Hello! I’m Lindsey with the Sales + Customer Success team at Paddle North HQ. I joined the Paddle North team in summer of 2021. Before I was an employee, I was a customer! I ordered the Portager inflatable paddle board after having my eye on it for over a year. I love being on the water, but with no regular access to a boat and no family/friends who have lakefront property, I knew that the Portager was the right choice. It’s extremely portable, easy to store, and is versatile for use on lakes, rivers, oceans, and more.
Like most first-time paddlers, I had a lot of questions. I pre-ordered it in March of 2021 and was (im)patiently waiting for the weather to warm up and for my board to arrive. I finally got the notification around Memorial Day that it was ready for pickup at the HQ in Columbia Heights, MN. I excitedly walked into the showroom. The staff was so great and helpful, they even brought it out to my car for me!
I couldn’t wait to unbox all my goodies, so I opened everything up and inflated the board in my kitchen (the only place long enough in my apartment to fit the 11.6 board). I read the instruction manual, watched the videos on YouTube, and felt like I had the basics covered.
Turns out, paddle boarding can seem both simple and complicated at the same time. If you’re just starting out with the Portager, here are a few quick tips can help remove some of the mystery so that you can get out on the water and have a stress-free paddling experience. I was able to get out on a few Minneapolis-area lakes, a quiet lake in Trego, WI, and the Mighty Mississippi in summer and fall 2021 for my first season, and here are a few things that really helped me out.
GETTING STARTED WITH YOUR GEAR:
The Paddle North Portager kit includes everything you need to get started.
1. Inflation: First, you’ll need to inflate your board. With the included manual pump, be sure to attach the hose to the side of the pump labeled “inflate” and then select the “double action” setting to get air in on both the down and up motion. Twist the end of the hose onto the inflation valve and start pumping! It’s a great warmup. Once the pump gauge reads 7-10 PSI, you may want to switch it to “single action” so it’s easier on your arms to get to your desired PSI. Most paddlers find 12-15 PSI to be optimal, although the maximum threshold for the Portager is 18 PSI. I feel pretty comfy on mine at around 10-11, as a 140lb, 5’5” woman.
2. Attach the Fin: Second, choose the correct fin. The lake fin (10” long) is ideal for lakes and deeper bodies of water, while the shallow fin (5” long) is better for rivers, creeks, or extremely weedy conditions. Both will attach to the fin box in the same way, sliding into the slot (the fin should curve toward the tail of the board) and then the clip will slide in to lock the fin in place. Don’t forget this step, otherwise you run the risk of losing your fin in the water!
3. Ankle Leash: Third, be sure to attach the ankle leash to the D-ring at the tail of the board, then velcro the other end around your ankle. This will ensure that if you fall off, your board won’t get swept away from you.
4. Assemble the Paddle: The three pieces will click together. Connect the bottom blade to the shaft by pushing in the button and nesting the pieces together. Then, align the button to click into the hole (be careful in this step not to pinch your hand between the two pieces). Next, place the handle into the shaft. Adjust it to the correct height by standing the paddle up in front of you with your arm straight up in the air, then flex your wrist down so it rests on the handle. Closing the tab will lock the handle in place at your desired height. You will use your paddle with the loon logo facing forward. I, like many first-time paddlers, had it facing the wrong way for longer than I care to admit.
5. Wear a Life Jacket: Make sure you are wearing your Personal Flotation Device (life jacket) or have it on board with you. Don't have one? You can shop our inflatable life jacket here.