Unlike a sea kayak which may have one to two internal storage hatches, on a sup, we have less space to pack gear. That said making smart choices for what you really need on your trip will help reduce weight and keep your balance. I also like the phrase, less is more. Do you really need that camp chair and dutch oven?
Longer SUPs are better for trips in that you can go further easier and store your gear out of the way of your standing area. Over the years, I’ve seen photos of folks’ boards stack high with gear leaving minimal standing room. Doing so prevents you from stepping back comfortably to avoid pearling in downwind and surf conditions. Or adjusting your feet during a long haul.
For attaching gear to your board, you can use existing D-Rings on inflatables (or glue some on), leash plugs on hard boards (or add them), or add 3rd party tie-down points such as the NSI spectra loop plugs which I’ve used for years. NRS has several how-to videos on attaching D-Rings and similar outfitting tips.
Instead of using the existing bungee which is flexible thus may not hold gear in waves and wind, I instead run a strong thin rope through the four attachment points (D-Rings or leash plugs) to make a square shape. Then place my gear bag in the middle of the square, and attach the bag down with a car rack strap threading the strap on both sides through the square rope shape. Then tightening the strap down as needed.
Always test your gear tie-downs before a trip to make sure it’s balanced, not too heavy and won’t loosen up especially if you flip the board. I double dry bag everything as I don’t trust single dry bags to keep my gear dry. Everything leaks.
My Gear Overnight SUP Trips List for 1 to 2 Nights
To carry less, I bring gear that have multiple functions.
Cooking: MSR Pocket Rocket Stove and 1 fuel canister, lighter, backup matches, foil wind protector, metal cup for soups or coffee/tea, titanium cookware. O Meals are a food option that requires adding any type of liquid to it’s pouch which ignites it’ heater thus warming the food in the pouch. This means no need for a stove, unless you need coffee. NW paddler Reg Lake has his Sunrise coffee mug that is insulated and in the base, you remove and place on top a coffee filter. Great for keeping gear small and using the cup for multiple purposes.
Tent: 1-2 person tent or bivy bag. If I’m solo, I’ll use an Outdoor Research bivy bag. If I’m going minimalist with no sleeping bag, I’ll add a Sol Bivy inside the OR bag for additional warmth but minimal added space or weight.
Sleeping Bag – Choose bags that pack small and light such as those from Big Agnes. Choose a temp rating for the temps you’ll be in. Down packs smaller and lighter but can’t get wet, so double dry bag it. You can add temperature boosting liners to increase warmth but not weight and space. So I may get a 55F bag but add a liner or wear long johns to compensate.
Sleeping Pad – To save space the Thermarest Neo Air series and no-fill foam Z-Lite pads pack to nothing, don’t add weight or much space. Double them by using to sit on the shore. I cut my Z-Lite in half (length) and added velcro strips to attach together. That allowed me to store it smaller and use either half by itself as a seat.
Warm Clothing – Here in the Northwest, even a summer evening can be chilly. Down or synthetic ‘puffy coats’ are super warm yet also compress small as well. I get cold, so in cooler weather, I’ll bring two – one with a hood and other hoodless. But both pack small. I can interchange both per changing conditions or wear both at the same time, or in place of a sleeping bag on minimalist trips. I also like a larger puffy to fit over my wetsuit during paddling breaks on cooler days. Also, synthetic thermal tops/bottoms, wool or related warm sock for evenings / sleeping bag.
Paddling Clothing – Varies per conditions / weather. I’m a full wetsuit fan, some like dry-suits or tops / bottoms options (NRS, Varikobi).
Hi-Vis Clothing – Super bright colored (not white) shirts for visibility on-water.
Tow Rope – NorthWater Micro-Tow, great for safety but also drying gear in camp and line for beer chill bag.
Footwear – Sandals in warmer months. I may keep my NRS Desperado boots on for tide pooling or rock beach walks. Adding a neoprene liner for colder temps or worn with sandals.
Backpacking Pants – Super light, dries quickly, could double as paddle pants on hot days to keep sun off legs.
Shorts – Synthetic material for drying quickly. Or backpacking pants that zip-off.
Paddling Neoprene Pants – Could double as long johns or off-water in-camp tights. Best brands by NRS and Varikobi.
Compression Tights for long distance paddles.
Sun-block and/or UV protected clothing and a wide brimmed hat.
Wallet contents in a plastic waterproof wallet.
Sunglasses on retainer strap
Phone in a waterproof bag or case on a string attached to your PFD or deck bag.
Warm hat or beanie – For cooler camp evenings or days. Neoprene skull cap could suffice.
Headlamp for camp and night paddling. I also use a twist-on Guardian light on the rear of my PFD for night paddling.
Watch – I use the Vivo-active by Garmin to track my heart rate and route. Turn off all unnecessary functions to save battery.
Leash – Worn on ankle, calf of waist PFD strap.
Fin – Consider a backup in remote areas.
PFD – Always buy bright colors for visibility. If you get a waist C02, test it prior to the trip. NRS has several good pfd’s.
First Aid Kit / Repair Kit – Prescriptions, Tylenol/Advil/Aspirin, Neosporin, bandaids, super glue, chemical heat packs, fin screws, 5 min epoxy and fiberglass mat, foil tape, extra leash string, etc. U can make a mini-kit with a zip lock bag.
Marine chart or map – Navigation apps are fun but if your battery dies or you can’t get reception, a map/chart will be a life saver. You can also pre-download marine charts to your phone. Bring a solar charger for the phone.
VHF Radio – Not all areas of coverage and you can use it as a walkie-talkie between friends, to check NOAA weather and/or to call the Coast Guard (or local authorities) in case of an emergency. Know how to use prior to your trip. Keep on string. Buy the floating hand-held radios. I use Standard Horizon VHFs. Icom makes good radios too.