Tips on Planning a Multi-Day SUP Trip
Planning a Multi-Day SUP trip can be overwhelming, and frankly, a real drag. But to make it a little easier, and hopefully help you keep things in mind that'll only provide more safety, we've spread out a few tips on making it not only safe, but also prepared for anything.
My favorite way to get away from civilization for a few days is taking my SUP on a long camping trip. Whether it is down a river or exploring a lake, getting out on the water for a few days is a great way to get away from all the noise of the city without having to carry all of your gear on your back. I have done a few other articles on SUP camping that you can check out here and here so I will focus on unique aspects of a SUP river trip and multi-day camping trip.
Plan your route
Planning a route becomes extremely important when you are planning a multi-day adventure. A good plan will keep you on track and help you keep from getting lost.
Safety Tip: Make sure to share your route and where you plan to camp each day with everyone you are going with as well as friends and family at home so they know where you will be on a given day.
Many popular rivers, lakes and reservoirs have maps available that you can buy or you can get away with printing off a topographical map from somewhere on the internet.
Mark on your map how far you plan on going and list a few potential camping areas as well. Make sure to have more than one in case your first choice is already taken.
I always plug in potential camping spots on my GPS as well to help with navigation. You should practice paddling distance before you commit to this plan so that you know that your daily mileage goals are attainable.
Ensure to get a permit if your route requires it. Permit systems help prevent popular rivers from overcrowding and will let local authorities know what your plan is so they have an idea of where to find you if you have an emergency.
Do a shuttle
One of the most important steps of preparation for a river trip is running a shuttle. This isn’t necessary if you are on a lake and plan to pull out in the same place you put in.
Before you leave, make sure that you can fit all of your gear into all but one of the cars you will be taking so that you do not have to take multiple trips on your return drive.
The night before or morning of your trip, take all of the cars to the pull out location, leave all but one there, and drive back with all of the drivers in one car.
Make sure that you remember to bring all of your keys with you on the trip and don’t forget them in the shuttle car. Some friends of mine like to stash their keys somewhere in the pullout location so they can’t lose them on the water. Personally, I always take my key with me but both are good options
Consider taking a pack raft for whitewater
I’m a big fan of carrying my own gear on a SUP whenever possible but whitewater can make that a little less practical.
Many frequent river-goers choose to take a packraft on their adventure to lighten the load on their own vessel and lessen the threat of losing gear if your SUP tips over at any point.
Our Lochsa board is great for whitewater and has plenty of capacity for gear but a board loaded down with luggage can be harder to handle if it ever flips or gets away from you.
Follow Leave No Trace Principles
Riparian ecosystems (the area right along the river) can be particularly delicate and it is important to do your best to protect them while you are on your trip.
On a lot of popular rivers it is recommended or required that you pack out your poop in a “wag bag” or other toilet system. It sounds gross but it really isn’t a big deal at all after you try it.
Another important aspect of Leave No Trace is to minimize the impact of campfires. You can do this by using a fire pan and packing out all of your ashes. Other info about Leave No Trace can be found here.
Bring extra paddles, PFDs etc
The last thing that you want is to be stuck on a river for days without a critical piece of gear.
Always bring extra paddles (1-3 should be enough for most medium sized groups) in case one gets broken or lost. The same goes for life jackets. I always like to make sure that at least two people have copies of the map as well.
Planning a full trip can take a lot of work, and it's easy to forget or leave something behind. Hopefully with these tips and key-points you'll feel more prepared and excited to get on the water! If you'd like to read a paddler's story of their SUP Camping experience make sure to check it out.