Where do you want to go? We suggest planning a location and time that fits with your experience level. If you are an unexperienced camper or paddler, consider destinations that are closer to civilization. Consider water conditions (chop, currents, etc), weather (precipitation, heat/cold), etc, and be realistic in how much water you can cover in a day. Plan ahead and according to conditions and your skill level.
Once you decide on the location of your trip be sure to get a good map for the area. If using a GPS - print out a backup of your route. Map out locations of interest, distances, put-in and take-out points, camping spots and safety check points. Consider adding extra time just in case something happens or you want to explore in one spot a little longer.
Choosing a Board
Any board will work for touring, but some work way better then others. Here's some basic rules:
1. Longer boards are better (track straighter, go faster)
2. Single long fins are better then fixed, multi-fin set ups (for better tracking)
3. Tie downs - the more the better with sturdy bungie cords or ropes
4. Thickness - the longer and thicker the higher the volume of cargo the board can handle.
Once you've gotten a board and gear - test them out ahead of time. Set up your hammock or tent in your yard. Try packing your gear into your dry bags (grouping items together that will be used together) and attaching them to your board securely. If a storm comes up, you want everything to stay together on your board if you capsize. Put small, often used items like water, cameras, GPS, etc in an easy to access place. You never know when bad weather will pop up so keep your rain gear out and ready where it’s easy to grab. Test out your stove and cooking supplies.
For flat water, distribute the weight of your gear evenly between back and front. If you expect a lot of whitewater, many people like putting the weight in the front - something you experiment with to see what works best for you.
Plan your Meals and Hydration
Food and water are items that are heavy and take up a lot of your limited cargo space so planning ahead and making sure you have enough food (and little extra)for every day that you’re away is very important.
Depending on location it’s possible that you can get away with bringing a water filter (which saves a ton of space and weight on your board). But if you’re on the ocean, bringing water might be a better option. Always bring more water than you think you will need if you go open sea or off the grid. On the ocean you cannot find drinking water, so bring more than you think you will need, in multiple containers which are all connected to your grab line.
We suggest creating a meal plan for each day of your trip and carry the proper water filtration. To save space, learn from your hiking friends (or backpacking communities) the secrets of nutritious and delicious meal planning.
Your safety and the safety of others on your SUP expeditions is your number one priority. Having safety gear such as leashes, PFD’s, first aid kits, etc. are all necessary items to ensure your safety when on the water. You may also wish to consider a satellite phone or tracker if you are going into very remote areas.
Also, consider carefully the idea of SUP camping solo. While solo camping can be exciting and deeply fulfilling - it is best considered for veteran SUP campers who plan accordingly for the increased dangers of being on one's own in deep water.
Make sure you go on the water or any kind of adventure - make sure you have a good safety plan (aka “Float Plan”) and leave it with family or friends. This plan lets them know your departure and return times, your trip route, where your vehicle will be, and when to contact search and rescue if you do not return by your end time.
SUP Camping: What to Bring
Obviously you can't carry nearly as much gear on a SUP as you can with a canoe or even a kayak so choosing light and essential gear is important. Overnight and multi-night SUP trips require you to strap all your gear to your board so it is important to pack light and invest in some good dry bags for your equipment and supplies. The following is the complete list of stuff we bring with us. This list isn't everything you could take but covers all the basics and a few wise extras - we've also included an example or two of our favourites in each category.
Bags & Packs
Main dry bag – Overboard 60 liter duffel
Smaller dry bags, 30 litre for sleeping bag and hammock, 10 litre for clothes Red Paddle Co 30L Dry Bag, SealLine Baja 20 Liter Dry Bag
Day Pack – Thule Enroute Daypack
Camping Hammock – Hennessy Hammock Explorer Assym Zip
Sleeping Bag – KSB 20 DOWN SLEEPING BAG
Water Filter – Platypus GravityWorks Filter System, 4-Liter
Water Bottle – Nalgene BPA Free Tritan Wide Mouth Water Bottle, 32 Oz
Water bladder for day pack – Platypus BIG ZIP LP 3L