I totally recommend this, and I think it is a great thing to do solo as well, such a peaceful time and a great way to be alone and in your thoughts. A full body work out as well. Only thing, SUP boards are not cheap.
1) Research online Navigable Rivers (a river that major boats can go down). If you have a river in mind go on youtube and type for example, Kayak the “name of River” see if someone has kayaked it already, if so try to get that person’s email and email them some questions. On a SUP board it will be best to avoid rapids. SUP can do non-navigable rivers (i.e., very shallow rivers that most commercial boats could not go down, just make sure there are no waterfalls and crazy rapids) but with a navigable river you are guaranteed at least some assurance that it will be deep enough and doable.
2) Try to find a NAVIGATION CHART of the river. The Navigation chart is basically the term for a detailed river map.
3) LOCKS and WEIRS – I went through 13 locks on the Murray, don’t let Locks deter you. WEIRS / DAMS are in place in most navigable rivers to help keep the water level high for reliable navigation. When you approach a weir you will go into a lock which is a floodable chamber that will drop you down to the level of the water on the other side of the WEIR/DAM. In Australia, all you had to do was dock at the WEIR and then find the lockmaster and he will let you on through. He opens up the doors to the lock, you paddle in. If there is a ladder in the lock camber you can hold onto that or just float in the middle of it, and with you on your SUP board the water level will begin to drop smoothly. Once you are dropped to the level of water on the other side, he opens up the lock doors and you just paddle out. EASY.
4) With SUP board, they say the bigger the board the better the glide; most touring SUP boards are 14’ long. This is too big to put on a plane and if you plan on shipping it international it can add up to be a lot of money $$$$. For example if I chose to ship my board from USA to Australia it would have been over $1,500. The best bet is to research stores that carry SUP boards in the country you will be doing your journey in. You can find them online, purchase the board and have them ship it to where you are going to start your journey.
6) SUP PADDLE – carbon fiber paddle if the water is deep. Fiberglass paddle if you know there are going to be a lot of rocks and if the river is very shallow. Fiberglass I am told is a bit more durable, Carbon is just lighter. I used a carbon paddle and it was so light I thought it might break but it held up amazing. I did nick the paddle on some branches and on the board but it was fine.
LENGTH OF PADDLE –
They say your height +10inches.
7) Gear does add up. Here is what I took on my trip, some of this I had, some of this I had to purchase. You can really get any gear for the trip, but think light and waterproof.
-Surftech Nautical Paddle – http://sup.surftech.com/boards/paddles/
– 2 deck rigging kits (this is key to attached your gear)
WHAT I WORE
-Smart Wool Micro Weight longsleeve shirt- http://www.smartwool.com/mens/baselayer/mens-microweight-crew-1.html
This shirt or any merino wools shirt, Icebreaker makes good ones as well (http://us.icebreaker.com/150-Ultralite-LS-Atlas/IBD154,en,pd.html?dwvar_IBD154_color=167&start=18&cgid=mens-tops-long-sleeve) is KEY KEY KEY. Longsleeve because it protects your arms from the sun. I love Merino wool. No joke I wore this same shirt 30 days straight, never washed it with soap and I did not smell too bad and it kept me cool and warm.
-Patagonia surf shorts – http://www.patagonia.com/us/product/patagonia-mens-light-and-variable-surf-trunks?p=86688-0-598
Sweet, nice stretchy materials with no annoying seams, I wore these the whole time and they did great. I just wished they had some pockets.
-Teva Fuse- Ion Water Shoes – http://www.teva.com/mens-fuse-ion-casual-water-shoes/1000225,default,pd.html
I used these when I would walk into town or if the terrain around my camp area was dangerous or really muddy. I paddled in them a couple times but found it better just to do it barefoot.
This bag worked because my sleeping bag, tent, clothes pack down super small. If you have a bigger sleeping bag, tent this bag may be a bit too small.
Items in DECK BAG
-1 pair extra clothes (pants, long sleeve shirt, underwear this was basically my airplane clothes that I wore to Australia and would wear home)
-Mont Bell Down Jacket-http://www.montbell.us/products/disp.php?cat_id=70&p_id=2301154
This is my go to down jacket going strong for 3 years, super light and packs small.
-Western Mountaineering Highlite Bag – http://www.westernmountaineering.com/index.cfm?section=products&page=Sleeping-Bags&cat=ExtremeLite-Series
I LOVE this bag, one of the lightest ones on the market at 1lb. It’s been my adventure bag for the past 3 years. Rated 35F (I just wear my Down Jacket if it is cold.)
Nemo GoGo LE – http://www.nemoequipment.com/nemo2011-gogole-tent
My light travel tent. Nemo tents pack super small and are fairly light. Since it is a single wall tent and you will be camping near water you will wake up some mornings with some good condensation on the tent. I just packed mine up wet at times and it dried out mostly when I would set it up at night. Was stoked on the side door.
Not a bad bag, it is a semi hard shell bag, meaning it keeps its shape. It can be a bit difficult to get things in and out and the zipper likes to hide from you at times, but the bag worked great. I like the bungies on the outside of it as well, helpful for holding gear such as my Rain Jacket.
Items in BAJA DECK BAG
-All my electronics
-Extra bungies (amazing adjustable bungies, I had 2 of them, one small and large. I used these to help dock at night, attached the bungie to the SUP board and a tree root to hold the board there) http://www.niteize.com/products/knotbone-adjustable-bungee)
I got this one because it comes with a 3 liter Big Zip reservoir, so more water I could drink when paddling. It is waterproof so I could store items in it and they would ideally be safe if I fell in the water. I never fell fully into the water but did go through some good downpours with the bag and the items stayed dried. The Big Zip Reservoir is amazing, super easy to fill up.
Items in HYDRATION PACK
-first aid kit
This is almost a must for any adventure. It is a GPS satellite device that you can use to upload your position to google maps for friend and family to follow along. MOST IMPORTAN a button you can press if you are in a life threatening situation and you will be helicopter rescued. I would have pushed this button if I got bit by a poisonous snake or a tree fell on me while sleeping.
MOUNTAIN SMITH DELUXE COOLER CUBE
An easy place to put food in, keeps the food out of the sun and kind of cool. Has a bunch of nice pockets to organize food. It can fold easy to pack away.
Items in Cooler (this is what I survived off on the river). I have a special talent of being able to not bring a stove and just eat hard goods and be fine with it, I figure that I eat cooked meals in CA for 11 months out of the year so I can rough it for a month without a stove and save cooking time.
-Mtn bread (bread they had in Australia that would keep for awhile)
-bunch of granola bars
-bags of chips
-can of green beans
-can of corn
-can of beans
Again all of this gear is not necessary just what I used, there are tons of other options as well out there, have fun looking around.