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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The Allure of Autumn: A Guide to Camping in Fall

The Allure of Autumn: A Guide to Camping in Fall

Summertime is fun, but as autumn approaches, many of us pack up our camping gear, put away our SUPs and kayaks, and exchange hiking boots for school gear.  

Why?  Yeah, the days are shorter.  True, the nights are colder.  But there are definite advantages to getting outdoors in the fall and as long as you keep a few simple rules in mind, you may find that camping in this often disregarded season quickly becomes your favorite activity.


The Advantages:

1.  Discounted Rates

While some campgrounds shut down after Labor Day, others remain open but at reduced, off-season rates.  Who doesn't love saving a bit of cash?

2.  Less Crowded

For many of us, fall means school has started, which means family vacations aren't possible (or are far more difficult).  If you can manage it, you'll find that your favorite campgrounds, lakes, and trails are less crowded allowing you more freedom to enjoy all that the wilderness has to offer.

Colorado in fall

3.  A New Perspective

Autumn is a time of change, a time when the world seems to curl up upon itself, breath a sigh of relief, and prepare for winter's cold embrace.  What does this mean for you?  That familiar stomping ground you visited all summer is now transformed into a new world filled with stunning vistas, wildlife, and opportunities to explore areas that you may have missed in summer.

Now that we've convinced you of why you should explore in autumn, we'd like to offer a few tips on how to do it safely.  This list is by no means exhaustive, and what you need will vary wildly depending on who is going, where you're going, and how long you plan to be gone, but it should give you a solid start to your autumn adventure.

Fall Camping Guide:

1.  Watch the Weather

As with any outdoor adventure, the weather plays an important role.  Make sure to watch weather trends for the area you plan to explore and pack accordingly.  It's never fun to be caught out in a rainstorm without proper gear or to wake up and crawl out of your tent only to discover that the first snow of the year fell during the night.

fall, first snow

2.  Cold-Weather Sleeping Bag/Sleeping Pad

These are a must for any fall/winter/early spring camping trip.  Always bring a sleeping bag rated for lower than you think you'll need to ensure you never spend a night shivering instead of sleeping.  Though you may have braved the rough terrain in summer and slept without a sleeping pad during those warmer months, it's important that you bring one for any fall outings.  That insulating layer will help protect your body from the chill of the ground as temperatures drop.

3.  Invest in a Good Tent

Consider buying a 3-season tent with a full rain fly to protect against the damper, rainier autumn weather.  It's always a good idea to put down a tarp beneath your tent to help prevent moisture from seeping in and it can't hurt to bring an extra one to put over your tent for those particularly rainy areas.

4.  Bring a Variety of Clothes

Autumn weather is as varied as it is unpredictable.  Nights are cold, days can be hot, rain is always a possibility, and even snow could threatened your adventure.  Bring things that can be layered for easy removal throughout the day and never forget to bring rain gear with you to help protect against a sudden rain shower.

5.  Check for Burn Bans

Although the temperatures are dropping, some areas may still be affected by burn bans, which means that you won't be able to rely on a fire to help keep you warm (or cook, or keep predators away).  Check before you go to make sure you're properly prepared with either a plan to get firewood or suitable alternative means of heating/cooking.

Elk in Fall

6.  Watch for Wildlife

The autumn provides unique opportunities to see wildlife as they prepare for winter, but it also brings with it wildlife safety concerns (yours and theirs).  Keep in mind that some animals are more aggressive in the fall and should be avoided at all costs (bears and bees come to mind first).  Other animals experience their mating season in fall and may behave unpredictably or even dangerously.  Please give the animals extra space for your safety and theirs.  If you want to take pictures, use a telephoto lens and always be aware of your surroundings.

7.  Make a Plan and Survival Kit

You should always leave a plan of your trip with someone when venturing off, especially on your own, but it is especially important to do so as the weather gets colder.  If you get lost, you may not be able to wait for days before someone comes to save you, which is why it is equally important to bring a survival kit with you whenever you venture away from camp.  In it, pack everything you will need to survive in case the weather turns on you, you get lost, etc.

8.  Know When to Abandon Ship

Not literally, of course, but don't be afraid to admit that you aren't prepared and have a plan B - in this case, extra money to pay for a hotel for the night.  When the weather turns foul or an unexpected storm blows in, there's no shame in finding alternatives to camping.  Better that than risk your safety or health by toughing it out when you're not prepared.

Your outdoor adventures don't have to end just because summer is over.  With proper planning and preparation, you can explore a new world - one of rich color, vibrant life, and untold beauty.

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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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Destination Spotlight: Deep Lake

Destination Spotlight: Deep Lake

The school year is about to start again, and with it comes all the stress and chaos of getting your kids ready.  Supplies, clothes, and other gear to buy.  Sports physicals to schedule.  And the after school activities?

So with all of that coming in fast, wouldn't it be nice to have one last peaceful outing?  A little "me" time spent in a serene setting where the only thing you have to decide is whether to paddle or float a while?

Stillwater Outdoors has found the perfect spot.  A glassy, crystal clear lake nestled in the mountains of Northeastern Washington.

Deep Lake.

Deep Lake, WA North End

We consider it to be an ideal destination for anyone with an SUP.  Though the lake is small, it's rarely (if ever) crowded and at most you can typically only find a single boat (usually fishing), a few kayaks or canoes, and the occasional duck or goose.  Keep your eyes peeled, however, as bald eagles sometimes swoop down to catch some trout before they soar along the valley.

The best part?  The unique shape of the lake and the surrounding topography mean the water is usually smooth and calm - perfect for a bit of SUP yoga or just a relaxing cruise around the lake.  And the views?  It can't get much better than tree-covered mountains, rocky cliffs, and abundant wildlife.

Deep Lake, WA

And while you're there, why not bring your fishing pole?  The summer season is perfect for trout and as summer fades into fall, Kokanee (silver trout) are easy to catch.

There is a public boat launch with bathrooms, though a Discover Pass is required.  Don't have one?  Check out this website for more information about costs and where to buy:

Discover Pass

Deep Lake, WA Public Boat Launch

For those looking to launch a boat, we'd like to offer a bit of warning.  The cement platform for launching has a severe drop at the end with a metal tab sticking out, perfect for catching on a wheel.  Instead, consider using the gravel slope alongside it as a safer alternative.  It's not as steep, which means you'll have to back up farther, but you won't run the risk of catching on the metal or getting stuck on the drop-off.

Deep Lake Resort has closed, so if you're looking to stay a while, you'll have to find an alternative.  For the adventurous types, there is always the national forest which has easy access off Deep Lake Boundary Road.  While there, you can check out Big Meadow Lake as well, which rests deep in the national forest and does have primitive campsites available on a first come, first serve basis.  If that's not your style, you could always stay in one of the nearby towns: Colville, Kettle Falls, or Northport.  If you're staying in Kettle Falls or Northport, you could always spend a little time on the Columbia River as well.

So before you jump into the new school year, why not take a day (or two) to visit Deep Lake and add a little serenity to your life?

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Dangers of Heat Related Injuries

Dangers of Heat Related Injuries

As temperatures climb into the triple digits, many of us run for cover.  Air conditioning becomes more than just a luxury, it can be a lifesaver.  For those who can't remain somewhere cool, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke are very real threats.  Stillwater Outdoors would like to share important information about these heat related injuries as well as ways to prevent them and what to do if you or someone around you is suffering from them.

What are they?

 All three are conditions that are caused by exercising in high heat/high humidity.  They all affect the body in various ways and to various degrees with heat cramps being the mildest reaction and heat stroke being the most severe and potentially life-threatening.

men running outdoors

Heat Cramps


Painful, involuntary muscle spasms that occur when performing heavy exercise in hot environments

Who is most at risk?

Anyone exercising in high heat can experience heat cramps


Take frequent breaks and drink plenty of water.  Work in the shade if possible.  Avoid working during the hottest part of the day.

First Aid:

Rest in the shade.  Drink plenty of water.  Perform slow, easy stretches or gently massage muscles affected.  Do not return to exercise for several hours after spasms stop.  

fan in sunshine

Heat Exhaustion


Headache, Nausea, Muscle cramps, Low blood pressure when standing (light-headed), Weak and/or rapid pulse, Dizziness, Fatigue, Heavy sweating, Cool and moist skin with goosebumps even when in heat

Who is most at risk?

The old and young, those taking certain medications that affect your body's ability to stay hydrated or react to heat (like blood pressure medications, allergy medications, and more), overweight/obese, those not used to the heat (those traveling, for instance), those consuming alcohol, and those overdressed


Wear loose and lightweight clothing.  Protect against sunburn (wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen, sunglasses).  Drink plenty of fluids often (not just before or after working).  Avoid working during the hottest part of the day.  Never leave anyone (human or animal) in a parked car for any length of time (temperatures can rise 20 degrees inside a car within 10 minutes).  Go slow until you acclimate to the heat (which can take several weeks).

First Aid:

Loosen clothing.  Drink plenty of water.  Find shade/cool areas to rest.  Bring your body temperature down however possible: dampen towels or cloths and place on skin, take a cool shower, submerge yourself in a lake or other body of water.  If you don't feel better within an hour of starting these measures, seek medical attention immediately.

military, running in high heat

Heat Stroke

This is the most severe and dangerous of heat injuries and requires immediate medical attention!


High body temperature, Altered mental state or behaviors, Nausea and vomiting, Flushed skin, Rapid breathing, Racing heart rate, Headache (often severe)

Who is most at risk?

The old and young, those exerting themselves in hot weather (participating in sports, military, etc), sudden exposure to extreme heat, those with certain health conditions (like heart or lung disease), those taking certain medications (those affecting blood pressure, treating ADHD, antidepressants, and others), those without air conditioning


Wear loose and lightweight clothing.  Protect against sunburn (wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen, sunglasses).  Drink plenty of fluids often (not just before or after working).  Avoid working during the hottest part of the day.  Never leave anyone (human or animal) in a parked car for any length of time (temperatures can rise 20 degrees inside a car within 10 minutes).  Go slow until you acclimate to the heat (which can take several weeks).

First Aid:

Home treatment isn't enough for heat stroke.  Seek emergency medical attention immediately.  Don't drink any fluids while awaiting medical help.  Take measures to cool down your body (cool damp towels, find shade/air conditioning).  Heat stroke can cause damage to vital organs and even death.  When in doubt, don't risk it - seek emergency help immediately.

Please be careful and take the proper steps to help prevent heat related injuries this summer.  Save and share our infographic to help spread the word and make everyone's summer safer.

Heat Injury infographic, symptoms and prevention

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Whitewater SUPing: The Next Adventure

Whitewater SUPing: The Next Adventure

You've tried and subsequently fell in love with stand-up paddle boards ... but flat water just doesn't hold the same appeal it once did.  Sound familiar?  You're not alone.  Many who learn the sport on flat water find themselves wondering what's next?

Stillwater Outdoors has the answer or, rather, we know the answer.  Whitewater SUPing.  That's right.  It's no longer reserved for kayaks and rafts and is quickly becoming a nation-wide competitive event.

Now, we don't suggest that you dive into competition immediately.  Like any sport, there is a fair bit of learning and practice involved.  Where whitewater is concerned, this training stage is vital as it can, quite literally, save your life.  Here are a few other tips for those looking to try a new, exciting use of their SUP.

1.  Gear Up

If you already have an SUP, you should already have the basic gear needed for being on the water: PFD, whistle, paddle, leash, and SUP.  Whitewater SUPing requires a few additional pieces of equipment.  First of all, inspect your SUP.  There are many different types designed for many different uses.  For whitewater rafting, you want a stable, durable board (inflatable boards work well) that has considerable rake (an upturning of both the front and back) to ensure you remain on top of the waves instead of being pulled under them.  If you don't have much rake on your SUP, adjust your placement on the board by standing farther back to keep the nose of the board up while riding the rapids.

Whitewater Helmets

Consider buying a helmet, knee and elbow pads, and potentially a different PFD.  The ACA (American Canoe Association) recommends an inherently buoyant lifejacket for all whitewater rafting.  You may need a new leash as well (if you choose to use one).  For whitewater SUPing, the ACA recommends that you wear a leash at waist level, accessible with both hands, and it must have a quick release feature.  For more information on the basic equipment needed for different types of SUP uses, check out this video released by the ACA:

SUP Leashes and Lifejackets

2.  Consider Taking a Class

For those who have no whitewater experience, we highly recommend taking a class with a certified whitewater instructor.  The ACA offers a list of classes offered, including classes for those wishing to become certified as an instructor.  Check it out here:

American Canoe Association: Whitewater Classes

Whitewater Rafter Overboard

Whitewater SUPing is swimming.  You will fall off.  You will have to swim.  This is yet another reason why taking a class is important.  Swimming in a rapids isn't the same as swimming in a lake or even a calm, flat river.  There are unseen obstacles, plenty of places to get caught, and the water is volatile making it difficult to tell which way is up in some situations.  Take the time to become a better swimmer before attempting any serious rapids.  The more comfortable you are in the water, the less likely you will be to panic and the more likely you will be to walk away unscathed.

3.  Start Small

Once you feel comfortable understanding the proper way to handle and remain safe on whitewater rapids, the next step is to try it out.  We recommend starting small with a class I or class II rapids.  Though it may be easier, don't always practice on the same rapids.  Exposure to new situations, different currents, and new obstacles will help you grow as a paddler and will help you be better prepared to move up to the next class of rapids.

Couple in Canoe Going Down Rapids

4.  River Etiquette

Like almost everything in life, there are certain rules that should be followed while on the river.  Canoe & Kayak offers a wonderful blog post about river etiquette that outlines the basic rules of the river.  One of the most important?  Those upstream on the river have the right of way.  Just like when you cross the road, always look before entering the river to be sure you don't cut off another river user and create a potentially dangerous situation.  You can find Canoe & Kayak's complete list of river etiquette here:

Canoe & Kayak: River Rules

5.  Pick Your Rapids

Now that you have a better understanding of what you need to get started on your SUP whitewater adventure, you probably need to find the perfect location.  American Whitewater offers an interactive map that shows you the class of rapids, its current water level, and when the information was last updated.  While there, consider offering your support by becoming a member or by donating (money or time) to help preserve our river systems.

American Whitewater Map

Kayak in Rapids

This is just a basic outline of some of the factors to consider before starting whitewater SUPing.  It is a challenging, fun way to get more out of your SUP experience.  Just remember to be careful, plan ahead, and, as always, have fun.

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10 Reasons to Visit Idaho

10 Reasons to Visit Idaho

Idaho is definitely one of those states that gets overlooked, which is a shame when you consider just how much it has to offer.  For those looking for adventure, wanting to escape into the wilderness, or just planning to enjoy the view, Idaho needs to be your next stop.

Here's why ...

Indian Tunnel, Craters of the Moon

1.  Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

A mouthful, but this is guaranteed to offer a unique experience.  There are plenty of hiking trails for those who want to enjoy the beauty of the unique terrain features formed by lava flows.  Or, for the more adventurous (and experienced) types, there are five caves to explore.  Some are difficult to traverse, so be sure to grab a cave guide at the trail head.  The Indian Tunnel (pictured above) is rated easy and has steels stairs at the entrance.  At over 40 feet high and 800 feet long, it provides a great chance to explore a cave without the claustrophobia.

2.  Route of the Hiawatha Rail-Trail

This 15-mile route crosses the Bitterroot Mountains between Montana and Idaho.  It passes through 10 tunnels and goes over 7 high steel trestles.  The best part?  It's all downhill with a shuttle service to take you back up to your car.  The "Taft" Tunnel stretches for 1.66 miles, so remember to bring a headlamp or other flashlight.  If you don't have a bike, don't worry.  You can always rent one from the Lookout Pass Ski Area (which offers great skiing come winter).  This is a prime example of how we can reinvent pieces from history - the Milwaukee railroad went bankrupt in 1977 and in its place the Route of the Hiawatha was born.

Sawtooth Mountains

3.  The Sawtooth National Forest/Recreation Area

Considered to be the "crown jewel" of Idaho, the Sawtooth Recreation Area has over 700 miles of trails, 50 peaks topping 10,000 feet, and nearly 400 alpine lakes, many of which have no trails to access them.  There are plenty of opportunities for adventurers - hiking, horseback riding, snowmachining, downhill skiing, camping (at campsites or dispersed), and more.  This area has made headlines as being part of the first dark sky reserve - making it one of the best places for gazing at the night sky.  

4.  International Selkirk Loop

Not into camping?  Prefer a scenic drive instead?  This has got to be on your bucket list.  The loop itself crosses the border into Canada, so be sure to have your papers in order, but the extra red tape is definitely worth it.  You'll be able to view stunning mountain vistas, crystal clear lakes, caves, rivers, and don't forget wildlife.  With plenty of options for staying overnight, you can take your time and enjoy all the Loop has to offer - cruises, wine tasting, canoeing, wildlife viewing (including some amazing bird watching), skiing and sleigh riding, horseback riding, fishing, and more.

Minidoka Internment Camp, Idaho

 5.  Minidoka National Historic Site

During World War II, President Roosevelt signed an executive order that forced 120,000 people of Japanese descent to leave their homes, jobs, and lives in order to be moved to one of ten internment camps around the country.  Minidoka is one such camp and allows visitors to see what life was like inside the camp.  It's a powerful place to visit, one that echoes the words of those held there - Let it not happen again.

Climbing Bread Loaves in City of Rocks, ID

6.  City of Rocks National Reserve

Get your hiking boots, climbing gear, and sense of adventure ready.  Here you will find unusual geological features that inspired the pioneers passing through to call this region the "silent city".  There are over 600 routes to follow, or you can scramble around on your own.  Don't own climbing gear?  Don't worry.  Try their Climbing Experience Program where all gear and training is provided.  If climbing doesn't interest you, there are over 22 miles of hiking trails ranging from easy to strenuous throughout the park.

View of Lake Pend Oreille from Sandpoint, ID

7.  Lake Pend Oreille

It's 43 miles long with nearly 200 miles of shoreline and, at its deepest, is 1,158 feet deep.  Surrounded by mountains and national forests, much of the lake offers pristine shoreline with sheltered bays and plenty of open water.  Stop in to Sandpoint on the northern end of the lake and consider taking a cruise.  Visit Farragut State Park (Idaho's largest state park) on the southern end of the lake to enjoy camping with easy access to the water.  While there, visit Bayview and stop by the Tree to Tree Adventure Park and experience a truly unique adventure up in the treetops.

 8.  Ghost Towns ... Need We Say More?

Although we can't guarantee actually seeing a ghost, Idaho offers several chances to visit ghost towns.  Most were constructed during the gold rush and were just as quickly abandoned when the mining stopped.  If you want an interactive experience, try visiting the Custer Ghost Town where many structures were restored and workers provide historical information about what it was like to live there.  If you want a more raw experience, check out the Gilmore Ghost Town which used to be a silver mining town.  Now, eight log and frame structures remain in their original state (except for pieces added for stability and safety).

River Rafting, Snake River

9.  Snake River

It's the largest tributary of the Columbia River and spans over 1,000 miles beginning Wyoming and ending in Washington.  Besides the obvious benefits of visiting a river (swimming, boating, fishing), the Snake River offers a few unique opportunities.  One - Hells Canyon is 10 miles long and almost 8,000 feet deep, making it the deepest river gorge in North America.  Besides its beautiful vistas, it offers some excellent rafting experiences.  Two - Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey.  A mouthful to be sure, this national conservation area boasts the nation's (if not the world's) largest concentration of nesting birds of prey.  

Fun Unlimited on the Spokane River just outside of Coeur d'Alene

10.  Lake Coeur d'Alene

This lake truly has something for everyone.  Bring your golf clubs and check out their famous floating green.  Stop by Sherman Street for a bit of shopping, fine dining, or just to enjoy the view.  Hike or bike along the North Idaho Centennial Trail, Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes, or Tubbs Hill.  And, of course, stop by to see our sister company, Fun Unlimited, in Post Falls, just down the Spokane River from Lake Coeur d'Alene.  There you can rent SUPs, kayaks, PWC, and boats to take upriver and enjoy all the lake has to offer.

Or just stop in to say hi.  We're always glad to make new friends.

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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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How to Care for Your Inflatable SUP

How to Care for Your Inflatable SUP

Like most sporting equipment, an inflatable SUP is a significant investment.  No one likes spending hundreds of dollars on something only to have it break down or stop working long before its typical lifespan is up.

Stillwater Outdoors wants to help you protect your investment.  That's why we offer a 5-year iron-clad warranty on all of our double-layer technology SUPs.  Fortunately, there are a few key steps that you can take to make sure that your inflatable SUP lasts for many years to come.

Step One: Wash the SUP After Use

This one may not seem necessary.  After all, SUPs don't have the same nooks and crannies that kayaks do so there are fewer places for water, plant life, and other debris to collect.  Even so, it's always a good idea to hose off your SUP after use, especially if you use it on salt water.  Salt is never good when it comes to equipment ... or skin ... or just about anything for that matter.  Do yourself, and your board, a favor and give it a rinse when you're done having fun.

Step Two: Keep the SUP Flat at all times

There are two factors to this step.  One is fairly obvious - flat boards can't fall.  Though inflatable boards are far lighter than their counterparts, they can still get damaged by falling off their sides (especially the fins).  Two - the boards are built to handle weight and stress on their larger, flatter surfaces, not the sides.  To avoid unnecessary wear and tear along the seams on the sides, keep them stored flat whenever possible.

SUP stored with fins up

Step Three: Fins Up and Out

Never set your SUP on the ground with the fins down.  Yes, we know that the top of the boards are prettier, but the bottom is where all the magic happens.  Dings and dents on your fins will make tracking difficult if not impossible.  Along those same lines, while rolling up your inflatable SUP, make sure to roll it so that the permanent fins end up on the outside and not squished in the middle.  And it's never a good idea to leave the removable fin in place while storing, so go ahead and pull that out as well.

Step Four: Don't Be a Drag

With inflatable SUPs, this step is far easier to follow.  Their lightweight construction means just about anyone can lift and move them without dragging them across the rocks, sand, or grass.  Carry your SUP down to the water and carry it back up again to keep it in prime shape.

People carrying SUPs across beach

Step Five: No Sun for SUPs

Of course your SUP is going to be exposed to the sun while in use, but in general it's a good idea to keep it out of the sun while you're taking a break.  Why?  UV light can damage your SUP's skin just as it can yours.  The SUP will also absorb a lot of heat if left on a hot shore for any length of time.  That heat causes the gases inside of the SUP to expand, which can put even more pressure on the skin and may cause the PSI to go well beyond the safe amount.  If you do have to keep it in the sun for any length of time, consider venting a little air to lower the PSI and allow for future expansion.

Step Six: Don't Stack Things on Your SUP

Whether it's in a carrying case or is inflated, it's best not to stack things on top of your SUP.  Besides the added strain (especially if stored for a long time) there is always a risk of puncture or other damage to the surface.  Inflatable SUPs are durable, but its best to practice caution and keep them stored on top of anything else.

Step Seven: Dry Before Storage

This is an important step.  Mold is everywhere - in the dirt, in the air, in your house.  If you leave any water on the surface of your SUP before it goes into storage, all it takes is one little spore of mold to start a big problem.  Make sure to dry your SUP thoroughly before putting it in any long-term storage.  If you are camping or hiking with it and must put it in the carrying case while wet, be sure to air out both the SUP and case thoroughly when you return home before storing it again.

We hope that these simple reminders will help keep your inflatable SUP looking like new for years to come.

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