SUP for Lake Erie and large inland lake

I’m thinking I want to buy a board that I could use on Lake Erie and inland lakes in the northern Ohio area. I’ve tried a couple boards while out yaking and meeting up with SUP’ers on pretty calm days on Lake Erie and I don’t know where to start… Any advise would be greatly appreciated…Rick

Limited experience…
I’ve paddled a total of 7 paddleboards, so my experience is limited, but here’s my advice.

You maybe limited to what is available in your area because you really need to demo the board before buying. As a bigger guy (230lbs), I’ve been told some boards would work, and they were simply too small. Without paddling them, I wouldn’t have known.

You also need to demo to decide if you feel more comfortable with a displacement or surf type. Personally, I’d look at the displacement first with your stated use.

Another reason to demo is to determine the stability you feel comfortable with. At first it may feel nothing would be stable enough, but don’t sell yourself short. You’ll be surprised how quick you get comfortable.

Kayak 41 North
Cleveland area has boards and boats to demo and rent. Agree you gotta demo first to find the right board and right paddle for your size, weight, balance etc.

There must be other in Ohio I’ll let others chime in.

I live in MI so I know the resources there better:

If you’d like to vacation in beautiful NW Michigan, near Empire (Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore), check out Sleeping Bear Surf Shop in Empire which regularly does demos, and rentals, being ~10 minutes total from Lake Michigan, w. a couple of nearby inland lakes for fun and starting out(North and South Bar) which are just one sandy spit over from the Big Lake.

In nearby Beulah, south of Empire, is Michael Gray of Uncommon Adventures. I just took a class w. him over Memorial Day, he’s great - plenty of student boards too. He is one of just 2 ACA certified SUP instructors in MI.

There is also Paddle the Mitten (find them on facebook) which also gives lessons and has boards to try. They are based in Howell, MI (SE MI about 30 minutes north of Ann Arbor).

Generally, the big cruiser boards I see on the Great Lakes (MI) have been 13’6"-16 feet. Not to say you couldn’t work it w. a shorter board, just use a faster cadence. At your size a bigger board will give you more buoyancy and stability.

Cruising flatwater boards generally have displacement hulls, and are wider w. a less upturned “nose” than a surf-specific board.

Another great feature is to have some glassed in bungee attachment points so you can carry some day gear esp. if doing distances.

The used market in SUP is very sparse in the Midwest or I’d say go used. Therefore all the more important to try before you buy.

I have a M-22 sticker on my back window…I have spent considerable time in Mich. thruout my life and more so in the last 7 years. We ( my wife and I) really like the Glen Arbor area for the Sleeping Bear Dunes to the Manitou islands as well as Mackinaw area . My son graduated from U of M and he’s done the AuSable Marathon (very competitively) 3 times My wife and I as feeders…What a great event…One of my near term goals is to do the race course over a few days instead of overnight. By the way, I’m very well aquainted with 41 North, as I’ve taken rolling classes with them

that’s cool :slight_smile: there is a lot to do up there. I camp & kayak there 2-3 times a year, and went cc skiing and snowshoeing in January.

Can’t wait to SUP on Lake Michigan. Bays like Platte River, Sleeping Bear and Good Harbor are perfect for that.

maybe we can entice the big fella from Ohio to check it out.

Kayak41 is a good outfit. Too far away for me to take classes, but well regarded. I’ll see a few Kayak41 instructors at the South Bass Island Kayak Rendezvous this weekend.

I’ve given a little thought to come to that… I am supposed to go 200 miles east this weekend but the SBIK is only 70 miles west. Maybe we’ll meet up…

SUP for Lake Erie and large inland lake
Consider a few things…

  • stability - get something that is stable with no balance issues. width is most important for this, start at 30" if you’re 5-7 or taller. try before buying.

  • type of board? all arounders have the round ish noses 10’ to 12’ long 29" wide or wider. But if you want to go fast, train for races or tour, consider a 12-6 or 14’ long board with a pointy nose, lighter weight, etc.

  • budget - how much do you want to spend?

    make sure to wear or have a PFD on board and always wear a leash.


pfd on board
actually, if you are on USCG monitored waters, like all of the Great Lakes, their new regs for SUP say that a PFD must be worn - except when in the surf zone when they can be carried on the board.

If crossing flat water to get to a surf zone, they must be worn.

USCG has the option to issue a warning or a ticket.

Not arguing the logic or politics of it, just passing along the word.

IMO wearing a small, lightweight low profile Type III is no big deal. I use an Extrasport I got free w. the last kayak I bought - like wearing no pfd at all, and gives me a pocket too.

There are the inflatable pfds (belt type) being marketed for SUP, too.

IMO to wear a big touring kayaker’s vest is too much.