41% of the total area of the city of Seattle is water. Combined with our beautiful summers, it’s a perfect place for water sports!
I grew up in landlocked Indiana so when I first moved to Seattle in May of 2000, I found myself a place close to Lake Washington and bought a little kayak. I spent a lot of summer days paddling around the lake before and after work. It was so refreshing!
What I didn’t love; however, was trying to store and transport my kayak. Even though it was small, it still weighed 40+ pounds, was too big to keep inside my place, and a pain in the ass to get on top of my car. When I moved into my condo, storage became even more of an issue and I finally sold it.
Since my kayaking days, standup paddleboarding (SUP) has exploded as the fastest growing watersport in the world and the selection and quality of boards available has never been better!
I’m sure just about everyone has seen standup paddleboarders all over Seattle. With so many different types of water here, it’s paradise for both beginners and experts. Paddleboarding is a fantastic full-body workout and you can make it as easy or as hard as you want. You don’t even have to stand up, you can sit or kneel and simply enjoy being out there.
I’ve really missed getting out on the water so this year, after a lot of research into boards, I bought an XTERRA 10’ inflatable paddleboard package and I couldn’t be happier! Since I got it on June 24th, I’ve been out on the water at least 3-4 times a week. I only wonder why I didn’t buy one sooner!!
There’s still plenty of great weather left so if you’re looking for an easy way to get out on the water, you should try paddleboarding. It really isn’t as difficult as it looks and it’s a perfect way to enjoy the summer. Below are the reasons I picked my XTERRA board and why I recommend it. Go get your paddle on!!
Inflatable vs. Hardboard
First off, let’s cover the question everyone asks. Are inflatables just inferior options to hardboards? No, they most certainly are not! In fact, unless you’re a racer or really into speed, I can’t think of a single reason to pick a hardboard over an inflatable. For the average user, the difference in speed between the boards is very minimal.
Inflatables are built with durable materials that handle abuse and typically inflate to 10-15 PSI, making them surprisingly rigid. I live in a condo with lack of storage and for me, an inflatable is incredibly easy to store and transport. There really isn’t a better option!
Most beginners need a wider and thicker board for stability, which means at least 5-6” thick, 9’6″ in length, and 29”-32” wide. If you get a board narrower than 30” and thinner than 6”, it can become tougher for balancing. If you’re a smaller, lighter person, you can get away with a thinner board more easily.
XTERRA sells 10′ boards in both 4” and 6” thicknesses as well as longer 12′ touring boards. Before I bought my board I’d only SUP’d one other time so I would consider myself a complete newbie. I opted for a 10′ , 6” thick board, which is 30” wide and weighs approximately 28 pounds. Granted, I do yoga and I’m fairly athletic, but balancing on water is a whole other challenge!
I was surprised how stable and solid the board feels. It took me a little bit of time to work up to Lake Washington chop and boat wakes, but I had no problem jumping on the first day and cruising around in relatively flat water.
One obvious downside of an inflatable board is pumping it up. Yes, it takes a little work and I’ve seen a lot of people with inflatable paddleboards who spend upwards of 15 minutes pumping up their boards.
I’ve been really impressed by XTERRA’s high quality dual-action pump. It has a dial that allows you to use it in double action mode during the first phase of inflation when pressure is not high. That means your board is getting inflated on both the up and the down, which really cuts inflation time in half. I pump in double action mode until it gets tough to continue pumping, then I flip the dial and pump in single-action mode until the board is fully inflated.
The recommended board inflation is 12-14 PSI. If you’re in cold, choppy water, higher pressure is better. I weigh 120 lbs and it takes me an average of about 220 pumps over 4½ minutes to inflate my board to 12 PSI, which has been plenty sturdy for me! Believe me, I’m not Wonder Woman, but it’s relatively easy and a good excuse for an extra workout!
Nearly every time I’ve been out, other people with inflatables have asked me about my pump because I usually start inflating my board a few minutes after them and I’m done and on the water while they’re still pumping! XTERRA’s pump really wins in this department!
Obviously, you do need to exercise some caution with an inflatable board, but hardboards can also be damaged with rough, careless handling. Overall, inflatables are surprisingly durable!
XTERRA’s board is built from military/industrial-grade material with a high-density drop stitch to prevent warping and the sides are reinforced. That being said, I will disclose that on the first day I took my paddleboard out, I managed to somehow puncture the side of it. It didn’t happen while I was out on the water, I think it might have happened while it was being transported in my Jeep or while I was rolling it up on shore.
I was pretty bummed out but XTERRA’s SUP package includes a repair kit with glue, patches, and a valve wrench. They also have a video to show you exactly how to patch your board. It was easy to do and after letting it set for 24 hours, I’ve had it on the water nearly every day since (roughly 2 months) with zero issues. The patch has been completely solid and the board has held up fine rubbing against rocks, logs, and other things in the water. I’m convinced it was a fluke.
Even so, I am careful about treating my board nicely. I don’t drag it across the ground if I can avoid it and I’m careful what it’s lying on top of when not in the water.
The board’s deck pad is made from EVA foam, which provides a comfortable, soft, and grippy surface for your feet. It’s also nice for kneeling, though after an extended time your knees can get a bit sore.
The elastic bungee system easily holds a life jacket, water bottle, hoodie, and various other small accessories while you’re out on the water. It has two D-rings on each end that make it easy to carry or tie off to a dock and even comes with a built-in GoPro mount.
The board comes with 3 fins, two of which are permanently attached and have little inflatable waterwing-like protectors for when the board is rolled up. The center 6” fin is removable and easy to slide in and secure with an attached pin. I usually put my board in the water, then attach the fin so it doesn’t drag on the ground.
If you’re in shallow water, just be aware the fin may catch up on logs or other things close to the surface. I’ve accidentally caught mine a few times, but so far it’s been fine and it’s fairly easy to remove even while sitting on the board if you need to.
The XTERRA package also comes with a 10’ coiled SUP leash, essential for safety and keeping your board from floating away if you do take a spill.
Included is a 3-piece adjustable aluminum paddle that extends from 66” to 87”, which should be long enough for a 6’2″ person. A general rule of thumb is that your paddle should be your height + 9-10”.
Paddling Tip: When I first started paddleboarding I had no idea I was holding the paddle backwards! I see almost every newbie make this same mistake. The paddle blade should actually be angled away from you, not towards you as in kayaking. If you’re doing it wrong, flip it around. You’ll notice a big difference!
I love how easy it is to not only store my paddleboard but also transport it! It rolls up quickly, comes with a strap, and slides into the backpack that XTERRA provides with the package.
The pump, paddles, and accessories all fit into the pack and combined weigh about 34 pounds.
It’s easy to take on vacation, bring camping, or even hike in short distances to alpine lakes! I don’t have to worry about finding good parking on busy days, I simply throw on the backpack, and walk!
I even brought my paddleboard with me when I went backpacking in the Chelan Sawtooth Wilderness earlier this summer. After my backpack, I enjoyed a beautiful paddle at a nearby alpine lake. There’s simply no shortage of places to go with an inflatable! You don’t have to strap it to your car or figure out how to awkwardly carry it.
Money-back Guarantee and Warranty
XTERRA offers a 60-day money-back guarantee that begins the day after you receive your board. If you’re not completely satisfied you can return it (in like-new/slightly-used condition), no questions asked, for a full refund of the purchase price. They also warranty the board for 1 year from the date of purchase against defects in materials and workmanship and will send you free patch kit materials for 5 years after the purchase of your board.
Want to buy one?
The 10′ XTERRA SUP package I bought retails for $1200; however, use the code VIP-CHRISTINE at checkout to get a 52% discount!
Their stock rotates frequently and I bought a polka-dot board offered a few months ago. If you don’t like the current stock, just wait, they’re always adding new designs and colors and also have 12′ touring boards and other specialty boards.
Where to Paddle!
If you live in the Seattle area, you can paddle just about anywhere!
Washington Park Arboretum. If you’re a real beginner, you should find flat, calm water. One of the best places around is the Washington Park Arboretum. Though 520 bridge construction is blocking some of the water access, you can launch from near the Graham Visitors Center and enjoy a mellow paddle with lots of birds to watch! It’s a great option to get started.
Green Lake. Another great beginner spot since the lake is free of motorized boat traffic and generally pretty calm. It’s also a great site for people watching! You can launch in a number of places and enjoy a leisurely, easy paddle.
Lake Union. Ready to move up a bit? Paddle out to Lake Union from a number of launch spots, but be cautious of traveling through the Montlake Cut. It’s super narrow with a lot of boat traffic and very much like a washing machine! Don’t do it unless you’re confident and experienced! Lake Union has lots of space to explore and gorgeous views of Seattle! Boat traffic can cause some wakes but areas around Portage Bay tend to be calmer waters.
Seward Park. The Andrews Bay inlet near Seward has lots of anchored boats in the summer but generally calmer water than the rest of Lake Washington. You can launch from Seward or the Ferdinand Street boat launch and enjoy paddling the shore. As you grow more confident, consider paddling all the way around Seward. You can always jump out, walk your paddle board across the parking lot, and jump back in the water on the other side.
Lake Washington. It took me a while to work up to paddling on Lake Washington. In the morning, the lake is typically smooth but later in the day and on busy summer weekends it can be very choppy with whitecaps from both wind and boat wakes. If you’re looking for a challenge, this is it!
Rattlesnake Lake. I’ve really enjoyed paddling at Rattlesnake out in North Bend and generally go there for sunset after-work paddles. It can sometimes be windy but in the evenings it’s usually calm and quiet. The views of the surrounding mountains can’t be beat! The lake is large enough that you can do a full lap and feel like you’ve gotten a workout but small enough to not be daunting. A great place to cruise and enjoy the views!
In addition to those options, you can also paddle Lake Sammamish, Alki, Golden Gardens, and numerous other places in the Puget Sound area.
The US Coast Guard considers SUPs operated outside a surfing, swimming, or bathing area as a “vessel” and as such, a child 12 years or younger must be wearing a life jacket and anyone older must have a Type I, II, III, or appropriate Type V life jacket at least on their vessel. Belt pouch-type inflatables must be worn to be legal.
A whistle is strongly recommended if you’re on busy waters so you can signal to a boat if necessary. If paddling after sunset, you should have a flashlight or signaling device.
A SUP leash should be used on anything other than dead calm water. This keeps your board from floating away if you fall, dangerous for both you and others!
Take advantage of the remaining summer and get yourself out on the water for not only fun, but also a great workout!