What clothes to wear for paddle boarding?

What to wear for paddle boarding?

This is an interesting one that we get asked a lot in the shop. Paddling can be very physical and you can overheat rapidly if it's sunny, so paddlers tend to dress as if they are going for a run. However the water here in the UK can also be very cold, especially in the spring, and you can often be some distance from home and a means to get warm.

What you need to come up with up is a sort of personal risk assessment.

The realistic likelihood of getting wet, taking into account: waves, wind, chop, personal ability, board choice and Murphy's Law.  This is balanced against the severity of falling in at the furthest point from home, with no protection - Ranging from "Totally fine" right through to dangerous hypothermia. The severity will increase with greater distance to safety, lower water and air temperatures and windchill.


One item we can always recommend to SUPers is the leash. This is your lifeline to the floatiest thing in the water. It's not just for surfing, even on flat water your board can quickly be swept out of reach if you fall in.

On the warmest days boardshorts and a quick drying top are all that are needed. Keeping hydrated and the sun off are more of a concern than cold water.  Shades, a hat and the factor 40 are the key.

As it cools off in the evening or for early morning paddles in flat calm conditions, quick drying running tights and thermal tops are the order of the day, maybe with a light waterproof and wetsuit boots if its chilly.

It's not always warm and flat calm, but there are some well thought out neoprene SUP suits on the market which have gone back to the 'Long John' style, without arms to restrict your paddle stroke, but with enough rubber to help keep your core and legs warm if you get wet. These can be layered with thin neoprene tops, waterproof jackets, fleeces, thermal rashvests etc to suit the conditions on the day.  My feet get cold quickly if I stand still paddling distance so boots are a good idea.

For surfing or other conditions where you fully expect to get wet, then a proper wetsuit is the way to go. For paddling you really dont need have a super thick suit as you will be keeping busy, flexibility on the arms and shoulders is more important.

As it gets colder you can layer up with neoprene beanies and palmless mits to keep your extremities warm.

In ultimate cold conditions where falling in the water could have dire consequences a breathable drysuit is the way to go. They will be a bit sweaty, but with the right layering of thermals will keep you on the water in comfort. Add some 7mm Atan boots and you can laugh at the cold.

Whatever you choose, play safe, take your phone in a waterproof case and let someone know where you're going and when you're due back.