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As much as I love and am captivated by water, I feel the same about hiking. Contact with the soft, uneven ground under my feet on various terrain is always a way I have enjoyed being outside and exercising. Paddling and hiking… what a great combination to implement if you own an iSUP, or inflatable standup paddle board.

First, your lower body muscles will benefit from walking with a loaded pack. Which includes your SUP, paddle, pump and gear (approximately 30 pounds total) that fit so compactly in the backpack the Hobie inflatables come with. Second, as you arrive at your journey’s end to now paddle, all your strong upper body muscles need to kick in to pump up your board, and then paddle it back.

When you vary your routines and use your body in different ways (weekly, monthly, seasonally) that is when you are going to get the most benefit for overall conditioning. You will also find a whole new way to entertain oneself on your iSUP. Hiking with your inflatable board is an engaging activity and will completely change your perspective about SUP.

RELATED: Stand Up Paddling Essentials

All you need to do is research a little trail (or longer one if you enjoy endurance hikes) that takes you on a journey to a body of water. After your hike, pump up your iSUP, and head back to your original destination. *Note: Take precautions if you are a beginner exerciser. I believe carrying that amount of loaded weight is for someone who is already in cardiovascular and musculoskeletal condition.

The first time Nate and I did this I wanted to test out our equipment first. I am small in stature, and needed to do some reconnaissance to make sure the load was safe and manageable for me (so Nate did not wind up carrying BOTH our iSUPs!). I tested it by walking around in the neighborhood with my inflatable board rolled up in the backpack, with pump and adjustable paddle. Doable. So I was ready!

We set out for a local, leisurely morning hike and paddle. Nate is so diligent and an expert at how to school me on hiking with the large pack. He can recognize what different body types can handle. He paced us with many breaks, so it was slow, steady and attainable, because it is not something that I normally do with that much weight on my back. But, what an exceptional time we had, especially when we SUP’d back to our car and our adventure was a success!

All the lakes in the Valley of the Sun have small trails that are beautiful, and meander in and out of coves with a water view. I believe we all can locate these little treasures to play in the outdoors close to where we live. Grab your iSUP, a friend and find your own opening to the water’s edge, pump up and paddle on back.