Plan a Multi-Day SUP Trip: 10 Things to Consider

plan a multi-day SUP trip(photo courtesy of Jesse Hieb)

So you want to go on a multi-day SUP trip? Here’s a collection of 10 things to keep in mind when you plan your trip, culled from around the paddleboard world…

Any multi-day paddling trip takes a fair amount of planning. It’s no different when your watercraft is a stand-up paddleboard. Here are some things to keep in mind in order for your trip to be successful and fun:

1. Is This Your First Trip? Start Small!

Don’t overestimate your and your group’s ability! A multi-day SUP trip isn’t for beginning paddlers. But even if you’re all experienced SUPers, if this is a first overnight trip it doesn’t hurt to start small. You’ll be much more likely to experience success and have fun.

Plan your trip on waters you and your group mates are used to paddling. If you want to do a trip on a river, paddle rivers. If you’re dreaming of an ocean trip, paddleboard on the ocean a few times before planning a multi-day trip on it.

2. Plan Your Route Thoroughly

Will you paddle in a well-traveled waterway or in a remote wilderness area? How many will be traveling with you? How long is the full trip? How many miles will you paddle each day? Will you camp each night or stay in lodging along the way? Do you need to make reservations? Will there be pesky bugs?

Do you need one or more permits for any portion of your trip? What are your departure and return dates? Is it a loop route or from Point A to Point B? How will you arrange transportation? Will you need to park vehicles? If so, where is there parking near your entry/exit points?

If you plan to camp, before you finalize a destination be sure you know camping is allowed along your route. Find out if you’re allowed to camp anywhere or if you need to stick to designated campsites.

SUP board and paddle

3. Are You Supplying Your Own Gear or Going with an Outfitter?

You’ll need boards, safety equipment, paddles, waterproof packs, camping and cooking gear. Does your group have the necessary equipment or will you need to rent some or all of it?

If you decide to travel through an outfitter, they can recommend routes for your group size and experience level, and will also likely provide shuttling so you don’t have to think about transportation.

Will you use sleeping bags and tents, or hammocks? If you plan on hammocks, will there be enough trees at the campsites for everyone in your group? If you plan on tents, are the campsites big enough for the number of tents in your group?

4. Your Time on the Water

What’s the experience level of each member of your group? How fit are you all? Can you all handle the miles you plan for each day?

What kind of water will you paddle—Rivers? Flatwater? Ocean? Do you need to be mindful of tides? Portages? What potential hazards could there be?

What time of year will you paddle? What are the typical water levels for your destination in the month you plan to go?

5. Weather and Water Temps

You’ll want to know the weather forecast for the destination and time of year of your trip. When you’re in the beginning stages of planning, it’s enough to know the averages. Once you get close, you’ll want as detailed a forecast as you can get and be prepared.

If it looks like you’ll have headwinds and adverse weather, consider either re-routing your trip a little or plan for an extra day or two in case you need to sit out to let the weather system go through.

It’s important to know the water temperatures where you’ll be going so you can dress appropriately. In some bodies of water, the air temps are vastly different than the water temps. You always want to dress for the water temps in case of an unexpected spill.

Aqua-Bound SUP paddles

6. What About Communication?

You’ll certainly want to let someone know where and when you’ll be going and when you expect to be back, as well as the route plan. If you’re out of cell phone range for just a few days, it’s not the end of the world. But if you’re headed out for a week or more of remote wilderness paddling, consider investing in a satellite phone in case of an emergency.

7. Plan Your Food and Water

What will you eat? Does anyone in your group have dietary restrictions? Who’ll do the cooking? What kind of cook kit will you bring for cooking, serving, utensils, etc. What about camp stoves?

Since you’ll carry all your food with you, of course, you’ll need to plan carefully so you have the right amount for your group. Enough so no one goes hungry, but not so much that you’ll have to worry about leftovers.

Will you buy prepackaged trail food or make your own? How will you keep the weight down?

And what about water? There are plenty of great water filters out there that can take the lake or river water you’ll paddle on and make it safe to drink and cook with. If you’re on the ocean, that’s a different story.

8. Bring All Necessary Safety Gear

Safety gear includes the basics like PFDs, whistles, a SUP leash. You’ll also need a good first aid kit (along with the knowledge of how to use it), any medications your group members need, sun screen and bug spray. If you’re using an inflatable board, don’t forget the repair kit and your pump.

Fast-drying synthetic clothes are always better on paddle trips than cotton, denim and other materials that get heavy and dry slowly. Unless you’ll be in desert country, don’t forget rain gear.

This isn’t safety necessarily, but be sure everyone in your group is very familiar with the Leave No Trace principles so you leave your campsites and environment the way you find them.

9. Pack and Do a Test Paddle

Before you head out on the official trip, be sure you’ve got your packing down to fit into what your board will be able to carry. Have enough elastic straps to be able to strap everything down securely. Keep the bulk of the weight near the board’s center for better stability and glide.

Do a test paddle with all your gear so you have an idea of what it’ll be like once you’re on the water. The time to toss out gear for overpacking is before you leave, not in the middle of your trip!

Stand-up paddleboarder on a trip

10. Be Fit and Ready Physically

A paddle trip with hours of paddling for days in a row is hard. Your trip will be the most productive and enjoyable if you’re in shape before you go. Depending on the length and route, consider training for a few weeks so your body’s ready for the extra strain it’ll be put through.

That goes for everyone in your group—no weekend warriors for a high-mileage trip!

Thanks to the following sources: PauHana Surf Co; The Seasoned Surfer; DryTide; Cool of the Wild. The last two have gear lists and more helpful tips.

Contact our Wisconsin-based Customer Service team today to help you choose a your new SUP paddle: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

More for you...


Authors