There is something thrilling about loading your gear into a backpack, driving out into the wilderness, and then leaving everything behind as you explore a world very few are lucky enough to see. The challenge isn't just in the terrain, but in the very act itself. When you are limited to a backpack and are faced with surviving in the wilderness ... what do you bring?
But backpacking has even more limitations, especially when it comes to water. That's why we are huge fans of SUP camping. A relatively new activity, SUP camping brings a few notable advantages your to next camping adventure while still providing the challenges you crave.
There's more space than a backpack ... but not much. While SUP camping, you have two main loading areas: one at the front of the SUP and one at the rear. What you load and where you load it depends on what you plan to plan to do, where you plan to go, and how long you plan to be gone.
Consider your board. There are many different types of SUPs, and not all are created equal when SUP camping. Typically, touring or all-purpose boards are best. They are wider, longer, and generally more stable than other boards. You also want a board with adequate places to anchor your gear. Bungees in the front and back are ideal.
SUPing is about balance, so be sure to balance the weight along the center line of the board. Weight distribution back-to-front is important as well. In most cases, you will want equal weight in the front and back. If you are planning to go through any whitewater, considering packing more of the weight up front.
Create a day/ditch bag. This is the bag you plan to grab if you need to ditch your SUP for some reason (whether you're going to do a little exploring on land or you tip, your gear gets free, and you have to make a quick decision before it floats away). In it, store what you need to survive - water purification system, matches, first aid, some food, your cell phone and money, and so on.
Do a dry run. This may seem like overkill, but it's better to figure out that you have too much gear and not enough board in your backyard than at your drop-in site. If possible, test it out on the water. This allows you to adjust weight distribution to be sure you can balance properly on the board. It also gives you a chance to feel how the board handles on the water with your gear attached.
Think light. Don't be fooled. SUP camping isn't just about minimal gear, it's also about lightweight gear. All boards have a maximum weight with the larger boards topping out around 300 pounds. After you consider your weight, the weight of the dry bags, the weight of any food and water you need to bring, sleeping gear, cooking gear, clothing, first aid gear ... you see where I'm going with this. After packing, weigh your dry bags to get a better idea of what the combined weight will be to make sure that you don't overload your board.
And, of course, follow all of your water safety rules. That includes bringing safety gear (compass, maps, GPS, etc.) as well as creating a float plan to leave with an emergency contact. Make sure to follow any laws/rules associated with the body of water you are traversing as well as any camping regulations that apply to your planned rest stops.