What to Wear Paddleboarding
Knowing what to wear paddleboarding throughout the different seasons can be surprisingly difficult. Depending on whether you're surfing, touring or racing, experienced paddleboarders may rarely fall in and as such want to wear the most comfortable and breathable clothing possible. However, should you unexpectedly go for a swim, your clothing must be suitable to keep you warm and safe.
Here, professional paddleboarder and SUP coach Sam Ross offers advice on the most suitable SUP wear for staying comfortable and safe on the water.
Average air temperature: 20°C | Average Sea Temperature: June-July - 12-14°C, August-September -14-15°C
3/2 Full length wetsuit, or in the warmest months a shorty wetsuit or 2mm neoprene top and board shorts. Bare feet. Straight surf leash
RECREATIONAL / TOURING
Quick dry shorts, base layer top or t-shirt. Possibly an extra layer depending on weather. Top layer or light weight waterproof. Bare feet, or neoprene shoes if getting in and out of rivers. Coiled leash and Personal Flotation Device or gas inflatable aid.
Quick dry shorts, quick dry t-shirt, bare feet. A rash vest or thin neoprene rash vest in more extreme surf environments, or where weather is reducing the temperature a little. Coiled leash. Hydration pack for any races over 40 minutes.
Top tips for summer paddling:
When touring or racing throughout summer, lightweight clothing that will keep you cool when generating heat, but also dry quickly if you do fall in is perfect.
In the surf you're likely to be spending more time in the water, so something that will keep you warm but will also offer maximum flexibility for freedom of movement and not get heavy when wet is ideal.
SPRING / AUTUMN
Average air temperature: Spring - 12°C, Autumn 13°C | Average Sea Temperature: Spring - 10°C, Autumn -16°C
3/2 Full length wetsuit, or into 5/4 full length wetsuit. 3mm neoprene boots or 6mm neoprene boots in Spring. Straight surf leash.
RECREATIONAL / TOURING
Quick dry shorts, base layer top or t-shirt, top layer with possible light weight waterproof. Thermal shorts or dry trousers if a little cooler. Neoprene Shoes boots. Coiled leash and Personal Floatation Device or gas inflatable aid.
Thermal shorts, short or long sleeved neoprene top. In surf environments, baselayer top in flat water environments. 6 or 3mm neoprene boots. If surf is bigger or temperature is a little cooler then a long john with neoprene top is ideal. Coiled leash. Hydration pack for any races over 40 minutes.
Top tips for spring & autumn paddling:
Overall I like to go for lightweight clothing that will keep you cool when generating heat, but also dry quickly if you do fall in. There is increased need in Spring and Autumn to keep the wind off but also make sure that if you get wet you’ll stay warm.
When touring carrying a dry bag with an extra layer or two in is useful should the conditions change whilst you're out. A SUP jacket is perfect for this time of year.
Average air temperature: 4-6°C | Average Sea Temperature: 8°C
5/4 Full length wetsuit or 6/5/4 hooded suit. Palmless mitts. 6mm boots. Straight surf leash.
RECREATIONAL / TOURING
Thermal base layers, waterproof top and dry trousers. Dry suit in most extreme conditions. Palmless mitts. Coiled leash and Personal Flotation Device or gas inflatable aid. 6mm Neoprene boots.
Thermal shorts, short or long sleeved neoprene top if flat. Long john with neoprene top. Palmless mitts. 6mm Boots. Coiled leash. Hydration pack for any races over 40 minutes.
Top tips for winter paddling:
Make sure you keep the extremities warm so good boots, and mitts are great on the hands to keep the wind off. If I know I’m going to get wet and be working hard then Neoprene and or drysuits work well. So Surf or White Water and even Technical race events, I dress for immersion.
However if I’m touring or recreationally paddling then I’ll over heat pretty quickly in these. This is where I preferred to wear quick drying, insulating but breathable gear. Layering works really well and taking a small dry bag with a neoprene or thermal top can be a good back up.
Most importantly with all types of paddling I wear a leash and often back it up with another flotation device, so even in the coldest environments I can always get back on my main piece of flotation.
We'd like to thank Sam Ross for his advice on what to wear paddleboarding. To learn about paddleboarding coaching and technique, visit sam-ross.co.uk or Sam's Facebook page. Sponsors: Red Paddle Co | Suunto | Palm Equipment | Hey Dude Shoes | NP Surf. For more from Sam regarding what to wear paddleboarding, take a look at his latest video below.