SUP hard living? The hard board question.

SUP hard living? The hard board question.

SUPs with hard shells; are they hard to live with?

SUP boards that don’t pack down into a convenient bag make the whole stand up paddle boarding thing much less fun. Don’t they? SUPs that are hard make storage really tricky. Don’t they?

And so on…

Stand up paddle boarding’s recent surge in popularity has been unprecedented. Harking back to days of old when new outdoor fads were taken hold of by the masses. (Think windsurfing and skateboarding where every man and his dog suddenly owned kit). Unlike those heady days of the 80s we’ve also had a pandemic to contend with. And it’s this that’s kept the growth machine going over an 18 month (or so) period. Although actually, at time of writing (October 2021), SUP’s popularity hasn’t slowed.

SUP hard living The hard board question.
Which one’s best for you? Hard SUp or iSUP?

The inflatable stand up paddle board option.

There are lots of questions about SUP gear. With so many options on the market, it’s inevitable. One question about gear was met with surprise. This is because we suggested a hard SUP option might make more sense. The response from our subject didn’t think that was a thing. Instead, their perception was stand up paddle boards were only of the air filled variety.

Inflatable SUPs certainly have their place. There’s no question they’re easier to travel with. Particularly overseas. Another great advantage, not as widely spoken about, is their ding free properties. Unlike their hard shell siblings, air boards can be chucked about with reckless abandon. You may scuff the PVC a little. And perhaps with total uncaring puncture the board. But if you did the same with a hard board it’s end up in ding repair A&E.

We won’t get into direct comparisons between iSUPs and hard SUPs. This has been covered elsewhere. And actually, how can you really compare apples and pears?

The hard SUP choice.

Those who purchase a hard shell stand up paddle board – like the Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co Classic – are doing so because they want a performance boost. Perhaps they already own an iSUP and want equipment for more efficient progression. Or maybe the paddler in question’s looking at tackling a specific area of SUP. Possibly SUP surfing, where a hard board will always win over an iSUP.

The biggest thing with a hard shell stand up paddle boards is rigidity. It may sound obvious but being hard, and not full of air, gives greater stiffness. And this translates to reactivity, performance and efficiency. Over an iSUP you probably gain an extra 30-60% performance, depending on the design. We know many a stand up paddler that’s started on an inflatable, tried a hard version, and switched straight away.

A BIG difference with a hard shell stand up paddle board is that you have a rigid platform to stand on. There’s no flex in the centre, as you get with an iSUP. And without deflection, the efficiency at which a hard SUP travels across water is much more efficient and pleasant.

We’ve talked about wave environments before and how an air board bends on take off, sticks to the water’s surface and doesn’t fully release. But most importantly you can’t fully engage an iSUP’s rail edge for turning. Unlike its harder sibling which is extremely good at this. Of course, this again is SUP surfing specific, but you get the point. There are many more scenarios where a hard stand up paddle board just fits the bill so much better. But that’s your call to make as and when…

SUP hard living The hard board question.
When you’re ready, the Classic’s ready…

Owning a hard stand up paddle board.

When you choose to purchase a hard shell stand up paddle board you’re doing so with all of the peripheral ‘stuff’ that comes with it. Consciously or subconsciously you’ve already determined how (and where) you’re going to store it. Likewise with transport to and from your chosen SUP location(s). For anyone seeking pinnacle stand up paddling performance these so called issues aren’t even a factor. You want the best so you just deal with all the things you need to make it happen.

Getting your gear to the water’s edge for instance can be as simple as chucking the board on a roof rack and tying it down. It doesn’t matter what vehicle you own lashing a SUP to the roof is 100% doable. And to be honest, we see so much of this with iSUPs it’s really not a thing to be concerned about.

Hard SUP transport? Simply chuck it on the roof!

For those truly committed (and there are many) the mode of transport chosen is directly relatable to time on the water paddling. This is why the watersports fraternity at large own vans. It’s a full lifestyle choice. As we said above, it’s no issue ratcheting down a SUP to the roof of your suburban run around. But owning a van does make things easier we’ll acknowledge.

As far as storage goes where there’s a will there’s a way and all that. Even paddlers residing in smaller one bedroom city apartments we know of manage to stow away 10’6 hard SUPs. It may be a squeeze getting it through the front door, or perhaps you pass it through the window. Some may pay for a lockup to dump all their stand up paddling kit. As we said, where there’s a will there’s a way. Ultimately it comes down to how much the rider in question wants to get on the water and enjoy their sport to the max.

iSUP set up and pack down hassles.

Whilst there are a large number of inflatable stand up paddle board owner who leave their air boards pumped up there is a good % that don’t. The ones who do possibly leave them ready because, actually, the process of inflating and deflating is a hassle. Even with an electric pump there’s time stood around twiddling thumbs whilst your ride fills with air. and you still have to get the air out at the end of your session.

Laborious or hassle? Setting up your Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co inflatable SUP.

Hard stand up paddle boards don’t require this. Grab your board out of the van, or from the top of your car, suit up, paddle at the ready and away you go. Having finished it’s then a case of chucking your wet gear inside and hoofing the board back on the roof or inside. It really is much simpler (and quicker) in terms of getting set up and finishing off.

Dings and damage.

We touched on this earlier in the article but a hard shell stand up paddle board is more susceptible to damage compared to inflatable counterparts. At some point you will scratch, scuff and potentially hole your SUP. But it’s no biggy as repairs are fairly simple – either yourself or a professional doing the work.

Going back to the making it work point and an offshoot of owning a hard SUP board is learning how to maintain and repair your kit. It’s not uncommon to find a recreational hard SUP board paddler who’s pretty good with resin and fiberglass.

classic longboard style SUP at Compton Bay, Isle of Wight
Pushing it in the surf can sometimes mean dings and knocks are picked up. But it’s no biggy.

Taking things one step further and this has led onto some actually hand shaping their own boards. But for most, simply knowing how to repair a ding will suffice.

If you do pick up a ding this article from SUP Connect may help.

The (hard) bottom line.

Owning a hard shell stand up paddle board really is no issue. For all the supposed plus points of inflatables vs hard SUPs they’re actually a non-entity when all said and done. Air SUPs may suit the majority but there are plenty in contrast who want exactly what a board like the Freshwater bay Paddleboard Co Classic can deliver.

If you’re debating over whether to fork out for a hard shell SUP and upgrade from your inflatable, then give us a shout to discuss. Likewise, if this is your first purchase from Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co and you just need more of a steer on the performance traits of each model, give us a holla.

Below are some recent blog posts you may have missed.

SUP surfing a hard board vs an inflatable – the main differences.

SUP surfing a hard board vs an inflatable – the main differences.

SUP surfing your inflatable stand up paddle board and comparisons with a hard SUP experience.

SUP in the UK has seen unprecedented growth during the last 18 months or so. Driven by the COVID pandemic, which has forced people to stay at home and make use of their local geographic waterways, stand up paddle boarding has filled a natural gap.

Inflatable stand up paddle boards have topped the poles in terms of popularity. Billed as easy to store, transport and generally live with, the humble iSUP has been the ‘go-to’ option (even though this actually might not be the best option…). There’s abundant chat about air board performance online. If you search any of the social media groups you’ll come across discussion. In a nutshell, however, cheaper inflatable SUP materials and manufacturing techniques make for less quality boards. This directly knocks on to performance.

SUP surfing a hard board vs an inflatable - the main differences.
You couldn’t SUP surf like this on a cheap inflatable stand up paddle board.

Inflatable SUP performance.

But what do we mean by ‘performance’? On the face of it the term sounds elitist and many new paddlers (or even intermediate riders) may think this doesn’t apply. Yet stand up paddle board performance can be drilled down to a base level.

A stand up paddle board’s glide characteristics are key. Without beneficial glide (how much momentum your SUP carries after a few paddle strokes) a rider will have to put in additional effort. Fatigue sets in quicker and the whole thing just isn’t as much fun. 

SUP surfing a hard board vs an inflatable - the main differences.
Pump it up! Getting set for some quality paddling aboard Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co’s iSUP.

Tracking is another foundational SUP performance element. In tandem with glide tracking refers to how straight and true your board points. If it keeps veering from side to side (yaw) with correctional strokes required, again, it’s not as fulfilling an experience to pilot. Add inefficient glide to poor tracking and the whole process of stand up paddling becomes arduous.

All the above is based on the simple practice of driving your iSUP a short distance on flat, placid water. If you then try and advance your skills, taking your board into more ‘condition’ led SUP environments you can appreciate how inefficient (and possibly unsafe) this will be with a cheap inflatable stand up paddle board. And we say ‘cheap’ not ‘budget’.

It’s possible to purchase a good budget inflatable SUP that does an admirable job on the water. ‘Cheap’ inflatables just aren’t worth it though… Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co’s range of inflatables are made from premium materials and manufactured to top spec. Our kit certainly doesn’t fit the cheap mould, which you’ll appreciate as soon as you lay hands on one.

Hard shell SUP performance.

Stand up paddle boards manufactured from EPS foam and fiberglass can also suffer from poor quality issues. This will also knock on to performance issues as well. A big point here is how easy it can be to ‘ding’ a cheap hard stand up paddle board. And then there’s the EPS foam core itself, which if not quite up to the task will cause your board to endure high levels of stress.

In a wave environment, the board could flex to the point of snapping, cracking or creasing. Better produced SUPs can take a degree of flex. In some cases, this flex has actually been built in by the designer to deliver a specific feel. But cheaper hard boards just won’t be able to take the strains.

Waves and SUP.

When talking stand up paddle surfing the type of waves most will aspire to will be on the smaller, mellower side. There are, of course, some riders looking to battle overhead pulses of energy. The majority, however, will be happy piloting their kit to good use in ankle to shoulder high waves.

Stand up paddle boards – by their very nature – are longer and bigger than their surfboard equivalents. Oversized is good but does require a specific approach to using them. Of course, you can purchase short wave SUPs but these are quite technical and not to many tastes. Bigger SUPs therefore prefer a longboard style approach to riding them in waves. As well as offering a degree of flat water paddling performance. Versatility is a much better value option after all.

SUP surfing a hard board vs an inflatable - the main differences.
Bigger swells require more efficient and tuned SUP surfing boards.

Referring back to the glide and tracking points mentioned above this is super beneficial when talking SUP surfing – especially in smaller, slower, fatter waves. Enhanced glide is very forgiving if paired with a less refined paddling technique. It allows riders to roll into waves (even the tiniest of swells) from further out back. Efficient tracking keeps the board pointing correctly and delivers riders onto the green, unbroken part of the wave. 

With a stand up paddle board you bypass much of the hassle of traditional surfing and get to the point of surfing clean swells much quicker. This can be a double edge sword though, as you really earn your stripes whilst learning to prone surf and pick up key skills that’ll stand you in good stead. It’s therefore good practice to learn as much as you can – try paddling prone on your stand up paddle board for example. This’ll give a different perspective and, if you break your SUP paddle, you’ll be able to get back in safely.

SUP surfing a hard board vs an inflatable - the main differences.
Ready for the task at hand – SUP surfing the Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Classic is bang up to the job!

Riding waves – hard SUP Vs iSUP.

In terms of your physical actions, the actual act of riding waves on both hard and inflatable stand up paddle boards is no different. Make sure you’re in position, spot your wave, paddle hammer down and let the wave pick you up and drive you forwards. Add a few extra paddle strokes to make sure you’re actually into the swell, look down the line and head off on your ride. In terms of how each board feels though, this is where the differences lie. 

iSUPs, made from Dropstitch and PVC material, are much stickier to water surfaces. It can feel a little like riding in glue when SUP surfing, as the wave wants to boot you along but the board says no. You’ll still have a fairly good rate of knots and you’ll end up on the wave’s face regardless. It just feels like fifth gear isn’t happening.

SUP surfing on hard boards unlocks speed and easy to access performance.

A hard shell stand up paddle board, in contrast, accelerates quickly and releases water from its underside and rails efficiently. If the wave’s steep then riders will be blasted into the trough before a quick bottom turn slingshots them back up to the lip or down the line. This is how good riders are able to perform moves. Speed is a good thing. It also aids stability.

There’s no deflection with a hard SUP. Air filled boards all bend to some degree around the middle. You feel this as you take off in a wave. The iSUP’s tail sticks into the face while the nose tries to curve down. Hanging off your inflatable board’s tail is therefore imperative to avoid pearling (nose diving).

Turns and maneuvers are also very different between the two types of stand up paddle board. A hard SUP can have its rail engaged by the rider. This cuts through water and can be switched from one side to the other via board trim and rider weight transfer. An iSUP doesn’t allow this option with its thick round rails not having any bite. To turn and carve therefore needs deft footwork and paddle skill from the surfer. Even then it’s no comparison.

Charlie rides a classic Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co longboard SUP
Charlie rides the Classic Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co longboard style SUP.

SUP surfing safety.

Safety in the surf needs to be paramount. An air filled iSUP is a lot softer on flesh and skin should it decide to whack you. Also, if you do accidentally come into contact with others then it won’t hurt them as much and won’t damage their kit.

Hard SUPs do need to be kept well clear of others while you’re learning. A marauding hard shell SUP through a surf zone can be lethal! And don’t forget about surfing etiquette wherever you ride. This article sums up surfing etquette perfectly.

Summing up.

You can no doubt take your inflatable stand up paddle board into wave environments and enjoy huge amounts of fun. Continuing this route is perfectly fine. If, however, you want to step up your wave riding and access those carving turns, lip smacks and gouging slashes you’ll need a hard version.

Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co longboard SUP
Locked into the Freshwatwer Bay Paddleboard Co’s Classic surf SUP performance.

With a hard SUP under your feet everything you do in waves becomes much more true to that surfing feeling you’re after. There’s a choice you have to make in terms of what board will do the job you’re asking. But if you get the choice right (a Freshwater Bay Classic is one for instance) you’ll enjoy hours of wave shredding fun. 

Take a look at Freshwater Bay Paddle Co’s online shop for a selection of longboard style surf SUPs that’ll deliver on the above promise. If you have any questions then let us know.

Other Freshwater Bay Paddle Co articles that may prick interest can be found below –

SUP surfing: transitioning from flat water paddling to waves.

SUP surfing: transitioning from flat water paddling to waves.

Core skills for effectively crossing over to stand up paddle board surfing.

With autumn rolling through, and surf more likely in all corners of the UK, thoughts of riding your stand up paddle board in waves (SUP surfing) may have entered your mind. Transitioning from flat water paddling to waves, however, requires more than just throwing yourself headlong into the fray. Not least because that would be unsafe! Fundamental skills need to be in place beforehand as well as base knowledge. You’ll then need to consider your options. 

What follows are the main points to think about/work on BEFORE heading into the surf. It may be that a lesson or two, with guidance from a qualified and experienced professional will also be of benefit.

SUP experience.

It should go without saying that when contemplating your first stand up paddle surfing session, the amount of time you’re going to spend up on your board is far outweighed by time spent in the water. Constantly falling, before clambering back onto your platform gets exhausting. Fatigue sets in with all the physical demands of the process. And a cold sea, cooler air temperatures, thick (more restrictive) wetsuits and the constant battering of waves won’t help either. 

Moving from flat water to SUP surfing
Making that transition from flat water stand up paddling to SUP surfing.

The surf environment – even on the mellowest of days – has current, tidal movement and the surf itself aims to unseat you. Without being prepared, swimming will be mostly what you do. A short session ending abruptly. We all have to start somewhere but having some key building blocks in place will stand you in good stead.

Ideally, you’ll have some time under your belt stand up paddling in rougher coastal water. We’re not suggesting you head out into ‘orrible conditions but understanding how things like side chop, breeze and current affect you and your board are key. Then, being able to cope with this and navigate your SUP should be ticked off. Paddling in adverse conditions is as much a safety thing as it is SUP surfing skill!

A solid stand up paddle boarding stroke.

Your paddling and piloting of said stand up paddle board is extremely important. And not just for SUP surfing either. Paddling is your source of momentum and the way you move from A to B. It’s how you maneuver and avoid situations that may otherwise go awry.

Being able to fully bury the paddle’s blade and transfer all your energy into a forward stroke will see maximum efficiency in terms of propulsion and glide. Knowing when to hammer down and when to back off is also important. Changing cadence, and altering the subtleties of each stroke are skills born of time spent on the water. This transfers directly to SUP surfing as it allows riders to hone their take offs. Improved board trim, once on the wave, is a byproduct.

Transition to SUP surfing from flat water
Ready to jump in? The SUP surfing transition explained.

Having other types of SUP paddle stroke in your arsenal is another good idea. Whilst waiting for your wave you’ll need to be moving and positioning yourself according to where the waves are peaking. Waves don’t break in the same place – unless you’re surfing a reef break (which isn’t the best idea when starting out). Sweep strokes, reverse paddling, sculling, J-strokes, C-strokes and more are all worth researching and practicing. 

The SUP pivot turn.

One key skill in SUP surfing is being able to step back onto the tail of your stand up paddle board, sink it, perform a wide sweeping paddle stroke and spin your SUP 180 degrees. This is the most effective (and quickest) way of getting your stand up paddle board in position for taking off on your chosen wave. And it’s super easy to practice on flat water. In fact, the SUP pivot turn is an essential skill across all areas of stand up paddle boarding.

Catching waves on your inflatable stand up paddle board is perfectly applicable.

On a safety note being able to pivot turn means you can avoid sticky situations in the surf. If you need to ‘get out of Dodge’ quick smart then spinning 180 and zooming off in a different direction may help you avoid being wiped out by an incoming wave or other riders.

General SUP surfing knowledge.

‘Knowledge is power’ so the old saying goes. And it’s especially true when talking about surf environments. You mightn’t realise it but there’s a lot going on where breaking waves are concerned – even if you can’t immediately spot those tiny tell-tale signs.

From flat water to SUP surfing
Knowledge is power – especially in a SUP surfing wave environment!

Nothing equates to actual hands on experience. But this should always be backed up by theory. (We can hear the groans already!). The more knowledge you have about waves, how they break, types of surf, tides and how this affects the surf, wind and its effects on swell, how to interpret weather forecasts and apply them to your local break (or most frequented) and so on means the better your SUP surfing sessions will be. On top of this, you’ll be safer. Heading into a surf zone with a blissful state of ignorance can be a recipe for disaster. And it only takes a small amount of genning up to accumulate understanding.

We appreciate this may befuddle at first. But have it in mind and slowly all will be revealed. A classic example is riptides and how they play a part. Rips can be your worst enemy or best friend. Learning about them beforehand and then heading to the beach to see if you can spot rips is good practice.

Flat water paddling to SUP surfing transitions
Surf breaks – friend or foe? With time, practic and perseverance definitely your friend.

One big piece of understanding to wrap your grey matter round is surfing etiquette and how to behave in waves next to others. Best practice dictates you should be well away from surfers and water users whilst learning to SUP surf. But having a grasp of surfing etiquette is super important and will play its part as you move in closer proximity to wave shredding bethren. Surfing etiquette commands its own article so in the meantime hit this link to learn more about it.

https://surfing-waves.com/surfing-etiquette.htm

Patience: waiting, watching, absorbing.

One of the biggest skills you can own as a SUP surfer is patience. You’ll certainly need this in the UK as weather forecasts, swells and all manner of other factors conspire against you to scupper plans of wave shredding.

We often get flat days through the year (even in winter!). This can be a good opportunity to head down the beach and check out your chosen venue without too much froth and flotsam in the way. It’ll give you chance to assess where potential hazards are you mightn’t have seen before. If you’re keen then head out for a dip and put the diving mask on. Observing the break’s bathymetry will tell how the waves form and spill. You’ll get a better idea of where to sit for optimum take offs and score the longest, most fulfilling rides.

You often see surfers sitting, watching and looking at the forming and pitching waves for long periods of time. On particularly solid days the experienced crew may sit and scope what’s going on for considerable minutes, before getting suited and booted. Learn from this and understand why. Fools rush in and all that…

SUP surfing equipment and suitable conditions.

Coming off the back of an idyllic summer flat water SUPing with your trusty 10’6 inflatable and heading to SUP surfing spots may be your situation. Alternatively, you could have stumped up for an 11’ plus pointy nosed touring board and now contemplating swell rides. In the back of your mind, thinking could be your current stand up paddle board isn’t the ideal for those first forays into SUP surfing – which may be true. If you have aspirations of ripping waves, rail to rail shredding and busting sick airs then the aforementioned equipment isn’t ideal.

For most, however, SUP surfing is about a longboard surf style – after all, stand up paddle boards are big and oversize so they suit this niche arguably much better than shortboards. Not to take anything away from those who pilot short surf SUPs well but in terms of mass appeal, it’s the longboard ethic that rules. And with the original point in mind: any type of stand up paddle board can be taken into waves. And by waves, we’re talking dribblers and up. Waves come in all sizes after all.

charlie SUP surfing a Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co longboard style SUP
The aim of the game – Charlie Cripwell SUP surfing in Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co’s backyard.

You don’t need to be aiming for overhead pounders to begin with. In fact, many paddlers enjoy stand up paddle surfing in much tamer conditions. Ankle slappers are perfectly fine (and encouraged) for your first forays into waves. That trusty 10’6 inflatable SUP will catch and glide along happily, giving you much needed muscle memory and experience. Same with touring boards. Some touring/race SUPs actually do a sterling job of surfing waves, albeit smaller ones. They glide for ages and can deliver super long rides. The point is: consider your location and the conditions on offer. If in doubt don’t go out. If others don’t reckon it’s a good idea give it a miss. But do paddle out on the right day with your already owned SUP gear. You can always upgrade to specialist kit later.

As an example, Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co’s Classic range of longboard SUPs is at home both on flat water and in waves. With a SUP like this versatility’s a given. If you’re pricing equipment up it’s worth keeping this in mind as you’ll be getting more bang for Buck. See what’s in the Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co shop via the link below –

https://freshwaterbaypaddleboards.co.uk/shop/

Summing up.

This isn’t a conclusive guide to stand up paddle surfing – far from it. But hopefully, it’ll give anyone transitioning from flat water to waves a starting point. Have fun in the surf but above all stay safe!

If you have any questions about Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co’s gear or SUP in general then get in touch. We’re only too happy to help.

For more articles like this check out the following –

Accessible Stoke – SUP surfing Vs Prone Surfing

We’ll be honest, the title of this article sounds a little contentious and doesn’t really promote the right image. After all there’s nothing ‘versus’ (or shouldn’t be anyway!) about either of these sports. As far as Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co. is concerned any type of wave riding activity is good.  Whether it’s SUP surfing, prone surfing, body boarding or Kayaking; it just so happens we’re into stand up paddle boards….

 

Paddleboard SUP Surf UK
As much as we love a flat-water paddle, there’s nothing like dropping down a wave and having as much fun as you can handle. With paddle in hand and 10ft SUP under your feet, you’re primed to catch waves otherwise unrideable on your usual mal or shortboard.
There are still those in the World that may knock SUP surfing, so firstly let’s clarify what we’re talking about when we say ‘stand up paddle surfing’. It doesn’t have to be Jaws or a Mentawai reef break. Any time you catch a wave, of any size, and regardless of whether or not you’re ripping, that’s what we’re talking about. Sure, if you can shred, tear and blow the backs out of waves then all power to you, but most SUP paddlers aren’t that way inclined.

For us at Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co it all comes down to time spent in the water. After a Summer of riding waves that really wouldn’t have been possible or worth it on a surfboard (and at times even we called them barrel-scraping days), we were still out there – in an almost empty lineup – having fun!

SUP Surf Isle of Wight UK
SUP Surfing opens up a whole range of wave-riding options. Ankle-biting ripples are all good – the waves you wouldn’t think about paddling for on a good wave day, become the Holy Grail between the lulls. And why not? You can still catch them, and still have fun!

Paddling a SUP also offers the chance of riding offshore waves, breaking far from the madding crowd. No need to hitch a lift from a passing boat when you can paddle your SUP.  And no burning out your shoulder muscles before you even start surfing.

Then there are the junkier days. If you’ve got the skills days like these are perfect for SUP surfing. The momentum you generate as a paddle surfer means riders are primed for outrunning crumbly sections, rounding sloppy lips and turning an otherwise lacklustre session into something far more enjoyable.

Flip this towards traditional forms of surfing and we just don’t think the majority will have as much fun as on a SUP. There are definitely those who can light up when perched atop a surfboard, even when the waves haven’t turned on for weeks, or even months – the Isle of Wight certainly has its fair share.

But many who surf do so in a recreational sense only – hitting up wave beaches every now and again to get their fix, life often getting in the way. The reality is that the waves aren’t always there when you have the time, and vice versa. Whichever way you cut it, for most people this isn’t enough time on the water to reap the same kind of rewards as SUP surfing will.

SUP Surf UK
Surf Isle of Wight
On a SUP, riders will be having much more fun, quicker. There’s no faffing about with popping up, paddling out is easier (in smaller and light wind conditions) and SUPs pick up swells earlier. Waves that were out of bounds for surfboards (either because the surf is predominantly too small or too far offshore) are now prime for your SUP surf. And then of course there’s the option of using your stand up paddleboard on the flat – a great workout, and more time in and on the water. SUP’s versatility is another key reason it’s super popular.

We reiterate once again: this isn’t a surf bashing article. In fact it’s quite the opposite. We love surfing. It’s just that we also love paddle surfing and think it’s one of the easiest ways to access waves and get that surfing stoke.

A couple of things to point out, although many who’ve gone before us have done the same; get your SUP skills honed in the flat before venturing into the lineup – the surf zone isn’t a place to try out your shiny new SUP for the first time. With more SUPs entering the water, it’s important to respect surfing etiquette – just because you can see and catch a wave earlier on a SUP, doesn’t mean you have to; you don’t need the best waves to have fun, so let some sets pass you by, or find a peak away from the main lineup. You won’t make any friends or influence people by being a wave hog. Ride with Aloha, respect and you’ll get the same in return.

Winter paddling – what clothing should I be wearing for cold weather SUP?

SUP Clothing

The off season can be Baltic, yet you still want to get out for a SUP. And why not? Downward spiralling thermometer readings shouldn’t be a reason to halt your paddling fun. As the old saying goes: there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong SUP clothing.

Here we look at a few different ways of dressing for winter SUP conditions. There are no hard and fast rules so feel free to let us know what your preferred winter stand up paddling attire is.

The most common item to wear for wintery SUP is the humble wetsuit. We say humble as rubber suits are used so extensively these days, they’re sometimes an afterthought. But as with all of your stand up paddle gear they should be given due thought and chosen carefully.

Wetsuits generally come in two types – single and double lined. Double lined wetties are designed to be immersed and don’t really cope well with surface activities (i.e. paddling on the flat). In surf, for instance, double lined suits work great but their evaporative cooling effects increase the longer you’re in the air. As such a double lined suit can make you colder. Or, if it warms slightly, make you all sweaty and bothered.

Single layer suits (smooth skin) are better for SUP – although will still make you too hot in some cases. Again, good for surfing (although perhaps slightly less robust) but not necessarily the best choice for flatter water SUPing.

Drysuits are widely utilised by the SUP fraternity for cold water paddling. There are a number of companies manufacturing surface immersion suits for the very purpose of SUP. The beauty of this get up is being able to step inside with regular clothing on, popping the drysuit over the top and all being well its watertight seal will do the trick of preventing any moisture seepage.

In practice some drysuits are better than others so if you’re thinking of purchasing one then make sure it’s from a reputable brand and therefore good quality. Also, make sure you’ve fully zipped the suit before heading out for a paddle, otherwise it’ll all end in tears!

For the confident among us, and paddlers not expecting to take a dunking, thinner layers could be the choice for winter paddling – on the flat at least. Many racers choose to head out in just boardshorts, rashvests, compression suits or thinner layers during winter events. This is because SUPers can build up quite a sweat when giving it beans – this self-generated heat keeping the paddler warm. Obviously taking this to the extreme can be misguided. Some days the air temperature is just too cold to not be (safely) covered with warm garments.

During days where applicable to be wearing less a high paddle cadence will keep heat levels intact. End up in the drink, however, and it’ll be a shock to the system for sure! If you’re shedding layers for paddling purposes then be 100% sure of your ability and realise hypothermia can set in when you least expect.

There are plenty of other solutions for stand up paddling attire during colder months. The above are three of the most common and not necessarily applicable to your own situation. Most importantly use your noddle – better to be warmer than not!