Stand up paddle boarding hydration tips – it’s not just for performance paddlers!

We all need water; to survive; to refresh and to make us feel well. But hydration goes deeper than that – especially when something like stand up paddle boarding is concerned. It’s not just a case of glugging copious amounts of water either. There’s a bit more to it than that. Here’re tips for stand up paddle boarding hydration, whether you’re a recreational SUPer or hardcore paddler.

Make hydration your first thought

Rather than focusing on your SUP equipment making hydration your first thought is a much better way to enjoying longer stand up paddling sessions and raising your overall SUP game. Not only will this good hydration knock on to other aspects of your life.

Checking your hydration levels

It may be off putting but studying your own urine can tell you a lot about personal hydration levels. A well hydrated individual will have urine that’s clear and copious. If you don’t want to do this then make sure to keep drinking – simples!

Avoid caffeinated or sugary drinks

There’re plenty of energy drinks available, most of which aren’t that great. Filled with unnatural substances they’ll give you a quick hit, that may result in a ‘pick me up’, but ultimately you’ll crash again shortly after, in some cases feeling much the worse for wear. And actually they don’t really hydrate much. They can actually make you thirstier!

Water’s good – for shorter stand up paddle sessions

If you’re a recreational stand up paddler, who takes on short SUP journeys, or only indulges in family paddles, then water’s fine. You still need to hydrate. Any kind of vigorous exercise, even for short periods of time, will see your body lose moisture that’ll need replacing. So drink!

Add fruit to taste

If you’re not too fond of that watery taste then adding a slice of lemon or lime will give it a little zing and make it more appealing. Orange segments as well or if you really fancy going all out then why not plump for the whole St Clements option.

Electrolytes for longer SUP sojourns

Electrolyte mixed drinks can help replace loss of key bodily components as you ramp up the intensity and distance of your stand up paddling. They can also help with endurance so those with a penchant for long distance SUP would find favour with electrolyte drinks. A word of warning, however. Electrolytes shouldn’t be overdone because of their artificial sweeteners and sugary content.

Sip, sip and sip some more

Sipping regularly is the key to staying properly hydrated. Rather than gulping in one sipping at, for instance, 10-20 minute intervals, will see paddlers remain tip top. And this is even for paddlers leisurely cruising with a lower paddle cadence. If it’s sunny and warm then this becomes even more important.  And for SUP racers, as an example, interval sipping should be par for the course.

Don’t wait!

If you feel thirsty then it’s usually too late: you’re dry already. Hydrating will work but you’ll have lost the performance edge (if this is what’s required). Having ready access to your source of hydration is therefore key. A hydration pack, which you wear on your back, works well. Alternatively keep your water bottle in front, attached to a bungee, for easy access.

Hydrate fully to start

Before you begin your paddling session make sure you’re fully hydrated. If you’ve a penchant for a beer or two then diuretics like this will sap moisture from your body. Make sure you get enough hydration into your body if you’ve had alcohol the night before. Caffeine is the same. Even without this most people go through their regular days not fully hydrated. This results in loss of alertness and lack of energy. If you begin your SUP session without being hydrated then it’s uphill from the start.

Good habits pay dividends

The more you hydrate the more used the process you’ll become. Hydrating as a habit will only see positive effects and benefits so start with best foot forward and how you mean to go on. After all, correct hydration will see your everyday life benefit, not just SUP.

Reusable bottles

For any kind of hydration related ‘work’ it’s recommended to reuse your water bottle. We don’t want to be adding to the environmental impact of plastic waste and with a good water bottle, such as a stainless steel vacuum type, you can chill your drink and keep it tasting great all day.


Hyponatraemia is where an individual sweats copiously and drinks plain water in excess to replace this lost moisture. It’s increasingly common for those who participate in SUP races – particularly long, hot SUP races. A lot like dehydration muscle cramps, tiredness and fatigue can be symptomatic of Hyponatraemia. If you’re SUP racing over considerable distance then adding sodium or consuming fluid in addition to salty foods can stop the onset.

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