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The Ultimate Guide to Packing for a Paddle Boarding Trip

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Imagine you and your closest friends and family gliding across the glistening sea or a vast lake like a water strider while admiring the scenery. Doesn’t that sound relaxing? If you’re itching to get on the water with a paddle board, start planning your next stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) trip now! To help you prepare for your upcoming paddle boarding experience, we’ve put together the ultimate guide to packing for a paddle boarding trip. Don’t forget to add these items to your luggage before heading out!

The Bag

Your paddle board bag protects your paddle board from scratches and other forms of damage as you lug it around. The bag you use should be big enough to accommodate your board with room to spare and have straps or wheels for easy and ergonomic carrying.

If you’re flying to your SUP vacation destination, you’ll be happy to hear that airlines will treat your inflatable board as checked baggage in most cases. That said, it doesn’t hurt to check with your airline beforehand to make sure.

The Board

Generally, the longer your board, the better it is. Longer boards that are 12’6” to 14’ or longer glide and track straighter, paddle more efficiently, and store more gear without overcrowding the standing area. This makes them ideal for trips and tours, as they allow you to cover greater distances. That said, any board you have works, as long as you’re not planning a long-distance or extreme trip.

Packing Your Board: Tips

You want to exercise caution when packing your SUP board to avoid damage. Fortunately, packing it is quick and easy; just follow these tips.

Start by removing the fin from the fin box and placing it in the front pocket of your bag. Next, push down and twist the valve stem to deflate your board. Once most of the air is out, grab your board by the nose and roll it toward the tail.

Now you want to unzip your bag, place it flat on the ground or another surface, and undo the two buckles. Grab the board and gently push it as far into the bag as possible with the tail end first. Once the board is snugly inside, take the two buckles and secure them around it. You want them to be tight enough to hold the board in place but not so tight that they leave marks. Add accessories to the bag, but only as many as you can comfortably fit. Don’t overstuff! Once you finish, zip your bag back up. You’re good to go.

Attachment Devices

You’ll need D-rings and a sturdy cord to attach items to your board. If it’s windy outside, it’s best to use a thin rope to tie items to the board rather than the flexible attached bungee. A bungee cord may not be strong enough to hold items through strong winds or waves. However, a thick bungee will work fine if that’s all you have on hand. Additionally, pack dry bags to store your gear within. This keeps water out and your belongings nice and dry.

Your Accommodations

Do you plan to head to your destination, paddle board for a few hours, then head home? Or do you want to stay in the area for a few days so that you can get the most out of the experience? Depending on the area you paddle board in, you may have access to cozy cabins or hotels. Or you might not! If you’re paddle boarding on a lake in the wilderness, you should be ready to set up camp at the end of a long day so that you can rest up and be raring to go tomorrow. If you only plan to sleep and eat at the campsite, all you need are your standard safety items, a tent and sleeping bag, and cooking gear. Cooking gear includes items like matches, a frying pan, and, of course, hearty food.

On-Land and Paddle Boarding Clothes

Another thing to pack is clothing, both for wearing on land and paddle boarding. Your on-land clothes should lean to the warmer side because it can be chilly even in summer, especially near water! Long-sleeved shirts, pants, a warm jacket, merino socks, boots and sandals, and a hat are classic SUP attire.

But when you’re on the water, what you put on should look a bit different. You want to pack according to the water temperature and take personal safety into account. Pack some hi-vis, breathable, and waterproof clothing. These can include colorful shirts, paddling pants, and wet shoes.

Dry suits and wetsuits are ideal gear for paddling, especially for long-distance trips. These clothing items have heavy insulation. They possess a thermal barrier that keeps you warm in cold water but cool under the sun. So you remain protected no matter the air and water conditions. The amount of insulation you get from your suit depends on its thickness. Therefore, you should choose yours according to the water temperature that day. 2- to 3-millimeter thickness is ideal for chilly water (62 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit). But close-to-freezing water that’s 43 to 52 degrees Fahrenheit calls for a thicker 5- to 6-millimeter suit.

You might also want to pack a warm beanie, sunglasses, a fitness watch, a fanny pack, and a headlamp. This will depend on the weather, time of day, and how much convenience you like.

Safety Items

Most likely, your paddle boarding experience will go smoothly and without incident. But you know what they say—it’s better to be safe than sorry. Preparing for the worst ensures you have the tools to keep yourself safe if something goes awry. Some SUP safety essentials include:

  • A tow rope
  • A coiled leash to wear on your ankle, calf, or PFD strap
  • A fin and fin tip
  • A lifejacket
  • A first aid kit
  • A marine map
  • A VHF radio
  • A charged cell phone

And make sure to use sunscreen to protect yourself from burns and bring a drink to fend off dehydration and heatstroke.

Looking for the perfect board for your next SUP trip? Green Water Sports is North America’s number one paddle board retailer. We have avid paddle boarders on our team who want to share their love of paddle boarding with the world. Come and view our collection of stand up paddle boards. We carry a wide variety of lengths and styles to accommodate every individual. Find a board that suits your needs today!

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About the author: Julian Kidd
I have been an avid stand up paddle boarder since 2009. I retired from a decade of professional kiteboarding to focus on SUP. Green Water Sports grew from this love of all things SUP. As well as being a keen paddle boarder, I'm a football fan, closet petrol head, web tinkerer, husband and father.