Have you been thinking about what to wear when paddle boarding in winter? Does being cooped up at home in winter give you cabin fever? Would you rather sort out your paddle boarding getup than spending another winter indoors?
If your answer is yes to all, then you’ve come to the right place!
Did you know that paddle boarding is an all-year water sport?
Although it is more popular in the summer, there is no doubt that SUP boarding in winter comes with its edges and thrills.
In this article, outdoor enthusiast, Najihah has found a variety of choices in the market to help you decide what to wear for SUP in the winter.
- Why Paddle Board in Winter
- What to Wear for Paddle Boarding in Winter
- What Else to Wear for Paddle Boarding in Winter
- What to Look for in Winter Paddle Boarding Gear
- Summer Paddle Boarding Gear vs Winter Paddle Boarding Gear
- Tips For Paddle Boarding in Winter
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Why Paddle Board In Winter?
Paddle boarding in cold weather is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about outdoor winter activities.
It’s more popular in the summer, when it’s warm and sunny out, which makes sense why people flock to the sea and lake with their paddle boarding gear.
So why should you paddle board in winter?
- SUP boarding is a year-round experience! Even though it’s more common in warm weather, who’s to say it’s not a great sport to do in winter?
- Less crowded compared to summer. In a time when people choose to stay warm at home, it’s a golden opportunity for a close and intimate encounter with nature.
This is thanks to less noise from touring motorboats and energetic swimmers.
- Improve your SUP boarding skills by paddle boarding in different seasons, while getting the nature playground to yourself and appreciate ethereal natural beauty. There’s not a better time to paddle board than in winter!
- It’s safe as long as you are well-prepared. Some may argue that it’s risky to venture out in the cold, but if you plan ahead, (by checking the weather and bringing appropriate gear) it’s as safe as paddle boarding in the summer.
- Reap benefits of exercising in winter. While exercise is generally better for your physical and mental health, staying physically active in winter is also effective at combating seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
What To Wear For Paddle Boarding In Winter
Planning on what to wear for paddle boarding in winter depends on several factors. These include:
- where you’re paddling,
- the time/season and
- the type of paddling (eg. touring, racing, yoga, fishing).
This applies when paddling in mild weather or flatwater paddle boarding. If you want to safeguard yourself from the chilly winds, slip on a windproof jacket.
For your feet, it is best to put on a pair of neoprene booties which works best at trapping heat while keeping you dry.
Alternatively, you can go for a pair of water shoes with rubber soles and anti-slip properties for the same effect.
In contrast with summertime, your head requires just as much protection as the rest of your body. Cover yourself up with a warm beanie or a neoprene toque for a first-rate shield from the cold wintry winds.
Looking for what to wear when paddle boarding in winter is simple:
avoid wearing anything made of cotton at all costs! Cotton is neither moisture-wicking nor quick-drying.
Need some ideas for paddle boarding clothes in different seasons throughout the year? Read on for suggestions!
What To Wear Paddle Boarding In Spring
In springtime, the conditions are more pleasant, which makes dressing up for paddle boarding a lot easier. Here’s what you’ll need:
- A Rash guard as a base layer
- Spring suit or shorty wetsuit
- Long sleeve t-shirt
You can choose to wear either a short wetsuit (or shorty wetsuit) or pair a rash guard with comfortable, waterproof leggings or a pair of boardshorts.
What To Wear Paddle Boarding In Summer
Putting together an outfit for paddle boarding in summer is essentially effortless.
Swimming attire like bikinis, one-piece swimsuits and boardshorts are the way to go!
Any extra layer you intend to wear on top is completely up to your personal preference.
What To Wear Paddle Boarding In Fall
Paddle boarding attire in fall is fairly similar to that of spring, except for optional layering, which is entirely discretionary.
It is a no-brainer that wetsuits are on the top of the list of what to wear for SUP boarding. They’re typically made from neoprene rubber that traps water, which will then warm you up. It’s also lightweight and stretchable, offering maximum flexibility.
In colder weather, it’s highly recommended to layer with a base layer for better heat insulation.
Quick Tip: The rule of thumb when choosing a wetsuit — the colder the weather, the thicker your wetsuit should be.
There are several types of wetsuits in the market, but here’s what to wear when paddle boarding in winter:
- Full Wetsuit
- Hooded Wetsuit
A full wetsuit (or full suit) is the ideal wetsuit type for cold weather. It fits snug and covers the entire body, which makes it a great choice to wear during winter paddle boarding.
There are two thickness options to choose from, which are 3mm and 5mm. 3mm wetsuits work best for year-round paddle boarding*, whereas the 5mm is better for SUP boarding in winter.
*If you decide to go for the 3mm wetsuit, make sure to add a thermal layer under it.
With that said, here are top picks of the best full wetsuits:
If you’re looking for a 2-in-1 investment, get yourself a hooded wetsuit.
The attached hood offers additional heat insulation. So if you fall from your paddle board, you can count on the extra insulation to keep you warm.
Check out these hooded wetsuits:
One of the most frequently asked questions on what to wear when paddle boarding in winter is ‘should I get a wetsuit or drysuit?’.
Before we get into it, let’s look at what a drysuit is.
A drysuit is usually made of heavy-duty nylon and is a lot thicker than wetsuits (7mm). It is only recommended for use when paddling in subzero temperatures as it delays heat loss if you’re submerged in water.
However, it provides zero heat insulation so you’ll have to pair it with thermal layers for optimum protection. The thick material also makes it less flexible compared to wetsuits, which could significantly impede your movement in the water.
In addition, drysuits come at a much higher price point.
So to answer the question, it is up to your personal preference as each of them comes with its own set of pros and cons.
Drysuit options to get you started:
Next up, figuring out what shoes to wear for paddle boarding in winter. Although you don’t need shoes for SUP boarding, that rule only applies in summer.
During winter, your feet are exposed to cold water and chilly wind, so you’d want to take extra precautions to avoid cold shock.
Whichever type of footwear that you go for, having breathable, quick-drying material and a snug fit are non-negotiable properties.
Here are some footwear options that you can consider:
- Water Sport Shoes
- Neoprene Boots
- Neoprene Socks
Water Sport Shoes
When choosing a pair of water shoes, make sure that it has good drainage so water isn’t trapped inside and a flexible, non-slip rubber sole for good grip on the board and better mobility.
Handpicked practical water shoes for you:
Alternatively, you can opt for a pair of neoprene boots to match your wetsuit. Neoprene boots are more durable thanks to the tough neoprene rubber.
Plus, it has better traction for improved grip and added stability.
These wetsuit boots can be worn on their own or paired with neoprene socks to keep dry and warm. If you’re planning to wear them together, make ample room in the shoes for the socks.
Here are some neoprene boots available in the market:
Another footwear option for what to wear when paddle boarding in winter is neoprene socks.
It provides an extra cushion when used on dry and rough terrain, and keeps your feet warm and dry when used for water sports.
It can either be worn on its own in the summer or paired with shoes or booties in winter.
Take a look at these neoprene socks:
Like other paddle boarding clothes, hats are also essential when you think about what to wear for paddle boarding in winter.
Look out for these head coverings to keep your head (and hair) warm and dry throughout the day:
- A Beanie
- Sun Hat/Cap
- Neoprene Toque
Minimal and practical, the beanie is an excellent choice for cold weather. Standard knitted, wool or full-on fleece, either type works great in winter.
Take a peek at these cool beanies:
Sun hats or caps may not be your first choice on frigid days, but if you’re paddle boarding in Florida where the winter is mild, it’s a good option to retain heat without sweating it out.
Do keep a lookout for UV protection features as your skin can still be damaged by the sun in winter.
Best sun hats and caps (with UV protection) in the market:
Toques are similar to beanies, however, we’ll be looking at neoprene toques specifically. Not only are they great to be worn when paddleboarding, but also afterwards to warm you up.
These convenient toques are up for grabs:
And there you have it! Three essential elements for what to wear when paddle boarding in winter.
What Else To Wear For Paddle Boarding In Winter
Besides wetsuits, footwear and hats, there are other clothing items that you can wear if you want to know what else to wear for winter paddle boarding.
- Waterproof wetsuit gloves or neoprene gloves are handy during cold winter days as they offer a good grip on your paddles. Alternatively, warm winter gloves work just as good
- Windproof jacket or vest is a good choice for the top layer of your winter getup
- Fleece lining or thermal base layers to be worn for added warmth
- SUP Leash to keep yourself close to the board at all times
- Personal Flotation Device (PFD) must be worn at all times when paddle boarding in winter to ensure your safety
- Sunscreen, because protection from the sun is important throughout the year
- UV Sunglasses for extra UV shield on 9super sunny wintry days
- body warmer
- Dry Bag to carry essentials like cell phones and extra clothing to keep them dry
- Waterproof Phone Case so you can capture long-lasting memories worry-free!
What To Look For In Winter Paddle Boarding Gear
For SUP boarding, knowing what to wear is just as important as what to look for when gearing up for the winter. This is when reading labels come in handy.
Here are a couple of things to look for in your winter paddle boarding gear:
When you paddle board in summer, it’s a lot easier to gear up compared to winter.
This is because you only need a layer of attire that fits snugly. In winter, you will have to adjust accordingly due to there being at least 2 layers of clothes involved.
For example, wetsuits are a comfortable fit on your body. In winter, you need to ensure that there’s ample room for the base layer so the wetsuit doesn’t feel too tight.
Based on the clothes you’ll need for paddleboarding in winter, it’s clear as day that neoprene is the way to go.
This particularly applies to wetsuits, shoes and socks.
Its unique property slows down heat loss, so in the event of contact with water, your body temperature doesn’t drop suddenly.
Aside from that, thermal layers made from soft-knit fleece or wool are perfect for heat insulation.
Summer Paddle Boarding Gear Vs Winter Paddle Boarding Gear
What to wear for paddleboarding in winter looks a lot different than in summer.
Let’s look at how the paddle boarding gears are different in summer and winter:
Summer Paddle Boarding Gear vs Winter Paddle Boarding Gear
|Criteria||Summer Paddle Boarding Gear||Winter Paddle Boarding Gear|
|Layers of clothing||One layer of clothing is sufficient||Requires at least 2 layers of clothing|
|Thickness of Gear||Between 2mm-3mm||From 3mm|
|Do I Need Water Shoes?||Not necessary||Yes|
Summer Paddle Boarding Gear
- Involves fewer layers of clothing
- Gear is normally thinner (2mm-3mm)
- You don’t necessarily need water shoes
- Costs cheaper as you can wear swimming attire to go paddleboarding
Winter Paddle Boarding Gear
- You’ll need at least 2 layers of clothing
- Gear is usually thicker (from 3mm)
- Water shoes are compulsory to avoid cold shock
- More costly as you’ll need more gear
Tips For Paddle Boarding In Winter
Now that we’re familiar with what to wear for paddleboarding, early preparations are key before hitting the waters.
Here are some practical tips for paddle boarding in winter:
- Gear up with proper winter SUP attire. The most important thing to do when paddle boarding in winter is layering up with heat-insulating paddle boarding clothes. As mentioned earlier, you’d want to wear a combination of clothes that work best for you.
- Check the weather forecast before heading out. You might want to avoid paddling if there’s possible exposure to strong winds.
The National Weather Service issues a precaution on hazard risks when performing sports near a body of cold water. (Preparing what to wear for paddle boarding in winter is one of them!)
- Plan ahead before paddling. It is highly recommended to stick with what you are familiar with. This includes knowing what to wear when paddle boarding in winter, paddling terrains and routes.
- Go paddling early in the morning, as daylight is shorter in the winter and you’d want to avoid being outside in the evening when it can be frigid. If you are planning to stay out late, bring a waterproof safety light with you.
- Bring a friend when paddle boarding in cold weather so you can safely enjoy the winter paddle boarding experience.
- Use a leash and PFD at all times during paddle boarding, regardless of the weather to stay protected.
- Stay close to the shore because due to the cold weather, you can swim at a much shorter distance compared to when it’s warmer. Unless you’re an experienced paddler, it’s recommended to paddle in flatwater areas.
- Carry your cell phone in case of emergency.
- Pack extra warm clothes to warm you up after paddling. Staying warm means staying dry. Trust me, you’d want to stay dry in winter.
- Bring a hot drink to keep you toasty warm during or after a day of paddling.
Looking For Ideas On Where To Paddle Board In Winter?
Here are some If the best places to go to:
Paddle Boarding In Florida
Florida experiences one of the warmest winters in the country, which is why keen paddleboarders choose to flock to the sunshine state for winter paddleboarding.
Here’s where you can go:
- Fort Taylor – Suited for newbies with a scenic view and calm ocean water
- Islamorada – Get a closer look at marine life while paddling in the crystal clear water
- Winter Haven – Great for all paddlers, with various options for rentals and group tours available
Paddle Boarding In Oregon
Low temperatures and occasional snow doesn’t stop paddle boarders from enjoying the divine panorama in Oregon. With plenty of flatwater areas, Oregon is a hard-to-miss destination for paddleboarding enthusiasts.
Here’s where to go when you’re in the area:
- Waldo Lake – One of the best places to paddleboard in Oregon
- Jackson F. Kimball State Park – Paddle through pristine, cold water surrounded by tranquil nature
- Drake Park – This downtown park is perfect if you want to venture out but don’t want to be too far from the city
Paddle Boarding In Maryland
Maryland’s average temperature can drop to 21°F (-6.1°C) so do remember to bring appropriate gear if you’re planning on paddleboarding here.
These are where you should go:
- Assateague Island State Park – Suitable for paddlers of all levels with a diversity of paddling terrain, from estuaries to the ocean.
- Rocky Gap State Park – Paddle all-year-round throughout the man-made Lake Habeeb which is known to have ‘the bluest water in the state’
- Capital SUP – If you prefer guided tours and staying safe is a priority, Capital SUP ensures a safe, eco-friendly paddleboarding experience.
Paddle Boarding In Colorado
Famous for its mountainous landscape, Colorado is often frequented by adventure seekers to its many ski resorts. This rings true for experienced paddlers looking for an adrenaline rush in winter.
Regardless of experience, there’s a place for all levels of SUP enthusiasts:
- Lake San Cristobal – Beginner-friendly paddle boarding with a panoramic view of the San Juan Mountains
- Grand Lake – Explore the largest natural lake in Colorado!
- Cherry Creek State Park – Overlooking the Rocky Mountains, this 4000-acre park offers a multitude of water sports activities.
Now that you know what to wear for paddle boarding in winter, you’re all set for your next (or first) winter paddle boarding adventure.
Remember to layer up with thermal layers before putting on a wetsuit, in the event the temperature drops very low where you’re paddling. If you need extra insurance, add on a windproof jacket. The same rule applies to footwear.
Planning your attire, paddling route and trip based on familiarity will ensure a smooth day of winter paddling. Remember to check local regulations and safety rules as well.
Gear up, stay safe and paddle on!