Are you still figuring out what to wear when paddle boarding?
Have you spent the last few months scrolling through websites and apps, reading through reviews, only to end up feeling frustrated because you can’t seem to find what works for you?
Well, today is your lucky day because, in this article, outdoor enthusiast, Najihah, will go through the list of what to wear to go paddle boarding so you can save time from endless scrolling.
Like any other sport, wearing appropriate clothing and preparing the right gear for paddle boarding (or SUP boarding) is key to doing it well. However, as this sport may be relatively new to some, you may think about what to wear for SUP boarding.
This article will cover the following:
1. What to Wear for Paddle Boarding?
5. What Else to Wear When Paddle Boarding?
6. Do You Need Water Shoes for Paddle Boarding?
7. What to Look for When Buying Paddle Boarding Gear
8. Tips for Paddle Boarding in Different Weather
DISCLOSURE: The links on this page may be affiliate links, from which I earn a small commission if you click on them, AT NO EXTRA COST to you. Hope you find the information here useful. Thanks!
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What To Wear For Paddle Boarding?
So what do you wear for paddle boarding? If you’re just starting, here’s exactly what you need:
First Off Is The Wetsuit
Wetsuits are specifically made to retain body heat and maintain performance levels. If your budget doesn’t allow for a wetsuit, a good swimsuit or waterproof tops with shorts are more than acceptable.
The Next One Are Shoes
Although some paddle boarders prefer not to wear shoes, it’s highly recommended to maintain balance and grip for beginners. SUP boarding requires a lot of balancing work, which can be accomplished well if shoes are involved.
The Third Are Hats
It may not seem essential to some but when you paddle board in summer, it’s always good to be extra careful when out in the sun.
With that said, when using a paddle board, knowing what to wear is important. So paddle boarding throughout the year may look different as seasons change.
Here are some outfit tips for paddle boarding in different seasons:
What To Wear Paddle Boarding In Summer
In the sweltering summer heat, the two essentials you can’t go without are a hat and sunscreen.
Prolonged exposure to the sun increases one’s likelihood of getting skin cancer, so including a hat in your getup will protect you from harmful UV rays.
Another optional extra is a pair of UV sunglasses. There is no such thing as too much protection (although this is where I’d personally draw the line!).
What To Wear Paddle Boarding In Fall
As the temperature drops when fall sets in, the weather tends to be more chilly and windy. So paddlers are encouraged to put on another layer of clothing.
Consider adding a waterproof jacket or vest on top of your base layer. Alternatively, long johns or sweatshirts work just as efficiently to retain body heat.
Wearing extra layers proves to be very convenient, as you can easily tuck them away in a dry bag if it gets warm through the day.
What To Wear Paddle Boarding In Winter
In winter, knowing what to wear when paddle boarding in cold weather is one of the keys to doing it right and doing it well.
Paddle boarding in winter calls for a thick neoprene wetsuit (approximately 5mm) which provides better heat insulation. Another option is the hooded wetsuit if you’re looking for full protection.
However, they do restrict your movement and flexibility.
If it’s your first time or you’re on a budget, layer up with a thermal base layer and put on your 3mm wetsuit as the top layer.
In winter, wearing shoes while paddle boarding is non-negotiable to prevent frostbite. A pair of neoprene shoes would do the trick.
What To Wear Paddle Boarding In Spring
Similar to fall, springtime paddle boarding means layering up, just in case it gets a bit too chilly.
On top of your rash guard, add on a layer of waterproof long sleeve top or a sweatshirt for extra warmth.
Don’t forget to bring a dry bag with you to help carry extra layers of clothing or essentials.
Now that I’ve answered the ‘What should I wear when paddle boarding?’ question for different seasons, let’s look at the types of paddle boarding clothes.
When talking about what to wear on a paddle board, a wetsuit is at the top of the list.
Wetsuits are made from a rubber material called neoprene, which contains properties to protect your body from hazard risks such as sunburn and hypothermia.
A wetsuit can also help minimise the amount of trapped water in the clothing and help you to stay warm whilst maintaining your performance level.
Depending on the weather and environment where you’ll be paddling, here are some of the best options for paddle boarding wetsuits.
Generally, you’d want to get a thicker wetsuit for fall or winter, and standard 3mm-thick ones for paddle boarding in spring or summer.
Popular types of wetsuits include:
- Full Wetsuit
- Spring Suit
1. Full Wetsuit
Getting a full wetsuit or full suit is your best bet, especially if you’re planning on committing to paddle boarding and want to look your best.
A full suit is a great option for beginners.
A standard thickness of 3mm is recommended for all-year-round wear as it has good heat retention.
The best part about full wetsuits is that they are very versatile, so you can wear them for other water activities like snorkelling and swimming.
Check out these personally picked wetsuits to help you start:
If staying dry is a priority, getting a drysuit will help you. Although higher in the price range, it’s a valuable investment in the long run.
However, it is thicker than normal wetsuits so you may have to compromise on mobility. Plus, you will have to pair it with a base layer as drysuits serve as a jacket.
Here are some available options:
Mustang Survival Hudson Dry Suit
3. Spring Suit
True to its name, a spring suit or shorty wetsuit is most suitably used in warm and mild weather due to its short legs.
It is designed to provide optimum warmth to the upper body to maintain body core temperature, which is the main body part involved in paddle boarding.
Spring suit options available on the market:
O’Neill Women’s Spring Wetsuit
Now that you’ve got your wetsuit options, what shoes to wear for paddle boarding?
Most water sports like surfing, water polo and water skiing do not require shoes. But what makes paddle boarding different?
SUP boarding involves upper body muscles to work hard as balancing is vital.
So whether you choose to paddle board on your feet or knees, a good pair of water shoes (or boots) can greatly support you.
As a general rule, you’d want the shoes to have:
- a snug fit,
- built with good ventilation and
- drainage features.
The idea is to reduce water retention to maintain a strong grip and balance on the paddle board.
Shoes with flexible soles and anti-slip features ease movement but are rigid enough to prevent slipping.
The best shoes for paddle boarding are neoprene boots.
1. Neoprene Boots
Boots made of rubber neoprene are a popular choice for paddle boarding shoes. This is due to its durable, lightweight material and anti-slip soles which can firmly support you on the board.
Similar to neoprene wetsuits, these boots are versatile in their function. Use it for all types of watersports like kayaking and scuba diving.
Some neoprene boots options to get you browsing:
Seavenger Atlantis 3mm Aqua Shoes
2. Neoprene Socks
Although not technically shoes, neoprene socks work best when paired with trainers.
They’re great to keep your feet warm in the winter and dry when in contact with water.
In addition, the socks prevent your feet from scrapes and chafing.
Check out these neoprene socks:
Seavenger Zephyr 3mm Neoprene Socks
BPS ‘Storm Sock’ 3mm Neoprene Socks
When you think of ‘what do you wear to paddle board’, hats may not be on the top of your list, but I feel that any sports that involve spending time out in the sun, requires maximum sun protection.
Sun hats typically have UV protection features included in their make. They are also lightweight, breathable and foldable so you can easily tuck them in your bag or pocket.
Here are some brilliant choices for hats that you can look at:
Muryobao Women’s Ponytail Sun Hat
What Else To Wear For Paddle Boarding
SUP boarding is generally associated with recreational paddle boarding, but did you know that some other activities and sports involve paddle boards? Among the famous ones are SUP yoga and SUP fishing.
So what to wear on a paddle board when doing SUP yoga or fishing?
Here’s what that entails:
For SUP Yoga
SUP yoga is usually done barefoot, as it helps yogis balance themselves better on the SUP board. Typical yoga attire is the go-to outfit for SUP yogis, however, you can also opt for waterproof and flexible clothing which allows for ease of movement.
Here’s a quick tip: stretchable, moisture-wicking leggings can be paired with a similar lightweight, sweat-wicking top to help you move freely and practise comfortably.
For SUP Fishing
Similar to SUP yoga, clothes typically worn for fishing can also be worn on a paddle board, provided that they are waterproof. Think wide brim fishing hats and a fishing life jacket.
However, there are specifically made fishing paddle boards, which are equipped with unique features such as fins and mounts as well as bungees for your fishing rods.
Alternatively, go for inflatable paddle boards if you want extra security when fishing.
Other than the two activities, there are additional accessories that you can include as part of your SUP ensemble. These are some of them:
Additional Paddle Boarding Accessories:
Do You Need Water Shoes For Paddle Boarding?
In short, water shoes are a personal preference. It’s an awesome extra to have but SUP boarding is still practicable without shoes.
You can still paddle board without water shoes, provided that you wear a layer of neoprene socks with a pair of trainers and good grip sports shoes.
If you’re still unsure, here are some points to help you decide.
You’ll need water shoes if:
- You want to stay warm, regardless of the weather
- You are looking for extra support as a beginner
- Extra comfort during SUP boarding is important for you
- Prefer to take precautions from getting feet scratched on rocks and jagged surfaces
You don’t need water shoes if:
- You are competing (most competitive SUP boarders don’t wear shoes)
- You prefer to be barefooted during paddle boarding as it’s better for your muscles
- You feel that your balance is better without the shoes
- You want to ‘connect’ better to the board, which is best when barefoot
What To Look For When Buying Paddle Boarding Gear
When it comes to paddle boarding, what to wear is just as important as what to prepare, in terms of gear.
These are the gear you need to get you started:
- A Paddle Board
- Personal Flotation Device (PFD)
Here are 3 factors to take into account when buying your first paddle board:
- Size – The rule of thumb is your paddle board size has to mirror your height. So if you’re taller, go for a longer and wider board, and vice versa.
- Function – Think about what the paddle board will be used for. Is it recreational or competitive?
For recreational use, boards with planing hulls are recommended whereas displacement hulls are made for competitive use such as racing.
- Type – There are two main types of paddle board — inflatable and solid.
Inflatable boards are recommended for leisurely use and if you intend to travel with the board. On the other hand, solid boards are preferred for better stability and performance.
Personal Flotation Device (PFD)
Safety equipment is necessary for any water sports, especially SUP boarding. That’s why having a PFD is important to ensure your safety when paddle boarding.
The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) classifies paddle boards as vessels, so having a PFD is required aboard all vessels.
Here’s what to look for when buying a PFD life jacket:
- Size – Sizing and fit are crucial when it comes to PFD. Make sure it fits snug on your body. Leave some room in the arms for paddling mobility and your shirt.
- Type – There are so many different types of PFDs out there so I’m going to cut to the chase and point to you in the direction of these three types:
Type II Life Jacket is a great choice to be used when paddling in lakes or near riverbanks. It’s also lightweight and does not weigh you down.
Type III Life Jacket is a good option if you want something more versatile, as it can also be used in cold weather. There are a variety of options for different water sports or activities such as fishing and kayaking.
Type V Life Jacket is highly convenient as it is inflatable and comes in a hybrid design. Known as a special use jacket, training is required before its usage.
- Material – As safety is of utmost importance when paddle boarding, durability and comfort goes hand in hand without compromising your security.
A quick tip is to look for life jackets made from neoprene and nylon. Not only are they lightweight, but are also easy to clean and comfortable to wear.
Having a SUP leash is not only for beginners but also for experienced paddlers who favour paddling in the open water.
These are the 3 things to look for:
- Length – The general rule is that your leash has to be one foot longer than your board.
- Coiled or straight? Possibly the most asked question for SUP leash, both options come with their pros and cons.
A coiled leash is preferred by experienced paddlers as it produces more drag. With that said, a straight leash is better for beginners as it is easier to use.
- Comfort – Each SUP leash comes with a cuff that you can choose to wear around your ankle or calf. For ultimate comfort, look for cuffs made from neoprene as it offers better security.
SUP paddles are essential for SUP boarding (hence the name).
Here’s how to choose the right paddles for you:
- Material – If you’re a beginner, paddles with aluminum shafts and plastic blades are a great choice as they are both lightweight and cheap.
On the other hand, paddles with fiberglass or carbon fiber are preferred by frequent paddlers due to their lightweight properties. However, they are more expensive if budget is your concern.
- Weight – SUP boarding involves a lot of arm work, which is why experienced paddlers typically choose lightweight paddles so they spend less time paddling.
If you use it infrequently, getting a slightly heavier one works just as well. This is because they tend to be more affordable compared to lighter paddles.
- Length – The rule of thumb is the paddles should be between 8-10 inches taller than your height.
You can consider getting adjustable paddles as you can figure out which length works best for you. Plus, they’re perfect for multipurpose use and if you’re planning on sharing them.
Alternatively, the fixed-length paddles work best if you’ve found the perfect paddle length.
Other Paddle Boarding Gear:
5 Benefits Of Paddle Boarding
Now that you’ve geared up and know what to wear while paddle boarding, get ready to know the benefits of paddle boarding.
Here are some of the benefits of SUP boarding:
- Paddle boarding is a low impact, full-body cardiovascular exercise. If you’re not a fan of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), try paddle boarding as it’s also beginner-friendly!
- Although it is generally a full-body workout, paddle boarding focuses more on building the upper body muscles — highlighting your back, shoulders, arms and abs muscle groups in the long run.
- Paddle boarding is a great way to get your dose of vitamin D when the sun is out.
- Paddle boarding can help to reduce stress, as it is a relaxing and leisurely activity connecting us to nature, which has been shown to help reduce cortisol, a primary stress hormone.
- With consistency and practice, SUP will help to improve your balance. Thanks to the benefits obtained by upper body muscles such as the abs, this will in turn enhance your balance.
Tips For Paddle Boarding In Different Weather
Here are some handy tips to paddle board in different seasons:
- Check the weather before heading out for your paddling session.
- Bring enough PFD for everyone. Make sure there is one PFD for every person paddling for the day.
- Learn and practice different paddling skills. For example, it’s very useful to learn to paddle on your knees, in case there is a sudden change in weather.
- Bring a paddling partner. Although the idea of paddling solo brings about a zen aura, it is always safer to have a buddy in case of emergencies.
- Put on a SUP leash for extra security. If you fall off the board, it’s easier to mount your board
- Always wear sunscreen. Applying SPF is crucial to avoid sunburn, especially during summer.
- Have your leash attached to you at all times because paddling in cold weather comes with increased risk.
- Paddle closer to shore, near a lake or a riverbank. Paddling in cold water means you are prone to getting hypothermia, so you’d want to minimise the risk of swimming in cold water (in case of fall).
- Bring a friend. Due to increased hazard risk during winter, having a friend means you can look out for each other’s safety.
- Pack extra warm clothes in the car to help you warm up after paddling. It’s necessary to be over-prepared, aside from knowing what to wear for winter paddle boarding.
- Check the weather forecast as it can get frosty very quickly in the winter. It’s best to head out earlier in the day when it’s not as chilly.
- Avoid ice when paddling in subzero temperatures. While it’s tempting to anchor yourself near a block of ice, it is advisable not to do so as the ice isn’t stable.
In short, whether in the rain, sunshine or snow, it is all the more important to keep yourself protected at all times with insurance.
World Nomads is an excellent choice for insurance, as they offer coverage for a wide range of outdoor activities, including paddle boarding.
I hope this article has answered your burning questions on what to wear when paddle boarding and give you an idea of where to start.
While it may be tempting to equip yourself with the best paddle boarding outfit, it’s also crucial to prioritise usage and practicality as a beginner.
Start with getting the primary attire and gear such as the wetsuit, boots, a hat, paddle board and a PFD. As you progress, you can add on the extra accessories to your SUP boarding collection.
So, are you ready to hit the waters and paddle on?
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