Updated: Jan 24, 2021
Self care while you are on the water is SO important. No matter the time or season of the year, you need to be looking out for your wellbeing.
On a very basic level, self care consists of food, water, and shelter. When packing for a day on the water, we very well may give some thought to those first two items--but what about shelter? While it might not be practical to rig a tent on top of your SUP, protection from the elements should be a top priority. Depending on the time of year, I'm going to say that sunscreen ranks directly up there with food and water. On our first river trip we both got horribly sunburnt. My sunburn was extra bad. I mean this was seriously intense sunburn. To put it in perspective, I had to go to the local emergency room after the river trip to receive a rabies shot (I was halfway through the rabies vaccination series and on antibiotics when this trip came up due to a small mishap prior to the trip). Walking into the ER, however, the triage nurse assumed I was there to be treated for my painful-looking sunburn! After I explained the reason for my visit, the ER staff were still more concerned about my sunburn than the fact I could have, but hopefully did not, contract rabies during my little mishap! Later that night the pain was so intense I could not sleep without wet cold towels on top of my aloe-slathered legs. The next morning I was hardly able to stand and walk. This lasted for a couple of very long days and put a huge damper on the rest of the trip. Moral of the story: put sunscreen on before you hit the water, and bring the bottle to reapply while you are out.
You are also going to need to stay hydrated. This is important no matter what time of year it is, or what kind of climate you are in. Don't ever forget that just because you aren't sweating, it doesn't mean that you aren't getting dehydrated. We will cover the best ways to bring your liquids with you in a different post. Foods like protein bars, trail mix, jerky, apples, oranges, and other easy to pack pieces of fruit are nice to have on hand in your dry bag or cooler when you realize you have worked up an appetite. No one wants to paddle with you while you are hangry!
Sunglasses and bug spray also make our list. The protein you will want to nourish your hard working body with will not be a mouthful of mosquitoes or gnats upon inhaling your next breath. Trust me, I know. I've been there, done that, and got the t-shirt. Which brings me to my next point: you may want to wear a neck gaiter or a boonie hat with a mosquito net especially if you are out at dusk when the skeeters come out.
A cell phone can be a life saver, not only to view maps but also to make a phone call in the event you get separated from your paddle buddy or group members--or in the worst case scenario, need to be rescued. Incidentally, you should always leave a float plan behind so others will know generally where you will be if you need assistance.
We also find that carrying EMS trauma shears, especially the Raptor from Leatherman, is useful for cutting fishing line and rope if need be. If you become ensnared either by your own anchor line, fishing line, or anything else these will do the job and get you free.
Hopefully this should go without saying, but something you don't want to be doing on the water is consuming alcohol. Not only can this impair you, dehydrate you and put your safety at risk, it can also get you arrested.
Feel free to bring some music for an incredible way to relax, or just enjoy the silence and let nature destress you from your every day routine. There are few things more healing than sunshine, nature and the feeling of being on the water.
Stay safe, have fun and enjoy!!