Whether it’s 30 degrees and I’m paddling along the Caledonian Canal or just 12 degrees as I make my way along the Cornish coast, having supplies to keep me going during my little paddleboarding expedition this summer were vital.
Beyond the obvious cake box, which was always well stocked, it was important to make sure I had not only some basic things to get me through the day but also extra bits of kit, should I get separated from my support boat for any great length of time.
Staying hydrated is the most basic requirement and I often had two 1liter bottles of water on my board, one was a classic VIVA from SIGG and the other an insulated bottle. This was particularly handy during the hotter weeks on the board — no one likes drinking warm water! The cake box was also useful to keep lunch in if I knew the boat was going to leave me, like it did along the Caledonian Canal in order to get through the swing bridges before they stopped operating at 5pm. I find SIGG bottles great at being easy to drink from one handed, easy to clean and they’re stylish too. Plus, they have a great handle that can easily be used to clip them onto the board with a carabiner.
As well as food, I’d also have spare clothes in case I fell in or needed to stop. Despite the heat at times, it was easy to get cold in the wind as I would paddle in far fewer clothes than I’d have on if I were walking on land or sitting on the boat. I’d also carry bits of tech, like a battery pack and GoPro, all of which needed to be kept securely on my board and dry. I found Aquapac’s drybag with shoulder strap perfect for this. It was easy to get things in and out of while on the board. Plus it would simply slip underneath the bungee cord on the front of my board, making it quick to load on.
Whether you opt for an inflatable or hard board is a lot to do with preference. Inflatables are obviously a lot easier to transport, packing down into a large backpack, however they’re less efficient in the water and therefore slower. If you’re likely to kneel a lot, an inflatable board will also be more forgiving on your knees.
I opted for a 12'6 x 32" inflatable Red board to start with, swapping over to their leaner 13'2 x 30" around half way through the expedition as I got more confident and skilled. This is quite a luxury that having a support boat allowed, but it did help me take on the expedition. I’m scared of the sea and had only paddled on it 3 times before I left, therefore I had a very steep learning curve and wanted to feel as safe as possible to start with. The sensible option is simply to try a few different boards at a local club before you invest in buying one. There are a variety of boards available from a few different brands. The quality between the cheaper and the higher end is noticeable, so I would be sure to opt for the best you can afford if you’re likely to use the board a lot. A good way of getting a quality board for less is to go for a second hand one. Now is a great time to get second hand boards from SUP clubs as they sell off old stock.