Natali Zollinger tackles whitewater rivers on her feet as a stand up paddle athlete. The Moab, Utah, resident says that despite her passion for water, she is a Desert Girl at heart who has always been passionate about guiding and training. “Teaching and leading others’ toward health and wellness is my calling, “ she says.
Natali spends most of her year traveling around the United States in her sprinter van, training as an athlete, hosting clinics, and attending some of the best whitewater/flatwater races in the country. She has a passion for adventure and travel, and hopes to seek out, experience, and share her story of the most incredible and breathtaking views of the world.
Gear Institute: Hello Natali, you seem to live a full life on the road. What are you up to these days?
Natali Zollinger: 2015 is going to be a big year for me. I am spending much of the winter on the East Coast and in Mexico, training and assisting my sponsors and co-workers. I am then driving to the National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, North Caroline to prep and train for my Whitewater SUP race season. I will be competing for most of May/June as well as leading whitewater clinics—in both downriver and surf—with my teammate and good friend Brittany Parker. During the majority of the later summer/fall I will be rowing a boat down the Grand Canyon as a commercial river guide to save up for my BIG TRIP this winter.
Gear Institute: And what is the big trip?
Zollinger: Brittany Parker, Nadia Almuti, and I are trying to put together a women’s self-supported trip down the Navua and Luva Rivers in Fiji. We were inspired by Peter Mcbride’s short movie “River of Eden” and wanted to inspire and empower others to find adventure all while promoting the sport of stand up paddleboarding.
Gear Institute: That’s great. When you head out on a river, what kind of gear do you rely on?
Zollinger: I also bring my GoPro and all the accessories because I’m forever seeking that “hero” shot!
I also make sure I have shade protection for my face. I really like a good trucker hat. They float, they offer shade, and they can never be too stylish. I also always have a good pair of sunnies and retaining straps. My most recent version of this set up are Smith Sunglasses and Next Step Nexstrap retaining straps.
To hold my gear I use a Watershed Bag since it is so perfect for all my water adventures. It keeps everything dry with a convenient small packing size for travel!
Gear Institute: Okay, let’s give a shout-out to your sponsors. From the pile of gear offered by your sponsors, what are your ‘most loved’ items?
Zollinger: My VestPac, for sure. This is great for staying hydrated while training on and off the water.
I also always use Astral shoes and PFDs. They are functional as well as comfortable and stylish—I’ll wear the shoes on and off the river.
And my boards, paddles and leashes all come from Boardworks SUP Boards.
Gear Institute: What do you think is the most exciting trend SUP gear?
Zollinger: Inflatable SUPs. They are versatile, you can travel anywhere with them, and they offer a unique way to see the world.
Gear Institute: Gear aside now, let’s talk tips and techniques. Are there any special packing or gear-protecting techniques/tricks you use when you travel?
Zollinger: I only travel with gear that breaks down and is lightweight and compact. That is a key factor when it comes to purchasing or choosing my sponsors. When I’m out in the field and not traveling, I have a friend that makes packing dividers (Solgear) for my Watershed Bags so everything stays where I pack it. That, saves so much time for packing and traveling and organizing my gear.