A question that we often get asked, is "what can I wear when paddle boarding?". Several years ago, the answer to this question would've simply been "whatever you feel comfortable in", as not many ever dared going out during the colder months.
However, the ever-rising popularity of paddle boarding globally, has seen people push the barriers of the sport to even the harshest of climates, creating a demand for technical clothing, specifically designed for SUP. And with that demand, came an ever-evolving supply of SUP specific clothing for every season. And, although we are still learning, we know more now than we ever did before about what to wear when paddle boarding.
Pair of shorts and a t-shirt. Easy, right? Not exactly, even though your body's feedback from falling in is much, much gentler than in the colder months, there are many other factors you need to take into consideration when paddling in hot temperatures, especially during longer tours.
Since you are more vulnerable to sunburn, especially at sea, due to the sunlight reflecting back up from the water, be sure to protect yourself with sunscreen whilst carrying layers during longer tours or when paddling through into the cooler evenings. Also be aware that a cold breeze can mask how hot your skin really easy when paddling, so make sure you keep yourself well protected.
Another essential for paddling in hot temperatures is to always wear a hat. Getting a sunstroke is never fun, especially if you're in the middle of the sea, so if you plan to spend your day paddling in the sunshine, make sure to keep your head protected. If falling in is a frequent issue for you, we advise looking for a waterproof hat that will last you a longer time.
The same applies to your outer wear, if you are a confident paddler, a pair of comfy shorts and a cool base layer will do. If you are out for a few splashes, make sure to look for waterproof clothing or if you want to style it out, even a shorty wetsuit.
As the seasons change you may find the need for a few extra layers and a pair of shoes. If you're a confident paddler, wearing a hoodie or jacket with a pair of leggings will be more than ideal. Remember however not to wear layers that are too thick as your body warms up significantly once you start paddling. One problem that even the most experienced of paddlers won't be able to avoid, is keeping their feet completely dry. For this reason, we recommend a pair of waterproof shoes, wetsuit boots, or, if you can cope with it, even going barefoot.
For those who are no strangers to the Splash, we invite into the warm and smelly world of neoprene. Although we will never recommend wearing a wetsuit thicker than 2mm when paddle boarding, there are plenty of neoprene products out there that will do the job. For temperatures between 12-5°C we recommend a pair of water proof or neoprene leggings, a water proof long-sleeved top and, if necessary, a water proof jacket or neoprene hoodie.
For the real heroes out there, who go out for a paddle in subzero temperatures, things can get a bit tricky. If in all surfing disciplines you can get away with a thick full wetsuit, this won't work with paddle boarding. If you are wearing anything thicker than 3mm, your shoulder movement will be fairly impaired and you will find it quite annoying to paddle.
To avoid this, we recommend wearing a thick pair of leggings, as your legs will be, for most of the time, quite static. As a top layer we recommend a technical, water proof or neoprene top followed by either a neoprene hoodie or jacket. Remember, being active will help keep you warm in winter, so don’t overdress. Thinner layers are easier to regulate your temperature when you are on your paddleboard.
There is also the option of wearing a full dry suit, but if you do manage to fall in, it won't offer you too much protection.
In cold temperatures, more than anything, try to keep your extremities warm by wearing a tight neoprene beanie, a set of water proof gloves and a pair of thick wetsuit boots. Whether you've got a wealth of experience behind you, or are simply new to the sport, always have a waterproof bag with dry clothes on top of your board when paddling in the cold.
When getting changed out of your wet clothes, a handy accessory to have is a dry robe / change jacket. These will keep your body warm and toasty while helping you dry faster, significantly reducing the risk of hypothermia. For warmer climates we recommend a toweling robe, which is lighter but just as efficient.
If you're after technical or leisure, SUP inspired apparel, take a look at our clothing section. For wetsuits and neoprene equipment, follow this link!
Hopefully this will give you a bit of clarity on what to wear when paddle boarding throughout the year, helping you get out with more confidence. If you are still unsure of what gear is right for you, or are after some information that we forgot to cover, then please feel free to contact us, and we'll be more than happy to help.