What to wear Paddle Boarding
SUP Clothing Guide
What should I wear whilst paddle boarding? What’s the best SUP gear advice? It’s one of the most common questions we get asked. Being blessed with 4 very distinct seasons in the UK, there is no single outfit suitable for year round paddling.
Choosing the right SUP clothing to wear for the right time of year and conditions can be tricky, so we’ve written this guide to help you choose the appropriate clothing to suit all seasons.
Whatever the weather, your SUP clothing should be comfortable, properly fitted and easy to move in. It also needs to protect you from the elements. The paddle board clothing you choose can vary greatly depending on the type of paddle boarding you are doing.
Wear the right clothing and you’ll keep warm in winter or cool in summer, and enjoy your SUP session safely. Get it wrong and you can quickly get into trouble by either getting too cold, too hot, uncomfortable or sunburnt.
To make things easy, we’ve split this guide into seasons, and then discuss differnt types of paddling in each season.
All year round – Wear a leash and wear a PFD or buoyancy aid
Wearing a Leash is always essential. It keeps you attached to your board & is the first line of defence in terms of SUP safety. A PFD or Buoyancy will keep you afloat. It gives you confidence and will also keep your body warm.
If you are heading into the ocean and SUP surfing, rather than just paddling on flat water, you’re definitely going to be spending some time in the water. Even Pros wipe out when SUP surfing! So you’re definitely going to want a wetsuit.
Even in the summer the sea in the UK rarely gets above 12 degrees, so we’d suggest getting yourself a nice thick 5mm winter wetsuit to keep you warm whilst paddling in the waves. Modern wetsuits are very good, and much warmer than the used to be since manufacturers started using materials like merino wool in the liners.
Wetsuit boots. If you paddle in bare feet in the winter you’re either hard as nails or completely bonkers! Your feet will get cold quickly in winter, and cold feet doesn’t make for happy paddling. Good quality neoprene boots will make all the difference to your toes. We’d suggest 5mm – 7mm for winter paddling and look for boots with a durable non-slip sole to make it easier for yourself when gettign on and off the board.
SUP Touring and flat water paddling is becoming more popular through the colder months. We paddle all year with SUP Club members and you can get beautiful days out on the water in the winter. Again, if you think you’re going to spend much time in the water, a winter wetsuit is a good idea. Once you’ve gained some confidence and can paddle without falling into the water you can consider different wetsuit options and layers.
Dry suits – more and more people are now using dry suits whilst paddle boarding. It used to be that dry suits were designed only for sailing and kayaking, but we’re now seeing SUP specific dry suits on the market that are much lighter and offer much more freedom of movement and flexibility. Our Instructor team use Prolimit Dry Suits for winter and Spring paddling.
Wearing a dry suit with layers underneath, shorts & t-shirt or thermal performance underlayers, give you the ability to stay dry and layer up depending on how cold it is. The suit will keep the water out fully so you’ll stay nice and dry if you do fall in.
What about your extremeties? Hats and gloves are a good option for winter paddling as they keep the cold off your most exposed areas. A good wooly hat is going to keep your head warm, and stop heat loss from your body. Neoprene hats are another great option, as they are designed to keep you warm even when wet.
Your hands can get really cold when winter paddling so think about gloves. Thin running gloves can keep the cold off your skin without impeding your grip too much, but if you really feel the cold neoprene gloves will keep your hands warm even if they get wet.
What to wear paddle boarding in spring? Water temperatures in the UK don’t really warm up much until the Summer. Paddling in Spring you’re going to be expecting water temperatures to be between 10 and 15 degrees. If you are paddling on the sea or SUP surfing, you’re definitely going to be spending some time in the water, so you’re definitely going to want a wetsuit.
If you have a Winter wetsuit, our advice would be to wear that for Spring paddling too. It’s unlikey you’ll get too warm even in a 5-6mm wetsuit. As Spring edges towards Summer and we get longer, hotter days on the water you might get away with a thinner wetsuit, 3-4mm in thickness.
You are still going to feel the cold on your feet at this time of year, especially if you are paddling for any length of time, so footwear is important. Wetsuit boots will keep your feet warm and also protect your feet from sharp stones.
When paddling on calm, flat water and especially if you are a more experience paddler less likely to fall in, you can get away without a full wetsuit or dry suit.
A long-john wetsuit is a good option rather than a full suit, as it gives you more freedom of movement in the arms and shoulders. It also adds versatility so you can layer up over the top if you’re cold, and remove layers if you’re paddling hard enough to warm up and you start to overheat.
Alternatively a lot of people will wear quick-drying leggings or board shorts, plus a layers on your top half to protect from the cold and wind. Base layers and waterproof or windproof jacket all work well.
Layers are really good as they can be put on or taken off as your journey unfolds. Keep your layers and maybe an insulated drinks bottle with a hot drink stored on your board in a dry bag.
When we think of summer, we think of board shorts and flip flops! But we live in the UK, so summer paddling can still often mean wetsuits or layers.
A good summer wetsuit of 3/2mm thickness is great if you’re paddling in the sea, or if you’re going to spend as much time in the water as on your board! Long-john wetsuits are really good for summer paddling as your legs and body are covered, but your arms are free. Once the water temperature gets over 15 degrees you might prefer to use a shorty wetsuit to keep your body warm.
Remember, it can still get cold in summer, especially of its raining or windy, so be prepared and pack a windproof lightweight jacket so you can layer up if needed.
We love paddling barefoot, and it’s the best way to feel the board under your feet. Wetsuit shoes can be really useful in summer if you’re having to walk over rough ground or a pebbly beach.
When it’s really hot and sunny, don’t forget your hat, and definitely slap plenty of sunscreen on. Get a good quality SPF 50 waterproof sunscreen and reapply as often as you need. Here at Oxford SUP Club we use Lifejacket Skin Protection to keep our customers and team safe from the sun.
As summer draws to a close and the warmth turns to autumn coolness, it’s time to start layering up again. Remember your wind proof jackets, a warm hat for colder days and you’ll need to dig out your wetsuit boots.
Autumn paddling can be beautiful, and we often get some really lovely weather in September and October, but as soon as the sun goes down it can get cold quickly.
Keeping your extremities warm will keep you comfortable and happy paddling, so look after your hands, feet and head! Remember too that water temperatures start to drop again in the Autumn, so you need to prevent cold water shock.
Wearing your PFD will keep your core warm, and will really help to keep you safe if you do end up in the water. Neoprene jackets are great for when the temperatyes start to drop as they are soft and flexible, but really warm.