Standup paddleboards are great for many things: surfing, whitewater paddling, downwinding, touring, racing or just enjoying a day on the water. But there's one thing they aren't so great for: being carried. With the exception of inflatables or smaller surf SUPs, standup paddleboards are generally fairly heavy and bulky.

how to carry sup board

Photo: Aaron Black-Schmidt

For folks with less upper body strength, that means picking the board up via the deck handle can be a challenge. Luckily, there's more than one way to lift and carry a SUP. One of the best strategies to lighten the load is to use the tail lift technique. Follow these steps for an easier technique to lug around your board.


When lifting your board, protecting your back should be your first priority. Of course, this means lifting with your legs and not your back.

To safely use the tail lift technique, you'll want to start in a squat and lift the board from its tail. Next, begin to stand up straight as you work your hands up the board. Grab the rails in the middle, place the top of your head in the center of the board and lift to balance on your head. If you don't like carrying it on your head, carefully slide the board to your shoulder using your head to balance it.


With the board balancing on your head, picking up a paddle becomes a challenge. To circumvent this issue, lean your paddle vertically nearby and pick it up after you've lifted the board up. But if you'd rather avoid holding your paddle altogether, keep your paddle strapped to the board with bungie tie-downs.


On gusty days, the head carry reduces wind resistance on your board. On the flip side, carrying it on your shoulder can be difficult as the wind can catch and move the board around. Another disadvantage of the shoulder carry is that it blocks your visibility on one side, which is especially problematic on crowded beach or when crossing a street.


Putting the board down tail first might damage the fin box, so you'll want to avoid that. Instead, place the nose of the board on the ground, then slowly walk your hands to the tail and gently set the board down. Also be sure to place the board onto sand or grass to avoid scratching or dinging your board.

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