News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Paddling for fun and fitness

The number of stand-up paddleboard (SUP) enthusiasts is growing nationwide at a rate faster than tennis or golf - and Sisters Country is no exception. Three million paddleboarders dot the U.S. landscape and the market for the boards and accessories is $1.5 billion out of a worldwide total of $4.3 billion.

Take a drive to Three Creek Lake, Black Butte Ranch or Suttle Lake and the allure is at once obvious. Take a close look and you will see that it's intergenerational, not merely a teen or young adult activity. Because it's easy to learn and an inflatable board can be had for as little as $250 to $350, it's a bargain compared to a new set of skis or a new mountain bike.

Most buyers will opt to spend closer to $600 for a better constructed rig with multiple-layer PVC skins (meaning better protection) and a greater chance of getting higher numbers of drop stitches and welded seams, adding to longevity.

Inflatable is the key here. A decent rigid board will set you back $1,000 or more depending on its construction material - plastic being a fourth to a third of the price of carbon fiber. Plus the paddle, which is another $125 to $300.

Less is more. The lighter the board, the more you will pay.

The benefits of an inflatable are obvious - weight and size. You can carry an inflatable in your backpack or toss it into the trunk or back seat of any car. A rigid board - eight-plus feet in length - needs to travel on a roof, or in a pickup bed, or hang out the rear window of a hatchback.

That adds to the cost for roof racks or other rigging to secure the board to the car.

Debbi Upton from Portland was enjoying a good book Sunday while all three of her kids and her husband, Lance, were paddling around Suttle Lake. They rented the boards for two hours, spending $200 in total.

"It's worth every penny," Upton said. "It's a bargain compared to a theme park and a whole lot better for them."

Lance Upton said the kids had so much fun that he expects he'll be seeing one or more under the Christmas tree this year.

Enthusiasts tout the advertised benefits, one being balance. Paddleboarding requires a lot of balance to stand up on the board. This means that you'll be using both your core and leg strength to keep yourself balanced on the board.

"It's a stress reducer," said Maureen Turner, of Salem, vacationing at Black Butte Ranch. "My blood pressure goes up when I play golf and down when I'm on a board. And I can rent three boards for a week for the price of a few rounds of golf."

She grinned as she scooted around Phalarope Lake with her two daughters.

Can't wait to try it? Don't want to drive to Bend? Bi-Mart stocks a 108-inch dual-layer reinforced, EVA non-slip mat, drop-stitch 0.9mm PVC inflatable including paddle, fin, seat, hand pump, leash, backpack, and repair kit with a 300- pound capacity for $289.99.

Or try it out first with a rental at the Ranch for $45 or at Suttle Lake for $35. Expect a good workout. It takes your entire body to use your SUP inflatable paddleboard well. While you're paddleboarding, you'll be working your back muscles, core, arms, legs, shoulders, and torso, offering you a whole body workout.


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