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what to wear paddleboarding in the winter

The ultimate guide on what to wear on your SUP in cold weather!

Not sure what to wear on your paddleboard through the winter months? We have compiled this guide to help you get the most out of your SUP all year round, whatever the weather! Staying warm while on your paddle board is not only more enjoyable, it also makes the sport safer as you are less likely to make mistakes. Getting the right paddle board clothing that will keep you comfortable on the board, and safe if you fall in the water, is extremely important. There are many options from multiple brands, all of the products we stock are made by reputable, mostly british, companies that have been supplying us with watersports equipment for over 30 years. Many of the items that have been honed to perfection to work for kayaking and canoeing are just the right thing to use while paddleboarding in the winter.

There are a few different paths you can go down depending on how much time you are planning to spend in the water and your budget. This guide will run through the options and give you some products to look into. If you have any queries or questions, please do not hesitate to give us a call on 01392 219600 and our experienced staff will guide you through your purchase. Alternatively, come and see our watersports shop, try on and feel the products for yourself in our fully stocked waterside showroom!

Please note this article has been written for the autumn/winter 2020 season. Product specifications, colours and availability are subject to change, please refer to the linked product listing for up to date information.

What type of paddle boarding are you doing?

This guide focuses on ‘touring’ with your SUP, we have found this covers the majority of paddlers getting out in the cold. To keep it simple, we will regard ‘touring’ as anything that isn’t going to the beach and surfing.

Paddleboard surfing through the winter requires a very similar set up to normal surfing; a good winter wetsuit, gloves, boots and a neoprene hood will keep you toasty when you are spending more time in the water than out of it! A full wetsuit is not particularly comfortable when you are not in the water, they still allow cold water to reach your body and they will cool you down rapidly when they are wet and if the wind picks up.

If you are not planning on falling in, we recommend wearing clothing that will keep you dry, while allowing you to wear thermal layers underneath to stay warm if you do go in the water. The key idea is to stay safe if you do fall off your paddleboard, and stay comfortable for long periods of paddling after you have had a dip.

Drysuit Vs Wetsuit for SUP

A lot of people we speak to assume that a winter wetsuit is the best answer to SUP in cold weather. There are a few schools of thought, and they definitely have their place, but a 5mm winter wetsuit is not always the answer. A wetsuit works buy letting a small amount of water in between the material and you skin, which then gets warm and stays warm from the thermal properties of the neoprene and your body heat. As you stay submerged, the warmer water is trapped by the suit and stays with you, keeping you at a comfortable temperature. While this is great for surfing and swimming, when paddling, you (hopefully) spend more time out of the water than in it. When you climb back onto your board, the nice warm water will gradually leak out, and you will need to warm it up all over again next time you go in.

Another downside is the cooling effect as water evaporates from the surface of the wetsuit. Once you go for a dip, you will find all your heat is lost when the wind picks up – not great if you still have a distance to go!

A drysuit works by sealing your body off from the water, using stretchy material on the neck and wrists with built in socks. This stops any cold water from reaching your skin, and allows thermal layers underneath to act as if they are not under water. Once you find the combination that works  for you, it can be a quick and simple procedure to get kitted up and out paddleboarding. When you have finished your trip, whip the dry suit off and you are still dry, ready for the drive home.

Drysuits come in a variety of materials, entry methods and different types of seal. As a general rule, the more you pay the more breathable the suit will be which will regulate the heat and moisture inside when you are paddling hard. Latex seals will be the dryest, while neoprene or glideskin will be softer on the skin. A hood is always a nice feature to have when the rain starts, you can tuck yourself away from the elements and concentrate on paddling.