There’s no better way to recharge than a weekend SUP camping trip. Heading out on your first overnight paddleboard outing isn’t as daunting as it sounds. It’s all about preparation and having the right gear to make it happen. If you’ve executed a daily SUP excursion or you’ve taken your SUP on a camping trip, then you’ve got the skills you need to pull off an overnight adventure, it just takes a little extra planning. Here are some tips to help.

Pick Your First Overnight SUP Location by Starting Small

Don’t bite off more than you can chew on your first overnight paddleboard trip. Stick to one or two nights and choose a location that’s not too far —- or hard — to paddle to. Consider: 


Broad lakes and gentle shorelines are great for a first time out because they’re easier to navigate. If you’re going along the shoreline and want to camp for a couple nights, parking a car at each end of the trip or having someone pick you up means you won’t have to back paddle. If you’re going across a lake, plan an out-and-back excursion. 

The more unknowns you can eliminate, the more prepared you’ll be, so choose a spot you have some familiarity with for your first trip or make sure to thoroughly research the location and read about other’s experiences. Take a map (download to your phone in case you lose service) or print off your directions and keep them in a sealed ziploc bag.

Remember that you’ll need to transport your paddleboard and all your overnight gear from the car to the water, so choose a location that’s only a short walking distance between the two. You don’t want to tire yourself out before you even begin paddling. There are a few different ways to carry your paddleboard, but a shoulder carrying strap that allows you to still have the use of your hands is ideal.

Man carries Thurso Surf Max along forested trail for his planned overnight SUP camping trip

Consider how far the walk from the car to the water is — you’ll be packing your SUP and all your gear. Photo by Ebony Roberts


It’s important to know how long it will take you to paddle to your destination. Don’t overdo it the first time because you want to be off the water before it’s dark. You’ll have extra gear on board, so you’ll need to take that weight into consideration because you likely won’t cover the distance as fast as you normally would. 

Setting Up Camp

You’ll need a water accessible campsite. First, make sure you’re allowed to camp at the spot you pick. Is there designated camping? Is wild camping allowed? Will you need a reservation or permit? This will all need to be sorted out ahead of time.

Man paddles toward the shore on his Thurso Surf Max with overnight camping trip gear on deck

Choose a location with a water accessible campsite. Photo by Ebony Roberts


Planning an overnight SUP trip for when the weather and water is warm is a good idea for your first outing. Check the typical weather forecast when planning, and as your date approaches, continue to keep an eye on it. If it’s looking iffy, postpone. Pay particular attention to the wind; if you’re paddling against it, it will take you longer and will tire you out more.

Explore our crowdsourced SUP Explorer Map if you’re looking for ideas on where to go.

Choose the Right Paddleboard

An Expedition Touring SUP is designed for long range paddling and speed. Its pointed shape cuts through water letting you paddle faster (and easier along choppy coastlines) and there’s ample deck space to get all of your camping gear on board. However, a more versatile board, like Max Multi-Purpose SUP, is also a great option because it’s a little wider, making it more stable for beginners, and the extra deck space has more than enough room to haul everything you need. It’s also a good choice if you’re taking your dog or kid along for the trip. If you are taking your kid, consider the clip-on kayak seat so they’ve got a comfy spot for the ride. Your all-around board can work just fine, too, especially for calm lake paddling. Just make sure it’s got the capacity to carry the load and consider the distance you’re willing to paddle with it. 

(If you need more help choosing the right board, learn more about the differences between a touring and all-around SUP, and the differences between an all-around and multi-purpose SUP.) 

A Thurso Surf Max multi-purpose SUP fully packed with overnight camping trip gear on deck sits on the water's edge with forest and mountains in the background

Pack your gear into multiple dry bags and secure them under the straps on your SUP. Photo by Ebony Roberts

What To Pack for an Overnight SUP Trip

Pack light. You won’t be able to take all the luxuries of a normal camping trip with you, but if you pack right, you’ll still have a comfortable and cozy night’s sleep under the stars. Start with at least two dry bags (one large 65L and one smaller 35L should be plenty of space). Put everything you’ll need access to during the day in the smaller bag and all your overnight supplies in the large dry bag. If you have smaller dry bags to organize your items, store those within the big bag (but they’re not essential). Evenly disperse your gear on the board so that it’s well-balanced. Take a friend along for the adventure. Paddling with a friend is not only a good idea for safety, it also lets you split up the gear between your SUPs. 

Here’s a list of what you’ll need take (it’s not exhaustive, but it’s a good start), broken down by category: 

Paddle Board:

With expansive cargo areas front and rear the Max is the perfect choice to haul all the gear you need on your overnight SUP camping adventure!

Paddleboarding Gear:

  • Personal floatation device (PFD)
  • Paddle
  • Fins
  • Hand pump
  • Repair kit
  • Bowline/rope
  • Straps or bungee cords
  • SUP leash
  • Deck light (in the event you end up paddling in the dark. This can also double as your tent light)

Camping Gear:

  • Tent or hammock (consider a fly tarp or bug net if using a hammock, and make sure your location is treed so you have somewhere to set it up) 
  • Lightweight sleeping bag
  • Lightweight sleeping pad
  • Pillow (optional)
  • Small cook stove like a Jetboil 
  • Fuel
  • Small saw
  • Collapsible cooking pot 
  • Camp utensil and collapsible dishware
  • Biodegradable wilderness soap
  • Lighter (or two!)
  • Fire starter and waterproof matches
  • Swiss Army knife or Leatherman
  • Water bottle and water filter (or pack water, but it’s heavy!)
  • A couple of small quick-dry towels like Packtowls
  • Headlamp
  • Bear spray an food hang bag or bear canister if in bear country
  • Duct tape 
  • Insect repellent and/or bug net (having this during bug season will make or break your trip)
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses and hat
  • First aid kit
  • Toilet paper and a sealable bag or sanitation towel (like a Kula Cloth)
  • GPS device/ personal locator beacon/ satellite communicator
  • Maps and compass
  • Tarp (optional)
  • Mylar emergency blanket (optional) 
  • Flare and safety whistle
  • Itinerary 
  • Cell phone and small power bank
  • ID, cards, car keys

Nice-to-have Items:

  • Bluetooth speaker
  • Swim fins, goggles or snorkel mask
  • Notepad and pen (Rite in the Rain makes waterproof writing supplies)
  • GoPro or camera 
Man unpacks dry bag on the deck of his Thurso Surf Max multi-purpose SUP

For overnight SUP trips, you’ll need to bring clothes for paddling and clothes for dry land, along with all your camping gear for cooking and sleeping. Photo by Ebony Roberts

Clothing and Personal Items

Avoid cotton and choose clothes that are quick-drying. Use a layering system of base, mid and outer layers to keep you comfortable and dry. You’ll need both paddling clothes and a set of dry clothes for land. Being comfortable at camp and while you paddle is crucial to enjoying the experience. Look at the forecast and see how cold it will get overnight and make sure to pack doubles of good socks in case one pair gets wet and shoes for around camp. Throw in a rain shell if there’s any chance of rain. 

Food and Water

As mentioned above, a personal water filter can save you a lot of weight and lets you safely consume the water available to you at your campsite. If you’d rather pack water, remember it’s heavy and space on your SUP is limited. For food, it’s all about meal planning. Plan ahead and take only what you need (while taking into account extras in case of emergency). Since there’s limited space to take a ton of groceries, borrow some wisdom from the ultralight backpacking world on what types of food are easy to enjoy and consider dehydrated or easy-to-make meals. And don’t forget the snacks.

Man paddles toward his planned overnight camping spot on his Thurso Surf Max multi-purpose SUP

Before your actual trip, pack everything on to your SUP and take a spin around a local body of water. Photo by Ebony Roberts

Do a Dry Run

Before you set off on your overnight adventure, pack all your gear into your drybags to make sure it fits, and head to a nearby body of water to test paddling with it. You need to make sure your set up works before embarking on any big adventures. 

Safety Considerations

No matter how good of a swimmer you are, always take a personal floatation device (PFD), whistle, tow rope and first aid kit. There’s no exceptions when it comes to safety. 

Communicate Your Plan

Always have an emergency plan and a contact back on land. Write down your itinerary and give a copy to a friend or family member, leave a copy at home, and carry a copy with you. Make sure to include:

  • Where you’re putting in
  • Where you’re going
  • Where you’re exiting
  • Duration of the trip

If anything changes during your trip, let your contact know (if you can) because they’ll be responsible for reporting your absence if you’re not back at the planned time. If you have a two-way satellite communication device like a SPOT or inReach, carry it with you. You’ll be able to communicate with your contact if your phone has no service or the battery dies. 

Head Out on Your Overnight SUP Trip

That’s it! You’re all set to plan your first overnight paddleboarding trip. Always remember Leave No Trace principles and the most important rule of any outdoor adventure: have fun!




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About the Author: Ebony Roberts

Ebony Roberts is a writer covering health, fitness, and the outdoors. She's written for Outside magazine, Gear Patrol, Wirecutter, Trail Runner, REI, Treeline Review, 57hours, and more. As a gear reviewer, she hikes, camps, paddles, and pedals to find the best stuff to help people get outside. Check out more of her work at

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