Although there are several guides out there that help beginners find the right SUP boards, I haven’t found any articles posted about how to how to choose a the best SUP for multi-day trips & adventures. Few articles go into more detail about the features that are most critical if you want to get started doing SUP sleepovers. This article is going to address this. This arises the question of what to look for in a board that you want to use for SUP overnights.
What board is going to be the best for SUP overnight adventures?
The short answer: the board that’s designed for overnight adventures.
This article will go into the nitty-gritty of it all. In this article, I’ve listed the items in order of importance you should consider when selecting a board for SUP overnight adventures.
The biggest factor when selecting a SUP for overnight paddling trips is to get one with way, way more volume than you think that you need.
Think of it this way, if you’re a backpacker, you don’t want to get the 50L backpack just because your first trip is going to be a single overnight. The next trip that comes along, you’ll have to get another pack. But, in this case, you’ll literally be sinking which is no fun.
The all time minimum amount of volume I would consider for an overnight SUP board would be 235 liters. And, that’s assuming that you are a twig, an advanced paddler, & you have all ultralight weight backpacking gear.
There’s no way around it, but even if you are planning on only doing overnights on the calmest lake in the world, you’re going to want & in most cases NEED a way to tie down your gear. If not for anything else than peace of mind. Some boards offer dedicated plugs meant to help tie things down. These are a godsend when first starting to do SUP overnight trips. While a bungee works okay, when you’re carrying 40 lbs of gear, you’re going to need tie downs meant to hold down that gear that are integrated into the board itself.
Unfortunately, many bungees on boards have too small an area for the dry bags you’ll likely be using on the board. Particularly the ones at the back of the board, where you will likely be putting your heavier gear. The best option is to have a board with customizable tie-down anchor points. This gives you flexibility between an overnight and a 4-day SUP trip. Either way, pay attention to how you’re going to tie things down on your board.
TIP: Before you actually go on your first trip, practice rigging up your board in a pool or other small area of water to reduce the time it takes when you’re actually on your trip.
The best preference for tying things onto the board is to use the designated tie-down anchor points. These anchor points are almost always reinforced to be integrated into the structure of the board.
You only realize how much of a godsend displacement SUPs are over planing SUPs when you try to paddle a planing board in heavy wind & current with 85lbs of gear.
Almost all “touring” SUPs will have displacement hulls. So, it’s not usually something you have to consider for overnight SUP trips. But, it is an important consideration for have a good multi-day SUP overnight board.
Recently there’s been some hybrid hull boards that have been coming out. I haven’t paddled many of these boards, but they are a great option if you want a great all around board that you can take on overnights. They’ll have the volume of the planing board with better water tracking than a displacement hull.
As you might expect, the LAST thing you would want is to have your board sucking in water on a long multi-day SUP overnight trip. While you can use some quickfixes to mediate issues with your board, you don’t want to have to deal with issues. Especially after dropping a pretty penny on a new SUP for overnight adventures. This doesn’t mean you should use an inflatable SUP, but keep it in mind.
You might be thinking that you’ll just take good care of your board & be extra careful. In my experience, the unexpected will always happen. Eventually, no matter how careful you are, your board will get scratched or ding-ed.
For most boards, it can be difficult to find out the exact construction.You might see or hear things like “2 layers of 6oz glass” or “14kg foam core.” You don’t need to worry about what those terms mean too much.
I have two simple ways to determine construction. One is to put pressure on the board by squeezing the side & seeing how much the board flexes. Try this method on a few different boards so you start feeling the differences. The more the board flexes, usually the weaker construction.
The other way is to check the weight of the board. GO PICK UP THE BOARD YOURSELF TO WEIGH THEM. If it has tons of features & plastic inserts in the board & the board is still that light check to see if it has a new type of construction. There are some new construction styles for SUP boards like using plastic sheets & other new technologies that are so strong, you can run them over with a car. Usually most of these construction methods great & come in at lighter weights compared to usual epoxy boards. They are definitely worth the investment to get a board with a new technology for the construction.
I’ve used inflatables for SUP overnights, but they don’t hold up as well as hard boards in heavy chop. Also, they tend to flex more when you load them up with a bunch of gear. However if you plan on traveling with your SUP, there are plenty of options out there that have an ample amount of tie-downs to secure gear to your board. These SUPs were made specifically for SUP touring and are the best of the best, so do your research.
On the flip side to construction is weight. As already said, usually the better construction & more doodads, the more weight. Moving the board from your car to the water before & after the trip when your exhausted from paddling over the last couple of days is often overlooked. Definitely, if you’re going with younger or quite a bite smaller people who probably can’t handle carrying a 50lbs board a 100m through heavy wind.
My general rule with weight is that each paddler should should be able to carry their own board 100 meters.
I hope this guide helps you pick the best touring SUP for overnight or multi-day adventures. Let me know your thoughts or if you have any questions.
If you’re wondering what kind of gear you might need to bring with you for SUP Overnights. Check out our essential SUP Overnight checklist to get an idea of what sort of load might go on your board.
Have your own tips for how to choose the best SUP for overnight trips? Leave me a comment & share your knowledge! Or, if you still have a question, ask it here.