One of our favorite activities to do while camping is stand up paddleboarding. With inflatable SUPs becoming more popular and versatile, it’s easier than ever to bring a boat along. Here are some tips on the types of paddleboards available, must have accessories, and boating safety.
Our first camping trip to a lake involved lots of fishing along the shoreline. It was super fun, but the few people on kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards had it even better! So, we set out to join in on the boating fun.
We currently own two inflatable SUPs from Isle Surf & Sport: one Sportsman model specific to fishing and one of their general/all-round models. Having tried a couple of different options before, I can’t say enough good things about this brand from San Diego, California. Good prices, high-quality materials, and fantastic customer service. The inflatable SUPS you’ll find at big box retailers for half the price are normally made with flimsy PVC material that will easily puncture and don’t support as high of a PSI as these sturdy Isle models. Cheaper inflatable SUP packages often include no paddle at all or utilize a heavy aluminum model. We really appreciate the small but important features on the Isle’s, like D-ring loops, front and back carrying handles, and two different cargo nets for securing our gear.
Our 11’6″ long, 36″ wide Sportsman model is perfect for both fishing and hauling a large crew, such as mom or dad plus two kids, the dog, and some gear. Our kids love jumping off the paddleboard and find it easy to get back on since it’s so large and stable. Their “All Around” stand up paddle board is a more common 32″ width that is easier for turning and faster paddling – all of which is prefered by our kids going out by themselves.
All of Isle’s inflatable SUPs come in a convenient travel backpack that fits easily inside our truckbed or RV storage bin for easy transport. We can then carry the entire package down to the lake for setup. Each paddleboard also includes a lightweight, carbon fiber paddle that breaks apart into three pieces for placing inside the backpack.
Our kids love tethering the two paddleboards together to give “lake tours” to mom and dad. They usually charge a can of root beer for passage. A simple polypropylene rope and a few carabiners is all you need to tether together. Doing so also comes in handy when fishing, as I can keep the kids in close proximity to my boat.
Setup and Takedown
The kids initially enjoyed inflating the paddleboards themselves with a hand pump, but once the novelty wore off, they quickly tired of a task that even I will admit is not that fun.
Now we have an electric pump with automatic shutoff. It’s as simple as pluging into the car battery, screwing the SUP mount into the paddleboard, setting the desired PSI, and walking away. The pump automatically shuts off when the specified PSI is reached.
Takedown and storage of the inflatable SUPs is pretty easy. You simply remove the quick connect fin, push in the air valve to let the paddleboard deflate, and then roll it up from nose to tail before placing everything (including the 3-piece travel paddle) in the backpack. This is another reason why I love Isle – their backpacks are actually big enough to fit the SUP and accessories into whereas some brands are a very tight, almost impossible, fit.
With young kids, a seat that attaches to the d-rings of the SUP is a must-have accessory. Paddling with a kayak-style paddle is just plain easier and more stable. A few paddles will convert between SUP and kayak, but we prefer bringing a separate kayak-specific paddle since the convertible models are often made out of heavier aluminum rather than carbon fiber. Tying a paddle leash between the SUP d-rings and paddle ensures that these expensive carbon fiber paddles don’t end up at the bottom of the lake or river.
This folding anchor is especially helpful for the kids to drop down when wanting to fish without worrying about the wind or a light current pushing them away.
We use this 10-foot long coiled SUP cable with lock to ensure that the paddleboards don’t walk away (get stolen) when on land. The cable fits easily through a standard SUP D-ring for secure attachment.
And if your dog likes to paddleboard as much as ours does, these economical and easy to apply dog booties keep their claws from scratching or puncturing the PVC material.
A 9-Year Old’s Perspective, from Ethan
My favorite thing to do while camping is fishing. You can catch a lot more of them from a boat than you can the shore, and that’s why I love our inflatable paddleboards!
It’s important to be safe and always wear a life jacket. But some of them are very uncomfortable. I like the Hyperlite boys life jacket (also available in purple/pink for girls). It is more comfortable to wear and has both a zipper and straps for extra safety. I put a couple of carabiners on mine for attaching things like fishing gear to my life vest.
I also like using these soft grips to make it easier on my hands to paddle.
Here is a photo of the trout I caught all by myself on my paddleboard. I was the only person to catch a fish that entire week.