It's summertime...the rivers are flowing, spirits are high, and both experienced and beginner paddlers are once again plagued by the same problem: how to comfortably carry your paddleboard.
If you are walking a short distance then, there aren’t really any issues. Simply grab the middle handle, tuck it under your arm, and go for it.
However, sometimes longer carries are required for runs like the Chattooga, or hiking out from the Big Laurel. In these situations carrying even the lightest SUP can lead to fatigue in the hands, arms, and shoulders. This carry fatigue can be troubling if you wear yourself out before even putting on the river, or if you’ve already given your all and you’re just trying to get back to your ride. Definitely a problem, but I have a solution that can really make a difference.
To utilize the hands-free carry method you just need to re-purpose a few items. More than likely you have a carabiner in your river gear, and if you paddle with a rescue PFD, you should have a steel ring located on the rescue belt. First step is to slide the steel ring from the back of your PFD over to your preferred carrying side. Then, hook the carabiner to your steel ring with the gate opening facing out. Next, position your SUP so the top is facing you and the handle is facing inward.
It is helpful to place your SUP on an elevated surface like a rock or a tailgate, but it not necessary. Then, kneel down on one knee and hook the carabiner to the middle carry handle and carefully rise to a standing position. That’s it!
The weight of the SUP is distributed around your core by the PFD allowing for hands-free carrying for long distances. Now, go out and conquer those hike-to runs and rivers with comfort. Hala!