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.