The Beginners Guide To Paddle Board Camping

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Getting out of the city or suburbs and going into the forest to be one with nature can be a gratifying experience. Camping is something that’s been done for years by paddle boarders and non-paddle boarders alike. Seizing the moment and taking on an adventure can be just what the doctor ordered. Still, so many people seem to sweat the small things when planning out a paddle boarding camping trip.

I figured it was best to talk you down and figure this all out to explain the ins and outs of paddle board camping, so you don’t have any lingering questions. So, in this article, we will explore and answer what, where, when, how, and why of going camping with your board!

So, let’s not waste any more time and instead just dive right in!

What Exactly Is Paddle Board Camping?

Sup camping is also known as expedition SUP. This activity combines paddle boarding, backpacking, and camping, all wrapped up into one for the ultimate adventurer. You essentially take a journey into the mountains, forest, national park, or wherever, and take in nature in all its beauty before sleeping under the stars and paddle boarding on the lakes and white waters.

There are very few things as rewarding as unplugging and enjoying the great outdoors by exploring beautiful natural spaces and soaking in all they have to offer.

Where Should I Go SUP Camping?

You’ll always be able to find a few recommendations online but I still want you to have a few details and questions running in the back of your mind before you make the selection. When deciding where to enjoy some paddle board camping, you’re going to want to find locations that meet specific criteria. You’re going to want to find the following qualities in any potential area for your trip;

1. Is accessible

Don’t look at places that might be impossible to get to for whatever reason. Instead, you need to pick a place that is accessible in some capacity.

2. Relatively safe

Do some prior research to each and every location you consider to see what potential safety hazardous you’re exposing yourself to before actually packing your bags. Are there dangerous animals? Dangerous bugs? Dangerous weather conditions? Is it a place known for being just plain dangerous? Of course, you want to be able to enjoy yourself without the constant need to look over your shoulder.

3. Lake access

The main feature of any place you pick needs to be a good body of water on which you can actually paddle board on. It wouldn’t really be a paddle boarding camping trip if you couldn’t do the paddle boarding itself.

4. Routes that work for your skill set

What’s the point in going on a paddle boarding camping trip if all the potential routes for paddle boarding are outside your skill set? You’ll need to consider what you’re capable of doing before just taking on a challenge that might be unachievable.

Note : When Deciding on a place to set up camp, you’re going to want to look for the following things in a campsite;

  1. Check local parks, public land maps, or established camp grounds to determine where you can camp.
  2. Find a great spot or spot where you can set up camp and plan out your trip from there!

Be sure to respect the public lands and work to leave no trace of your time at the campsite behind.

When Is The Best Time To Go?

When deciding the timing of your trip, certain things are somewhat out of your control. What is in your control is knowing a rough idea of what you’re in for ahead of time. Furthermore, you can know ahead of time if going is a good idea in the first place.

Here are some things to consider when planning the timing of your paddle boarding camping trip;

1. Check the predicted weather conditions


Find out what weather conditions you’re going to be working with on your trip to ensure you’re fully prepared. Is it going to be extremely windy? Will it be raining? Hailing? Or anything else you should know about? Download the Windy App to help you out in this process.

2. Check the predicted water conditions

You want to know ahead of time if the water conditions are suitable for paddle boarding. If you’re looking to go camping with your paddleboard in North America, download the River App to help you consider the water conditions of over 20,000 locations. These two apps is just a few of the helpful apps you can use to be more effective with your selections.

3. Check the external forces that might cause you some headaches

This is more for places that experience events like raging wildfires. Still, I guess it can also pertain to other situations like park overcrowding on certain events like the Fourth of July or other national holidays. Just understand what’s going on in the area and determine if it will have a negative impact on your paddle boarding camping trip.

Be sure to share the information of when and where you plan on camping to a friend or family member. This is just in case of emergencies.

What Do I Need To Bring For Camp?

Things Need To Bring For Camp

You’ve got quite the list of things to consider when thinking about what you’ll need to go paddle board camping. You’ve got to look at camping gear, safety gear, SUP board and gear, clothing, and more! Don’t let these lists detour you; they just look intimidating.

Camping Gear

Nothing could possibly be worse than going on a paddle boarding camping trip and focusing on one element of the journey and forgetting the other. When you focus predominantly on the paddle boarding aspect of the journey, you completely let the camping part slide. So here are things that have to be included in your planning for camping gear;

  1. Tent
  2. Sleeping bags
  3. Sleeping pads
  4. Pillows
  5. Headlamp
  6. Camp lights (preferably solar power)
  7. Ultra-lite stove
  8. Dishes
  9. Soap (preferable biodegradable)
  10. Food (including snacks for when you’re out on the water or hiking)
  11. Water
  12. Tools (Swiss-army knife, multi-tool, SUP patch kit, survival kit, etc.)
  13. Towels
  14. Toiletries
  15. Warm clothes
  16. 2 large bags for the bulk of your things (Roughly 65 – 75L)
  17. 1 small bag for emergency supplies (Roughly 4 – 6L)
  18. Dry bags

Just because you’re out in the wilderness roughing it doesn’t mean you need to be uncomfortable. Investing in great camping gear can make or break your trip into the wild. With weather that can get extremely cold at night, you’ll want to be warm to not get sick, as well as have a good night’s sleep. Nobody wants to paddle board having not experienced adequate sleep.

Safety Gear

Accidents happen, and you need to be prepared for anything and everything. Here are some safety gear items you need to ensure are included in your overall gear;

  1. First Aid Kit
  2. Cell phone or satellite phone
  3. Water filter
  4. GPS or any personal locator beacon
  5. Knife
  6. Maps of the area
  7. Old fashioned compass
  8. Zip ties
  9. Bug repellant
  10. Flashlight
  11. Sunscreen


You’re going to need to consider the clothing items you’ll be bringing with you on your trip. I have a full article on clothing but these items should get you started. This isn’t a specific count of what you’ll need but more guidance on what to remember packing!

  1. Swimsuits
  2. Wetsuit (If it’s during a colder season)
  3. Clothes that are quick-dry
  4. Long sleeve for protection from the sun
  5. Hat for additional protection from the sun
  6. Waterproof shoes and SUP shoes (optional)
  7. PFD

Additionally, pack some warmer clothes for the nighttime. It can get really cold in most places at night, surrounded by the thick of the forest.

SUP Board

A big question to answer is, what board are you taking with you? You obviously have two options;

  1. iSUP
  2. Epoxy Solid Board

Beyond the initial material concern of your chosen paddle board is what specific type of paddle board you intend on taking with you.

A touring SUP is the best option for a journey to the lakes. It is perfect for calm waters and a little white water action. You’ll get an outstanding balance, can take a partner, pet, or child. Obviously, suppose this is a more recreational, fun, family trip. In that case, a giant SUP could be a great addition to your trip.

There might be rental places nearby if you’re without a paddle board but still want the opportunity. Just ensure you do the necessary research before relying on this method.

SUP Gear

Here’s a few more foundational items I believe every Paddle Board Athlete should take on their camp adventure ;

  1. Paddle and a spare
  2. Leash and a spare
  3. Fin and a spare
  4. iSUP electric or manual pump

Always carry spares!

Why Should I Be SUP Camping?

Why not? It’s fun, freeing, relaxing, and that’s just the benefits without even really over-analyzing the idea of camping. You get to enjoy some peace and quiet with friends, family, or a partner, or hell even alone, and just experience the great outdoors for yourself. Nobody comes back from a sup camping trip completely regretting the decision. Sure some trips don’t go to plan, but overall, people are happy they did it in the first place and would try it again more than just a single attempt.

4 Important Paddle Board Camping Tips

Here are a few tips that can turn a SUP camping trip from a good time to a great time!

Tip #1 Don’t Forget Spare SUP Gear

You can’t hit the store and get some replacements on the go. When you lose something or something breaks, it’s over until you return home. It’s better to be prepared for a potential disaster than to be left stranded with no options.

Imagine paddle boarding on the first day, and your paddle breaks. Well, now what? You didn’t bring a spare. Your paddle board is going to be pretty useless, considering now it’s just an idle vessel relying on the water to make it move. Doesn’t that sound like torture? Prepare for the worst!

Tip #2 Take a Flashlight & Lamp

There are a few reasons for this tip. For starters, it gets dark, and the mountains and forest are famously known for not having any power. So it’s pretty dark when there’s no sun in the sky. Secondly, and this reason is more fun, nighttime paddle boarding! Imagine paddling in the moonlight on a calm lake. Now that sounds like fun and is definitely worth a shot.

Tip #3 Start With Some Shorter Trips and Build Your Way Up

There’s no need to hit it hard right out of the gate. Work your way up to some really expansive trips and instead start with a weekend at the local camping grounds (that has a lake of course). Then, keep working towards those bigger trips and longer treks so that you’re physically prepared for what’s ahead.

Taking on a big trip as your first ever attempt can just end up causing you to never do it again. It’s a big event to plan for, can be very tiring during and after, and without knowing what smaller trips feel like you won’t have anything reasonable to compare it to.

Tip #4 Leave a Float Plan

Whether or not you stick to the plan is beyond the point. The idea is to at least make a plan! Know the generalities of your camping trip. You’ll want to map out the various areas you’ll be camping in, the routes you intend to take for paddle boarding or hikes.

To do this, you’ll need to get familiar with the area you’re going to be spending time in. Look at some maps, speak to some locals or rangers, and then leave this with friends and family. Nobody wants something terrible to happen while you’re on your trip, but if it does, it’s good to have people prepared to narrow the search.

If you’d like a few more tips you can check out what the guys over at The Seasoned Surfer are saying.

Final Thoughts

It can be extremely enjoyable taking some time out of the hustle and bustle of the real world and escaping to the mountains for a weekend or (hopefully) a little over a week.  A Paddle Board Athlete should be prepared for every aspect of the trip to make it as seamless as possible. Of course, you’ll want to focus on having a good time and not worrying about all the things that don’t matter.

If you’re about to embark on an adventure with a friend, family member, or partner, send them this article to prepare them for all the initial steps ahead.


Paddleboarding has been one of the few activities that's allowed me to take a mental break from life and just be in the moment. Whether you're looking for an outlet, a method for physical fitness, or even just a way to meet new people, paddle boarding can put you on a path to achieving all these goals. Every article I post on this site is made with the intention to spread sup love and get more people to stand up and paddle!

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