By: Cheyenne Knight, Assistant Kayak Pittsburgh Supervisor
If you have visited our Kayak Pittsburgh North Park location in the past month or so, you might have noticed a new piece of equipment in the boathouse. It’s white, green, gray, and black, has quite a few straps running across the top, and is shaped like a surf board. You won’t be riding the waves with our latest toy, but you will get to paddle your way around the lake on one of the neatest stand up paddleboards (SUP) we have ever had at Kayak Pittsburgh.
The Outfitter by Body Glove is an 11-foot, 24-pound inflatable stand up paddleboard comes with everything that you would need to get out on the water—an adjustable aluminum paddle, a hand pump, a backpack, a dry pouch, a coil leash, and a repair kit. All you have to bring is a PFD and a desire to try something new.
The features that make this paddleboard different from our other two options at the boathouse are small but significant. With a 34-inch-wide body, the Outfitter offers a stable base for beginners and experienced paddlers alike. The board also features a Velcro carrying handle to hold the paddle, straps across the front to hold down shoes, bags, or anything else you want to bring on your next paddling adventure, and a hookup option for a Go-Pro. The board is also covered with instructions, suggestions, and warnings to remind paddlers of the necessary knowledge for stand up paddleboarding.
One of our supervisors at North Park, Brittany Fagan, and Venture Outdoors’ Equipment and Training Specialist, Mike Adams, were the first to test the board before allowing customers to take it out on the lake. Brittany led many of our SUP Yoga outings last summer, so she is very familiar with all things stand up paddleboarding from assembly to maintenance. She noted that Body Glove made it simple to get out on the water. “It was really user-friendly—the manual was clear and putting the board together was easy.”
She and Mike took the board around North Park Lake one morning before the concession opened. After taking only a few minutes to inflate the board, they zipped up their PFDs and headed out on the water to put the board to the test. They each paddled on the board and practiced a few yoga poses to ensure that the board was stable and durable enough for any yogi to practice on it. “I felt really comfortable standing on the decking,” said Brittany. “I can definitely see myself doing yoga on it because of how stable and wide it is.”
After staring at the board in the boathouse from across the check-in desk for a few weeks, I finally took it out after one of my shifts. I gathered everything that I needed, walked down to the dock, and got on the SUP with ease. The handle made getting out on the water by myself hasslefree, especially since there is the option to Velcro the paddle in.
Prior to this, I had only been on an inflatable board once before down in Rock Hall, Maryland. Although I found it to be comparable to a regular fiberglass board, I was still hesitant and figured that I preferred a hard board. Once I launched off the dock and paddled out far enough to attempt to stand, I pushed myself up with ease and was proved wrong. I paddled comfortably out across the lake toward the island and found that even when my board slowed down and eventually came to a standstill, I didn’t feel unstable like I usually do. I also found that when I sat down, the board was wide enough to sit comfortably without feeling like I’d topple over.
While my independent nature appreciates how easy the board is transport and assemble, my favorite part about the stand up paddleboard is that it is a great board to suggest to our customers at Kayak Pittsburgh. Although we always encourage people who are hesitant about paddleboarding for the first time to check out our Activities Calendar and register for a SUP Beginner Paddle, it is nice that we have the option to suggest they try out the Outfitter if they are comfortable paddling without a Trip Leader or on an organized outing.
The other day a customer looking to use a SUP asked if any of our boards have straps on it so that she could bring her speaker out on the water with her. I felt confident suggesting our newest Body Glove board to her, and after an hour out on the water, she felt confident on it as well.
All in all, I find the Body Glove Outfitter to be the best stand up paddleboard I have used. It is easy to transport and assemble, smooth on the lake, and great for beginner paddlers who are looking for a little extra stability on a board.