The topic of what to wear for paddleboarding is a frequently discussed one. However, it is not as simple as wearing a wetsuit if the water is cold. In fact, where SUP is concerned, a wetsuit can actually prove a liability when out on the water.
The actual decision will ultimately include other factors such as, the season you are paddling in, the weather for the day, and your own ability as a paddler. An accomplished paddler is naturally not as likely to be spending time in the water.
Here are a few tips that will hopefully help the decision about clothing choices for SUP a little bit clearer.
A consideration when paddling in the warmer months in actually the air temperature as opposed to the water temperature. If we consider that the majority of accomplished paddlers will spend the biggest proportion of their time standing under the sunlight rather than in the water, it becomes clear that a wetsuit might not be the most practical of choices – and can in fact cause a person to overheat.
- Lycra and quick drying layers are best - something like shorts and a t shirt with some kind of UV protection if it’s hot,
- If it’s a typical UK summers day (cold and rain) then you may need to add to those layers to keep warm.
- Light clothing is advisable here as anything heavy or thick can become a danger in the water.
- Footwear-wise, if it’s warm barefoot is fine. However, if the location is unsuitable for barefoot paddling, then wear wetsuit boots to avoid getting cuts on the feet.
In the colder months, it is about the building of layers. Again, you don’t want heavy or bulky clothing like a jacket or thick top as they will not dry quickly and will be dangerous in the water.
- Base layers of lycra-wear such as leggings and long sleeve t shirts, can all be built up and then taken off if you get too warm. This is important as naturally when paddling you will be generating heat, so the ability to cool down via the removal of layers plays a vital role in prolonging the paddle.
- A windproof top or jacket are a good idea as they will keep the chill breeze off you.
- Wetsuits can be worn, as if you do fall in, there is a protective layer to stop you getting too cold in the water. The only drawback to this is that a wetsuit works by trapping a layer of water between your skin and the suit which is heated by the body whilst in the water. When you get back on your board and are no longer in the water then the wetsuit starts to get cold and will have the reverse effect.
- Footwear remains the same with wetsuit boots and now is the time to wear gloves. Thicker gloves do interfere with the grip on the paddle however, which should be considered when paddling.
- Importantly, always carry a change of clothing with you just in case.
ASI is a professional membership and training organisation and international governing body for instructors, coaches and schools in the outdoor recreation industry for surfing, stand up paddle and bodyboarding.
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