Stand-up paddle boarding is the fastest growing water sport around. While a few have taken it to competitive levels, most are looking for another fitness tool and treat their SUP as a beach toy, never venturing out of sight of their cottage. I rent a board occasionally along the Toronto Harbourfront and paddle out to the Toronto Islands but even then I have rarely exceeded 10km, which usually leaves me exhausted. I knew these boards must have more potential. So, last week, I roughly planned out a route, packed some gear and set off on a 5 night, 100km SUP camping trip!
The first thing you’ll notice about a SUP is their complete lack of storage compartments. Any gear you’d like to bring will have to sit on the board behind you (or in front) and had better be in a water-proof bag in case it goes overboard. I crammed all of my gear, and most of the food I would need, into a 30L barrel bag and a 10L water bag. 40L is not a lot of space when you consider that you’ll have to include a sleeping bag, shelter, cooking supplies, a stove, dry clothes for the evenings, rain gear (just in case), towel, food, toiletries etc. And of course you’re going to need a LOT of water! Despite some otherwise careful planning I have never tried paddling with gear on board, so once I got my SUP I was really just hoping for the best. I also used a 4L Seal line waist pack to keep a few essentials dry like my phone, map, wallet and to store a few things that I would want easy access to such as an energy bar or two.
Here’s the basic setup as I launched:
Normally when I go camping in the Kawarthas I rent a car in Toronto, drive to the area where I camp and the car sits around all week several kms from my site, a real waste of money. This time around I got to Peterborough on GO Transit, rented a Starboard SUP from Wildrock Outfitters and carried it the 300m or so down to Millenium Park, where I launched into the Otonabee River. No car meant a huge savings!
My gear and I will definitely weigh in over 230lbs, so I wanted a SUP with plenty of volume, even if that meant a bigger, slower, heavier board. I think the model I had was called the Atlas. This 12′ Starboard SUP is huge! This board also has rubber (EVA) all the way around the rails for a bit of impact resistance, meaning I shouldn’t have to worry about inflicting any damage as I bring it into shore.