What to wear on a paddleboard
Autumn and winter actually offer some of the best and most beautiful paddling of the year. The cold weather sunsets and sunrises frame some of the most scenic views that can be seen from the water in the Surrey Hills.
We are often asked about what to wear for winter paddling so we thought it might be useful to write down some of our advice, based on our own paddleboarding experience.
Firstly it depends on where and what discipline of paddling you are planning to enjoy through the winter; and for what purpose. We will start with leisure and fitness paddling on flat water, lagoons, lakes and inland waterways.
Leisure and fitness SUP
Dependent on your paddling experience and your confidence in yourself regarding not falling in, you can approach winter paddling in a similar way to your winter trail running or MTB rides. If you are at a stage where you are confident that it is unlikely you will fall in, our advice is to dress as if you were going for a winter run or ride and for the weather conditions appropriate to the day.
- Keep the extremities warm ie hats, gloves and a good 5mm pair of wetsuit boots will keep you comfortable and warm during your session.
- We would also recommend wetsuit leggings and a top rather than a full wetsuit as this can be more comfortable for paddling in. If you do end up in the drink, you will be out of the water and back on your board pretty damn quickly! The neoprene base layer will soon warm up as you continue paddling and you will be back on track.
- Alternatively there are drysuit options available to you which can also come in two pieces.
Please note that winter wetsuits are always available to hire from SHAC at the lagoon in Buckland when you book a session there.
As with all outdoor winter activities the best way to manage body temperature is by wearing layers that can be removed or added as required. Your base layer is the key element and best to be neoprene.
It is also essential to have a spare set of warm clothes ready to change into once you are off the water.
Our top tip is to always remember that cold water shock is a very real thing! As always the key is to either get out quickly and back on your board and paddling or take a moment to let the body adjust and focus on your breathing before trying to swim. Leashes are essential in all paddling disciplines and weather conditions, even more so than a personal flotation device, this keeps you connected to the board and prevents a long swim home, the board can be your flotation device and you can get out the water on to it, however without a leash your board can be quickly taken away by wind or swell which means you are stuck in the water with a long swim home – always wear a leash and select the right one for the discipline you plan to enjoy!
Winter SUP Racing
If you are now at the stage that you have or want to try racing paddle boards there are plenty of winter race series that happen across the country and further afield. The best advice we can give is to be bold and start cold! Don’t wear to much because as the race progresses you will become much warmer like going for a winter run, in a race environment you don’t want to be having to remove layers and strap them to your board or put them in a back pack and lose time.
We advise SUP racers to wear a good neoprene-based base layer, warm wetsuit boots, hat, paddling gloves and possibly a wind proof jacket for windy conditions.
Surfing and Downwinding
Both these disciplines are ocean based activities and will require a full surfing style wetsuit 3-5mm in thickness depending on the suit. With surfing it is inevitable that you will be in the water so keeping warm is key, neoprene boots, gloves and hood or beanie are the best way to enjoy a decent surf session.
Similarly with downwinding it can be quite likely you will end up in the water at some point, less so than surfing but the chances are still pretty high especially if you have limited experience so things remain as above but you may consider a two piece option for your neoprene base layer and a decent wind proof jacket over the top.
As always a leash is the most important piece of safety equipment as with all disciplines, you should also consider a personal flotation device, dependent on your experience and the tides and conditions. Please also take care to select the right leash for the discipline you are enjoying, for example a quick release leash for rivers. article to follow on leash selection in due course.
Whetted your appetite? if so then head on to our SUP page to choose and book a session.