SUP Winter: How to Dress for the Weather

Leave No Stand Up Paddle Board in Storage

It wasn’t that long ago that you were plying the gentle waves of your favorite lake, cutting nice waves into shreds, or navigating a white water chute. But when you were, it was probably warmer and drier and perhaps sunnier. But true stand up paddle boarders know no seasonal boundaries on their passion. SUP is not just one the most versatile outdoor activities; it is also one of the easiest to do year round. But SUP in Winter requires you to get off the couch, get the stand up paddle board out of storage, and find some water. So I thought I’d spend a little bit of time discussing how you should approach a winter’s day on your SUP.

Dress like a Runner?

winter SUP

Does winter mean your fun on your board has to wait? Not necessarily.

So do prepare for a day on the water when most people wouldn’t even consider it, we’ll turn to one sport that has more experience with the elements than most SUP enthusiasts have: running. Some runners will simply turn to the treadmill during inclement weather. Others gear up with some key items to protect them from the cold. Runners know about heat loss from their heads (which isn’t as much as you might think). A fleece or a wool had still works best and if you get too hot, it can be easily stowed. Your upper body will need to be layered with some additional attention paid to the fact that you will be on the water. This might involve layering with Koredry Hoodie, protecting your feet and hands with Quicksilver neoprene booties and neoprene gloves.

WetSuit or DrySuit
As ironic as this might sound, a wetsuit won’t keep you dry whereas a drysuit is waterproof. A drysuit won’t keep you warm but a wetsuit will. You can be naked underneath a wetsuit but a drysuit is the top layer of your outfit. So which is best for your particular area? If you consider yourself an advanced paddle boarder, you might be able to get by with a well layered drysuit. Any skill level below that or if your plan is to hit the ocean, go with a wetsuit.

What Cold Weather SUPing is Really Like
Or I should say, the dangers of stand up paddle boarding in the winter can be avoided. For instance, it is hypothermia that creates the greatest danger if you should happen to fall into the water. It is actually the cold water shock. Keep in mind that the fitter you are, the easier it is for your body to absorb that shock. But it still shocks. (I have stumbled across one winter expert that suggests that if you do find yourself in cold water, submerge your head. It will, as he suggests, get your systems in line with each other and make it less stressful.)

Another thing to consider is the weather, which tends to be a bit more extreme in the winter. Also, cold water is bit more viscous so when you do fall off the board, it will not be the same as a nice summer’s plunge. It’ll hurt a bit more. You also have less daylight to work with. And as if that weren’t enough, you will have the place more or less to yourself. While in the summer months that might be a good thing, in the winter it means something quite the opposite. If you do get into trouble, there will not be many, if anyone at all, around to help. Tell someone what you are doing or go with a partner.

But, on the other hand, the buzz from getting out onto the water in the winter is unlike anything you will ever experience in the summer months. So try out a bunch of different types of wetsuits, always have a PFD (personal floatation device with good batteries), a charged phone and flashlight, and an extra paddle (use the Paddle Port Paddle Holder) and leash. This is not a time to go minimal.

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