUpPaddleUK has tested them. Personally, I own 3 different ones, all different brands.

FatStick QR Belt / PandaBoardSports / Red Paddle/Red Equipment / Peak UK Guide Belt / HF SUP Buddy Belt / Quroc Belt / Hatha QR Belt and Coil

Out wearing a Yak QR Belt and HF coiled Leash on the Grand Union Canal – a slow moving body of water which in our view, requires a QR Belt

Heres something we’ve worked on since the meeting. A list of brands who do and do not provide a QR Belt with a Board:

This list is not extensive but has been based on the research over the past week, since the Parliamentary meeting. We are aware of many smaller brands who are in the industry. So we’ve contacted as many as for information, so any later inclusions may be possibleat the time writing, our list is up to date and Updates will follow up with any changes within the industry.

Provided with a Board:
FatstickSup
McConks (Pandaboard Sports QR Belt – other brands optional on site also)
Family Sup (Pandaboard Sports QR Belt)
Because Sup (Pandaboard Sports QR Belt)
Quroc
Hiks (Pandaboard Sports QR Belt)
Freshwaterbay Sup Co

Doesn’t provide with a Board:
Red Paddle Co (w/ a White Water Board they do)
Hatha (Has own QR Belt but an extra)
Aquamarina
BluefinSup
O’Shea
TwoBareFeet
Gladiator
Turtle Bay (Will provide a QR with last of current range; the next range of 2022 boards will come with a QR)
Starboard Sup
Sea Lion Boards (pending inclusion of a QR Belt – TBC on dates)
Sandbanks (an option for Pandaboard Sports Belt at checkout currently, may change – TBC)
AW Sups (offers a lesson with a Board sold, no QR)

Manufacturer that Sells a Standalone QR belt:
Hatha, Quroc, Red Paddle Co

Non Board Manufacturer selling a QR belt:
HF
Peak UK
Pandaboard Sports
Palm
Whetman
Yak
Zennway

Educate yourself when it comes to your own kit

Brands need to take away the chance of a user ‘neglecting the right choice‘. What I mean by this is, people want to spend as little money as possible and get as much as possible for their money. At the point of sale, brands / manufacturers should be noting their boards come with the ‘traditional’ ankle leash and a QR Belt – it has been banded around that it should be an option at point of sale, as an accessory, but an option would likely come with a lower price point – we believe this ‘option’ should be removed and the brand / manufacturer makes an informed decision on the grounds of safety to the end user. That brand or manufacturer should then be providing education of the provided QR belt and how to wear it, including adjustment and removal. We believe, as do some brands, that they should be offering lessons when you buy a board – this was discussed at the meeting but logistics I fear would be tough, and hard to police – but a great prospect.

We think that’s a paramount point; if you’re buying a paddleboard, have you had a lesson with a qualified instructor?

Do you know how to use all of the kit?

Overall Governance?

For many in the industry, you gain your information from your chosen or trusted place. StandUpPaddleUK gain their information from all areas but trust the comment and guidance of the Water Skills Academy. This is based on our experience with them and others in the same position. In terms of governance, some are claiming to be the leading figure when, in reality, there is no lead governance. What was clear from Mondays meeting was that the governance needed to be independent. Not solely a brand, charity, or training provider. Maybe an amalgamation of all parties on a Board of Trustees for the sport. It is clear the sport needs to be Stewarded by parties who do need to receive financial gain from it. We will see how it follows up in the next meeting..

We feel the meeting was a huge step forward to the Sport

Our Stance:

Every board sold should be with a QR Belt as standard, included in the list price. That is our goal, along with several others. We also believe a Governing Body or Board of Trustees for the sport is required. How that shapes up, we are unsure currently, but StandUpPaddleUK will assist in any way possible.

Brands and ManufacturersWe continue to want to work with you on this – Contact us!

Our message is clear!

@StandUpPaddleUK‘s Advice remains the same as it did in 2020:
• Straight Ankle – only option for SUP surfing. Can include Sea (if open water and not setting off or returning to areas like ports / moorings) + Never in White Water.
• Coiled Ankle – Flat Water ie a lake, the open Sea and when Racing. Never in White Water, not for fast moving Rivers
• QR belt with Coiled Leash – Any type of water, always in WW, but never for SUP Surf. We would also note use on fast moving rivers due to the water speed, even slower canals due to the likelihood of below water dangers. The ability to remove it easily and fast is live saving.

Also, a note on Bauer Media, they’ve done amazing work covering this and working with Sam. Andrew Kay (Greatest Hits Radio), who shot everything on the day, is also due credit on this.

Click the image for his Article

As ever, stay safe out there. Educate yourself, educate your friends and always, always be safe on the water.

Thanks – Darren and Dale @StandUpPaddleUK

A few days in Cardiff for @StandUpPaddleUK

A weekend away with Visit Cardiff and @StandUpPaddleUK

Well it had been a while since I last posted on here but we’ve been busy! So, here’s @StandUpPaddleUK’s weekend away in Cardiff.. Enjoy!

It got to Friday and we were ready for another SUP adventure. Car packed with Stand Up Paddle Boards and gear so we hit the road. Both Dale and Darren setting off from different locations. Dale leaving Nottingham at 4pm and the journey was a breeze, driving into Cardiff Bay and arriving at Voco St David’s Hotel at around 7pm. Darren was coming in from Bedfordshire so an additional hour of travel for him.

The Voco St David’s looked epic when lit

Parking was easy and plenty of it in the hotel car park or a large public car park next door. Arriving at the Hotel it was clear to see why this is a 5* hotel. The lobby was quite spectacular and we were greeted by amazing hospitality. As we came by car we left our gear in the car but I’m sure the hotel would have stored them for us if needed. As Darren was arriving later in the day, Dale and his family took a short walk to Mermaid Key a very short walk from the hotel, within quick access to a lot of restaurants and other bars in the bay. Dale had a wander around and even took his family on Cardiff’s version of the Big Wheel, gaining sights over the bay during sunset which was spectacular! A quick bite to eat and back to the hotel for a good nights sleep for Dale and the family. Darren arriving slightly later, but a very smooth check in was greatly appreciated!

Mermaid Quay is a Hive of activity!

The rooms at Voco were amazing, both had huge views over the bay and what a view it was! Big rooms with excellent facilities this was a good night’s sleep.

The Balcony View over Mermaid Quay

We wanted to check out Cardiff and were drawn to the fact that albeit a city has a wide offering of watersports access. Cardiff hosts CIWW Cardiff’s White Water Centre and here you can paddle on the local river or try paddle boarding on the lagoon, whitewater rafting, and various other water based activities. They even have a surf wave!

A Quick Dinner Tip: Darren recommends the Yakatori1 restaurant in Mermaid Quay.. “Some of the best Sushi I’ve experienced”.

Saturday. We got up and checked out the hotels excellent cooked and continental breakfast offering, socially distances and well managed by hospitable staff, even going out of their way to entertain and make Dale’s daughter a little hot chocolate and talk to her.

After breakfast we headed to CIWW to check in. It was pretty close to our hotel, 5 minutes by car. We prepared our boards in the car park then headed down on to the water. If you want to paddle on the river it’s a small £5 payment and sign in at reception, so that’s what we did.

Plenty of space to prep kit in the car park

The plan was to head up the River Ely for around 2 miles as the weather was a bit dubious and we had afternoon plans with our partners. We changed in the car park, however there is access to changing facilities and toilets at the centre. We carried out boards through the side gates and down some steps to the pontoon which was an easy get on. It was really nice to launch in the marina. Heading right, the river was well protected from winds so it felt like an easy paddle. It is a pleasing start, heading through the boats in the marina and high rise buildings of Cardiff Marina.

A very cool back drop of Cardiff Marina on the Ely

The River was empty so it was plane sailing for us. We did a shade over 4 miles in 1hr 20 mins. Once we got off the water it was a quick deflate of our boards, pack up the kit and drive back to our hotel.

Our route courtesy of Komoot

Whilst paddling, Dale’s wife took their toddler to Techniquest, a science attraction next door to the hotel and played for hours their until we returned. One thing about escaping to a city break to paddle is keeping the family entertained. We even managed to book into the pool and spa in the evening and have a swim and sauna before dinner.

Darren and Becky sampled some of the shopping in the area. St David’s Dewi Saint shopping centre was vibrant, busy and full of shops.. As you’d expect! Lots of parking and plenty of options for lunch.

The Stable Cardiff was a great Lunch spot

On Sunday we enjoyed another great breakfast and recharged our batteries before meeting at Channel View Leisure Centre. £5 to access the river per board, free parking and easy access, not bad at all. We met with a couple of local paddlers and headed up the River Taff. This route is excellent, especially for those who love a stadium. We cruised past the Principality Stadium, the views from the water were very, very cool.

Cruising past the Principality Stadium
📷 Dale Mears

Certainly a different back drop to other paddle routes! A very wide river at the base of Cardiff Bay which narrows down and gets quite shallow after you reach Cardiff Castle. We did a 5.5 mile route in 2hr20mins. Just watch out for those river boats ferrying passengers up and down the Taff.. they will leave you in a meaty wake!!

This section of river in constantly in use, remember to always stay to the Right

Just before getting off we also paddled out into the bay to check out the views over the hotel and large sailing boats the water here was glassy and definitely very different from a river paddle. Worth noting to make sure you understand the buoys to make sure you have a safe paddle.

Cardiff Bay was very calm and a nice flat paddle to end the session
The Sunday route from Komoot

After the paddle we head our separate ways. Darren heading home with the longer journey, with Dale and his family heading to Cardiff Castle another great attraction whilst in the city.

Millie seemed to enjoy herself!

If your looking for a trip away and want to check out some easy city watersports we definitely recommend adding Cardiff to your list!

Better yet.. CLICK HERE to enter Visit Cardiff’s completion for a SUP adventure much like ours! Visit Cardiff have teamed up with partners Cardiff Harbour Authority, Cardiff International White Water & voco St. David’s Hotel to treat the winner and their guest to an exciting 2 day water sports break this October including accommodation, tuition and equipment!

Please note, you must be available to claim your prize experience on Saturday 2nd & Sunday 3rd October 2021. Get entering for an epic trip away!

Ciao for now! Darren and Dale

Can I Paddle during this new Lockdown?

Let’s discuss the recent guidance changes from Gov.UK, Canal and River Trust and British Canoeing

I’ve certainly done a lot of paddling during the Lockdown’s

A tough one to write about and discuss.. Paddling during Lockdown 3.0.. With many outlets including the Canal and River Trust and British Canoeing saying it’s OK to paddle.. Is it? Let’s take a look..

The government guidance states that:

  • Outdoor exercise is still permitted, but should be limited to once per day
  • Outdoor exercise should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel a short distance within your area if necessary to find an open space to exercise (such as a publicly accessible place to launch)
  • Organised and structured outdoor sporting activity must not take place
  • All indoor and outdoor sports clubs, centres, venues and facilities will need to close
Solo paddles or with your household, in local areas only..

Paddling for exercise is permitted within the government measures, so long as you are:

  • Solo 
  • Paddling with people you live with 
  • With your support bubble (if you’re legally permitted to form one) 
  • When on your own, with one person from another household while following social distancing and I would advise no sharing of equipment

Personal equipment – It has been confirmed that collecting personal equipment belonging to an individual, from a facility such as a boathouse, to enable individual exercise is permitted.

Canal and River Trust’s website stating the navigations are open for paddle sports..

Main Guidance Notes:

Social distancing – Stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household. It sounds daft but I would take a face covering out on the board, some people may be isolating on a boat or barge – you just never know..

Outdoor exercise limits – Exercise should be limited to once per day. It is clearly stated on the Gov.uk site under Exercising.

Travel – Outdoor exercise should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel a short distance within your area if necessary to find an open space to exercise (such as a publicly accessible place to launch).

Waterways licence – Paddlers are reminded that a waterways licence is required to paddle on licensed waterways. This is paramount as always, regardless of the license provider.

British Canoeing website and their Guidance

“If you break the rules…”

“The police can take action against you if you meet in larger groups. This includes breaking up illegal gatherings and issuing fines (fixed penalty notices)”.

“You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400. If you hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of over 30 people, the police can issue fines of £10,000” – This is a direct extract from the Government website.

Probably the most Solo paddle I can show you!

Be sensible, those paddles will wait. There is absolutely no need to go exploring right now. Much like the first Lockdown – we are advising Stay at Home and to follow government guidance. You should not be attending waterways you do not know, which in turn could cause further, unnecessary stress on the NHS… Be sensible.

In my opinion and this isn’t guidance..

We are in a National Lockdown so you must follow the Government rules whether you agree or not – not Facebook, not some chaps on Instagram – the Police will simple say you aren’t following the rules and fine you as explained above. Some people will have to accept they cannot paddle right now – harsh reality, but true. Many people that paddle are land locked and cannot get to the waterways – there are other forms of exercise. Looking at the guidance of ‘local’, I would say in your village, or within walking distance.. Driving 15-20+ minutes for water isn’t local, a couple of miles within the same town would seem acceptable but I’ll try to get clarification on this..

When we get more updates through @StandUpPaddleUK we will share them and I will update this post!

Ciao, Darren

BluefinSup Sprint Carbon 2020

A Review of the Bluefin SUP 2020 Sprint Carbon for @StandUpPaddleUK

Ok so I’m a little ‘behind the 8 ball’ on this one as I’ve had this board since around August (well, a prototype) and then had the SUP Package for a couple of months now. So after a few trips away, and some lake & river testing. I am ready to write this.

Say hello to the redesigned, new and improved, 2020 Sprint Carbon

The 2020 Updated Colourway

I knew the folks at BlueFin SUP were looking at 2020 changes. In fact I had a sneak preview some time before they all were dropped – so to see the colour way and deck design changes was awesome. They have not disappointed when you open that box – it is all new and improved.

Even the Swans wanted to see this Board

This is their next generation of Tourer. As a user of the 2019 Sprint I can safely say the upgrade and change is apparent, but not just in its visuals. Coming in at 14ft long, 30inch wide (30.3 to be precise), and 6.2inch thick.. She’s quite a beast. A more flat profile has ensured the nose doesn’t stick too high from the water so you aren’t fighting head winds for the fun of it. They’ve opted for a US Box Fin over last years smart lock central fin – something I agree with as the choice to change fin is something the more experienced paddler will often do (you don’t want to always use the standard surf fin….) and the intro of the smaller side fins is a good idea as they do provide additional stability when on board.

The Board Rake is now much flat than its predecessor, meaning you don’t find yourself fighting the board when in a head wind, something I always found an issue with the 2019 Sprint.

They’ve also upgraded similarly to my 10’8 Cruise Carbon, adding dual chambers ie the ‘Carbon’ standard. This makes the board much more stiffer. I’ve also noticed the board glides in a straight fashion when paddling, something the 2019 suffered with but also could have been some poor technique on my part..

What’s it like to ride?

Well, as I said in my opinion this is the best board I’ve ever ridden in the Tourer class. Before you even get out on the water you will notice how well constructed the board is. You can see that the ‘Carbon’ is the flagship of their range. Five different handgrip positions for carrying the board (nose, tail, central grab, either side of centre by the rails), Several different D ring positions (same as last years cruise Carbon and Sprint, I haven’t attached the kayak seat as yet but this will work on this board). It’s not too heavy to carry solo which is obviously quite good considering generally you paddle solo! Weighing in at approximately 22kg* when pumped up, it definitely isn’t the lightest board but you can tell the difference in the rigidity. (*Bluefin confirmed the pumped weight is 22.4kg)

While we’re on the subject of rigidity, this thing is bloody stiff. That was one of my gripes last year with the 2019 model, it didn’t seem stiff enough and When trying to perform a step back turn you could feel the board bowing, that is not the case this year! I’ve knocked out a few step back turns on the 2020 and feels like more of a solid unit. The dual chamber of the board definitely helps.

The stiffer board, and lower rake profile make riding this board a real enjoyable experience

Given the boards profile this is a touring board, the Sprint name is quite deceptive thinking it might be a race board but it is more for long-distance tours. Given that I predominantly use Rivers and Canals where I live this board is perfect for me. The profile is very much set up for cutting through the water and so far I’ve got nothing but good things to say about using this board on the river.

A River Touring Beast


I was recently in the Lake District and obviously the board came with me. Myself and my girlfriend were staying right next to Ullswater lake so this was a spot I had to paddle. Given that the water was so flat here you really can ride any board, but I was on the Sprint Carbon, so getting up some speed and burning it around the lake was very much on my agenda! As I said previously, super stable even when getting bashed with roller waves from the Ullswater Steamer and local boats, the Sprint cut through all of it with ease, remaining stable in the process.

Standard UK raining on my Paddle days in Ullswater – bloody Moody

Click here for a quick IGTV video of the 2020 Sprint Carbon..

As you’ll see on the front of the board, there’s a white attachment – for your camera. There’s been so much uproar and complaint, to various brands, that have moved to this threaded attachment. The attachment for use is simple, a threaded M8 (something like this – https://www.irockersup.com/gopro-compatible-mount/) however if you email BlueFin they will send you one out. The threaded attachment is much safer than the last moulded GoPro mount as they were always prone to snapping after overuse. It’s also a more versatile mount for things other than a camera – I’ve recently seen some cool gear like cup holders, Garmin mounts, Phone holders (I wouldn’t recommend one of these haha!)

Things I Like

  • The new Design and Colourway
  • It’s a beast on Rivers, Canals and Lakes. I have been chewing up the water and haven’t got a complaint about how it has handled
  • The flatter profile of the board at the nose
  • Ultra stable and very rigid
  • It’s a complete package again with added new extras
  • The new Paddle is quite good, as someone who uses a paddle from another brand it has made me think twice about my paddle choice (rumours of a new stand alone paddle from BlueFin are out there……)
A great deal to like about this Board

Things I Didn’t Like

Not actually board related – more package..

Sadly yes, there are a couple things, but that is the same with any piece of kit. I love the GoPro Hero 9 but there was many things I wasn’t pleased about!

  • The Pump – still feels like a cheap alternative in comparison to something like Red Paddle’s Titan pump. When putting the BF pump under pressure, say 15-18psi, when standing on the ‘feet’ of the pump it somethings feels like you’re going to snap the body from the base. The intro of the ‘Triple Action’ is great as it relives user tiredness but the double action mode (ie pumps on push and pull) makes the pump feel weak as a unit.
  • The Hose for the Pump – still not properly connecting to the valve access. You really have to get it into the right position to get the hose working right or it pings out. I’ve actually ended up using my old Red pump or my electric charger, which is BlueFin, to make sure I’m not wasting time chasing the hose around. I’ve never found any hose on any BlueFin board I’ve had or used to be flexible.
  • The Bag – bit of a catch really as the Carbon range has wheels which is very handy but the back and arm strap padding isn’t the best especially if you have far to walk with a 20kg+ bag. Don’t get me wrong, the bag is durable – last years bag on the 10’8 Carbon is similar and has no damage whatsoever, just a padding issue!

Pricing

As with most of BlueFin SUP boards they come as part of a package deal. The board, a triple action Pump, US Box Fin/Smart lock fin 2x, Ankle leash, Board carry strap, Repair kit – all in a Carry Bag. And even now they have upgraded their Paddle to a super lightweight carbon, which is 100% an improvement on last year.

Price £899.99 (Use the code ‘Darren10’ at Checkout for a little discount)

That is the high end of their board range, and I would suggest for anyone looking to get a Tourer but can’t afford this, you should look into the 2019 Sprint. It may have some flaws but it is still an great board which will serve you well.

The versatility and ability to pack your board, paddle, equipment into a single bag is really priceless

Possible 2021 Improvements or Changes?

I have a couple of suggestions, and to be honest it is items which we say to several brands..

  • Extend the Deck Pad Grip to the very rear of the board, even if there’s a cargo net. Mainly because I want to step back all the way. Plus it adds grip to your storage area!
  • A better pump. The ‘bigger’ brands have put a lot of time and effort into making a sturdy, beast of a pump, this isn’t quite there yet
  • Cargo Nets – would prefer to see an adjustable strapping or webbing as current type will become saggy over time which will need altering / cutting.
  • QR Belts and waist attachment with every board sold. That’s not a BlueFin SUP gripe, that’s an Industry gripe.
  • More guidance – information about SUP safety in the bag, as above – Industry gripe..
On the whole this is a very solid package and at the top end of a complete board package. I personally took the decision to use these boards a couple of years ago and I haven’t regretted it.

It really does need to be pointed out that even now, several months along, Coronavirus has really put a strain on production of all manufacturers including BlueFin being no different. I have seen a lot of negative commenting on places like Facebook but I think a lot of people need to realise that every part of the supply chain is stretched at the moment so you may well have to wait a few more additional days to get your board. Often issues aren’t from the manufacturer of the board, it’s actually the delivery service. Be Patient Paddlers!

Ciao, from a happy Paddler. Darren

Don’t forget to read my article about Quick Release Belts and Leashes – It’s an important one for all paddlers..

Straight, Coiled, QR.. What’s What?? SUP Leashes and Safety

A Leash Guidance article by @StandUpPaddleUK – Safety shouldn’t be an after thought..

The debate rages on and on, so here we go. @StandUpPaddleUK see so much incorrect info being chaffed around the Facebook paddle groups . You know the groups we are talking about. Firstly, leashes aren’t a choice, it’s an obligation as a paddler. Let’s explain What’s What…

StandUpPaddleUK believe it is time for firmer guidance and Manufacturer intervention

There are so many cross over scenarios with leashes and use.. generally a Coiled leash is the most common ‘everyday use’ leash for those we see on inland areas using rivers, canals and lake riders. But there is a valid and just argument for a Quick Release Belt when on any type of water, and we agree – moving bodies and murky waters are dangerous places, you never know when you’ll need a quick release..

The Types:

The Straight Ankle Leash – mainly used for Surf, also useable on flat water. Great for SUP Surf as these won’t allow the board to ping back (like a Coiled). Straight leashes trail in the water and leave the deck pad clear for movement. This is the only leash for SUP Surf.

I often opted for a Straight Leash in my early days, with less information, as it was provided as standard with my board

The Coiled Ankle Leash – Most commonly used, but it’s for flat bodies of water and when racing. The coil sits on deck, clear of the water, which means you have much less chance of snagging it on unseen dangers under water / branches / seaweed / strapping / ropes / moorings. You’ll most often find these provided with SUP packages as they are versatile but that doesn’t mean it is the right leash for every trip. The Coiled Ankle Leash has become the standard leash being sold with boards, probably due to the position they take on the board when in use (not dragged in the water therefore slightly safer but still a risk).

A coiled Leash provided with many Brands of Board

The ‘QR’ Quick Release Belt w/ Coiled Leash – mainly used on white water (referred to as WW), but you will often see the more skilled or informed paddlers using a QR belt and leash on all types of water (Not Surf). The leash can be attached to a QR belt or sometimes your buoyancy aid if it accepts that attachment. When in white water the QR is pivotal, in a moment when you need to get detached from your board very quickly, it is the only option. Dale has done a few IGTV videos on @StandUpPaddleUK. We do suggest investing in a QR and leash for all water types, and always using this option in WW.

Dale with his QR belt and Coiled Leash on a gentle Canal paddle

A Quick Release belt is exactly that, a belt with a quick release buckle and pull cord / release strap (usually velcro with an adjustable resistance). Some brands are selling more of a setup which would be the belt, a split ring and key, a leash (which can be switch between the belt and ankle), and Restube. This link will connect you to a site selling the setups as above, as a belt only and a full setup. Take a look to see the difference.

FYI – a Restube is a safety backup on the water. Due to their small size the restube pocket can be worn around your waist or at your harness. If necessary, pull the trigger and restube inflates within seconds.

We are urging all paddlers to invest in their equipment, buy a QR belt and leash. The beauty of the QR belt is it is very quickly removed and stripped from the body when caught in danger.

When should I use a Leash? Trick question. There isn’t a scenario when a leash isn’t used. There are so many things to consider when getting out on the water, your leash isn’t a choice.

If SUP surfing a minimum is the ankle leash, to stop the board being flung in any direction, hitting others or yourself. *We are not suggesting QR with SUP Surf*.

Many of our followers paddle rivers and canals – murky, dirty and near impossible to see beneath the surface. Unseen dangers lurk! If you are on a fast moving segment of water, for example the River Wye (which also has white water) then really the best option is a QR belt with a Coiled leash. You need to remember, fast moving water places a constant flow against an object – If your leash is caught round, say a branch under water, you’ve past the point of being able to get back to the branch due to the flow. You’d need to Quick Release at this point.

We honestly feel the Quick Release Setup is the safest all round option regardless of water type.

With the exception of SUP Surf
Dale wearing a QR on the Canal in Leicester
  • @StandUpPaddleUK‘s Advice
  • Straight Ankle – only option for SUP surfing. Also Deep Lakes / Sea (if open water and not returning to areas like ports / moorings) Never in White Water.
  • Coiled Ankle – Flat Water, the Sea and when Racing. Never in White Water.
  • QR belt with Coiled Leash – Any type of water, always in WW, but not for SUP Surf. We would also note use on fast moving rivers due to the water speed, even slower canals due to the likelihood of below water dangers. The ability to remove it easily and fast is live saving.

We have a duty of care as paddlers, for ourselves and the ones we are paddling with. Brands have a responsibility of course. They do provide us with nice new leashes when buying a new board, but it is YOUR responsibility as the paddler to assess your needs for EVERY paddle. Assuming your current leash is a ‘one type fits all situations’ is incorrect.

Always assess your paddle route and water quality / clearness before heading out

We see hundreds, yes hundreds of tagged images on @StandUpPaddleUK of people incorrectly wearing leashes, using the incorrect leash for the job and more importantly, not wearing one at all – it is unacceptable, however I do not doubt that is due to lack of information.

We would like to see paddleboard manufacturers to change how they sell boards and what they sell with them. We are suggesting an option on websites when purchasing a board, a simple drop down box that shows leash options; Straight Ankle Leash, Coiled Ankle Leash, or QR Belt with either option + the Ankle strap. This is the best way for manufacturers to promote good practice, choice for the varied paddler and ensure their duty of care.

We are also urging manufacturers to stop providing just an ankle leash – @StandUpPaddleUK are suggesting all brands move to a Quick Release belt with a Coiled Leash, on top of the standard ankle leash. As I am writing this, one British manufacturer has switched up from just selling an ankle leash to providing a QR belt also. I wasn’t going to name names but FatStick, you are setting the bar in the industry.

We are hoping this helps push the industry in the direction it needs to go. Correct information for all levels of paddler, not just a generic image showing standard use of leash types. This hasn’t been not written for likes or kudos. It’s been written because every single person in this industry has a duty of care and obligation to protect paddleboarders.

Brands – WE WANT TO WORK WITH YOU ON THIS. We don’t have allegiances – the only allegiance is to safe SUP. We want you providing the industry with good equipment, the correct safety equipment and informative advice – that’s where we can come in.

We have ideas, and we think we can help. Get in touch.. @StandUpPaddleUK / Darren and Dale

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Things to Consider When Buying a Paddleboard

Discussing the points to look out for when buying a Paddleboard – @StandUpPaddleUK

When I think about paddleboarding I think open waters, the sound of the paddle breaking the top of a lake and generally just having quite a relaxed time. I’ve been paddleboarding now for a few years – I am by no means a professional but over the years with @StandUpPaddleUK I’ve tried, tested and reviewed various different board shapes and sizes, so I’d like to think I know a little bit about the subject, hence this post for @StandUpPaddleUK.

Firstly I’ll point out I use BluefinSup Boards, so yes, you’ll see them in some of the images in the post – this is not a ploy or plot directing people to specific brands, this is an honest post trying to help you find the right board. That aside, let’s get started..

In the industry there are many manufacturers of boards, obviously some are better than others – that’s a fact but you’ll be lured in by many peoples opinions. The StandUpPaddleUK managers are involved in many paddleboarding groups on Facebook & Instagram, there is a very common theme coming to the forefront every time we log into one of those apps. The want for ‘Cheap boards’ and a huge lack of information..

The current pandemic has really surged the interest in SUP. So much so all of the manufacturers that we are in communication with have has told us that they are struggling to keep up with demand, many out of stock. It’s very likely that most people will be having a staycation this year and the allure of a paddleboard seems like the perfect piece of kit for that trip in the UK.

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If you’re having a Staycation, an iSUP is ideal..

I’ve always believed in the saying ‘buy nice or buy twice’. That is 100% the case when it comes to buying a Paddleboard, new or secondhand. I don’t want to get into a rant about one brand being better than another, so let’s discuss the key points you need to look out for when buying a Paddleboard;

  • Sizing (Length, width, thickness)
  • Board type (all-rounder, touring, race, surf, multiperson), yoga)
  • Versatility (Hardboard or Inflatable)
  • Quality of the Build (Drop Stitch, Chambers, Rails, Deck Pad)
  • Accessories (Pump, leash, paddle)
  • Manufacturers Eco-Credentials (are they working with any renewable technologies, do they provide a buyback system where they safely recycle old boards?) * this one is quite an important one for me personally*

Those are probably the key points to be looking out for when buying a board, let’s explain each one a little bit;

Sizing and Board Type

Finding what size is right for you is really the pinnacle when purchasing a board. Each type of board has its own set of characteristics so you really need to be choosy over what you select (ie are you a social, touring, racing paddler). A key point to note is most people will be OK with an All Rounder, but for those looking to cover more flat water may want to consider a longer board which will glide across the water better, and track straighter.

As with the characteristics, each board manufacturer will have a set maximum weight per board size & type, it’s always best to check with the manufacturer that the board you’re interested in will be able to hold your weight.

It will be very easy for me to put a chart here and say that a certain weight will work with a certain board, however it really does depend on the type of paddleboard you’re using. Do your homework with the specific brand you a considering buying – each brand will be able to help you with this.

For those in the beginners phase, here’s a rough guide for board width and thickness;

70 kg – 30″ wide > 80kg – 31″ + wide > 90kg – 32″ + wide > 100kg – 33″ + wide >110kg+ – 35″ + wide.

You will find the majority of boards run between 4-6″ thickness. 5″ is suitable for a beginner (and most people), with heavier paddlers opting for 6″. The thicker the board, the heavier the board. But again this will also differ with each manufacturer. Wider boards than you require can cause unnecessary instability and affect your paddle stroke (difficult to reach a vertical stroke pattern).. And a wider board is actually more board to control, bare that in mind.

All rounders in the 10’6-10’8 range are great boards for beginners in my opinion. A smaller paddler, 1.7m / 5.6 approx maybe opting for a smaller compact board like a 9’7 with a max width of approx 31-32″. 

Remember, ROUGH GUIDE.

Note: I ride a 6.2inch thick tourer board, I’m 6ft, 88kg.. That’s a personal preference through trial of different boards, and for my usage type.

Versatility

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Quite a simple one really. Are you looking to have a hardboard or an inflatable? Obviously with a hardboard you will need the facility to be able to transport the board and and store it. iSups are by far the more popular option is easily packed away into a backpack. Generally anyone manufacturer providing a paddleboard package will be able to have the board, a paddle and the pump housed in the bag.  If you’re planning on hiking to lakes or travelling abroad then an inflatable is for you.

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I’ve travelled abroad with my iSUP packed in a bag a few times. Very versatile and 100% flight safe in my experience
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I’m not a user of a hardboard – I have used them in the past but for guidance on them I’d have to point you elsewhere for assistance..

Quality of the Build

Not all paddleboards are made equal.. What are the most important parts of a well constructed paddleboard? High Quality Drop Stitch (Single Layer, Stringer, Double layered or MSL Fusion (RedPaddleCO only), Double Chambers, Multi Layered Rails, Fin types…

Drop Stitch – there is quite a lot of different varieties of drop stitch patterns. For example my board has a double layer with around 11,200 stitches of 500 denier space yarn per m2 which makes up a very rigid board. Basically a woven drop stitch provides less stretch and higher strength. Again it’s very much manufacturing dependent because some brands are glue-free (laminated), others are using glued layers, but the key point to understand about drop stitch is it consists parallel sheets of material connected by thousands of 5 or 6 inch length threads. If a brand is promoting how good the drop stitches are then you’re on the right track to a good board.

Laminated Double Layer construction makes for a more durable, stable, lightweight and more strong paddleboard. It’s the best performance construction being used by most brands. A Double Layer will be heavier (in comparison to a Single Layer) but it makes up for that by being longer lasting. There is a version of Double Layering which involves gluing – these types are much heavier and quite outdated in terms of technology. My understanding is this technology is still being used but the ‘big’ brands have phased it out.

MSL stands for monocoque structural laminate. This has been developed by RedPaddle Co and only found on their boards. It’s lighter than other materials yet it maintains a stiffness and strength which is better than all the previous technologies RedPaddle have used.

– Some brands are using a Single Layer or Single Skin, these boards are generally cheaper due to the less intensive manufacture. Less material makes a more lightweight SUP. Single layer boards are generally less durable but much lighter than Double Layered.

– As above these are also brands using Single Skin with Stringer (Comes from a surfboard method of manufacture). The Stringer runs from nose to tail, it is a cheaper option on the spectrum. It provides a more rigid ride but still has some flex.

Rails – Generally a dual rail band is the most common set up, but you will see brands are still providing boards with a single rail with a taped seam. Personally I’d go for the dual rail as it makes a significant difference in the strength and durability of your board.

Double Chambered – having a double chamber paddleboard is another component of stiffness. As ever each manufacturer will have varying types of double chamber technology so once you’ve decided on the correct size board then you could look at the manufacturer and decide from there. In simple terms the chamber is what you pump air into. The advantages of a double chamber means the board will be very durable and more rigid. It also means that the air is evenly distributed across the board. On average Double chamber board is approx. 25-30% stiffer than a single chamber.

Fin Type – most boards come with a standard US Box fin. Arguably the most widely used. Some brands have their own take, for example a ‘Smart Lock’ Fin which is locked into place with a simple catch and lock system. Loads of different fin types, surf, touring, rivers.. That’s a different post though!

Accessories (in a Package)

Generally when you buy a paddleboard package it will include;

  • Board
  • Paddle (sometimes)
  • Leash (likely coiled)
  • Fin
  • Pump
  • Main Bag

That would be the minimum in a paddle boarding package, but as discussed previously there are manufacturers who only sell boards, no packages. On the face of it that’s a lot of kit in a bag and generally a manufacturers focus will be on the board as it is the main item.

A good indicator of a good package is the pump. If you pull out of pump and it’s very light weight, flimsy and cheap feeling piece of equipment then odds are that this manufacturer has focused on the board rather than the accessories. That’s my opinion but it is something I’ve found.

There are now so many different packages out there that it’s difficult to establish the difference but in my opinion any manufacturer providing a package set up should be charging you between £500 and £800 – that range should tick all the boxes.

Oh, the Leash, how could I forget you.. the foremost safety item of your SUP. All packages will be provided with a Leash, these come in various types (straight, coiled, QR, waist – post about specific uses to follow).

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Never paddle without your leash. They save lives

As a user of an inflatable paddleboard which came in a package I can safely say that there are manufacturers out there who provide a solid bundle deal.

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I’ve used several package boards for a few years now and had no issues

Manufacturers Eco-Credentials

As I said at the top this one is quite important one for me, and many SUP-ers, as you can imagine once your paddleboard is destroyed beyond use/badly punctured/ Non repairable; where does it go and how does it get recycled?

Many brands have their own initiatives, working with companies providing recycled materials to make boards. Others providing buy back services; when you upgrade they take your old board and recycle it / reuse materials. Others recycling boards in bulk safely. There is lots of good processes going on in the industry. Head over to any brands’ website and review their sustainability or environmental page for more info.

What you need to remember is that very cheaply manufactured boards are not going to recycled in a conventional way, if at all.. 

Now with all that being said. I’ve owned various different boards since I’ve started paddleboarding. I’ve purchased second-hand boards and I’ve had boards come straight from the brand.

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My first board was a 10’8 RedPaddleCo, it was secondhand and served me very well

 

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My Sprint 14 was a New Board and has been excellent since I opened the box

Do your homework when buying your first board, often finding a good secondhand board is the sensible option until you are 100% confident you will be sticking with paddleboarding for the long term. Outlaying over £800-1000+ on the top of the range paddleboard isn’t really a requirement when you’re a beginner. I would advise going to your local lake or paddleboarding club and asking to use the boards/have a lesson (obviously this will be dependent on coronavirus/social distancing as some clubs aren’t allowing rentals – this may well have changed). It’s always a great idea to test out different manufacturers boards before you commit to buying one..

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Don’t be afraid to ask a friend to use their board. Here’s Dale and Me switching boards to give them a little test.. You’ll often be surprised by riding a similar board from a different brand

 

You’re going to find opinions on this absolutely everywhere online, dare I say snobbery too. There are many a paddler out there who are loyal to a brand and will push their specs. I’d advise speaking to the experts, people like supinflatables.co.uk/ – very knowledgable and a nice navigable site, with a ton of info. And of course the manufacturers themselves – most brands cover every size board and will be able to help you make an informed decision.

Well, that was a lot of information in one hit! As you can see once you start getting into the nitty-gritty of paddleboard construction you can really see why the best boards are expensive, and it is a minefield. They can be difficult to manufacture and the technologies used are not cheap so why would the board be? We want as many people as possible on the waterways, paddling safely and sustainably. This isn’t a post to push people away from the sport, far from it, more to make you consider what you are buying and where you’re buying it from..

Ciao, Darren

LifeJacket Skin Protection #GotYourBack

LifeJacket Skin Protection is a company doing their best to prevent Cancer in Men. Get your Discount Code inside! Article by Darren Farrar

Sun Protection and Skin Care is absolutely paramount, especially when your out on a bike, hiking or paddleboarding. It’s never been more important to protect yourself from the sun. Today I wanted to bring this brand to everyone’s attention. Say hello to LifeJacket. Skin Protection designed for Men.

Introducing LifeJacketSkin

These guys are focused on helping to prevent cancer in Men. Did you know almost twice as many men died from skin cancer versus women all over the world? In the past 20 years skin cancer in men has certainly become a more regular thing, with the forecast over the next 20 years estimating that it will double. That is a crazy statistic, especially against something that is preventable if you protect yourself correctly..

As a very outdoor orientated person I’m forever out on my bike, paddleboard, even walking and hiking, sunscreen is something you almost forget about, even take for granted that your skin is not protected. Billy at LifeJacket contacted me after seeing that I was an outdoor person on Instagram. We had a good chat about the products, the brand and most importantly what I took most of the conversation was how much he cared about getting people protected.

Now before I get into the chit chat about the products and the brand. For those that are interested in the science behind the product click here. LifeJacket have gone into depth about skin protection in this article. These guys are backed up by science and medical professionals, the link is really worth a read..

Sunscreen generally is expensive. It’s expensive because it’s tested and formulated in a lab, cheaper alternatives do not provide you with the same protection and it is a product you shouldn’t cheap out on when purchasing! The products I’ve been testing over the past few weeks have really been great. LifeJacket sent me over the daily protection moisturiser, the daily repair Moisturiser and the 50+ Sun Gel – the Weekender Pack. Sachets were also sent, these are great to put in your bike bag for when you’re out and about.

Generally I don’t suffer with sunburn very often. Lucky in some ways however having dark hair and relatively tanned skin does often mean that you forgot to apply – I’m at fault for that. As I say I’ve been using the products for a few weeks now, it was the ideal time as we have had some very hot weather, over +30° for several days.

Satchets are really handy for when you’re out and about

I went to the lake local to where I live and the weather was 34°, the perfect test for this kit. I used the 50+ Sun Gel before I went out on my paddleboard. Usually even when I apply a factor 30 and I go out paddle boarding, often I get redness on the shoulders and collarbone. After using LifeJacket by didn’t experience any form of redness, soreness or skin irritation. This was really surprising as pretty much every suncream/sunscreen I’ve used doesn’t fully protect me or irritates my skin.

Second test was while out on my road bike. I used the 50+ Sun Gel. Again, quite a warm day it was between 32 and 34°, there was a slight wind also. I cycled approx. 40 miles so I was out for just over 2hrs. I had the Sun Gel applied. I always find after I’ve been out in the sun my quads and upper arms usually get a little bit burnt. Not on this occasion. The Sun Gel protected me very well – which is great as the ‘cyclist’s tan’ often is a burn line rather than a healthy tan line..

Third test was during a weekend away in Kent. I was out paddle boarding with my mate at Joss Bay, well over 30° with a coastal breeze. We were out on the water for about an hour and a half. I was more than expected to have a little bit of burnt skin, especially with the coastal breeze but I woke up the following day with absolutely no irritation or burnt skin. The 50 Sun Gel is brilliant – who knew I would be saying that about suncream..

I’m not a Doctor, not a medical expert or a specialist in skin but what I can say is these products are working for me and I feel obligated to share this and the brand with the community. StandUpPaddleUK are in discussions with LifeJacket about giving our community a discount on their products at checkout, and we will be giving away some of their products in the near future! Stay tuned to our Instagram for this..

Fourth test was the most important one yet, a trip to Sardinia with my girlfriend. Projected 30+ degrees for a week.. LifeJacket’s products were about to get tested!

As you can imagine I’m off paddleboarding for hours on end, hiking and generally putting my skin through its paces but LifeJacket really had me covered. First day was 34 degree, obviously opted for the 50 SunGel. Probably through my own mis-care I had slightly burnt legs but applying the Daily Moisturiser really helped. I woke up the next day feeling pretty good and not really burnt.

I spent most of my day in and out of the sea water.. You should be reapplying sun screen every 2 hours and after getting out of water…

This is not really a review. This is me saying that I absolutely approve and agree with what this company is trying to do. Never has it been more important to apply sunscreen and I genuinely hope the people that read this agree. Myself and Dale (StandUpPaddleUK) have been using the products are really hope to help educate paddleboarders about protecting their Skin.

LifeJacket have been kind enough to provide the following for StandUpPaddleUK Followers;

1. The discount code is now LIVE: standuppaddleuk10 gives 10% off the entire shop and, Unlimited use.

2. LJ have set-up a survey for our followers. First 500 people to complete it get our welcome pack sent out to them for free. It contains x3 sachets plus a card with a message from LifeJacket, and a 15% one-off discount code. CLICK HERE FOR THE SURVEY. It is really quick and simple to complete.

LifeJacketSkin sell various products other than sunscreen and they have a shed load of info about effective skin care and sun protection. You can find them below, and don’t forget to use our discount code !

Ranging in various sizes for Hold Bags and Carry On…

Find out more on their site. That’s enough from me, the products work and speak for themselves. I’m happy to be working with these guys to really combat the issue of Skin Cancer!! Ciao, Darren.

Vivobarefoot ESC Tempest ‘On Board’ Review

Vivobarefoot ESC Tempest Review by @StandUpPaddleUK’s Darren and Dale

So a couple of weeks ago Darren of @StandUpPaddleUK did an ‘out the box’ review of the new Vivobarefoot amphibious shoe, the ESC Tempest.

Click here for the ‘Out the Box’ Review by Darren

Darren and Dale have been using these in various different scenarios but we wanted to see how well they integrated with the use on a paddleboard.

DF: I headed down to Cornwall to test out the shoes on the paddleboard and along the coast line.

DM: I have managed to get them on the water quite a few times due to it being the summer holidays and being a teacher.

First impressions when in the shoes when wet:

DF: As expected the very grippy on sand and rocks. I went swimming and it feels like you get an additional bit of traction and it doesn’t feel like the shoe is trying to float to the surface which is great (especially if you’re doing the triathlon) I found the fit to be exactly the same when the shoe was wet or dry, no shrinkage which is another bonus. Note they come up tight when new.

On the paddleboard:

DF: I expected super grippy through all motions of the paddle and stroke, and that was confirmed! As I said before the shape and orientation of the sole really provides a sure footing when pressed against the deck pad. I also found them to be snug and comfortable while on the board, as we all know sometimes when you’re standing for long periods the soles of your feet can get quite sore, I didn’t find that with these. I was riding my 14 Tourer and felt comfortable at all times with the grip of these shoes.

DM: Once on the board although having quite a big sole on the boot and a lot of grip it feels as if you are not wearing a shoe, it feels very natural and there is a good connection between you and the board. The first time out I was just messing around on a 10’6 board and really moving around the board doing step backs and generally messing around with fiends and everything just felt so grippy and natural. Having since been out a few times on my tourer the experience is the same, great contact with your board and a real sense of unity that you don’t get form wearing trainers on a board or a thicker boot. 

Use in the sea / water:

DF: As I said before, impressed. I went swimming in these as I thought I was getting a little bit more traction on my feet, the only downside is when you’re coming out of sea water/sand the inside of the shoe allows sand to enter which can be uncomfortable if your barefoot. I quick rinse and they are good to go.

Yes, that’s underwater!

DM: What is nice is when they get wet they stay light and don’t fill up and feel cumbersome. The drainage is good and even when taking a slight swim these shoes did not get in the way and felt super light. I didn’t have issues with anything entering the boot in any of my paddles but wasn’t in the sea so just general dust and dirt stayed away.

Comfort level / Fit :

DF: Surprisingly quite comfortable for a minimal shoe. I wore them around St. Ives town, walking about 6miles and they were good. No discomfort on the board either. Just remember that these are a snuggly fitted shoe due to their design around the top of your foot. Due to a previous foot injury I found the polymer band to rub on my metatarsal a bit.

DM: Fit wise these things as mentioned they come up tight, now let me explain why, the tight part comes from putting them on and is due to the lack of stretch in the material sock due to a polymer band which sits across the top of the foot. Once on this does not bother you and actually in use helps keep the shoe tight on your foot and in place. A few times I have questioned what would happen if this band was removed? Well honestly I think the shoe would be easier to get on but would also be more likely to slip and possibly come loose which you would not want. Once on a short walk around feels very strange due to the shape of the shoe. This is not a discomfort but very different to wearing a normal shoe/boot. After a while this feels pretty normal and you get used to it. 

Other things of note:

DM: I usually wouldn’t mention is safety, as generally feel pretty comfortable on a board but recently doing more river paddling and canals coming out of lockdown these are not always the cleanest environment. The River Trent especially isn’t Evian water and getting in and out on banks you don’t know what you’re treading on! The sole of these would not puncture on a needle or sharp can etc.

DF: Given the multi use nature of the shoe it could be marketed to anyone in the outdoor arena which is excellent. Shoe comes in several colours also if Grey isn’t to your fancy. They do cool black and orange which is very StandUpPaddleUK!

DM : It’s always hard deciding where I would pitch a shoe like this, who would most likely use it? I feel anyone like me who spends a lot of time on rivers, rocks, canals, at the beach where you could stand on sharp rocks would be ideal. I think these would make a great shoe for people touring and offer great comfort when portaging. These would be incredible for those paddling white water, and starting to do more moving rivers as offer so much grip moving around the board yet keeping plenty of contact with the board.

Are they worth the money?

DF: I personally haven’t done a huge amount of research into amphibious shoes. I’ve always worn a wet suit shoe when out paddling. Retailing at £170 on the Vivobarefoot website they are on the expensive side but given that they are a multi use piece of footwear I think it does justify the cost. I like them a lot and will be using solely for paddleboarding from now on.

DM: I really rate these shoes both on the water and off and will certainly be wearing them a lot. Vivobarefoot have a 100 days program where they ask you to try it for a period of time to make your decision. I have to say after a few paddles I really am converted to these. As Darren mentioned the price tag is high but the reasons for this are the manufacturing that goes into a shoe like this, its made with new materials such as bloom and recycled polymers, and the parts which are not sustainable are built well and to last such as the Michelin rubber on the sole.

After all that testing.. DF needed to chill!

Find more reviews over on @StandUpPaddleUK – thanks Darren and Dale.

Red Original Accessories – The Waterproof Pouch Review

The Red Original Accessories Review of the Waterproof Pouch for @StandupPaddleUK – Find your Discount Code inside!

Oh, you had me a waterproof..

It has been a big week for us over on StandupPaddleUK. We’ve received a fair amount of kit to test, trial and review. We’ve always loved what the crew at Red Original are doing, it’s high quality products, made the right way, by a brand that really cares about the community.

A bumper delivery for Review!

I’ve got a few reviews to write for their products but let’s get on with the Waterproof Pouch..

So as I said at start of the review, ‘you had me at waterproof’.. Yeah, this thing is legitimately waterproof. There are photos on their website of a guy swimming in the sea holding the pouch, that is insane! I’ve used dry bags before but this thing is the next level.

I mean.. Wow..

StandUpPaddleUK as a collective have been using this item for some time. Dale is a huge fan of the pouch and really does swear by it too.

Dale out on the River with his Waterproof Pouch fitted to the central grab handle

Sizing: the pouch its self is 23cm long x 12cm deep x 5cm wide. You’re easily able to get your phone, keys and a GoPro in there.. We’ve even had a drone in there. It’s also the perfect place for something like an inhaler, the most important piece of equipment when I go out on my paddleboard after my PFD! So knowing that my medication is protected is also a great thing.

I’ve comfortably fitted my Keys, GoPro, Sony A6000 and iPhone in here with space to spare

On the board: The really great thing about the pouch is you are able to connect it to you and your board in several ways. The double Velcro strap system can be secured to grab handles, your deck bungee straps, the RO deck bag and the RO AirBelt. Personal preference for me and Dale is attaching it to your central grab handle as everything is then easily accessible beneath your feet.

As ever, we are testing in line with the use on a paddleboard however you could use it on a kayak, on your bike, open water swimming.. It really is a very versatile piece of kit. I’ve now used this pouch on two paddles and during one of them was a horrendous downpour of rain, the pouch protected my keys and phone. I like the integration with my board, I don’t use a Red Paddle board, so it is really great to see a product working on different brands products. We talk to brands a great deal about integration with other manufacturers/competitors so it’s really good to see that you don’t have to own a specific board to use their accessories..

Integration across the Red Original Range. The Waterproof Pouch and be connected via the velvro straps to the PFD Airbelt. A great idea for the paddler without the need for a bigger dry bag
The Pouch attached to the RO Deck Bag – Attached via the Bungee Cords

Quick Water Test: So the basic of the basic, let’s submerge this pouch and see what happens..

A full basin of water 💧
Submerged for about 2 minutes
100% dry internally

Absolute madness. No water droplets, runs or signs of moisture inside of the Pouch. That’s a pass on the water test.. Kind of the most important part of the review really!

I’ve never really been a ‘rating’ reviewer. I prefer more to explain how the products work, how they integrate with different things and essentially if they are practical in their use. I really do believe that the waterproof pouch is a 10 out of 10 product. I suggest you check out the product itself on their website (click here for the link). As usual a video review on our IGTV will follow.

RRP is £64.95. Oh also of note; Red Original have been kind enough to provide StandupPaddleUK with a discount code – use code ‘standuppaddleuk15‘ at checkout to get a discount!

Thanks to Ross over at Red Originals for the continued support and their immense products! Learn more about Red Originals over on our IGTV Series.

Cheers to another review, stay tuned for more Red Originals product reviews..

Vivobarefoot ESC Tempest ‘Out of the Box’ Review

The VivoBareFoot ESC Tempest Review by Darren Farrar for @StandupPaddleUK

As you know may, or may not know, I’m one of the guys behind StandupPaddleUK. We review, test and trial equipment in the paddleboard/watersports industry.. And pretty much anything that can be used while out with your board!

Find us on Instagram StandupPaddleUK

As someone that paddles a lot of rivers and canals footwear is an absolute must. I know a lot of people are very keen on barefoot paddleboarding, which has its advantages when the weather is really hot but I always find myself trying to get out of waterways and more often than not the terrain is not favourable to bare feet. I started researching different types of footwear and qas generally pointed in the direction of a wet suit shoe or boot. I myself do use a Gul Powershoe but the problem with a wet suit shoe is they absolutely stink out your house and car!

This all led us into looking at amphibious footwear and the first company that I came across that produced something which not only looked cool but had a ton of technology behind it and is made by a sustainable company, Vivobarefoot.

In a different life I was a personal trainer so I’ve been well aware of the brand as I used to wear the footwear while working in the gym. However these amphibious shoes are completely different.. Minimal still, but different!

Now I must point out that these are solely being tested for general fit and in line with the use on a paddleboard. I’m not testing their performance for running/triathlons, the review is to show how well the shoe integrates with the day to day use of paddleboard. That being said these are being marketed as an Amphibious Swim/Run shoe so anyone outside of the paddleboarding arena will need to do a bit more research elsewhere if running is your niche.

Introducing the Vivobarefoot ESC Tempest Amphibious Shoe

Straight out of the box: No plastic. Boom. Love that Vivo!

The make up of the shoe: The upper of the shoe have a very interesting pattern which I’m sure when in the water (mainly for swimming) provides some form of friction).

Quick draining mesh and recycled plastic PET ankle sock construction are designed to keep your feet comfortable between land and water.

The bio-based Bloom EVA midsole gives additional flotation! **Bloom is amazing FYA – it us formed into a performance foam made using algae biomass which cleans and restores the environment when harvested. The first sustainable alternative to the synthetic and petrochemical EVA foam!

How do they feel when they’re on: Bloody hell they’re difficult to get on.. I’m a UK8.5 / 9, so with a wet suit shoe I always size down because they’re stretchy. Out of the box I would say these are slightly smaller than ‘true to size’ and anyone with a wider feet should size up by one.

Now for me, these are very weird but also cool looking shoe. We’ve been sent the Zinc colourway but the shoes do come in three different colour options, these which are:

Obsidian
Obsidian/Orange
Zinc

Image from the VivoBareFoot Site
Image from the VivoBareFoot Website

Sole of the shoes are very chunky and they have been manufactured with Michelin so you can almost guarantee that the sole is of the highest quality. *The level of grip that you get from these while on a paddleboard will be tested with an ‘on the water’ test*

There are no laces on these as they are a Speed Toggle. The ST is quite a thin lace system which I feel could be a little bit thicker but on the whole does a good job of tightening the upper. I’ve honestly worn these without tightening the ST as the fit was so snug to my feet.

Overall fit: I have found these, quite tight and fit very snuggly around the top of your foot. If you’ve broken a metatarsal before like me then you may feel that they rub on the top of your feet, however this may wear off once the shoe has been worn in. When walking around normally there are no issues, I found them to be quite comfortable without socks. The shoes essentially work straight out of the box with minimal adjustments and are also very fast drying is also helpful!

Currently retailing on Vivobarefoot’s website for £170. They do a cool 100 Day Trial which may be worth the option for some people. Click Here to read more about the 100 Day Trial!

As a footballer, well, an ex footballer, these reminded me and felt comparable to these…

A very similar fit to that of the Adidas Ace boots..

Myself and Dale will be carrying out ‘on the water’ tests which will be video reviews on our IGTV. We really want to test out how well these handle on the paddleboard, getting in and out of water (specifically onto the sides of rivers or canals). I get the feeling they will be a great tool in our arsenal..

Remember that this is a minimal shoe and while we’re not talking about running it is advisable that if you are trying a minimal shoe for the first time that you seek advice from a professional.

Thanks to Vivobarefoot for allowing us the opportunity to test these out. Stay tuned for the ‘On the Water’ video review. Ciao, Darren.