Stand Up Paddle Boarding in the Off Season

There is absolutely no reason why stand up paddle boarding should take the winter off. For most of the country, winter moves in cycles of bitter, huddle-around-the-fireplace cold to brisk to warmer than expected and back again – sometimes in the same day. But it is those moments of crystal clear weather that you could rescue your board from the garage and hit the water. There is fun to be had with the right gear and preparation.

Here are five basic tips for a year-round, stand on liquid experience.

Know the Conditions: The Summer

This is not only important in the winter but the summer as well. Most beginner to intermediate paddle boarders will underestimate the wind. Even in the summer, this can have a not only a negative impact on your energy but may also lower your core temperature. Even though you see beautiful young ladies paddling in the skimpiest of bathing suits, this is ill-advised, even in warm weather. It should go without saying that a liberal application of sunscreen is essential on sunny days, but a good hat (something stylish like the Hippy Tree), a light colored UV protected top (the Quicksilver Snapper is SPF40 rated) and good pair of polarized sunglasses (the Rx adaptable Kaenon Gauge shades in black) are key to avoiding too much direct sunlight.

Know the Conditions: The Other Seasons

SUP Santa


You can paddle board year round in almost every part of the country. Not every body of water you choose for your outing will be warm, special considerations of the water’s temperature may make wearing some sort of protective suit a must. But these off-seasons jaunts might require a little more in the way of gear and preparation. the Quicksilver Syncro Chest Zip Wet Suit allows to regulate your core temperature while giving you the best protection agains the elements. We’re talking 100% hyperstretch II neoprene construction that makes it the perfect protection for most of the seasons in the Pacific Northwest.

Some people may use a dry suit for the fall and spring and on temperate days in the winter. There are differences between a dry suit and wetsuit. Dry suits are more expensive, require more maintenance and keep you mostly dry. Wet suits on the other hand do not require much maintenance, are much thinner than older versions and in many cases, accommodate the additional layers you might need to stay really warm. Did I mention they are usually about 75% less expensive?

Know the Conditions: Your Extremities

Your hands, feet and head will require some protection as well. Gloves should be made of neoprene as well. If your wetsuit doesn’t come with a hood, a good neoprene one is easy to pack. A good pair of board shoes can be used in all seasons to protect your feet from hot sand and numbing cold.

Know the Condition: Before you Go

You need to be warm before you get into the water. In colder temperatures and especially when the wind is blowing, leave as many clothes on as possible for as long as possible. Keeping a hat, coat and gloves on will keep your extremities from becoming numb. You want to keep your core warm so when you do get moving on the water, your muscles aren’t too cold. Energy bars and something warm to drink help more than you think.

Know the Condition: After you Finish

Keep in mind that heat stroke is also a form of hypothermia get hydrated as soon as possible after the paddle. We’re more aware of the cold weather variety of this lower core temperature so certain precautions should be taken. When your done, load your board before you take off your wetsuit. Depending on how far away you are, leaving your wetsuit on might be a good option. If you’re close, this is definitely a possibility. Just crawl onto a towel and get in the car. Once there, jump in the shower to rinse the suit. If you have to travel some distance, get into warm clothes as soon as you get the board tied down.

I’ll talk more about this type of off-season paddle boarding in future posts. Because sometimes, in my neck of the woods, it seems like there are more off-season days some years than perfect ones.

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