Man holding the best inflatable paddling board while his teammates are paddling it on the ocean

Best Inflatable Paddle Board Brands to Be Aware Of

Paddleboards are becoming increasingly popular, likely due to the sudden influx of Instagram influencers enjoying a morning paddle and yoga session in remote destinations. But whether you’re in Bali, Indonesia or North Carolina, there’s nothing better than paddle boarding.

Not only is it a fantastic method for exercising, but it can also help to reduce stress and facilitate relaxation, meditation, and yoga. When combined with a friendly face or a furry pal, paddle boarding quickly becomes the best way to start your mornings. The great thing about this sport it how affordable it is, given that access to most water comes free of charge.

A quality board will last you for years, even if it’s inflatable. The key is to take good care of it, particularly when you’re inflating it or packing it back into your vehicle. Very little damage can occur in the water, but on land, punctures are a real risk that you need to avoid to save yourself money in the long run.

There is an ongoing debate over whether inflatables can match with hard boards. However, for many of us, the convenience, weight, and portability of rubber rather than a hard epoxy material is a huge benefit. For this reason, inflatables are the fastest growing sector in the community.

But what board should you buy? There are a bunch of products to choose from, with an ever increasing number of brands. In this guide, we’ll be taking a look at some of the most recognizable companies, what they offer and why you should pick a product from these brands.

How We Chose Our Rankings


Kid standing at the surf board while paddling the best inflatable paddle board

Image by Ulrike Mai from Pixabay

When we’re comparing brands, it’s important that we consider a wide variety of the different products they offer. To do so, we assess using the following criteria:

  • Size of inventory
  • Quality of products
  • Level of customer support
  • Affordability of products
  • Variety of skill levels

To begin, we look at the reviews that people are leaving online. By doing so, we can get a much wider understanding of what customers think. From there, we begin to narrow down our selection and rank the remaining brands based on the score they receive in each of the categories listed above.

The Best Inflatable Paddle Board Brands


Atoll paddle board

Atoll is thought of by many as one of the leaders in the industry, especially when it comes to inflatables. They aren’t cheap, not by a long shot, but they offer a level of quality and customer service that is nearly unparalleled in this market. For us, Atoll is a company that can be trusted, regardless of which of the products you choose. The same isn’t true for other brands.


Even some of the more recognizable national businesses don’t consistently release top tier products. One model might be exceptional, and the next is disappointing. Atoll is head and shoulders above many competitors, with an intense focus on customer satisfaction, which is what has allowed Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft to excel.


The Atoll 11’ ISUP is the most well-known product that they have released. In our opinion, it’s the best inflatable paddle board. Not only is it durable and stable, but it also offers excellent value for money, despite having a higher price tag than many alternatives.


Being 6-inches deep and 32-inches wide, it’s the ideal size for the vast majority of riders, even those up to 350lbs. It’s hard to know precisely where the sweet spot lies, but it seems that this size would be adequate for a vast array of users.


Typically, the reason why people dislike the size of the board is that it’s either not buoyant enough or too heavy. But being large and yet incredibly light, the Atoll is an all-rounder. It’s made using PVC, and a lightweight aluminum alloy, which makes it 40 percent lighter than similarly sized boards. Therefore, it’s buoyant enough for all, while still being lightweight.


The Atoll comes with everything that you need to get onto the water, including a pump, carry bag, fins, leash, and a paddle. Unlike most boards which require screws to install the fins, it simply clicks into place and screws in tightly with no tools or installation necessary. It should also fit the vast majority of aftermarket fins for greater customization.


Atoll is so confident in their products that they offer a 2-year money-back manufacturer's warranty on their boards. Therefore, if there is a fault in the design, you can send it back and expect a full refund or replacement. Atoll is known for its excellent service, which should give you confidence.

SereneLife paddle board

While Atoll sits at the top of the market, SereneLife is for a different customer base. Rather than focusing entirely on quality, they try to strike the right balance, to sell an affordable product to the middle and low market. At half the price of Atoll products, they aren’t half the quality, making SereneLife excellent value for money, particularly for beginners.


If you’re looking to enter into the sport and aren’t quite sure whether it’s for you, a SereneLife board is a great option. Without a huge financial risk, you can enjoy a quality product that with proper care can last you for years to come. Primarily, the difference between SereneLife and Atoll is in the build. The latter uses more expensive components.


Rather than fabrics and cloth, Atoll uses PVC and lightweight aluminum which is rather expensive. However, it would give you greater rigidity and durability, more like a traditional paddleboard than an inflatable. Whereas SereneLife is more focused on keeping costs down so that they can sell an affordable product to consumers.

Regardless, it’s important to recognize that SereneLife strikes the perfect balance for those on a budget and is one of the best inflatable paddle board brands in the industry. If you can’t afford an Atoll product, SereneLife could be a great fit for you. ISLE and Tower are other alternatives but are once again more expensive and not as good value for money.


Another great thing about SereneLife is that their boards tend to come with a full package of goodies. Just like Atoll, you’ll find that you can get a carry bag, pump, leash, fin, and paddle for a fraction of the price of other brands. When you consider these extra items, the value proposition is even higher and gives you incredible bang for your buck.

iRocker paddle board

Arguably one of the most underappreciated brands in the space, iRocker offers exceptional customer service as well as an undeniably great product. Cheaper than Atoll and more expensive than SereneLife, they offer a middle-tier price point with a premium level of product. While the boards might not be anything special, the accessories are.


Most companies offer terrible pumps and carry bags, whereas iRocker recognizes that these are arguably just as important as the board itself. If customers are frustrated with getting to the water and inflating the board, they won’t use the product. Hence it’s awesome that iRocker prioritizes these smaller features and items.


According to many of the customer reviews we read, iRocker products are amazing. Most customers felt that the boards were great value for money, particularly the 10’6” board and the 11” big daddy, both of which come with a bag of goodies. To us, these are great options for anyone in this price bracket which is serious about enjoying this activity.

ROC paddle board

Similar to SereneLife, ROC is a middle-tier brand that tries to give you value for your money. Their products are consistently priced within a few bucks of SereneLife, making them somewhat interchangeable depending on your preferences. Very broadly, SereneLife tends to have a younger feel to the brand, which ROC is closer to a mountaineering brand image.


In our opinion, ROC is a good brand and can be trusted to sell reliable, durable and decent quality items which will fulfill their promises. According to many of the reviews that we read, customers feel like ROC offers good value, especially given how expensive many paddle boards can be.


ROC doesn’t offer a vast variety of different models, which might be frustrating for some. While higher-end brands tend to have multiple sizes to choose from, particularly for those of varying weights, ROC does not have the same flexibility. But, the generic size they offer is ideal for those up to 275 lbs, although probably not great for those over this weight limit.


On the flip side, they do give you multiple color options of much of their gear. The boards tend to be in blue, black, green and pink, which is a nice twist given that most brands only offer a single color and very occasionally an alternative. However, it would be nice if ROC prioritized their accessories more.


For example, the pump they provide alongside the board is poor. SereneLife uses a double-valve pump system which means that you can inflate with half the work at double the speed. Therefore, it’s a huge advantage. Likewise, a more comfortable and stylish travel bag would be appreciated by those who are hiking to the lake or ocean.

ISLE paddle board

ISLE fits into a weird place in the market. They don’t sell cheap products, but in the mind of many consumers, they struggle to compete with the quality and service of Atoll. The product that they offer isn’t dissimilar to many cheaper alternatives, which might make some less likely to stretch their budget when they could save money with SereneLife.


However, where ISLE sets themselves apart is with their accessories. Unlike ROC which has dull accessories which could be private label, ISLE has branded versions of everything, with unique twists to improve on basic designs. Their leash, for example, uses long coils to make it retractable, rather than a long wire which you can trip over and injure yourself.


Perhaps one of the less tangible downsides to ISLE is the designs that they offer. The products that they retail aren’t particularly beautiful or attractive. They tend to be basic, with large splashes of color rather than unique or exciting designs. For this reason, they seem to have an older customer base when compared to SereneLife and even ROC.


On the flip side, ISLE is a real surf company who prioritizes board quality. If you step onto a ROC board and then an ISLE board, you’ll instantly notice a difference in stability, durability, and rigidity. It’s much closer to an epoxy fiberboard, giving you a solid surface which doesn’t flex or feel soft under your feet. For advanced riders or those in waves, this is a huge plus.

Tower paddle board

Tower is a similar brand to Atoll, with the only obvious difference to customer lying in the designs which each company offers. However, our experience and research lead us to believe that the vast majority of customers would find Atoll to be the premium company. The reason for this is because of their exceptional customer service and dedication to satisfaction.


Tower is known for offering what we call a ‘hard’ experience, which is that the inflatable boards feel like the real thing. You’re never going to create an ISUP that is identical to an epoxy alternative, but Tower might be as close as you’ll get. With tough inner linings, it can inflate to a high PSI and therefore offer greater rigidity than the competition.


Where Tower lets itself down is with the durability of the accessories they combine with the board. Many customers have complained about broken pumps, particularly on the 10’4” ISUP. Given that the pump is critical to the use of an inflatable product, you would imagine that companies would invest more in stocking reliable and durable items.

Buyers Guide: How to Choose a Paddle Board


Man standing at the best inflatable paddling board while holding a paddle

Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay

When you’re deciding on a paddleboard, you need to consider the amount you’re willing to spend, your size and the skill level that you possess. More advanced surfers can opt for boards that are much smaller than usual, whereas most people will need a larger board as their body weight increases to stay buoyant.

Arguably, the price is the most significant component. As you increase your budget, the quality of brands also improves. While not always the case, you tend to get the value for what you pay. For those who weight more, it’s particularly important that you invest in a sturdy and thick board that will give you enough balance and buoyancy to enjoy the sport without discomfort.

Featured Image: Image by Ulrike Mai from Pixabay

diy pinata

Everything You Need to Know about Making a DIY Piñata

A piñata is usually shaped like a donkey or other animal and is traditionally made from a clay pot, paper mâché, color tissue. A piñata is filled with candy, small toys or fruit.  Piñatas are sometimes shaped like a seven-pointed star, cartoon character or superhero. 

A DIY piñata lets you use your imagination to create a party favor to entertain all your guests. The piñata dispenses treats or gifts when the guest of honor breaks the paper mâché or cardboard decoration. Use a stick or small bat to break the piñata.

History of the Piñata 

We know that piñatas are a part of Spanish and Mexican culture, but the Chinese smashed large, stuffed paper ornaments shaped like animals as early as the 13th Century. The Chinese burned the remainder of the paper ornaments and thought the ashes were a sign of good luck. 

Marco Polo saw these paper ornaments on one of his trips to China and brought them back to Italy, where the decorations were adapted for use in pre-Lenten festivities. Explores then brought the hanging paper ornaments to Spain, and then across the Atlantic to Mexico.

How to Use a Piñata   

Piñatas are suspended from the ceiling by a rope, and guests take turns hitting the piñata. Guests are usually blindfolded as they hit the piñata, and someone may spin the piñata or move it to make it harder for the blindfolded person to hit it.   

After a guest (or the person celebrating a birthday) breaks the piñata, everyone scrambles to retrieve the treats or toys. 

Should You Buy a Piñata or Make One?

You can buy a piñata online or from a party store. (Piñatas cost up to $50 if you buy them from a website or chain store.) Save money and create something unique for your friend or family member’s birthday with a DIY piñata. You can make a piñata with items you probably have around the house. 

Experienced crafters will have an easier time making a piñata than novices, but the process isn’t complicated. Piñata-making takes a bit of patience, but you’ll have a unique party favor when you’re finished.     

How to Make A Donut Piñata

Some piñatas aren’t shaped like unicorns, horses or donkeys. A do-it-yourselfer’s imagination is the limit for homemade piñatas. Follow these steps to make a donut-shaped piñata: 

Get several different colors of crepe paper and cut some fringe. You'll need one color for the donut, a few colors for the sprinkles, and one for the frosting. Gather some cardboard, twine, masking tape, scissors, and white craft glue.  

Use a large circular object to trace for the outside of the donut. Trace the inside by using a bowl. The exterior of the circle should be about 30 inches wide, and the inner circle about eight inches wide.

Cut out two circular donut shapes, along with a few strips six inches or wider for the sides. Tape one of the pieces along the inside of one of the shapes. Bend the cardboard, so it curves, and it's easier to do this before you apply the tape.

Repeat the cutting and tapping for the outer donut circle. Don't put tape on one piece of the outer ring so you'll be able to fill the piñata with treats later. Poke a hole to add string or twine. Tape the second donut shape to the first using the same steps.

Use two or more sheets of crepe paper and crepe paper streamers to cut fringe for the piñata. Wrap the fringe you've cut around the piñata. Start at the inside of the piece and wrap around it. The inner circle is smaller than the outer one so that the fringe will overlap several times.

Keep wrapping until you get to the last bit of fringe. Bend the fringe to get to the cardboard and glue the final piece.

Now add the donut frosting. Cut pink crepe paper into an uneven circle shape and cut a hole in the middle. Use white glue, a glue stick or double tape to glue the pink crepe paper to the piñata. Add dots of various color crepe pepper as sprinkles. Glue or double tape them to the frosting. 

Add treats or small toys to the open flap of the outer circle; then close it and hang the piñata from the ceiling of your party area.   

How to Make a Seven-Pointed Balloon Piñata

pinata for party

Image via pixabay.com

The traditional seven-pointed piñata is used at Cinco de Mayo celebrations and other Mexican festivities. Here’s how to make your own version of the classic party favor from South of the Border.

Gather the following items:

  • Water
  • Flour
  • Container
  • Seven or eight cardstock sheets
  • Punching balloon
  • Masking tape
  • Utility knife
  • Tacky glue
  • Twine
  • Scissors
  • Thick rope

You’ll also need newspaper cut into one-and-a-half-inch strips, and fine crepe paper cut into two-inch and one-and-a-half inch strips

Use paper mâché to create the piñata core. Blow up the balloon and tie it with a knot. Remove the rubber band off the other side and put tape over the overhanging part. Make the paper mâché by combining one part water to one part flour. Three cups of water and three cups of flour should be enough for this project.

The paper mâché paste should be thick because it needs to bind the newspaper strips. Soak the newspaper in the glue and take off the extra paste before you put the pieces on the balloon.

Tie the twine to the end of the balloon, and add most of the newspaper strips while the balloon is hanging from the ceiling. Overlap the pieces as you add them. Let the first layer dry before adding a second and thirds layer of newspaper. Let the strips dry entirely overnight before going on to the next step.

Create cones (the points on the star) to connect to the piñata while the centerpiece is drying. You can order them pre-made or use cone-shaped cardboard to make an open-ended cone. Form a cone shape and tape the edges if you decide to make your own "star points."

Now poke a hole in the balloon. Place a cone over the hole in the deflated balloon and a trace a circle around it. Cut a hole inside the traced circle with scissors, but leave one side intact.  Reach inside and take out the balloon, and shake out the excess, dried paste. 

Use a utility knife to poke a hole opposite the opening. Take the end of a rope and tie it into a double knot and tread it through the hole. Now fill the piñata with candy or other treats. Close and tape the hole.  

Cut a few quarter-inch tabs into the cone bottom. Fold the cone in and glue it to the piñata. Tape the cone to make sure it stays attached, if necessary. Hang the piñata and add the rest of the cones using the same method.  

Cut the two inch and inch and a half strips of crepe paper three-quarters of the way into one-quarter inch wide fringe. Cut the pieces while they're folded. Put a thin line of glue on the paper fringe.

Wrap fringe around the piñata base. The fringe should face downward. Make sure fringe overlaps as you wrap new layers. Cut fringe, so it doesn't fall on the cones. Use small strips of fringe to cover cones once the piñata base is covered. Trim and cover any unkempt areas. Now you're ready to hang the piñata for fun and games.      

Other DIY Piñatas 

multicolored donkey pinata

Image via unsplash.com

You can make your piñatas in just about any shape you desire. There are online tutorials for piñatas shaped like hearts, hair spray containers, blow dryers, pineapples, cake slices, diamond rings, and the ever-popular unicorn or horse-shaped piñatas. 

Regardless of the shape or size of your DIY piñata, you'll need some essential items to build your creation. You'll need crepe paper, twine, scissors, glue, tape, and cardboard (or card stock) for most projects. For a slice of birthday cake piñata, you'll need straws to serve as candles.  

You can turn a donkey piñata into a unicorn piñata with a few materials and a bit of ingenuity. Start with a homemade or store-bought donkey piñata and remove external decorations. Trim the donkey ears, so they're smaller, and then spray paint the figure white. Now you have a blank slate to turn into a unicorn. 

Use cardstock, several colors of cellophane and crepe paper, and make a colorful cone to use as the unicorn's horn. Fashion the mane out of cardstock and add bright color fringe to complement the otherwise white body.  

Several do-it-yourself piñatas require you to outline the donkey or other animal or object on a piece of cardboard, cut out the separate parts and attach them with tape or glue before adding fringe and filling the inside with treats.

Let your imagination be your guide as you make piñatas suitable for themed-parties and your friends’ (or family members’) interests and personalities. 

Group of men is enjoying the slip and slide kickball

How to Make Your Own Slip and Slide Kickball Field

Slip and slide games are a great Summer water activity, as is kickball. Both are great ways to have fun in the sun. But they can get boring. So why not combine them? Slip and slide kickball provides competition and teamwork while also cooling the players down in the summer heat.

How to Make Your Own Slip and Slide Kickball Field

Slip and slides are a great summer water activity. People of all ages enjoy the feeling of sliding fast across their lawn.

Not only that, but many throw their own small slip and slide races with their friends.

Kickball is a favorite outdoor game that kids and adults both enjoy playing. It teaches teamwork, agility, speed, and coordination. More importantly, you can have fun playing it while still being competitive.

Kickball is such a favorite game that there are teams that compete against each other.

Kickball is a fun game and slip and slides bring joy. But why not make them both a little more interesting?

Add some pools, tarps, water, and soap. Kickball is now slightly more difficult, but even more exciting.

Slip and slide kickball is just kickball with a twist. All you do is play a typical game of kickball but use slip and slide as baselines and kiddie pools as bases.

With this game, you can enjoy two great summer activities in one! A game like slip and slide kickball is the perfect pass time to play with your friends during the warmer seasons of the year.

The History of Kickball

Kickball, also known as kick baseball, is about a century old and invented by Nicholas C. Seuss in 1917. He developed it to teach his kids how to play baseball. Seuss did not have any baseball equipment. So he opted for a ball to kick with feet instead. He referred to it as kick baseball.

Children mostly play it, but during World War II, soldiers would play it to keep themselves entertained.

The game lost popularity until the late 90s. Since then, adults are playing kickball more than children. The World Adult Kickball Association (WAKA Kickball) formed in 2011 in Washington D.C.  Now, there are 2,000 teams and more than 40,000 players that take part every year in the competition.

Teenage girl is enjoying the slip and slide kickball while at her back are some people having a picnic

Image via: Flickr

How to Play

Men are enjoying the kickball slide field

Image via: Flickr

Slip and slide kickball is an easy game to understand. If you know the rules to kickball, then you are set. If not, here’s what you need to know to play.

Start by creating two teams. Next, choose one member from each side to be the pitcher. Then divide the rest of the members into other roles. Here are some different roles for the game:

  • Catcher
  • First base
  • Second base
  • Third base
  • Shortstop
  • Outfield

The teams will then decide who will kick first.

The team that is kicking first will send a player up to Homeplate. The pitcher will roll the ball without the ball bouncing, and the kicker will try to kick it. If it goes past the pitcher’s mound without getting caught, they will run to the first base kiddie pool.

The goal is to get to the first kiddie pool (base) before getting tagged.

If concerned about falling and injuring yourself, you can run alongside the slip and slide then hop on and slip at the end.

Others often run on the wet sheets from the start which is more difficult when you are trying to reach the base because you will slip too much, but it is more fun this way.

Score more runs

The main point of the game is simple; one team needs to have more runs than the other.

To achieve this, players will kick the ball and run to all the bases to score points. When not kicking, the opposing team will try to stop players from scoring by catching the ball or striking the kicker out.

To build a slip-n-slide kickball field, you will need supplies to get it set up. It is a cheap project; you will not need to spend much. In fact, there is a good chance some of the supplies required can be around your house. Here is what you will need:

  • Four 3’x50’ plastic drop cloths or four slip and slides
  • Four kiddie pools (round or square)
  • About 18-20 tarp stakes
  • 4-8 bottles of dish soap
  • A kickball
  • Spray paint
  • Garden Hoses
  • A hammer

Building The Field

To begin building your slip and slide kickball field, you must first lay out the plastic drop cloths in the shape of a baseball diamond. These will serve as your baselines and will work best if laid on the flat ground.

If you are using real slip and slide mats, be sure to hammer them I with the stakes that came with them.

At home base, create a fair-sized gap between the tarps. With this space, players can kick the ball without slipping on the soap and water.

Once the tarps are laid out, you must place a kiddie pool at each corner of the diamond. These will be your bases. If worried about sliding on the rough ground, you can make the game safer by placing cardboard under the tarps for a smoother slide without any injuries.

Man with a green life saver is sliding at the slip and slide kickball

Image via: Flickr

Nail down the slip and slide

All you have to do is nail down the plastic drop cloths with the tarp stakes. To be sure that the tarps are secure, be sure to nail them down deep into the ground.

Check the stakes every once in a while to make sure they do not come above the surface. If this happens, it could cause injuries if any players happen to fall on one by accident.

The final step in building a field is to add soap and water. Fill each kiddie pool; a lot of water will splash out during the game. Then add the dish soap to the baselines and rub it in to make them slippery.

If you wish to make the field more realistic, then you can spray paint the home plate and the pitchers’ mound.

Have Fun

Creating a slip and slide kickball field is simple, comfortable, and cheap.

Now all you need to do is lay down some plastic drop cloths in the shape of a diamond, nail them to that ground, and place kiddie pools at each corner of the diamond.

Fill the small pools with water and lather the plastic drop cloths with some soap and water and then play an average game of kickball.

Now that you know how to build the field, have some fun!

Gather your friends on a hot summer’s day and enjoy a fun round of this tricky game.

Boys and girls of all ages will love the fun and competitive feeling that the slippery kickball field provides. If everyone playing is having a blast, it is unlikely that you will care about keeping score.

Check the field

Make sure to check on the field after every few rounds and make fixes where needed.

Some stakes may rise out of the ground and will need to hammer it back in. We don’t want a tarp stake to poke someone’s foot. It is also a good idea to refill the pools and add more soap to the tarps to keep the fun going.

Before you start playing slip and slide kickball, it’s not a bad idea to stretch out to help you prevent some major strains, sprains, or aches.

As with any water activity, don’t forget to put on a generous coat of sunscreen to avoid a painful sunburn at the end of the day. If you’re playing with a variety of age groups, make sure to set some rules on how “rowdy” you can get to avoid preventable injuries.

woman wearing water goggles underwater

Snorkeling 101: Everything You Need To Know

​If you've been on any beach vacation, you might've seen those funky snorkeling masks with tubes and wondered how they work. What exactly are they for, and how are they used? You might be doing some research into snorkeling while you plan your next vacation. Either way, we're here to give you all the basic information you need to start snorkeling today. 

What is Snorkeling?

person swimming in body of water during daytime

Photo by Jeremy Bishop via Unsplash

Let’s start with the basics. Snorkeling is an activity where you swim over the surface of the water while wearing a special diving mask. This diving mask has a breathing apparatus called a snorkel; that's how it got its name.

Snorkeling is as a way to explore sights under the water's surface without too much effort. Usually, someone that's snorkeling will also wear swim fins to make swimming easier. 

Using fins is important because snorkeling is most popular in warm waters where there is often a lot of tropical water life to discover, so the swim fins allow someone that's snorkeling to spend less of their energy swimming through the waves and allows them to enjoy more time observing things under the water.

Snorkeling is a very popular recreational activity because it can be done by people of all ages. The relative lack of necessary equipment makes it much more accessible than scuba, which often requires a lot more complicated equipment, like air tanks and ballasts, and time spent training to acquire a scuba diving license. Because you generally stay in shallower waters and on the water's surface, it's also less dangerous than scuba diving

Despite these differences, scuba diving actually grew out of snorkeling, or rather it's predecessor, known as freediving. Even though the snorkel only works at the surface of the water, you can combine it with breath holding techniques and dives under the water's surface in what's known as freediving, to get a better look at things below.

While this article will focus on the recreational activity, technically snorkeling is done any time someone uses a snorkel and is done by scuba divers when they are on the water's surface and in some water-based sports.

Snorkeling is a great activity for those that want to:

  • ​Enjoy time outdoors
  • ​See a variety of undersea life
  • ​Do something active outdoors without being too strenuous
  • ​Do something special that everyone in the family can do

Snorkeling skills

​Even though it's very accessible, there are still a variety of basic skills that can be developed to make the activity more fun and enjoyable, no matter your swimming level or comfort with water sports.

Preparation

finger of a person with sunscreen

​Image via Pixabay

Just because you're not scuba diving doesn't mean you won't run into everyday dangers associated with the beach and water sports. Even though you're in the water, your skin is susceptible to sunburn, so you'll want to be sure to wear waterproof sunscreen of at least 30 SPF. 

It's important to remember you'll be face-down with your back to the sun, so you'll have to be sure to cover areas of your skin you may not be used to like the backs of your knees, legs, and ears. It can also be helpful to wear a waterproof shirt to help keep the sun off of you.

You should always enjoy water activities in groups for safety. You want to make sure everyone in your group has the same plans and knows what to do in case of an emergency. If you're snorkeling with children, you'll want to go over water safety with them, and maybe practice going out into the water without the snorkeling equipment so they can get comfortable in the environment. 

It's also helpful to have new snorkelers practice using the snorkel in shallow waters or even a pool so they can get comfortable with the different breathing rhythms it can cause and they can get used to the angle they need to swim at to prevent water from splashing into the snorkel, which can be very uncomfortable.

Swimming

two person swims on opposite direction

Photo by Jonny Clow via Unsplash

When you snorkel, it involves quite a bit of swimming, so everyone can benefit from improving their swimming skills. While a small child could be reasonably held and led along through calm waters, it's still best to have them comfortable in the water. A good way to do this might be by having some lessons at a local pool before going out.

No matter your swimming level, you'll want to work on your freestyle swimming technique, as the kick used for freestyle swimming is the same one that needs to be used to swim successfully and economically while wearing the swim fins most people wear while snorkeling.

Improving your swimming skills will also give you more freedom in the water. While most wear floatation vests while snorkeling to make observation easier and more relaxing, they aren't necessary, and can sometimes even make swimming harder to swim in a wave or subtle current. If you're comfortable enough to swim without a vest and have built the endurance to do so easily, you can even access snorkeling areas you wouldn't have been able to otherwise, and can easily transition into freediving if you want to.

An important thing to remember is that you'll likely be wearing swim fins while snorkeling, so you'll want to practice swimming in those as well. Even if you're a strong swimmer, if you aren't used to wearing swim fins your muscles can get sore or may even cramp because the extra lengths of the swim fins put more strain in different parts of your leg. It can be helpful to practice using them in a pool or shallower waters before going on a snorkel excursion.

Conserving Energy

woman snorkeling

Photo by Maja Novak via Unsplash

In the previous section, we used the word excursion for a reason. Sometimes you have to travel out to special snorkel spots to be able to see the impressive sea life and reefs. That means snorkel trips can take all day. Think about how tired travel can make you, especially if you have to take a boat in the sun, and then consider snorkeling on top of that! That's why learning how to conserve your energy while swimming and using a snorkel is important.

Going for a swim while wearing swim fins and a floatation vest might not sound like hard work, but if you do it for long periods in the sun, you can get tired. The most important thing to remember when snorkeling is to let the equipment do the work for you. 

Often, new snorkelers will fall back into freestyle swimming, but using your arms burns more energy than kicking alone, and usually isn't necessary for a leisurely snorkel. 

Your technique plays a big role in the amount of energy you expend as well. New snorkelers often try to suck air through the snorkel, which can lead to stifled breathing. Remember to take long, slow, breaths through the snorkel and trust that it'll work for you. 

Another factor in conserving energy is the thing that will be using the most of it, kicking. Because you'll be wearing swim fins, you don't need to kick very hard, and kicking too hard can cause splashing that disturbs the beautiful sea life you're trying to see.

Snorkeling Equipment

We've mentioned some of the basic snorkel gear you'll need to get started, but there are a few things to consider when looking to either purchase or rent snorkeling gear.


Masks

diving mask in the sea

Image via Pixabay

The mask is vital to being able to enjoy your snorkeling experience. You want to make sure your mask is appropriate for outdoor snorkeling. That means it'll be made of tough material that doesn't deteriorate in seawater and has a relatively low amount of volume in the mask portion. This design will prevent too much pressure from building around your eyes, and be easier to clear if water gets in. 

You also want to check to see if the straps on the mask are comfortable and if it can fit your head size, as you'll be wearing it for long periods.

An important note: although full-faced snorkel masks have risen in popularity because of their full range of view, there have been a number of troubling reports about their risks, and we don't recommend them.


Fins

snorkeling fins placed in a wooden char

Image via Pixabay

A key factor when choosing fins is knowing what the temperature will be for the water you're swimming in. If you're going to be in warm water, you'll want the extra comfort and security provided by a full heel swim fin. If you're going to be in cooler waters, you'll want a half heel swim fin that can fit over a wetsuit.

If you're going to be snorkeling in calmer waters, or casually, a shorter swim fin is more comfortable for most people to use, requires less exertion, and is easier to pack if you buy your own.


Snorkel

Like the swim fins, choosing the right snorkel will depend on the kind of snorkeling you want to do. Most people will be best suited to using a medium length snorkel. While it might be tempting to get an extra long snorkel to prevent splashing, proper snorkels will be equipped with a filter to prevent water from splashing in easily, plus, long snorkels make it harder for you to draw breath.


Final Thoughts

group of women snorkeling

via Giphy

​Now that you know the basics of snorkeling and snorkeling gear you have all the information you need to get started snorkeling for yourself and enjoy all the wonderful experiences snorkeling can offer. See you in the water!

​Featured Image: Photo by Carolina Garcia via Unsplash

projector used for diy projector screen

How To Make A DIY Projector Screen For Outdoor Movies

A projector screen for outdoor movies is the perfect thing for sleepovers, family bonding time, entertaining overnight guests, playing video games or providing entertainment for the whole neighborhood, church group or Boy Scout meeting.

However, the price for the setup might be beyond your budget. Have you considered making your own? It’s entirely up to you how much money and work you want to put into you DIY projector screen.

You can also decide how portable you want it to be. If you have a place to store your screen in inclement weather, then perhaps you won’t need something that disassembles into a box you can keep under your bed. If you don’t have adequate storage, consider something more mobile.

Your handyman skill is another consideration. If you are able, you certainly can create a projector screen with grommets, snaps, spikes and carved wood. If you aren’t so technically abled, you might consider a less complicated construction.

Finally, you should think carefully about the location of your projector screen. Is there a way you can use the landscape already present in your construction? Are there trees you can incorporate in the design? Do you have a deck that would be perfect for frame mounting?

With these factors in mind, let’s take a look at some DIY projector screen projects.

Quick and Easy DIY Projector Screens

The Wall


a man sitting on the table, in front of the projector screen

Image Source: Unsplash

The easiest way to watch movies outdoors is to project the film on a white wall. The drawback is that every little bump and uneven space will impact the move viewing quality.


If you don’t happen to have a white wall large enough for movie projection, you can paint a large piece of plyboard, or several pieces of plyboard, and mount them directly on a wall. You may have the same problem with uneven sections since plyboard isn’t the smoothest surface.


You also may not have a place you want to mount such a large structure. That takes us to our next option.


The Curtain


red curtain used for diy projector screen

Image Source: Unsplash

You can make your own projector screen using a white sheet, white canvas, curtain backing, or blackout cloth. A white sheet, while probably the most economical, might not be thick enough to reflect the projected image, especially if you start the movie before it’s completely dark. Canvas is a heavier material and will not let as much background light through.


The best options for your DIY projector screen are curtain backing or blackout cloth, available at most fabric stores. These fabrics are thick and sturdy. Blackout cloth has a smooth and foam backed side. When hanging your screen, make sure the smooth side is what you will be projecting on, not the foam side.


You might also consider using seamless white photography backdrop cloth. You can order this from shops that cater to photographers. The advantage of this type of cloth is that is has finished edges, adding to the durability. 


Photography backdrop cloths are made of non-reflective materials

and are thick enough not to allow background light to shine through.


There are several different ways you can suspend the cloth. If you have a wooden fence or clothesline, you can drape the sheet over the top and use clothespins to hold it in place. If you have a place to tie a rope or wire, you can run the cord through the top seam of the bedsheet and suspend it between two trees.


Using one of these methods, however, doesn’t take into account a wayward breeze that might cause your movie screen to undulate, distorting the move projection. To reduce some of that floating about, you might consider attaching a weighted rod or PVC pipe at the bottom.


You can either sew or use a hot glue gun to make another sleeve at the bottom of the sheet to insert the weight. You might still get some movement with a stiff wind, but it won’t be as drastic.


Any wrinkles in the cloth will contort projected images, so make sure the weight hangs evenly at the bottom. You should iron your material for a smooth screen and minimal distortions. Hanging red or black curtains on either side of your screen gives you the whole classic movie theater look.


The Frame


wooden frames in different colors

Image Source: Unsplash

If you are looking for something a little sturdier, you can construct a frame for your DIY projector screen. If you are using wood, make sure you make the structure large enough that the sheet lies flat when you attach it. You can use staples, nails or a hot glue gun to fasten the canvas to the frame.


The nice thing about using wood for framing is you can add a bit of creativity and make it resemble a large flat TV screen or add some sparkly paint for a high-class movie screen.


A wooden frame is a little heavy, so might consider PVC to mount your sheet on. PVC construction also tends to be cheaper and more portable. Use at least 2-inch diameter PVC. Otherwise, the frame will be too flimsy.


You won’t be able to staple the fabric to the PVC, so consider sewing a sleeve that you can slide the pipe through. You could also use snaps or ties spaced regularly on all four sides to attach the cloth to the frame. Remember, the tighter the fabric, the fewer wrinkles there will be.


Either the wooden or PVC frame can be hung on or propped against fences or walls. You also might consider adding a prop made of wood or metal behind the structure to support it, similar to a picture frame.


So what happens if you don’t have any space suitable to mount a framed projector screen? Consider making a screen with a stand.  


PVC DIY Projector Screen

To make a PVC projector screen with a stand, you will need:


  • 12 two-inch diameter PVC pipes cut into 7-foot sections
  •  2 two-inch diameter PVC pipes cut into 6-foot sections
  •  2 two-inch diameter PVC pipes cut into 3-foot long sections
  • 12 two-inch diameter PVC pipes cut into 2-foot long sections
  •  2 45-degree elbows that fit two-inch diameter PVC pipes
  •  4 T-fittings that fit two-inch diameter PVC pipes
  •  1 full-size white sheet
  •  6 18-inch ties or sturdy ribbons

The 7-foot pipes are the top and bottom of the screen. The 3-foot pipes are the legs. The 2-foot pipes are the feet that hold it up. Use the T-fittings to assemble the frame. Use the elbows to attach the feet.


Slide the top hem of the sheet onto the high PVC pipe. Measure where the bottom hem needs to be. Take the cloth off and sew the base sleeve. Add ties along both sides.


Put the bed sheet back on the frame. Slide the PVC into the hems on the top and the bottom. Tie the sides to the PVC pipes. Make sure the cloth is tight and wrinkle-free



You can glue the pieces together to create a lightweight
permanent structure if you like. Otherwise, this projector screen
disassembles in minutes for easy storage.


You may find that your DIY PVC projector screen is still a bit flimsy. Anchoring the feet with 1-inch spikes may help. You could also use sandbags to keep the wobble from becoming distracting.


Another, more creative setup, includes cementing the two side PVC pipes into flower pots, then covering the cement with decorative stones or shells.


If you aren’t particularly handy, several sites offer DIY projector screen kits. The fabric is already cut to size and hemmed. The frame is ready to assemble. In minutes, you’ll have an outdoor projector screen.


With your screen set up, you can begin your amazing movie night under the stars with just a few more bits of equipment. Plug your laptop or DVD player into a projector. Organize your speaker system for optimum surround sound. Prepare a couple of batches of popcorn and pop the movie in. Sit back and enjoy!


Legality

a huge group watching a movie through an outdoor diy projector scree

Image source: Pexels.com

Keep in mind that there are some legal issues when showing a movie in public. If you and the kids are the only audiences for backyard movie extravaganza, then there’s no problem. However, videos that are streamed, rented or purchased are copyrighted and intended for private use only. Therefore they require a license when shown in public.


If you are part of a church group and your summer camp wants to host a movie night with your brand new projector screen, then you might want to look into getting a Church Video License. Otherwise, community groups seeking to host a public showing as a fundraiser should check out the requirements for Motion Picture Licensing.

  

Image Source: Unsplash