What to Wear Paddle Boarding

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Paddle Board Wear

If you’re someone who is new to paddle boarding, or even if you’ve been at it for a while and are just looking for advice on what to wear, then this post is perfect for you! There are so many different articles out there that talk about the best boards and how to get out of tricky situations in the water. But what about when it comes time to get kitted out? Are there any things that should be considered? We think so, let’s dive in!

Year-Round SUP Gear Essentials

We’ll get into the seasonal attire shortly but first, let’s go through some accessories that are good all year round that we feel make the whole experience even more enjoyable.

Dry Bag & Waterproof Phone Case

You’ll want to keep any valuables and phone safe. Even in the summer, it can be pretty chilly on the lake so having enough room for another layer is great too. If you’re going to be out on the ocean for a while you’ll want drinking water and a snack too.

I used to think that these were a stupid idea as I’d never take my phone out onto the water. Then I saw a friend with one that was so good that you could still swipe the screen and interact fully with it. I now take photos and videos from my SUP and love it.

We recommend: Earth Pak – Waterproof Dry Bag


Personal Flotation Device (PFD)

These are very important if you’re planning on doing anything in the water. A PFD should be worn by everyone at all times while out paddling, even if it’s flat calm and you think you don’t need one. If you’re going to use your paddleboard on the ocean your PFD will have to meet official coast guard regulations.

In the USA all children under 12 must wear a Type III PFD and everyone older than 12 must carry one on their person or on their board. It must include a whistle and flashlight. These rules come into force when you are paddling outside of monitored bathing/swimming areas. Exceptions to this are paddle board surfers who paddle along the surf line. See our review of PFD’s for further info.

We recommend: Onyx MoveVent CGA Life Vest

This is a great all-around PFD with large arm cavities that provide unrestricted paddling. The mesh at the lower back is perfect for those who wish to use the vest when kayaking, as this allows for a high back kayak seat.

For those that prefer the carry style we recommend: Onyx Unisex Belt Pack Manual Inflatable Life Jacket

Water-Resistant Watch

You’ll want to keep an eye on the time as it’ll fly by while you’re having fun. If it’s summertime you don’t want to overdo the sun exposure. if you like your sports watches see our recommendation below or if you prefer smartwatches read our review of water-resistant smartwatches.

We recommend: PALADA Men’s Digital Waterproof Sports Watch

What to Wear in Summer for SUP Boarding

Summer is an excellent time to hit the water and get some fresh air. While it’s often the season of sun, sand, and surf, it can also be a bit more challenging to stay cool (especially when there are kids around). If you’re someone who enjoys SUP boarding in the summer months, you might want to consider some of these tips for keeping cool while on your paddle board:

Wear a Hat

The sun can be really intense when you’re out on the water so make sure you have something on your head before hitting the waves! If you wear a hat while on the board, then it protects your face and eyes from the harsh rays of the sun. Not only will this help protect you, but it also helps shield your eyes from the glare of the water.

We recommend: Home Prefer Mens UPF 50+ Wide Brim Hat with Neck Flap

If you’re going to spend a lot of time on the water, or if you’ve got a habit of losing track of time while having fun (see our watch recommendation!) then consider getting a hat that also protects your neck from the sun.

Without neck flap: GearTOP UPF 50+ Wide Brim Sun Hat

Wear sunglasses

Something else to consider is wearing a pair of sunglasses while you’re out paddle boarding. If you don’t have a hat on, then it’s recommended that you at least wear some decent quality polarising shades!

The glare off the water surface can be distracting. If you’re anything like me you’ll be prone to dropping them and watching them sink to the depths! This is why I now only buy shades that float!

We recommend: Floating Sunglasses with Polarized Lenses

These sunglasses are very affordable so you won’t cry yourself to sleep if they get damages or lost at the beach. They’re polarizing filters which we advise, and offer 100% UVA + UVB protection. Best of all – they float!!

Or buy a floating lanyard: G FLOAT floating sunglasses lanyard

Cover up with rash guards

One of the best ways to avoid getting burned while paddle boarding is by making sure that your skin stays covered up at all times! A great way to do this is by wearing rash guards. They’re extremely lightweight and offer full coverage so you won’t need to worry about getting sunburned or distracted because of how uncomfortable your clothing is.

Rash guards are the best protection against the sun as most sun creams are toxic to the ocean. Go for long sleeves for maximum protection whilst minimizing sunscreen usage.

We recommend: O’Neill Men’s Basic Skins UPF 50+ Long Sleeve Rash Guard

You can’t go wrong with O’Neill’s, They’ve been making swim and surf gear for 70 years. This guard is machine washable, quick-drying and recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Prefer a Looser Fit?

We recommend: O’Neill Women’s Basic Skins Upf 50+ Long Sleeve Rash Guard

Wear Wetsuit Pants

It’s a good idea to wear thin wetsuit leggings while paddle boarding! They offer high levels of protection against the sun and they are really comfortable as well. If you’re going to stay out SUPing for a while and you’re a beginner you may end up in the water quite a lot. The wetsuit will keep you warm if the water’s cold.

We recommend: GoldFin Wetsuit Pants Women, 2mm Neoprene

Wear Sunscreen

If you can’t do the rash guard and leggings then sunscreen is a must. One of the most important things you can do to protect your skin while enjoying the great outdoors is by wearing sunscreen! While many people think it’s okay just wear a hat (or not even that) when they head outside, this isn’t always enough to fully protect your skin from harmful UV rays!

If you’re going to wear sunscreen and enjoy water sports we hope you’ll be responsible and choose one that’s ocean-friendly.

We recommend: Sun Bum SPF 30 Vegan and Reef Friendly

Wear Quick-dry Shoes

Most paddle boarders will go barefoot but I recommend you have some sort of footwear on (unless, of course, you’re using your SUP board as a floatation device to go swimming). The best type of shoes that can be worn while paddle boarding are quick-dry or water shoes. They help protect your feet from cuts, blisters, and other sharp objects that may be lurking below the surface.

SEE BELOW

Board Shorts

Board shorts are actually perfect for paddle boarding because they keep you cool. If it’s summer and you’re going to be out in the sun all day, shorts are a must! Just don’t forget the sunscreen.

Pack a Towel

While we love the idea of getting out there on the water and making sure that we’re sweating up a storm, being wet all day is also going to end up being uncomfortable. Not only does it drag us down from performing our best while out on the water, but it also will make for a really miserable day if we stay damp for hours on end. In order to combat this problem, pack along a light towel to use at any point when you’re feeling too hot or want to cool down.

What to Wear in Cooler Months for SUP Boarding

It might be cooler when heading into or out of the winter months, but should it stop us from enjoying our favorite sport? Heck no! We just work on retaining body heat and maximizing our time having fun on our stand up paddle board. The shear act of paddling will generate some body heat we’ve just got to be conscious of retaining it without overheating. Keeping warm and comfortable will make the whole experience much more fun. Feeling cold will soon make you want to head for shore.

Still Wear Sunglasses

If you’re someone who enjoys paddle boarding in the autumn months, then it’s recommended that you wear a really good pair of shades. These cool-weather months can still have bright days but they tend to be a bit more cloudy than summer so if you want to make sure that your eyes are protected then a pair of sunglasses is the way to go.

SEE ABOVE

Do Not Wear Normal Long Sleeves and Pants for Warmth

This might sound obvious but you should not wear normal clothes while paddle boarding in autumn or winter, we recommend wearing a wetsuit. The reason behind this is because no matter how experienced or confident you are, it’s more than likely you’re going to fall off your board.

Believe it or not, we’ve seen paddlers with fleeces on and sweatpants in colder months, then wonder why they can’t get back on their board after falling in the ocean. This is obviously dangerous because the clothes now weigh a ton soaked in water. Don’t do it!

Wetsuit

A good-quality neoprene wetsuit is a great idea when paddleboarding in the cooler months. The neoprene will help keep you warm and will still allow for a good range of motion. Obviously the thicker the neoprene the more restricted you’ll feel.

The region that you’re in and its local temperature will tell you if the cold water is requiring a thin or thick neoprene wetsuit.

We recommend: O’Neill Men’s Reactor II 3/2mm Back Zip Full Wetsuit

Paddle Gloves to Keep Your Hands Warm

It’s also important that you have a good pair of paddle boarding gloves with you! If your hands get too cold then it’s going to be hard for you to grip your board properly, hold onto the paddle, and control it as you’re paddling.

We recommend: XUKER Water Gloves, 3mm & 5mm Neoprene

Quick-dry Shoes / Neoprene Booties

If you’re paddle boarding in cooler temperatures we recommend having some sort of footwear on that will help protect your feet from getting too cold or being exposed to any potentially harmful objects like little rocks. We recommend having on a pair of quick-dry water shoes or neoprene water socks/booties.

We recommend: VIFUUR Water Sports Shoes for Men & Women

Conclusion

No matter what the weather, if you’re a die-hard paddler it’s hard to resist the draw of the board. If it’s time to choose your gear for your next paddling adventure we’ve shared our favorite tips on what we wear when paddling in various weather conditions so you can enjoy all that this sport has to offer for as long as possible.

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