One of the most frequently asked questions for new paddleboarders is ‘what should I wear?’. Well, there are a few things you should take into consideration when choosing your water wear and we’ve put together this article to help you determine what clothing you will be needing on your next trip out.
The first point to consider is what type of paddle boarding you will be participating in. If you are into surf SUP then you can be expecting to spend a bit of time off the paddleboard and in the water, if you are going fishing, you may be standing on your board holding a rod for a while, race training and you will be getting pretty hot and sweaty. So you’ll need to tailor your water wear to your activity.
Next is to consider where you are. If you're in the Bahamas, the chances are you won’t be needing much in the way of clothing at all! A swimsuit or board shorts will be appropriate. However, those not lucky enough to live in the Bahamas may want to consider clothing a bit more carefully. You should also take into consideration the weather forecast for the day, changing weather has caught many people out, leaving them cold and wet and far from shore. If you think the weather could change for the worse, consider packing a jacket or spare thermal in a fanny pack, or stay close to the shore for an easy escape back to the car. Likewise, if you’re expecting a scorcher of a day, make sure you pack sunscreen, a cap, and a long sleeve rash guard for UV protection and remember that water intensifies your exposure to the sun.
We would recommend using a PFD (personal floatation device) on the water, and sometimes they are mandatory depending on where you are. So it might be worth checking out the local water regulations to make sure you abide by the rules and don’t end up with a fine. There are plenty of PFD’s on the market, from ones that fit into a fanny pack to those you wear like a vest. Shop around and find one that is comfortable and gives you the range of motion you require for paddling in.
Ah, the summer, long sunny days, warm water, and hot sun, it is most people's favorite time of year to hit the water and probably the easiest of all the seasons to dress for. I swimsuit or board shorts paired with a long sleeve rash guard, cap and sunglasses are all you need. Cloudier days may require an extra layer as when you get wet and a breeze hits it can soon cool you down. Don't forget to pack your sunscreen!
A long sleeved rash guard is a great way to protect against the sun while paddle boarding.
Winter clothing will vary a lot depending on which country you live in, what activity you will be doing on your board, and what the temperature is outside. For cold temperatures where you are likely to be in the water a bunch, like surfing, consider a full-length thick wetsuit, possibly one with a hood and booties. If it's recreational paddling, touring, or fishing you're going to be doing we would recommend layering up with thermal base layers, which you can add to or remove depending on the conditions, and finishing with a waterproof outer layer on both your top and bottoms with some comfortable shoes or wetsuit booties. A drysuit is another option, although pricy they are great for overnight camping expeditions as your base layers are guaranteed to stay dry. A wooly hat is a must for those cold days on the water and gloves are a good shout too.
A drysuit is a great option for those extra cold days on the water.
Spring and Fall are beautiful months to be out on the water, the light falls lower in the sky and the fresh air provides a great sense of wellbeing. For the Spring and Fall months, the mornings and evenings can be chilly while midday can range from cool to warm. We recommend layering up with thin layers on your top half and you can even use a lightweight breathable waterproof layer to stave off the chilly breeze. Thermal leggings can be worn on your lower half and you may want to wear some booties to keep your feet warm from the cooler water temperatures. A headband can be a nice alternative from a wooly hat that will keep the ears cozy but allow the heat to escape from your head.
Fall brings cooler temperatures and exceptional sunlight.
NOTE: Activewear has become a big industry and in recent years there have been a lot of activewear brands emerging onto the market, which is great for those of us who are, well, active! Look for brands that use quality materials, breathable waterproof garments, merino wool base layers, lycra stretch fabrics, and GoreTex. These garments are not only great for hitting the gym but also are great for use on the water. Try and steer clear of fabrics like cotton that have no insulating properties when wet and instead look out for moisture-wicking fabrics that will aid in helping your sweat evaporate, keeping you drier and warmer.
Got any brands or gear you would like to share with us? Leave us a comment below.
Jen Chrimes is a marketing and design professional that has worked with the outdoor industry for over 9 years. She is also a professional kayaker and avid outdoor enthusiast who loves sharing her knowledge and passion through her work. You can find more about Jen and her work at jenchrimesdesign.com.
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