The best start to your stand up paddle board (SUP) adventure is not pulling into the parking lot. It’s rolling out of your sleeping bag, the smell of your coffee mixing with the salt air and the sound of the surf beckoning you straight from your bedheaded, bleary-eyed state to an early, solitary paddle on the water.
My favorite place to do this, my waterfront base camp, is in Southern California, where only a fence and a cliff separate you from long, glassy paddles with dolphins and whales.
Before I head out, I make a cup of coffee. Having grown up in a family in the coffee-roasting business, I drink strong coffee done right, at home or in camp. With simple and affordable equipment, I can make barista-worthy coffee that makes camp feel like home. My camp coffee kit includes a coffee press, a pan to warm the milk and a handheld, battery-powered milk frother that we affectionately call “the throttle.”
When I come back from paddling my SUP 14' displacement board along that wide stretch of ocean under the cliffs, I need to take care of both myself and my equipment. Having both an A-frame stand and a homemade PVC-pipe stand makes it easy for me to rinse all my gear. This is similar to what I do at home and since we brought our car, we can add the amenities to make it feel like an extension of the garage. Keep your equipment protected by giving it its own spot at the campsite. Using the same portable shower with pressurized hose that I used on the boards, I can rinse the salt off myself. Set up the shower between the car and the tent for a bit of privacy. It’s very convenient in a state suffering from a drought where most campgrounds are rationing the water.
Many people have complimented us on our camping setup; we just like to think of it as our home with a view. This waterfront base camp is the result of many years of different iterations of gear to make it a glamping paradise. The setup consists of a 6-person tent across from a 2-person tent, with an alcove shelter in the middle and a heavy-duty quilted moving blanket on the floor. This is the equivalent of having the master bedroom linked to the kids’ room by the living room. Every site is different, so we look for ways nature has already framed a room. Sometimes that means not setting up everything.
Bring a couple of decorations that you won’t find in a camping store, plus a few items for your picnic table. Those little touches make your campsite feel like a celebration of finding your home in nature.
Jose's Favorite Camping Gear
For more basecamp to paddle information, visit REI.com.