In this article, we discuss everything you need to know about SUP paddling in winter, including what to pack, how to prepare, and all the best ways to stay safe out there.
Check the Weather
One of the best things you can do before beginning a session of winter SUP paddling is checking the weather forecast. Once you know what levels of cold you can expect, you can better prepare your outfit.
Dress for the Water Temperature
Even more important than the air temperature, one will want to account for the water temperature. You may not be planning on going into the water, but it is always best practice to be prepared for it, just in case. That said, when choosing your layers of clothing, please factor in the water temperature, how far you may be from shore, and how easily you can get to safety.
Protect Your Head, Hands, and Feet
Make sure your head, hands, and feet will be warm enough at all times. We recommend a cozy hat, waterproof gloves, and some paddle wetshoes. Depending on how cold it is, you may also want to invest in wetsocks, which will provide an extra layer of warmth when you need it most. If you don’t have wetsocks handy, you can wear a pair of wool socks inside your wetshoes instead.
Retain Your Body Heat
If you think you might end up in the water, then a wetsuit is probably best for you, as the neoprene will trap the water against your body and keep it warm. On the other hand, if you think it’s more likely that you won’t fall into the water, then a drysuit may suit you better, as it will be warmer, more comfortable, and easier to layer underneath. Common combinations of clothes for winter SUP paddling include moisture-wicking long-sleeve T-shirts, fleece sweatshirts, waterproof and windproof jackets as well as waterproof pants and especially warm leggings. Whatever your perfect outfit might look like, just remember to avoid cotton, as it will soak up moisture and water, which will cause you to become very chilled very quickly.
Pack the Right Supplies
Before you leave home, make sure you have everything you need. Start with the basics: drinking water, extra clothes, and a dry bag, such as our Atoll Overkill Dry Bag Waist Pouch Fanny Pack. Perfect for storing your phone and any other valuables you don’t want to get wet, our fanny pack is a certified fan-favorite.
Don’t Forget Your Safety Equipment
In addition to your dry supplies, remember to pack all of your safety equipment! If you don’t already have a leash for your board, check out our 10 Foot Coil Paddle Board Leash. Or, if you don’t own a personal floatation device (PFD), take a look at our SUP Life Preserver – Onyx M-16 Inflatable Belt Pack PFD. Both of these are invaluable, as the leash will keep you closer to your board and the PFD will help with any difficult swimming conditions, including extremely cold water temperatures. Please stay safe out there!
Better Safe Than Sorry
Don’t take any unnecessary risks, especially during the winter months. In addition to lower temperatures and colder waters, the days are shorter and it gets dark earlier. That said, be prepared for the sun to set sooner than you expected. For this, we recommend bringing a headlamp or other safety lamp with you, as it will likely help you find your way back to shore. Or, better yet, if you think there’s a real chance you’ll be out there past sunset, bring a waterproof white light that you can attach to either your board or yourself, making it even easier for anyone else out on the water to see you; and maybe even help you, if needed.
Suffice it to say, please plan for any and all possibilities. Trust us, it’s always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared. Now that you know how to prepare for winter SUP paddling, you’re ready to get out there and have some fun! If you have any additional questions about paddling in winter, please don’t hesitate to contact our team at Atoll Boards. We are always happy to help. Have a great winter!