Inside the Ride | Ernest “EJ” Johnson

Photo: Aaron Schmidt
Photo: Aaron Schmidt

Inside the Ride | Ernest “EJ” Johnson

Age: 52
Hometown: Point Loma, California

EJ Johnson is not a simple man: the drummer, paddle maker, SUP racer, skateboarder and woodworker lives unconventionally. His Sprinter van fits well into his unorthodox existence. It fact, it helps him thrive. Johnson started racing in 2006 and spends long stretches on the road traveling from Lake Tahoe to Hood River to the Florida Keys. He needed a vehicle to fit his wife Andie, his boards, camping gear and now, his two dogs, Red and Lucy. His background in carpentry helped with the highly customized interior, down to a reclaimed bamboo floor and a wooden SUP handle for the gear shifter.

1) 2003 Dodge Sprinter Van. I customized it myself but it’s got a 156-inch wheelbase and 210,000 miles on it, and it’s still running like a champ.

2) Custom Drawers. I built these so plastic crates fit into them. They’re a full eight feet and the front one is accessible from the passenger area. We’ve got pots and pans, cleaning supplies, flashlights, lanterns, axes, saws, stoves, extra fins, tools and food like canned goods: tuna, black beans, chili. And peanut butter, of course.

3)  Custom Racks. They house two fourteens on the top and smaller boards—up to 12’6”—on the bottom. It’s got a paddle rack on the side that holds five or so.

4)  Electronics. It’s got a big Alpine stereo system with a sub woofer that’s customized with a bamboo down-firing sub box. LED lights for the back and a light bar on the side by the slider so we can light up the whole campground at night.

5)  French press. Gotta have the coffee, man.

6)  Garden of Life Products. It’s all plant protein, super greens and you just mix it with water. That’s all you need.

7)  Race Board. That’s a 14’ X 25” custom that I helped design for Yolo Board. It’s called the Orange Crush and they have it in production.

8)  Surf Board. Yolo “ Air Series” made in Costa Rica by Alvaro Solano in Jaco.

9)  Paddle. This is the Performance Series I designed for Yolo; it’s been an evolutionary process over many years but it’s working super good. It’s got some cool geometry to it. Seven-and-a-quarter and 85 square inches, weighs 16 ounces with an EVA handle.

10)  Drone. I use my Blade 350 Qx for pics and video when we’re out camping and touring. It’s fun to play around with but I only have a GoPro 2 so I’m a little behind the times.

Get inside the radical rides of many more SUP athletes.

This feature originally ran in our 2015 Gear Guide.