Whether you are catching waves under the summer sun or exploring a frigid lake in the middle of the winter, SUPing in any season is the beauty of the sport! But one thing’s for sure, if you don’t have the right SUP gear, your winter SUP sesh is going to be miserable. Staying warm on the water doesn’t just make for a more enjoyable stand up paddle board experience, it’s literally the difference between life and death. Sorry to sound dramatic, but we want you to love your time on your iRocker, regardless of the temperature! Here are our best tips and gear recommendations for enjoying a winter paddle:
Gear You’ve Gotta Have
- Thermal top and bottoms: A wetsuit just isn’t gonna cut it. Serious paddle boarders (which you likely are if you’re heading out in the freezing weather) exert high amounts of energy because they’re constantly moving, and will likely encounter cold wind or rain. A thick wetsuit can easily cause your body to overheat, so stretchy, movable tops and pants are your best bet. Athletic fabrics will let you paddle how you please and also keep you dry. The best way to stay warm is to stay dry!
- Booties: If you keep your feet warm, your body will more than likely follow suit. Neoprene booties do an excellent job of using your own body heat as an extra layer of insulation. Plus, they dry super quickly (just in case you lose balance, of course). Booties range in thickness from 2mm to 8mm, and airing on the thinner side is wise. Thin soles will allow you to feel the motion of the water and better react to the weather.
- Gloves: Whether you opt for neoprene gloves or wool gloves completely depends on preference. Both will keep you warm even if they get wet, but the difference will come with the thickness and mobility. Light wool gloves are often cheaper, but they still allow you to properly grip the paddle. Many neoprene gloves come with curved fingers made specifically for paddling, but the price can be steep.
- Wetsuit: Wetsuits are the go-to attire for cold water SUPers all over the globe. Freezing water and weather calls for a 4mm-7mm suit, but completely depends on the situation and personal priorities. Thicker wetsuits will keep you warmer, but come with a trade-off in flexibility.
- Drysuit: These babies are only necessary if you’re paddling in water that’s 45 degrees or less. Drysuits are made of nylon with a waterproof coating / laminate, latex gaskets at the ankles, wrists and neck, and a special zipper that blocks water. But there’s a catch: you must layer up because drysuits provide zero insulation.
Tips to Take to Heart
- Leave a float plan at home, so someone is aware of your path and anticipated timing.
If you’re wearing a wet or dry suit, keep your coat and hat on until you absolutely must take them off.
- Check your SUP gear before hitting the water (leash, extra layers, flashlight, etc)! Nothing’s worse than forgetting a key item on a cold paddle.
- Dress for the water temperature even if you never lose your balance. Ignore your ego and trust us on this one.
- Leashes are absolutely necessary if you’re paddling out in frigid weather, water or wind.
- Strap a drybag to your deck packed with extra layers, a thermos of warm water and an energy bar.
- Don’t overestimate your skill level.
- Bring a thermos of hot soup for post-paddle.
- Wear a PFD (personal flotation device). Just do it. Instead of thinking it’s uncool or bulky, consider it as an extra layer of warmth and a handy place to store snacks, a flashlight or a camera.
Please don’t take our recommendations lightly. Taking your iRocker out in the frigid weather can be extremely beautiful and an incredible adventure, but it can go badly fast. Dressing well and properly preparing will ensure a safe, enjoyable excursion. Grab your iRocker, a thermos and cold weather SUP gear, because winter is right around the corner!