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What’s SUP?

Q. Dear Gear Guy. I’ve heard people talk about something called SUP — I think it might have something to do with surfing but I’m not sure what it is. Can you fill me in?

— Confused Chris, White Falls, Mont.

A. What’s SUP, Chris? SUP stands for stand up paddleboarding. It’s a sport in which people ride very large surfboards (generally from 10 to 12 feet long) and propel themselves around with long canoe-like paddles that are about as tall as the rider himself.

Stand up paddling originated in the 1960s on the Hawaiian beaches of Waikiki, but remained very niche until big wave surfer Laird Hamilton revived the sport about five years ago. Now people are using SUPs to surf waves, paddle flat water lakes and even run whitewater rivers!

SUP is a lot of fun, but it’s not exactly cheap to get started. The NSP Standup Board, the cheapest board and paddle package I’ve heard of, comes in just under a grand. ($995;

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