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What to Wear Stand Up Paddle Boarding

   March 4th, 2019   Posted In: Articles   Tags:

What to Wear for SUP – Your Four-Season Guide

One of the best things about paddle boarding is its accessibility. With the right equipment and attire, you can take your paddling adventures year-round. But in order to SUP through all four seasons, you’ve got to wear clothing and gear that will make you comfortable and safe on the water.

 

Typically, SUPers want attire that won’t restrict movement. While our activity takes place out of the water and on top of a board, SUPers always need to be prepared for an immersion. This means that you need to consider how you’ll feel getting back on your board with wet clothing and skin.

 

Want to know what to wear paddle boarding? Read on!

what to wear stand up paddle boarding

Spring gear = layers!

Spring

When the ice starts to melt and the afternoons get tantalizingly warm, some of us are chomping at the bit to get on the water. But don’t be fooled by those warmer days – the water can still be dangerously cold. This season is all about layers, and a wetsuit should be your first consideration when you’re getting dressed for Spring SUPing.

 

Wetsuits generally come in five thicknesses: 0.5 – 1mm,  mm, 3mm, 4mm, and 5mm & up. But how do you find the right thickness? Here are some important tips on finding the right wetsuit thickness and understanding wetsuit measurements. Once you understand how these measurements work it’s easier to pick which one will match the water temperatures you’re paddling in (but here’s a good rule of thumb).

 

There are a lot of tricks you can use to help you choose the right wetsuit. And if in doubt, you can filter your search based on water temperatures.

 

While it’s good to keep water temperatures in mind, you also need to consider your level of expertise on the board and the type of water you’re paddling in – how much are you actually going to be getting wet?

 

This is where layers come in. Maybe a full wetsuit isn’t the right choice. Maybe it’s a long john wetsuit. Or a pair of neoprene pants with wetsuit boots (gotta keep those feet warm!) and a rash guard. Grab a neoprene hoodie or jacket and pack it in a dry bag in case you get cold or need a dry piece of clothing to put on. A wetsuit vest is also a good choice to help keep your core warm without overheating the rest of your extremities. Don’t forget your warm gloves on those really cold Spring days!

Summer

By far the most popular time to SUP, Summer can also be one of the easiest seasons to dress for. Board shorts and bathing suits are a no-brainer. But what about those cool mornings on dawn patrol? Layering is a must to accommodate cool mornings and rapid increases in temperature.

 

In the summer, a rash guard and wetsuit vest can be comfortable in the morning, and as separates, it’s easy to start shedding those layers when the sun heats things up.

 

Don’t forget your sunglasses (attached with a strap, of course – even if they’re $5 sunglasses, they’re still litter), eco-friendly sunscreen, and a light hat.

Fall

When Fall rolls around the air temperatures can drop while the water temperatures stay the same – warm. This time, think about protecting your body from the wind and wearing moisture wicking clothing that will help you dry off and stay warm if you do accidentally take a swim.

 

Ironically, a springsuit makes an excellent option this time of year since they are designed for warmer conditions and made with thinner neoprene. You can also layer up as you did in the spring with a pair of tights or fleece pants and rash guards, packing a neoprene hoodie or jacket in case you need an extra protective layer.

 

Never underestimate how handy a simple windbreaker can be, too.

what to wear stand up paddle boarding

Winter gear = bundle up!

Winter

This is the season for wetsuits and drysuits. We’ve already covered wetsuits, which are designed to trap a small portion of water between your skin and the inside of your suit. Your body heat warms this thin layer of water, keeping you warm. But, you’ve got to keep in mind what the air temperature is like if you’re going that route. Wetsuits keep you warm in the water, not out, and a cold wind will cut right through the neoprene, rendering it useless in keeping you warm.

 

Drysuits, on the other hand, offer maximum protection from the water altogether. With gaskets at the neck, wrists, and ankles, they’re designed to keep your clothing and your body dry (apart from your own perspiration). This means you can dress as warm as you need to underneath, though a base layer of moisture wicking or quick-dry fabric is always recommended.

 

Drysuits are typically what you’ll see SUPers wearing during the coldest of winter months, especially if they’re doing more active paddling, like surfing.

 

Ultimately, it takes time and experience to know what elements you can personally handle when SUPing. But hopefully by now you can see why layering is the answer to the question of what to wear. Do your research – check the weather forecast, layer or bring extra options in case the weather changes. Being prepared will help you achieve comfort and safety on the water.

Meredith Jorss

Meredith Jorss

Meredith was hooked on standup paddle boarding from the first time she held a paddle in her hands. She became an American Canoe Association L2 certified SUP instructor after taking classes for one summer in her home waters of the Potomac River. Meredith found a way to be on the water as much as possible by becoming an instructor with Potomac Paddlesports. She teaches flat water and race training classes and is regular SUP racer in the mid-Atlantic region. Meredith's close proximity to both the Potomac River and the Atlantic coast gives her ample opportunity to hone her river and ocean surfing skills. In her life off of the water, Meredith has lived in West and Central Africa and is a human rights advocate.
Meredith Jorss

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