It was only a matter of time before SUP camping became a thing.
After all, SUP has already taken our urban waters by storm and so it was a natural progression for people to combine their love of paddling and their love of the great outdoors. It’s a match made in heaven really.
So what exactly is SUP camping and what does this adventure involve?
It’s fair to say that there are two types of SUP camping. Firstly, there’s the more pure form of water travel which involves carrying all your gear on your board (yes, that means everything you need for your trip from your tent, sleeping bag, water, food, clothes and toiletries to other essentials like first aid kits etc) and paddling off until you find somewhere you fancy to set up camp for the night.
The other is camping in the more traditional sense, ie taking a vehicle with all your camping gear…and your SUP board of course! You would then find a suitable campsite – or plan a trip going from site to site along a waterway of some sort or along the coast – where exploring on your SUP would be a big part of your daily fun.
If you’re in the ‘take-everything-yourself’ category of SUP camper, planning is crucial. Although many places tend to have designated campsites which you can book, there are areas where free camping is allowed such as the stunning coastal hideaway of Betty’s Beach, about 50kms east of Albany in WA or Ballinyoo Bridge on the Murchison River between Murchison Roadhouse and Mullewa.
You can also plan your SUP camping expedition to go between designated campgrounds such as those in Lane Poole Reserve along the Murray River near Dwellingup in WA. All in all, there are nine different camping sites within this national park with excellent launching areas at Island Pool, Yarragil, Stringers and Baden Powell.
When you go SUP camping, your board selection is paramount. The size, volume and material of your board will depend on the type of paddling you’ll be doing (eg shallow river water with rapids, open seas, or leisurely touring in calm estuaries or lagoons) and you could consider an inflatable SUP that packs down to a compact bags of around 8kgs if you’ll be transporting your board.
Keeping your packing light, tight and dry is also really important. If you’re new to this game, you should read up as much as you can beforehand to find useful tips on what to take (including a small pack of emergency essentials in case you lose everything) and how to pack. Things to consider include how you’ll be attaching your gear to your board, what personal flotation device to have (an inflatable waist belt is a good option for stand up paddling), a leash so you don’t part company with your board etc. As a general rule, if you’ll be doing some whitewater paddling, it’s best to have your gear at the front of your board but for calm water, a more even distribution front and back is ideal.
If it’s your first trip, keep things short and simple to gain confidence. Choose your location carefully (even going somewhere familiar so that you get comfortable with your gear before pioneering new frontiers), and make sure you have a good handle on the weather and water conditions. An excellent option for first-timers in the Perth area of WA is Honeymoon Pool which has a stunning campsite and lots of paddling opportunities at the nearby Black Diamond Lake (with spectacular blue water) and Potter’s Gorge.
Another good idea before you head out is to get some insider tips and suggestions from experienced paddlers like the team at leading Perth surf shop, Stand Up Surf Shop in Fremantle. They’ll have heaps of information and all the gear to get you going on your SUP camping adventure.
So, if you love camping and you love to SUP, what better way to explore Australia’s plentiful waterways and stunning campsite locations than combining the two? Check out these websites to
get you started with planning your SUP camping adventure: