Self-Supported Southwest, Pt. 2: The Gear

Three Badfish Selfies ready for hundreds of miles of paddling. Photo: Bradley Hilton
Three Badfish Selfies ready for hundreds of miles of paddling. Photo: Bradley Hilton

Self-Supported Southwest, Pt. 2: The Gear

In the Fall of 2016 Michael Tavares, Bradley Hilton and Zack Hughes launched into the San Juan River in southeastern Utah for a 260-mile journey into and across Lake Powell. Tavares wrote a four-part series for SUPthemag.com on the adventure. This is Part 2.

The Boards
Take one look at the Badfish SUP line up and you will see nothing that resembles a traditional SUP board. Those shapes are the brainchild of Zach Hughes, who performs as well in the shaping room as he does on the water. Whitewater requires different lines, volumes and outlines in order to perform and excel in chaotic water environments where traditional shapes are literally swallowed whole. After taking note from our Powell adventure in 2014, we knew we needed a board that would carry around 40-50 pounds of gear and perform well in both whitewater and flatwater scenarios. We combined our insight and knowledge of whitewater and flatwater and melted the two together for a perfect 16-foot SUP. … the Selfie 16 was born!

The boys and their boards.
The boys and their boards.

Board Design Notes
• Fast, low-draft hull – taken from whitewater racing boards
• Smooth, rounded edges and lines – taken from our river running and river surfboards
• Volume profile to keep the board on the surface and cut through chop
• Integrated gear storage areas on the front and back
• 16-foot – for optimal speed and comfort while fully loaded with gear and accessories

This board would turn out to be the perfect combination of elements to increase performance, speed, user ability and gear storage. When you look at her, she screams adventure!

The Gear
Self support means packing everything we need for the trip on our boards. We would receive no help along the way unless something went drastically wrong. Packing for these trips can be difficult and you have to find a balance to keep weight low and your mind at ease with your preparation. Here's a quick rundown of almost everything we each took:
• 16 f00t SUP – Badfish Selfie
• Fins – FCS River Flexi as well as flatwater race fin
• Boardworks Race Paddle (One each) / Spare Breakdown paddle (one for the group)
• PFD – Astral Type-3 YTF  (legally had to wear it on the San Juan, had on board on lake)
• Watershed Drybags – Five fully waterproof drybags for everything
• Throwbag – Astral
• River knife
• First-aid kit – personal and group size
• River shoes and camp sandals – Astral Brewers and Filipe
• Hydration – Vestpac, Nalgene and MSR Dromedary
• Iphone/GoPro
• Goal Zero Nomad 7 plus /Venture 30 (charging all electronics)
• Maps for navigation and mileage

• Permit (on hand for San Juan)
• Board repair kit (Solar resin/rail tape, etc.)
• Fire Pan (required for San Juan)
• Personal Toilet (required for San Juan – PVC tube with Wag Bags)

Tavares shows of his river kit. All this had to be neatly packed onto their boards for the trip. Photo: Bradley Hilton
Tavares shows off his river kit. All this had to be neatly packed onto their boards for the trip. Photo: Bradley Hilton

• CAMP
o Clothing – river and camp clothes
o One person tent, sleeping bag, pad
o MSR water filter
o Jetboil Stove (plus fuel)
o Camp chair
FOOD
o Backpackers Pantry – dehydrated meals (breakfast and dinner)
o Protein bars, beef jerky, small snacks (lunch)
o Energy gels/water tabs
o Candy (must have for me)

As you can see, the list can get rather large in a hurry, so packing and repacking multiple times pre-trip was the key to shave weight and get rid of unnecessary items. There's always stuff you don't need and every trip gets a little lighter.

Next up: Down the San Juan

More from Michael Tavares.

Check out Part One.