Paddle boarding in the winter may seem absurd if you’re used to pottering around in bikinis and boardshorts, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun. The key is dressing correctly for it. Remember, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.
With SUP, you’ll spend significantly less time (potentially none at all) submerged in the water, unlike surfers, so you have a little more flexibility over the clothing you can wear. Some paddlers will confidently head out in jeans and a jumper, but it’s always going to be a little bit of a risk, so heed our advice and slap on a little neoprene – you’ll be grateful if you do accidentally end up taking a dip.
It's worth noting that if you're going SUP surfing, as opposed to just paddling on flat water, you'd be better off getting yourself a thick 5mm wetsuit to keep you warm whilst waiting for the waves, and checking out our advice on winter surf accessories.
For everyone else, read on to find out what you should be wearing, from head to toe…
When you’re standing up on a board, you’re head will be feeling pretty exposed, so it goes without saying really that wearing a hat or beanie in the winter is a good idea. A normal woolly hat is absolutely fine, but if you don’t fully trust yourself to stay dry, a neoprene beanie like this Prolimit one is a great option, because it's designed to keep you warm even when wet.
Imagine trying to paddle when you can’t feel your fingers, pretty tricky right? Neoprene gloves will keep your hands warm even if they get wet, but opt for a pair with decent grip on the palms, otherwise you might find your paddle slipping in your hands.
For SUP, it’s worth investing in a long john wetsuit, rather than a full suit, as it gives you more freedom of movement in the arms and shoulders, and also allows for more versatility. Throw a neoprene top underneath if you’re feeling chilly, or easily roll it down if you’re paddling hard enough to overheat a little.
If you don't fancy having water near your skin at all, a drysuit might be a good choice for you. It will keep the water out fully so you'll stay bone dry if you fall in (apart from your head, of course). However, they can be a little bulkier than a wetsuit, and a little more restrictive in the upper body if it's not a drysuit specifically designed for paddle boarders.
Underneath the outer layer, you want to be wearing something lightweight, but may need it to be warm too, depending on how cold you get. A rash vest is an easy option which will be comfortable under neoprene, but for extra insulation it’s worth opting for (more!) neoprene or a polypro top, which will have a water-repelling, fleece-like lining. Consider whether you get cold easily when making this choice, but also keep in mind that you’ll get warm while paddling too. Shop thermal base layers here.
Instead of a wetsuit or drysuit, you may prefer to wear a separate top and bottom combo, either for versatility or just because you find it more comfortable. Keeping the torso warm is essential, but you also need to be wary of restricting upper body movement when layering up. Shop jackets here.
Yep, more neoprene. We just love it. Neoprene leggings are a really useful option. As so much of the movement for SUP is in the upper body, it’s easy for your legs to get cold while the rest of you is still pretty warm. You’re also likely to get your legs a bit wet when launching/landing, so it’s worth opting for neoprene. Palm Men's Neoflex Trousers are ideal, although you may prefer a thicker neoprene on the really cold days, as these ones are only 0.5mm thick.
Don’t go getting cold feet on the water, wear wetsuit boots. A few millimetres of neoprene will make all the difference to your toes, but look for a durable non-slip sole to make it easier for yourself when launching, landing, and for generally being stable on the board.
If you’ve already got summer boots and don’t fancy upgrading, or you just get very cold, grab a pair of neoprene or thermal socks to wear under your boots to make sure your toes feel the love next time you head out.
You can browse our wide range of stand up paddle board clothing here.
For anything else SUP-related, from boards and paddles to shoes and accessories, head to our main paddle boarding page.
Written by Eliza Tilbury
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