Going camping on stand-up paddleboards is one of the most fun and family-friendly things you can do. The only issue is if you forget something. It’s not like you can just walk to the corner store and pick up the missing item. To that end, I compiled a detail list of all the gear you will want to consider bringing on your next SUP camping trip.
SUP Camping Gear List Categories:
- Cooking Gear
- Fishing Gear
- Shelter/Sleeping Gear
Now, let’s go through each category of gear one by one so you make sure that nothing is left behind.
1. Food (How Do You Keep Everything Dry?)
After a morning of packing and paddling and unpacking and setting up camp, I have worked up an appetite. Everyone is different. Some people like cold sandwiches for supper, while others prefer a steak dinner with all the fixings. I generally pack pretty light, but that is just preference, my buddy, on the other hand, always brings steaks to cook on the fire.
Because we are taking the meat out, each of us has a cooler; one for food and the other for drinks. Both are then filled to the brim with ice. We will also take an extra case of water out of the coolers.
As an example, here is a list of the food we packed for our last adventure.
- 2 cases of water (one on ice)
- 4 steaks (supper first night)
- 4 potatoes
- 8 apples (breakfast both mornings)
- 8 Danishes
- 16 hotdogs and buns (lunch for both days, in case we don’t catch fish)
- 4 raw chicken legs (used for crab bait)
- 1 pound shrimp for bait (used for bait)
- 4 bagels and peanut butter (another backup meal)
- SALT AND PEPPER
- Large bag of marshmallows
- Misc. snacks (kids took the candy, we took protein bars and peanuts)
As you can see, It’s not all that much to carry for four people for two full days. It is usually supplemented with fish and blue crabs that we catch.
2. Cooking Gear
Trying to keep the amount we have to strap to our boards, we always take the minimum that we can. As far as cooking goes, we will take a frying pan, four forks, and our pocket knives. I do bring some sheets of aluminum foil to wrap the potatoes in before I toss them in the hot coals.
We cleaned the utensils and the pan by boiling water in it before cooking the next time. Keep our hands nice and clean with a little bottle of hand sanitizer.
Just in case we can’t get a fire going well enough to cook, I always bring a small backpacker stove. It has plenty of fuel to cook all our meals for the two days we are on the island.
3. Fishing Gear
We all love to fish, and we really like to eat what we catch. But as always, space on the board is limited, so we leave the big tackle boxes at home and carry only the minimum for what we plan to catch.
That usually entails a rod and real each, one cast net, and one small tackle box. I have my camping box rigged and ready with snelled hooks, and bobbers for the boys to catch pinfish and croakers for fun. I also bring an assortment of plastics and plugs, just in case the flounder or drum are biting.
I mentioned the chicken legs before. These we tie onto a line about 10-15 feet long. All you have to do is toss the chicken leg into the water and wait for a crab to come along and start munching. Slowly pull it toward you (you can do this from the SUP or shore), and have one of your group scoop the crab with a long net, chicken leg and all. The boys have literally spent all day doing this, filling our meat cooler full of blue crabs.
4. Shelter/Sleeping Gear
We will take a tarp with the line already tied to the corners, and sometimes that is all we will put up. We just hang the tarp, roll our bags out onto our boards, and camp is set.
More often, we take a couple of small tents and small sleeping mats. It helps that we are sleeping on the sand, which makes it pretty comfortable. On calm, warm nights, we have even anchored our boards to the beach and slept on our SUPs. It sounds good in theory, but in practice, I feel too confined to get much rest. The boys, of course, love it.
We like to have a small fire. Enough to cook our meals, and then we keep it small to conserve wood. Even a small fire is fun to sit around at night. The island we camp on doesn’t have much wood, so we have to bring our own, which does take up some space on one of the boards. Often, we will take a load of wood during the week, so we have plenty for the weekend.
Even when we do our cooking on a small camp stove, we still like to have a fire to sit around and tell stories or play cards, so hauling the wood over is a must. We will usually chop and bundle the wood into usable pieces (so we don’t have to transport a hatchet) and place the wood into a bag to keep it mostly dry.
Again, this is just what we take for our entertainment, just in case fishing, crabbing, and paddle exploring wasn’t enough. My friend and I have also been known to slip a pint of rum into the dry bag.
We all like to play games after dinner, so we bring cards, five dice for Yahtzee, and a small chess set. All of this will fit in a large freezer bag and keep us occupied for hours. I throw in a book to read if I need a break during the day while the boys play.
Miscellaneous Additional Gear
Everybody takes something different on a camping trip, so all I have to say here is that whatever it is you need, try to make it small. All those little extras add up. Before you know it, you won’t be able to balance on your board.
Don’t forget a pump and patch kit if using inflatables and, of course, all your required safety gear.
How to Transport Your Gear
Once you get to your campsite, it is similar, if not the same as hiking into your campsite. The challenge with SUP camping is making sure you have everything you need and have it packed as compactly and as waterproof as possible. The fun of SUP camping is that you brought your favorite toy/mattress with you.
Loading the Gear onto the SUPs
At least twice a year, my friend and I each take our sons camping on an island across the Intracoastal waterway. His boy is 12, and mine is 13, so they are plenty old enough to haul their own gear on their own SUPs.
There was a time when my boy was younger (and much smaller) that I could put all the equipment we needed and my son on my SUP, but those days are gone. Now we can take a few extras because of the other boards.
Here are a few pointers for loading your boards:
- Don’t add too much weight
- keep the weight balanced side to side
- Load more substantial items in the back
- Do a dry run at home, just to make sure things will fit on your board
- Strap your items tightly (a shifting stack of firewood could land you in the drink)
Here are a few pictures of my SUP that I was staging for our last trip.
On the front of my board (the white one), I have a milk crate with a tackle box, fishing poles, pump, and repair kit (for my son’s board), and a dry bag that I will put my phone, cards, games, keys, books, flashlights, matches, and any other small items I might need
On the back of my board, I put the food cooler, with our tent on top, a case of water, and two foam pads. This is a lot of weight for the back of the board (probably about 50 pounds) So, when I am paddling I will move a bit closer to the front, maybe 6 inches forward of the center.
My son will carry another dry bag with our clothes and blankets. On the back, he will be taking three bundles of firewood.
We usually go SUP camping for two nights, with both of the nights being at the same location. This amount of time allows us to take all of our necessities and some extra entertainment items.
How Do You Keep Everything Dry?
As far as waterproofing goes, we take several dry bags to keep our tents, sleeping bags, clothes, and electronics dry. Our cooler does a good enough job keeping our food dry. Remember, our paddle trip is less than 3 miles from car to campsite. If you were going to be paddling 20 miles in a day to move campsites, I might make waterproofing a higher priority.
Advantages of SUP camping
One of the most significant advantages of SUP camping is that you have a raised platform to sleep on. If your SUP is inflatable, it’s even pretty comfortable even though they don’t fit well into small tents.
It’s nice to have my favorite toy with me when camping. When I hiked into a camp near a lake, I took my SUP, but that really restricts the extras that I also need to take. Once there, it was great, but the hike in…not so much.
Lastly, since your board can carry more than you can in a backpack, you can take much more with you. It isn’t too much of a problem to add a camp chair or two to my board, but I wouldn’t want to add a couple of chairs to my backpack and hike 3 miles.
SUP camping is a lot of fun. Try it out!