Posted on December 5, 2022 by Reed Naliboff
There are a few things that can completely ruin your stand up paddle board experience – gusty winds, rain, and last but not least, wearing the wrong attire. Weather can be unpredictable, but preparing the right clothes is up to you. You always need to be prepared with the proper clothing before you leave for a paddle boarding trip to ensure you’re comfortable the entire time you’re on the water. So, what do I wear man?
Today, we will explore the best clothing to wear while stand up paddle boarding. We will cover the proper paddle board apparel for all seasons and locations in the United States. Believe it or not, you can paddle board year-round wherever you live as long as you’re dressed for the conditions. Paddle boarding up north in the dead of winter can be frigid, but it’s the novelty that makes it worthwhile. Let’s dig in!
Before we get into paddle board clothing, it’s important to note that you need to always wear a leash and have a USCG-approved life jacket with you when you go paddle boarding. Paddle boards are recognized as a vessel by the US Coast Guard which means you are always required to have a USCG-approved life jacket with you while paddle boarding. However, we highly recommend that you wear your life jacket during your entire paddle. Kids under the age of 12 are required to wear a USGC-approved life jacket at all times when paddle boarding. The only exception to this requirement is if you’re SUP surfing. If you’re SUP surfing you are not required to have a USGC-approved life jacket with you.
For a personal flotation device, there are a variety of jacket styles for you to choose from. Today, you can find smaller, more compact life jackets that simply buckle around your waist like a belt. We recommend checking out our paddle board life jackets as they are comfortable around the waist and easy to use.
Everywhere in the US experiences warm, beautiful weather in the summer. Because of the warmer weather, the summer is considered paddle board season nationwide. Everyone and their moms, aunts, nephews, and dogs are taking their paddle boards out to enjoy the endless summer sunshine.
Paddle boarding in the summer means occasionally diving off your SUP to cool off and enjoy the water. This means you will need waterproof clothing like a bathing suit, a short sleeve rash guard or water resistant activewear to be happy and comfortable. The most popular summer paddle board attire is board shorts for men and a swimsuit for women (bikini or one piece). However, there’s one thing these ideal summer outfits are missing – sunscreen. Waterproof sunscreen to be exact. Your summer paddle board attire should always be paired with waterproof UV protection sunscreen, so you don’t grow old and wrinkly like Aunt Bettie who takes extended vacations in Florida every summer.
We recommend paddle boarding barefoot in the summer. The feeling of paddle boarding begins with your feet, so being barefoot is the best way to be one with your SUP. Paddle sports footwear does exist, but we recommend the barefoot approach. However, for cold weather paddling boarding, (we explain in more detail later) you will need to wear wetsuit boots when the weather conditions become freezing, so your feet don’t turn into icicles.
It’s important to know that you can always de-layer out in the water by bringing a dry bag with you. You’ll often find that within a few minutes of paddle boarding, your body will heat up from the exercise. For example, if you go paddle boarding for sunrise in the summer and it’s still cool out, wear a light sweatshirt or long sleeve tee, and then when it starts to feel warmer, take it off and put it in your dry bag. A dry bag will also come in handy when air temperatures are scorching out there and you want to dive in and swim around without getting your top wet or more importantly your cell phone, wallet, or car keys.
The fall and winter months bring cold weather across the U.S so if you’re going to continue paddle boarding through the seasons, you’re going to need the proper paddle boarding gear. Wetsuits are a must in any weather below 50 degrees. A rule of thumb for winter paddle boarding: as the weather gets colder, your wetsuit gets thicker.
The most common type of cold weather paddle boarding is SUP surfing. There are many SUP surfers who still paddle out in the dead of winter when the water reaches below 50 degrees. A wetsuit is a must for SUP surfing in colder weather because you’re more likely to wipe out.
Wetsuits are designed to trap a small portion of water between your skin and the inside of your suit. Your body heat warms this thin layer of cold water keeping you surprisingly warm even in the coldest water.
If you want to stay warm while paddle boarding in cold weather, you need to get a neoprene wetsuit that fits you properly. If your wetsuit is too loose, too much water will get inside your suit, which will break the warm water barrier we mentioned in the paragraph above. The perfect fitting wetsuit will fit snug across your whole body – the arms will end right before your hands and the legs will end just before your feet. It should fit you like a rubber glove. Here is a wetsuit sizing guide to help you find your perfect size.
The thicker your neoprene wetsuit, the more warmth it will provide you. There are 5 main options for wetsuit thickness. Generally, a winter wetsuit should be between 4 to 6 mm thick. However, increased thickness does decrease mobility. See below to find out which thickness wetsuit you will need for cold water paddle boarding.
Less than 10-degree weather
If you aren’t paddle boarding in 30 to less than 10-degree weather, you don’t necessarily need to wear a wetsuit as long as you plan on not getting wet. Winter wetsuits are pricey, so if you’re cold weather paddle boarding on a budget, the best way to protect yourself in 40-50-degree weather is to layer up. Wearing a warm, long sleeve base layer and then throwing a winter jacket over that will do the trick. The same goes for your bottom attire. A warm base layer (leggings or long johns) and then water-resistant pants. In addition, don’t forget a winter hat and gloves.
Wearing the proper attire for SUP yoga is key to effectively practice yoga flows. Before you do SUP yoga, make sure to check the weather to see if you will need to layer up.
SUP fishing is a new paddle boarding trend that many fishing fanatics are getting into. Fishing from a paddle board has many perks that are explained here. We also compare fishing from a paddle board vs. a kayak. Which is better? In terms of what to wear while SUP fishing, you can pretty much throw on the outfit you would typically wear when fishing from a boat.
When it comes to choosing the correct paddle board clothing, the bottom line is simple; wear what feels comfortable. Paddle boarding is all about finding your balance on the water, and the right clothes will help achieve that mission.
At ISLE, we want to ensure that you have the best paddle boarding experience, which is why we created a collection of different types of paddle boards. We even offer our own line of ISLE paddle board clothing that’s worth checking out!
Now that you have a better idea of what clothing to wear, get on the water and start paddle boarding!
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