What Should I Wear To SUP?
SUP can be a really accessible sport, you don’t necessarily need a variety of uber-expensive gear to wear when you’re out on the water. But you should make sure you’re wearing clothing that’s appropriate for the weather and the type of paddle boarding you’re doing. Usual activewear can be used or repurposed when SUPping but you should be considerate of the weather or SUP location. As the seasons change, you should change your clothing alongside the weather.
One of the most important parts of your SUP ‘fit is an appropriate personal flotation device. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution suggest using a buoyancy aid or lifejacket. These styles of flotation device allow plenty of unrestricted movement, meaning you can paddle freely, but will give you more time to recover if (or when!) you fall in. If you’re looking for more movement around the torso, a Waist Belt PFD (Personal Flotation Device) is great for paddle boarding. However, a lifejacket is usually the best option if you’re planning on taking your SUP out on the sea.
Going out paddle boarding in Summer is probably the easiest time of year for dressing appropriately. With UK temperatures reaching up to 30℃ in the Summer months, you could get away with wearing a swimsuit for a SUP. However, light layers are often the best option; a light t-shirt and board shorts are a good light clothing combination that can be easily removed if the temperature rises enough. If you’re spending a long time on the water, a rash guard can help protect your skin from the elements.
A hat and sunglasses are some of the best summer accessories you can take with you out on the water. Protecting your skin and eyes is incredibly important on the water, where sunlight reflects back onto your body, making you more susceptible to sunburn.
A good coating of sun cream with a high SPF is incredibly important for even more protection from the sun. If paddle boarding on the sea, or anywhere with a breeze, you may not realise how much exposure you’re really getting from the sun. Sun cream and accessories like a hat or sunglasses will help protect your skin from the sun.
Spring and Autumn
Taking a paddle surrounded by the changing landscape can be a wonderful experience, whether it’s the leaves turning orange and red in autumn, or the flowers beginning to bloom in Spring. Just because the weather is starting to shift, doesn’t mean you have to pack up your paddleboard. These seasons can be a little unpredictable with the weather, so packing light layers is the best option at this time of year. Use a dry bag so you can add or remove a layer as and when you need.
The clothing options at this time of year are pretty similar to the summer options. Use some light layers (eg. t-shirts, board shorts or leggings) that can be layered up with a waterproof jacket and a thick long-sleeved shirt. Try to opt for clothes that wick moisture quickly, so you dry off quickly when caught in a quick shower.
If you fancy braving a paddle in the winter months, you’ll definitely need to plan your clothing ahead of time. What you wear really depends on what you’re planning on doing: a good basic rule of thumb is that activities where you’re more likely to fall in the water require a wetsuit.
The mainstay of an enjoyable winter paddle is preparation beforehand, and this can be done with wearing a good amount of layers. If you’re relying on layers, rather than a wetsuit, we would recommend:
- Winter Hat
- Winter Gloves
- Thermal Leggings
- Windbreaker Jacket
- Thermal Top Underlayer
- Extra warm layers to go on top of thermal underlayers
Think of it like going for a jog or a walk on a cold winter day – wearing layers is the best way of building up heat. Exerting energy generates more heat, so if you overheat and need to remove them quickly, you aren’t removing all your heat sources. Bringing a drybag with you as you paddle is a great way to store extra layers, so if you get anything wet you can have a quick change into some warm and dry clothing! Putting an insulated drinks bottle with tea or coffee in can warm up your layers, making them even nicer to put on when you’re feeling the cold.
However, if you’re planning on going windsurfing on your iSUP, you should opt for a wetsuit. This will protect you if you fall in. Also, the windchill tends to be stronger off the coast, so keeping warm is an even higher priority. No matter what type of SUP you’re going to do, if it’s going to be around -1℃, it’s a good idea to use a wetsuit to retain warmth.
One important piece of clothing for winter SUPping, whether you’re in the sea or flat water, is appropriate shoes. Wetsuit boots or neoprene boots are a great option, as they keep your feet warm and comfortable, even if you manage to slip into the water.
If it’s warm out then you don’t necessarily need to wear shoes when paddle boarding. Most boards offer enough grip for good balance. But if it’s going to be cold out, or if you’re going to be SUPping in areas that have rocks or sharp objects underwater, you may want to protect your feet. There are a wide variety of water shoe styles on the market, so consider what you’re hoping the shoes will help with.
Don’t try to use normal day-to-day shoes (like trainers) when on your SUP, as they won’t offer the same type of grip to your board and can cause damage to the board’s surface.