The Importance of a Dock Line

The Importance of a Dock Line

When using a boat, it seems fairly obvious that a dock line would be a vital piece of equipment.  How else would you secure the boat to the dock when done for the afternoon?  Most of us don't consider, however, that the dock line is just as vital for those using man-powered vessels.

True, most man-powered vessels are small enough and light enough to be pulled up on shore.  That doesn't mean that you shouldn't have a dock line secured to your vessel, no matter what type of vessel it is.

Why?  Here are four vital (and sometimes hilarious) reasons why you should have a dock line on your kayak or SUP.

Headstands on SUPs

1.  Group Yoga

Although a dock line isn't actually used in the execution of SUP yoga, it's a useful thing to have on hand.  Why?  That dock line can be used to secure your SUP to another or even to a buoy or a dock.  This way, you don't have to worry about floating away while trying to master Shirshasana.

Woman Pulling Kayak Over Shallow Water

2.  Shallow Water

Most kayaks, SUPs, and even canoes sit high enough in the water to cross shallow waters, but even they can run aground.  When your SUP is loaded with gear, carrying it often isn't an option.  Having a dock line means you can remove your weight from the SUP, allowing it to ride higher in the water, and pull it through the shallow areas.  Personally, I've had to do this several times when going down rivers in the later summer when the water levels sometimes drop until only a few inches cover the rocky river bottom.

Canoe and Kayak Tied to Buoy

3.  When Shore Isn't An Option

There are times when you may not want to drag/carry your vessel up the shore.  Rocks, cliffs, and even crowds may make it impossible, or at least very difficult, to carry your SUP or kayak up the shore.  With a dock line secured to your SUP, you can easily tie it off to a buoy, tree, or even a rock to ensure it doesn't float away while you rest.

Girl Paddling Kayak

4. Towing

There are two situations when your dock line may need to serve as a quick-tow rope as well.  In my personal experience, these situations often revolve around children ... or husbands.

First, children.  While rowing long distances, they may tire sooner or may not be able to fight the current/wind as easily as you can.  Simply secure one end of the dock line to the back of your vessel and secure the other to the front of theirs.  This ensures they never fall too far behind, can take breaks when they need to, and will be able to stick with the group during windy days. 

Do not do this when venturing down rapids.  The rope can easily get caught on rocks/branches/debris and may end up putting both of you in a dangerous situation.  Never allow a child to traverse a rapids alone in their own vessel.

Second, husbands.  In particular, I'm thinking of my own who prefers to cruise along on his PWC while I stick to my kayak.  One summer day, I set out to investigate a bit of marshlands along the edge of the lake while he got his PWC.  After struggling for a bit (it's a two-stroke and takes a bit of love to start the first time), he got it running only to have it shut down on him about two hundred yards from shore.  I had to tow him back to the dock, which was easy with my dock line.

He learned a very important lesson that day - PWC work better if they have gas in their tank.

And me?  I don't think I've ever laughed that hard.

Dock Line Attached to SUP

Whether you prefer kayaks, canoes, or SUPs, consider purchasing a dock line like the one offered here at Stillwater Outdoors.  It pays to be prepared, especially when bringing husbands along.

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Types of SUPs: Which One is Right for You?

Stand-up paddling is a great sport for people of all ages and abilities.  It's low-impact, easy to learn, and can be done virtually anywhere you can find water.  We love it because of its versatility ... but that can also create some confusion for those looking to break into the sport.

How?  Well, that versatility comes with an array of options as far as board type, size, and length.  So how do you know which one is right for you?

calm lake

First, think about where you plan to use the board. 

Easy access to a small lake will require different equipment than whitewater boarding.  Racing options aren't the greatest for those who want to focus on SUP yoga or fishing.

Second, think about who will use it.

Children often do better on shorter boards and weight limits can influence the type and size of board needed for adults.  

Third, consider how you plan to move it.

If you do a lot of adventuring all across the country and plan to take your SUP along, an inflatable board is the way to go.  The same goes for those who plan to take it on hiking/camping trips.  If you plan to only visit areas where you can drive directly to the water (a boat launch), a solid SUP may be the better option, but keep in mind that solid SUPs are obviously heavier and may be difficult for some people to carry/move by themselves.

And fourth, decide which is more important - maneuverability or speed.

Why?  Planing hulls (those that remain flat along the surface of the water with a rounded nose) are more maneuverable than displacement hulls (those that "cut" through the water with a nose like that of a canoe and tend to sit lower in the water).  This goes along with the first question - where do you plan to use it - and adds the layer of how do you plan to use it.  Planing hulls are great for surfing, yoga, and whitewater as well as leisurely rides across the water.  Displacement hulls are for those looking for speed for racing, touring, or fitness paddling.

Carrying SUPs

Now that you've thought about the when, where, and how you plan to use your SUP, let's consider the different board options available.  Some of these options may vary by company/brand, so be sure to read the specifics associated with all of the boards you are considering before you make a purchase.  Be sure to check out volume, length, weight limits, thickness, and width.

In general, planing boards are more forgiving when it comes to these measurements.  Displacement boards require a bit more thought.  Pay special attention to the volume and weight statistics.  If you are too light for the board, it won't sink into the water enough and will be difficult to control.  If you are too heavy, it will sink too deep and will drag and be far slower than it should be.  And remember to consider the weight of any gear you bring as this will have a significant influence on the performance of the board.

Surf SUP

 Surf

Surf SUPs are generally shorter than 10 feet long and are almost always planing hulls.  They cut over the surface of the water with ease and allow for great maneuverability.  The downside?  They are slower on flat water and are less stable.

All-around SUP, yoga

All-Around

These boards, as the name suggests, can be used for just about any type of SUPing.  These are perfect beginner boards and are excellent options for those sharing the board with friends and family (who will differ in size and skill level).  Though they work in just about any situation, they don't excel as much as the others for specific objectives (they aren't as fast as racing/touring boards or as maneuverable as surf SUPs).  They generally range from 10 to 12 feet in length and usually have planing hulls though some companies offer displacement style all-around boards.

Flatwater SUP

Flatwater

These boards are designed for distance and speed.  Most are over 12 feet long and are still wide enough to be relatively stable in most conditions.  They will typically have a displacement hull, which allows for better tracking (staying straight on the water) and speed.

Racing SUP

Racing

Racing SUPs are a sub-category of the flatwater boards.  They are generally the same length and always have displacement hulls.  The major difference is in the width.  Racing boards are narrow, which means they are far less stable than any other board and aren't a great choice for beginners.  The narrowness allows for increased speeds, which is why this choice is great for those looking to race.

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Why You Need to Have One Last Paddling Adventure

Why You Need to Have One Last Paddling Adventure

Autumn is officially here.  Well, maybe not officially, but it certainly feels like it.  Here in the Pacific Northwest, we know autumn has arrived when the nighttime temperatures dip into the low 50's, the leaves start to change, and school buses greet us every morning.

It seems like only yesterday soaring high temperatures drove us to the lakes and rivers in hordes, desperate for relief from the heat.  Now, many of those same lakes and rivers stand empty or host solitary fishing boats that sit quiet and still in sheltered bays.

fishing in autumn

Which is one of the many reasons why you need to grab your SUP and hit the water one last time (or two or three if you can manage it).

Think about it -  no more rambunctious PWCs zooming in and out with little regard for the man-powered vessels slowly making their way across the water.  And those boat launches that always seemed to be full?  Now they're mostly empty with no lines at the ramp and no delays before you get out on the water.

Sure, it's a bit colder.  And yes, rain is coming.  But are those reasons to ignore one of the most beautiful (and my personal favorite) season of the year?

I think not.

autumn by lake

Of course, there are some of you who laugh in the face of frost and aren't at all intimidated by ice or snow.  Those same people venture out into the wilds and hit the water regardless of season and can no doubt tell you hundreds of amazing reasons why you should do the same.

We understand, however, that some of you may exchange SUPs for skis/snowboards and boats for snowmachines.  Before you do so, we want you to consider taking one last paddling adventure.  Believe us, it is definitely worth it.

Why?  Here are four of our favorite reasons why you shouldn't pack away that SUP yet.

autumn along a river

1.  See above.  It's beautiful.  Need we say more?

2.  Crowds?  What crowds?  With many sticking close to home as children return to school, most of those fan-favorite destinations that were crowded all summer now stand empty.  

3.  Now that the water isn't as crowded and you aren't being bombarded by waves, you might consider trying something new with your SUP.  Those SUP yoga positions you've been hesitant to attempt?  Now is the time to give them a try.  Those new strokes for maneuvring through tight spaces?  Feel free to practice all you want.  For those of you with touring SUPs, that venture across the entire lake won't be as hazardous now that there is less traffic on the water.

4.  It's a great time to introduce someone new to the the sport.  Grab a pair of SUPs, head down to the lake, and practice with ease all the while enjoying the beauty of the changing seasons.  When you're finished, crack open that thermos of hot cocoa and enjoy.

Although the allure of snow is difficult to ignore, don't be so eager to give up on your SUP just yet.  Take advantage of all that autumn has to offer and enjoy the beauty of the season by taking one last paddling adventure.  When you're done, we are sure you'll be hooked.

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Guest Blog: Glacier National Park

Guest Blog: Glacier National Park

Today, we would like to share a post provided to us by our friend, Timothy Beggs, who recently went on a trip to Glacier National Park.  We love to hear about adventures near and far and are so happy that our Stillwater SUPs added a new level of fun for Tim, his friends, and his family.

Glacier National Park, sunrise on lake

As someone who is new to paddle boarding, I was unsure of what to expect when I tried this very hyped-up sensational rave, and I must say I was not disappointed. I am also very into camping and mountaineering, so when I went to Glacier National Park this year to do a camping and climbing trip, I decided to bring paddle boards as well. And boy, am I glad I did.

Glacier National Park, friends

After a long day of hiking and climbing in the mountains, we would go for a one-two hour paddle on Bowman Lake where our main camp site was and I even got up early one morning to watch the sunrise from the water.

Glacier National Park, ready to SUP

As much as I love fast-paced high-risk activities, paddle boarding brought such a fun and enjoyable addition to our camping trip this year.  Whether we were hiking Logan's Pass or climbing Mt Siyeh, my brothers would always say, “When we get back to camp, we need to do some more paddle boarding,” to which I always agreed.

Glacier National Park lake at sunrise

While Fun Unlimited offers some beautiful locations to rent from in Post Falls and Spokane, I always like getting a little farther away. Thankfully, they let me take the paddle boards off-site for the trip. So 6 hours away in Glacier National Park, Montana, I was able to enjoy the most peaceful and quiet sunrise on a remote lake.

Glacier National Park Lake

Thanks Fun Unlimited and Stillwater Outdoors for the great time in Montana and for the many more trips on the water to come!

Thanks Tim!  We're so glad you had a safe trip and hope next summer brings many more adventures on water and on land.

All pictures were provided, and used with permission, by Timothy Beggs.  The article is presented, as given, with the exception of a few minor grammar corrections.  

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Snow, Ice, and Cold Water: Winter Water Safety Guide

Snow, Ice, and Cold Water: Winter Water Safety Guide

Summer is ending, fall is fast approaching, and temperatures are already starting to drop ... but don't think that means you have to pack your SUP away for good.  Winter brings unique opportunities to the sport.

As well as some serious dangers.  Never underestimate the cold.  If you plan ahead, prepare, and respect Mother Nature, there is no reason why you can't go and see a world very few have had the pleasure of witnessing ... a winter wonderland seen from the water.

Woman by lake, winter

1.  Know the Water Temperature

We all know that SUPing is swimming, and though few of us plan to end up in the water, it happens.  What most don't realize is that water doesn't have to be that cold to be dangerous.  50 degree (F) water is a lot colder and more deadly than 50 degree air.  Water temperatures between 70 and 60 degrees are considered dangerous.  Water temperatures below 60 degrees are considered very dangerous/immediately life-threatening.  At 60 and below, you may experience total loss of breathing control, inability to control gasping, and hyperventilation.  For more information on the dangers of cold water, check out the National Center for Cold Water Safety at www.coldwatersafety.org

If the water temperature is cold, it doesn't mean you can't SUP.  It does mean that you should take extra precautions to ensure that you can get out of the water quickly and safely if you do fall in.

2.  Watch the Weather

This is important any time you go out on an adventure as no one likes to be caught in torrential rains or unusually blistering heat.  In the winter, however, the danger ramps up.  That slight breeze that cooled you during the summer months now adds a wind-chill factor that could put already cold temperatures below freezing.  And, honestly, who wants to set out on their adventure during a blizzard?  Check the weather days in advance.  Keep checking it as your target date approaches.  And if there are any risks, don't go.  Try again at a later, safer, time.

blizzard by mountains

3.  Make a Float Plan

We mentioned this in our post about general water safety/SUP safety.  Make a detailed plan of your trip - where you will put in, where you will paddle, any potential "safe" areas where you may shore up in case of trouble, when you will leave, when you will return, who is going with you, what you will be wearing, and so on.  Seems like a lot, but getting stranded in the winter is far more dangerous than getting stranded in the summer.  Daylight temperatures in the winter months are cold enough, but when that sun goes down and the temperatures plummet, you don't want to be stranded outside.  Make a plan, give it to someone you trust, and stick to it.

And when choosing your route, consider this:  Can you swim to shore?  If not, you should probably choose a different route.  Hug shorelines and stick to shallows whenever possible to reduce the risk of drowning and/or hypothermia if you end up in the water.

4.  Never Paddle Alone

In the summer, it can be tempting to venture out on your own because there is less risk.  Conditions are ideal and dangers are minimal.  In the winter, however, having someone with may save your life.  The cold makes everything difficult and fine motor skills quickly disappear with gross motor skills following soon after.  Having someone there to help in case of an emergency is vital, so never go out alone.

campfire in snow

5.  Make an Emergency Kit

Whether you plan to be out for an hour or all day, it's a good idea to have a winter-specific emergency kit with you while paddling.  In it, include things you might need if you do end up stranded overnight in the cold.  Matches/a lighter, water, a blanket (to save space consider placing it in a bag that can be compressed and sealed to remove air), chemical heating packets for hands and feet, flashlight, etc.  If you do have to go to shore and can't make it back to your car before nightfall, you're going to need a way to stay warm.  Pack with that in mind.  Consider a safety beacon or flare as well, just in case.

6.  Leash and PDF

In the summer months, it is tempting to SUP without actually wearing your PDF.  On calm, warm water, there is less of a risk of drowning, especially for those who are strong swimmers.  In cold water, however, swimming skill isn't enough to save you.  Wear your PDF at all times.  If you fall into cold water, the shock of it may make it difficult or impossible to swim.  Always keep a leash attached as well.  When the water is cold and swimming is difficult, you don't want your SUP to get out of your reach.

7.  Dry Suit or Wet Suit?

Both can be used, though they work in very different ways and are more useful in different situations.  A wet suit works as you might think - it absorbs water and holds it against your body, allowing your body heat to warm it.  This warm water then becomes an insulating layer between you and the rest of the water.  A dry suit keeps you dry by repelling the water completely and uses the air trapped near your body to keep you warm.  In winter weather, particularly, a dry suit may prove more comfortable.  No matter which you use, keep in mind that layers both under and over can provide extra comfort and safety.  Also make sure that your clothing doesn't restrict your movements, both on the board and if you happen to fall in the water.

Wool Socks

8.  Consider Clothing Carefully

Cotton is a no-no.  Why?  It absorbs and holds water.  Instead, use layers that hold heat, not water, like fleece and/or wool.  Dress in layers as well.  Lightweight layers first, then warming layers (like fleece and wool) and waterproof/repellent layers last.  Hats are important, so make sure to have one.  While in the cold, it's important to keep your hands and feet warm as well, so invest in good gear.  Waterproof boots are nice, though they can be awkward in the water.  Wet suit booties are a great alternative, though they mean your feet will be wet the entire time.  Wear gloves that are waterproof and warm or consider neoprene (wet suit) options.

Two things to keep in mind when dressing for winter paddling:

Dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature

Layer properly for adjusting temperatures throughout the day (so you can remove layers when sweating and add them again when it cools)

8.  Extra Gear to Consider

A dry bag is a great investment for any water enthusiast.  Consider one, or two, for your winter paddling adventure.  One can carry your emergency gear as well as your float plan while the second can be used to store any layers you shed or extra clothing you bring along.  This will ensure they remain dry and ready to be reused later.  A thermos of something hot to drink is always a great idea.  Bring two, one to drink on your way out to the paddle spot and one for after you are finished for the day.  That added heat after a day of cold-weather paddling will definitely be appreciated.  Also consider a change of clothing.  After you return to your car, changing out of anything wet will help raise your body temperature faster and will make the trip home far more comfortable.

mountain lake in winter

Winter offers just as much beauty and fun as summer, as long as you don't underestimate the dangers.  Here at Stillwater Outdoors, we want to encourage you to try something new, something adventurous, while remaining as safe as possible.  Preparation and prevention are key, so the next time you venture out, please take an extra moment to review this guide and, as always, stay safe.

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10 Reasons to Visit Washington State

10 Reasons to Visit Washington State

The United States is incredibly diverse and offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors whether you're looking for the perfect hiking trail, a peaceful lake for canoeing, or maybe trails for horseback riding.  With so many places to choose from, it can be difficult to find that perfect destination for your next adventure.

Here are 10 reasons why Washington should be your next vacation destination.

1.  San Juan Island

This National Historic Park has something for everyone.  Hiking trails spread through forests, up mountains, and alone pristine beaches.  There are opportunities to brush up on your history during a re-enactment at English Camp.  Enjoy wildlife?  Watch whales, seals, porpoises, foxes, deer, and make sure to stop by American Camp, one of the best locations for bird watching around the world.  Both camps have boat launches so be sure to bring your canoe, kayak, or SUP.

Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park

2.  Olympic National Park

A gem of the state, Olympic National Park offers a wide range of activities to enjoy year-round.  There are 16 campgrounds for those who plan to stay a while, and we highly recommend that you do.  The park covers over 920,000 acres which amounts to over 1,400 square miles.  Complete a day hike on the 600+ miles of trail or enjoy the 3,000+ miles of rivers and streams.  Curious about the natives of the area?  Check out over 650 archaeological sites and the half million museum objects.

Diablo Overlook

3.  North Cascades National Park

Personally, I love viewing the mountains but have no experience actually climbing them.  The North Cascades Highway offers the perfect opportunity to enjoy the mountains without experience - either by car or by bicycle.  Stop by the Washington Pass Overlook for spectacular views, continue down to the Diablo Lake Overlook to see the aqua blue waters, and then stop by the North Cascades Institute or the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center for educational programs and tours.  For those looking for a little more adventure, consider boat-in camping on Ross Lake.

4.  Lewis and Clark National Park

Looking for an interactive experience?  The Lewis and Clark National Park is a great place to learn about local history by seeing it in action.  Summer and Winter programs showcase flintlock muzzle loaders (fired by rangers) as well as historical demonstrations.  Participate in guided hiking tours along the Netul River or sign up for a guided paddle tour on the Lewis and Clark River.

Mount Rainier

5.  Mount Rainier National Park

If hiking is your thing, consider making this your destination.  Mount Rainier National Park has over forty hiking trails and offers permitted backcountry camping as well.  Want a challenge?  Consider completing part or all of the Pacific Crest Trail which weaves in and out of the park and spans 2,650 miles from the Canadian border down to southern California.  If you are thinking of completing the entire trail, plan for 5 months of intense hiking (although some elite hikers have completed it in as little as 2 months).

Lake Roosevelt, low water table

6.  Lake Roosevelt National Park

Enjoy spending time on the water?  Stop by Lake Roosevelt National Park and explore 130 miles of lake formed by the Grand Coulee Dam.  There are 22 public boat launches available, but remember to call ahead.  Because of the nature of the man-made lake, water levels change throughout the year and certain launches may be closed.  Want a truly unique experience?  Consider renting a houseboat from either Lake Roosevelt Adventures or Lake Roosevelt Vacations Inc.

7.  Colville National Forest

Although not as well-known as some of the other national forests on our list, we consider Colville National Forest to be a perfect choice for those looking to get outdoors.  It spans 1.1 million acres that cover three mountain ranges and three river valleys.  There are nearly 500 miles of hiking trails, horse trails, biking trails, and OHV trails.  While exploring, be on the look out for grizzlies, bald eagles, cougars, black bears, and the last remaining caribou herd in the contiguous United States.  There are plenty of campgrounds to choose from or go off-grid with backcountry camping.  And for those who love winter, 49 Degrees North is an excellent place to snowboard, ski, and snowshoe.

Spokane Falls

8.  Spokane River Centennial Trail

This nearly 60 mile stretch of paved trail is great for pedestrians and bikers alike.  It stretches from Nine Mile Falls in Washington all the way to Coeur d'Alene in Idaho and presents beautiful views of the Spokane River.  Completing this trail will take you through forests as well as metropolitan areas, giving you a unique experience.  While passing through Spokane, consider stopping at Riverfront Park to enjoy views of the Spokane Falls from the Skyride, cruise around the newly added skate ribbon, or take a ride on one of the last hand-carved, wooden carrousels around, the Looff Carrousel.

Lake Chelan

9.  Lake Chelan

This lake has so much to offer including the 139-acre Lake Chelan State Park on the southern shore with its 6,000 feet of shoreline and, on the northern shore, the remote village of Stehekin which is only accessible by boat, plane, or foot.  The lake itself is over 50 miles long and and is over 1,400 feet deep.  Here, you can enjoy boating, camping, fishing, hiking, mountain climbing, and more.  Spend the day at a family water park or consider visiting one of the many wineries and enjoy a glass of wine while viewing the stunning mountain vistas.

10.  Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park

Formed during the Ice Age, the Dry Falls (a former waterfall 4 times the size of Niagra Falls) stretch for 3.5 miles and stand over 400 feet tall.  This is one of many sites along the National Ice Age Floods Geologic Trail.  Deep Lake, visible from the falls, is a perfect place for paddling or kayaking.  Hikers can enjoy trails that wind over sage-brush covered hills to the table-top cliffs.  This park perfectly showcases the diversity that Washington has to offer.

 

Hopefully, this list will prove that Washington is more than just coffee, rain, and technology.  The incredibly diverse landscape provides something for everyone whether you prefer snow-covered mountain slopes, aqua-blue waters, or shifting sand dunes.
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SUP Camping: A New Way to Explore

SUP Camping: A New Way to Explore

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.

Hiking boots and backpack

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.

First Aid Kit

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.

Weight Scale, Light and Heavy

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.

 

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Health Benefits of Stand-Up Paddle Boarding

Health Benefits of Stand-Up Paddle Boarding

Almost every sport offers some health benefits - some more than others.  So how does stand-up paddle boarding rate?

In my quest for alternatives to the gym, I came across many articles touting the health benefits of stand-up paddle boarding.  But how healthy can it really be?  In many pictures, I see individuals almost casually coasting across clear, smooth water.  Not exactly what I envision when I think of exercise.

Woman on SUP

So what's the answer?  How does it rate against other forms of exercise?  Well ... like most things in life, the answer is complicated.

Myth One: It's a great way to exercise your core

Well, that is true, but it isn't necessarily true in all cases.  Using an SUP can be a great way to exercise your core, but only if you do it right.  And by right, I mean you have to push yourself.  If you can easily cruise around the lake for hours without feeling much in the way of muscle aches, you probably aren't getting much of a workout.

yoga on SUP

So how do you maximize your core routine on an SUP?  Dig deep.  Dig hard.  Fully rotate your torso with each stroke. 

Try going out on windy days when the rougher water presents more of a challenge.  If that feels a bit daunting, go out on calm water but set goals for yourself.  See how fast you can go, have a race with a fellow paddle boarder, or try adding a new component - like yoga - to your routine.

Myth Two: It's great for your cardiovascular system

Good?  Okay, yes, just about every form of exercise is good for your heart.  But does stand-up paddle boarding really improve your heart health enough to be considered great?  Again, yes and no.  According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), most who paddle board don't hit the target zone for heart rate during exercise.  The harder you work on the water, the more your heart will work, so pushing yourself is obviously better than cruising along at a leisurely pace.

SUP race

Are all the benefits myths?

Not at all.  In fact, even the first two "myths" are only so in certain situations.  And there are a surprising number of other benefits to be gained from a few peaceful hours out on an SUP.  Here are a few of our favorites:

1: It's low-impact

This is great for those with joint pain or those who are recovering from an injury.  You can work your muscles, stretch them, and not have to worry about repeated stress on your ankles, knees, and hips.

Water

2: It's a great way to relieve stress

All exercise releases endorphins, which helps to boost your mood.  Stand-up paddle boarding adds another, often overlooked, benefit - "blue space".  Research has shown that just looking at a picture of nature, specifically one with water, can help create a better sense of well-being.  Feeling good about yourself can go a long way toward living a healthier lifestyle.  

3: Social Health

We've talked about physical health and we've talked about mental health ... but what about social health?  Is that a real term?  I don't know, but if not, it should be.  Humans are social creatures and our general satisfaction with life, happiness, and well-being is closely related to the quality of our relationships.

Three people on SUPs

Stand-up paddle boarding is a wonderful way to spend time with friends or get to know someone new.  It's quiet enough to allow conversations, is easy enough for anyone to learn, and is a great activity to do as a group.

Final Thoughts

Should you invest in an SUP?  Yes.  Not because it's going to make you dominate in the next triathlon or because it will knock three inches off your waist, but because any step you take to get out and do more is a step in the right direction.  The more opportunities you give yourself to exercise and release stress, the better off you will be.

So the next time your best friend asks if you want to take a spin class at the local gym, suggest paddle boarding instead.  As far as well-rounded, integrated exercises go, stand-up paddle boarding stands alone.

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Destination Spotlight: Clear Lake

Destination Spotlight: Clear Lake

In honor of our military families, today we would like to showcase the Clear Lake Recreation Area.  It is designed to provide family fun for all active duty, retired military, active members of the Reserves, National Guard, DoD civilian employees, and their families.  The 34 acre recreation area is along the shore of Clear Lake, which spans nearly 337 acres and is over 100 feet deep.  The Recreation Area is located at South 14824 Clear Lake Road, Cheney, WA.

If you're not associated with any military branch, don't fret.  Clear Lake is easily accessible thanks to the public boat launch (on the same road) near the south end of the lake.

Map view of Clear Lake Recreation Area and Clear Lake Public Boat Launch

I am always impressed by how much they have to offer.  Besides an extensive list of rental items (ski boats, paddle boats, SUPs and kayaks, fishing gear, and far more), there is also a large playground, several picnic acres with grills for cooking, a swimming area, docks for securing your boat, and camping spaces whether you bring a tent, RV, or stay in one of their cabins or yurt.

There are three reasons why my family and I keep returning to this particular spot again and again ...

1.  It's rarely busy.

This is, of course, rather subjective.  Although many of the camping areas fill up quickly, the beach, grassy areas, and the lake itself aren't usually crowded.  We last went to Clear Lake on Memorial Day weekend and expected it to be chaotic, especially since we got there later than expected.  We were pleasantly surprised to find no competition for a nice grassy area down near the water, had plenty of time to set up our stuff for the day, and got our boat launched and docked all with minimal frustration.  And when we got out onto the water?  There were a few fishing boats scattered around, but even so there was ample room to cruise the water at speed without bothering anyone.

Clear Lake Recreation Area, Playground Equipment

2. There is something for everyone.

My daughter loves the playground and beach and will gladly spend all day digging in the sand if we let her.  My husband likes to cruise around on the boat or PWC and recently learned how to wakeboard while on Clear Lake.  I prefer the challenge of man-powered vessels and spend most of my time on an SUP or kayak.  Whatever your preference, Clear Lake Recreation Area has something for you.  And if you don't own it, don't worry.  They have a surprising number of watercraft available for rent and include boater safety training with each motorized rental. 

Clear Lake, Stand-up Paddleboard, SUP

On most lakes, I am often forced to deal with speeding boats and thoughtless drivers who rarely consider how their wake or proximity might bother a nearby SUP.  Clear Lake offers a very large no-wake zone, well beyond what would be necessary for safety alone.  Because of this, Clear Lake is an ideal spot for anyone wishing to learn how to SUP, kayak, or canoe.  There's little chance for tipping when the boats putt along from the launch toward the north end of the lake.  This area is also a haven for many water birds, so keep watch as you coast along the shore.

No wake zone, Clear Lake

3. They offer more than just water fun.

During the first Saturday of May, they offer a Kid's Fishing Derby which allows kids between 5 and 14 the chance to fish on the lake.  For $10, the kids get a t-shirt, a fishing rod, and can keep up to three trout that they catch.

Those looking to challenge themselves on another level should consider registering for the Clear Lake Triathlon.  Registration is from June 6th to July 18th with the big event happening on July 21st.  Complete a 500 M swim, 15 M bike, and 5 K run as an individual competitor or build a team of three and have a different person complete each part.

Does anyone out there not like a good movie?  Well, probably some one, but for those of you who are looking for something to do on a warm summer night, check out their free movie nights.  The gate will remain open late, allowing you to settle in with free s'mores and hot dogs (while supplies last) while watching a family-friendly movie. 

For those of you who may be interested in visiting, check out Fairchild's website for more information.

Public Boat Launch

Clear Lake Public Boat Launch

Keep in mind, the Clear Lake Recreation Area is for our military families only, but that doesn't mean that non-military families can't enjoy the lake itself.  Clear Lake offers a public boat launch (use requires a Discover Pass) on the south end.  From here, you can access the extensive no-wake zone for those with man-powered vessels or take your motorized boat beyond it if you want to pull skiers, wakeboarders, or just cruise the lake.

Note: Stillwater Outdoors received nothing for posting this and is not affiliated with the Clear Lake Recreation Area or the Fairchild Airforce Base in any way.  Our only purpose was to offer our readers a short review of a local lake and recreational area.

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