What to Wear When Paddle Boarding

What to Wear When Paddle Boarding

The number one thing that can ruin any paddle boarding session is wearing inappropriate clothing. You might be thinking “well surely the pouring rain and wind is worse” and that’s understandable. But, dressing for the weather negates this issue.

Trust me; your attire can make or break your experience. So, if you only read one thing today, make it this!

Seasons, Location, Weather, and Different Types of Paddle Boarding Will Play a Role

The issue of knowing what to wear when paddle boarding largely comes from the fact that there are so many aspects to consider. You can’t just head out the door and away you go.

The season, weather, location, and the type of paddle boarding all play a part in deciding your get-up.

One thing, however, stays constant. What’s that I hear you ask? A USCG-certified (US Coast Guard certified) personal floatation device and a leash. Nothing is more important than your safety!

If you’re a beginner (or someone who enjoys various types of paddle boarding), I’d suggest focusing mainly on the weather as not dressing appropriately for rain or shine will ruin your entire experience.

However, let us start by looking at the attire needed to enjoy different kinds of this water sport.

What to Wear For Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga

I’ll be honest — you don’t need any special clothing for this discipline. There is a chance (chance is the keyword here) that you’ll take an involuntary dip into the water. But, your SUP yoga sessions will generally be held in warmer climates or a pool so wetsuits aren’t necessary.

Below you can find all the basic paddle board yoga apparel. You’ll probably have all of the required clothing already.

  • T-shirt — Think running shirts. Light, breathable, moisture-wicking fabric is best.
  • Leggings — Or shorts. Anything that you’re comfortable in.
  • Flip flops or sandals — Most people prefer bare feet or to wear socks with grips on the bottom. However, when it’s time to get off your board, you’ll want something to protect your soles.
  • Hoodie — You’ll definitely sweat when doing SUP yoga but it’s important to keep the chill off while your muscles get warmed up. Don’t wear anything too heavy though. A running fleece is best.

Alongside this, I’d suggest taking:

  • Water bottle — This probably goes without saying.
  • Change of clothes — In case you fall in!
  • Dry bag — In other words, a waterproof backpack. You don’t need to purchase a fancy one.
  • Blanket — You don’t need this but if your yoga session includes a savasana then it might be nice to get cozy.

What to Wear For Stand Up Paddle Board Fishing

Whatever you’d wear for fishing from a boat is perfect for paddle board fishing too. Although, you may want to throw in some waders if you enjoy hopping off your board from time to time.

Additionally, high-quality polarized sunglasses and a strong sunscreen will help keep you safe, regardless of the temperature.

As always, you need to think safety first so a PFD (personal floatation device) made specifically for fishing will be the perfect finishing touch.

I’d recommend the Onyz M-16 Manual Inflatable Belt Pack. It is comfortable and non-intrusive, which is ideal for SUP fishing since you need to be able to move freely.

What to Wear For Whitewater and River Stand Up Paddle Boarding

The main thing to keep in mind when dressing for whitewater and river paddle boarding is that you will fall in the water. Even the experts fall in more often than not. It can get pretty gnarly out there!

Weather plays a major role in the clothes you pick for this discipline (which I’m going to tell you about in the next few sections). But regardless, you’ll always need a helmet and a life jacket to protect against the rapids.

Neoprene or water shoes are essential too. Going barefoot is simply not an option in this hair-raising sport. The rocks concealed under the gushing water are no joke!

Okay, you’re all clued-up on the various clothes needed for the different disciplines so let’s move onto the weather-related items.

What to Wear When Paddle Boarding in Winter and Cold Weather

Some paddle boarders will head out onto the water in jeans and jumper. Honestly, I admire their confidence. Wearing clothes like this on the water always comes with a risk. In my mind, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Before I get into your head-to-toe outfit for winter/cold weather SUP, it’s worth noting that SUP surfing is different. You guys should get yourself a high-quality, thick-as-thieves (5mm) wetsuit. This will help insulate you while you’re sitting waiting for the next wave.

Anyway, for general stand up paddle boarders looking to head out on the water in cold climates, here’s what you should wear:

  • Hat — Your head will get cold. If you’re confident in your staying-dry abilities, a standard beanie/wooly hat will work wonders. For those of you who aren’t so confident, try a neoprene beanie like the Brunotti Neo Beanie.
  • Gloves — Paddling without being able to feel your fingers is near-on impossible. Neoprene gloves are your best option here as they’ll keep you warm even if you take a dip. I love the BPS 5mm Neoprene Water Gloves as they’re incredibly warm and grippy so they won’t slip on the paddle. Although, you’ll want to opt for the 3mm if you’re after a touch more dexterity.
  • Wetsuit — For SUP, a long John wetsuit is better than a full one. Why? Because you’ll be able to move your arms more freely.
  • Drysuit — You don’t need a wetsuit and a drysuit. However, if you don’t want the water to touch your skin at all, a drysuit is for you. They are bulkier than their wetsuit cousin but you’ll stay bone dry and thus, warmer.
  • Base layer — The base layer should be lightweight but, if you get cold quickly, warm too. A rash vest (like any of these) is the most comfortable if you’re wearing a neoprene outer layer. For more insulation though, you’ll want a neoprene or polypro base layer. The latter tends to have a cozy fleece-esque lining.
  • Hoodie or jacket — If you don’t like the feeling of wearing a drysuit or wetsuit, you can separate your top and bottom. Ideally, you need a thin yet warm (waterproof) hoodie. You don’t want to have your movements restricted due to an excessive number of layers.
  • Leggings — If you’re opting for the separate top and bottom option, neoprene leggings are the way forward. On insanely cold days, you may want to invest in leggings that are over 0.5 mm thick.
  • Boots — There is nothing worse than having cold feet. All it takes is a decent pair of neoprene water boots to keep your toes warm while you’re out on the winter water. Just keep in mind that you need to look for a pair that has a non-slip sole. You don’t want to be sliding all over your paddle board!
  • Socks — Thermal or neoprene socks will do the trick. You can wear them under your boots to be doubly warm if you wish.

What to Wear Paddle Boarding in The Summer When It Is Hot and Humid

Arguably, paddle boarding is most enjoyable in the summer. However, hot and humid weather can be a real danger if you don’t properly prepare for the elements.

You will often see people out on their paddle boards in nothing but a bikini, one-piece swimming costume, or board shorts. To tell you the truth, there is nothing wrong with that. If you’re going on a short trip, a bit of sunscreen, water, and the aforementioned clothing is great.

On the other hand, if you are going on a longer adventure or you burn relatively quickly, you might want to think about bringing some extra bits and pieces along for the ride.

I’d suggest the following clothing when you’re paddle boarding in the summer’s hot and humid weather:

  • Bikini, swimming costume, or board/swim shorts — As I mentioned, if you’re going on a short trip, don’t burn very easily, or you’re planning to take a dip, just wearing this fine.
  • Rashguard — Even in the summer, the wind and saltwater can cause itchiness and chafing. Plus, the sun will be beating down on you causing your skin to burn and peel. Rashguards help prevent all of this. They come in various fabrics — neoprene, spandex, Lycra, and polyester. Just make sure it’s a tight fight and has a six-panel construction. Whether it’s long- or short-sleeved is up to you.
  • Sunglasses — Try to find sunglasses with polarized lenses. This will reduce the amount of glare and prevent you from getting headaches while you’re out on the sunny water. Not to mention that they will prevent you from developing long-time eye conditions!
  • Sun hat — You don’t want a burned scalp. It’s not nice and can cut your trip short. Purchase a hat with a wide brim or a baseball cap. It’ll ensure the sun is kept off your face, head and neck, and further reduce eye strain.
  • Sunscreen — Make sure it’s waterproof otherwise you’ll be constantly reapplying it after you’ve been for a swim. The highest SPF the better and don’t be afraid to really slap it on!

What to Wear On Your Feet When Paddle Boarding

I’ve already suggested that you should be wearing shoes in the winter and for various paddle boarding disciplines. But I wanted to go into a bit more detail about the types of shoes that you should consider for your water-based adventures.

Remember: you can always go barefoot in the summer! Having said that, you still need to be mindful of shallow waters. If you think you’re going to be treading on rocks and other unidentified objects, shoes are a good idea.

The Types of Watersport Shoes

Slip-On Water Shoes

Otherwise known as aqua socks, these shoes fit incredibly tightly and provide astonishing flexibility

Ensure you try them on before hopping on your board though. If they aren’t tight enough, you’ll likely spend the whole trip off-balance.

Glove-Type Water Sport Shoes

These are basically gloves for your feet. They fit around each toe to further increase your flexibility. You can’t not feel safe and secure on your board with these.

The major issue is the price. Although, you do get what you pay for. 

Deck Shoes

For those of you who won’t be dipping your feet fully in the water, deck shoes are perfect. They are breathable and incredibly lightweight yet able to stick flawlessly to your board.

Water Sandals

These are a tad looser than the others, so they should only be used when the water is calm.

Regardless, of the type of water shoe you end up choosing, never wear your standard outdoor footwear. They become incredibly heavy when they get wet. Not only does this throw you off balance but the heaviness will drag you down if you happen to fall off.

Additional Important Clothing Accessories for SUP Boarding

You’re almost ready to grab your clothes and head out on the water. Just check out these important extras first. They will take your SUP game to the next level!

  • SUP safety whistle — Even though you might not use this, it’s better to be able to alert help if you ever do need it.
  • Waterproof phone case — There are plenty of high-quality waterproof cases on the market these days. Invest in a good one and you can post all the SUP Instagram pictures you like.
  • Dry bag — I talked about this briefly earlier, but in essence, it’s just a waterproof backpack. You should make sure it stands up to the challenge before packing all your precious items inside.
  • Paddle board anchor — Great for doing SUP yoga or fishing since it helps keep you in one spot.

Final Thoughts

Consider yourself a paddle board clothing expert! We’ve discussed everything you need to know about the attire required for this exciting water sport.

So, what are you waiting for? Whatever the weather, you’re well-equipped to have a breathtakingly exciting experience!

Joseph Gambino

Paddle Board Enthusiast, Athlete and Blogger. Learn more about me here: https://paddleboardkings.com/about-joseph-gambino/

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