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!