One of blog readers asked me whether SUP Rail Tape is necessary. I did some research, here’s the results..

What is SUP Rail Tape?

Rail tape is used to re-enforce the rails of your boards to prevent or reduce damage from a variety of sources (see below). The tape is a clear plastic material that sticks on and runs the length of both rails (2pc) adding additional protection to your rails.
RailSaverPro does have decorative rail tape.
Rail tape is popular with SUP rental operations as inexperienced paddlers can afflict a lot damage to boards.

How can your rails get damaged?

  • Boards banging against other boards on water
  • Paddles hitting the rail
  • Dropping, sliding or sometimes even resting a board on the ground, especially concrete
  • Collisions with rocks, docks, or armored shorelines (concrete bulkheads, pilings, etc).
  • Stacking boards on each other for storage, especially boards with raised rails (use foam for racks)

Rail tape can also be used to re-enforce soft rails on super light carbon and fiberglass race boards.

But is it necessary?

For rentals and beginners – yes!

Tip for not hitting your board with your paddle..

Use a vertical shaft (upper hand over water) and draw your stroke from your catch (nose) to your feet in a straight line. This means don’t start the blade at the nose, instead place the blade in the water a few inches from the nose but in line with the rail at your feet. Doing so means you paddle straight and you don’t hit your board.

Another Version of Protecting Rails – Fiberglass

Sea kayakers have been using keel tape for years. A similar product to rail tape, keel tape is thicker and runs the hull length of kayaks from stern to bow preventing from dinging the hull on rocks or beach landings.

The tape on my kayak collected sand in the seams. So I began applying a strip of fiberglass instead.  Some SUP paddlers I know have applied a strip of fiberglass down the length of their rails not only to reduce dings, but to re-enforce thus make their board stronger.  If you’re not skilled with fiberglass, hire a professional. I do, as I usually end up making a mess of things.

Boards that don’t need rail tape – 
Soft tops that have a non fiberglass rail, plastic sups, inflatables or boards with a super strong hull with lots of fiberglass. Glide boards have truck liner sprayed on their exterior and Bounce have a super solid exterior without the weight that doesn’t ding easily.

Products – 
The following seem to be the most popular:

North Shore Inc Stand Up Paddle Rail Tape

Vemo Rail Saver

How to Apply Rail Tape – 
Click here to see this great video by BluePlanetSurf in Oahu. They’re using RailSaverPro


Any questions give me a holler: rob@ / 206.465.7167
Check out my Online and in-person SUP courses – beginning to advanced instruction and PSUPA Certification in Seattle.

Salmon Bay Paddle SUP Tips