SUP Newbie Chronicles: 5 Tips for What to Wear

One of the joys of stand-up pad­dle­board­ing is ver­sa­til­i­ty: You can choose whether you’d like to make a work­out out of the day by going on a down­winder, or you can recruit a friend for a med­i­ta­tive pad­dle ses­sion. Even bet­ter, you can pad­dle­board year-round in many tem­per­ate cli­mates as long as you’re out­fit­ted prop­er­ly. Here are some tips on how to dress the part, depend­ing on the temperature.

Year-round, wear or car­ry a per­son­al Flota­tion Device (PFD)
The Unit­ed States Coast Guard rec­og­nizes stand-up pad­dle­boards as ves­sels, which means you are required to car­ry a life­jack­et or PFD and a whis­tle when out­side of surf or swim zones. This is to “give fair warn­ing to oth­er boaters when they’re in the area.” To be on the safe side, it’s always a good idea to car­ry a PFD on a SUP.

Board shorts and a rash guard
If you’re a recre­ation­al stand-up pad­dle­board­er head­ing out in warmer months or cli­mates, you’ll want to wear water­proof cloth­ing that dries quick­ly. For most peo­ple, that means board­shorts and a rash guard - both of which will keep you pro­tect­ed from sun­burn while also dry­ing and wick­ing quick­er than a stan­dard pair of shorts and T‑shirt.

Swim suit or swim trunks
If you’re going to SUP in the ocean or on an excep­tion­al­ly hot day, you can lath­er up the water­proof sun­screen and go out in just a swim­suit or swim trunks. You’ll be bet­ter able to dive into the water on a whim and swim around with­out extra lay­ers in your way. It’s not uncom­mon to see peo­ple on boards in this attire in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia and Hawaii, or even parts of Ore­gon on 90-degree sum­mer days.

Wet­suit, booties, a hood and gloves
For some peo­ple, the pad­dle­board sea­son nev­er ends. If you’re one of those peo­ple, then get ready for some cold days. In some extreme­ly cold cli­mates, wet­suits are a must. A great rule of thumb is to pick up a win­ter suit that is 5/4/3mm or even 6/5/4mm, for the cold­est months. That said, a 6mm cold water suit can be pret­ty restric­tive on your move­ments in which case, a dry­suit might be more comfortable.

In cold con­di­tions, lay­er and be sure to cov­er your extrem­i­ties
When it comes to pad­dling when the water is less than 50 degrees Fahren­heit, the most impor­tant thing you can do is pro­tect your­self against both the cold out­side and the cold of the water. You should cre­ate a warm, water-resis­tant base lay­er such as an insu­lat­ed rash guard, and cov­er it with a wind-resis­tant, cozy fleece hoody that you can keep on if your pad­dle doesn’t heat you up at all, or that you can take off and wrap around your waist if you do. If you’re an expert pad­dler uncon­cerned with falling in the water, you may feel warm in thick run­ning tights on your bot­tom lay­er. And no mat­ter what, be sure to cov­er your extrem­i­ties with gloves, booties and a hat.