what to wear to paddleboarding

What to wear to paddle boarding?

Paddleboarding can be performed all year-round, which means your clothing should change with the seasons. A good set-up of SUP clothing has to be flexible, quick-drying, offer warmth and ventilation all at the same time. A proper set of clothing lets you maximize the time and effort out on the water.

Each person has their own preference on what to wear while stand-up paddle boarding – some prefer bikinis, while others like to cover their whole body with UV-protection gear. We strongly recommend looking into the local weather forecast to be prepared for the upcoming session.

Do you get when paddleboarding?

Yes, it is inevitable that you are going to get wet when paddleboarding. As you can only perform the sport on the water, the chances are that you are going to get in touch with water. Also, you’ll be needing to walk into knee-deep water to get on and off the board.

paddleboarder on the surf

Quick tips

*Whenever you go out for a paddle – it is a good practice to pack an extra set of clothes inside the waterproof bag.
*Paddleboarding outfit must be flexible and protect against the UV rays, cold wind, and rain.
*Once your body core is warm from constant paddling – you don’t need a pair of gloves in cold weather.
*The key to staying warm is to maintain the core heat first. A warm torso provides plenty of warmth to legs and arms alike.

 

Have a look at our basic recommendations to increase each paddleboarding session.

 

What to wear SUP boarding?


Depending on where you live, most likely that you’ll have to put up with some drastic weather conditions such as intense sun, cold wind, or unexpected rain. There’s quite a bit you can do to protect yourself from the elements.

 

Warm weather / Cold weather

 

What to wear paddleboarding during the summer?

Warm weather paddleboarding clothing consists of shorts, a shirt, and a hat. If you are planning to go on a longer ride and haven’t held a paddle for ages – you can also get a pair of gym gloves to protect your hands from blisters. In case there’s no wind and the sun zeniths right above your head, a pair of sunglasses protect your eyes.

What comes as an unexpected surprise to many beginner water-sports enthusiasts is the intensity of the sun that also reflects from the water.

sup clothing summer

 

Why you shouldn’t wear a wetsuit to paddleboarding?

Any neoprene wetsuit that fits tight around the body and stays dry gets really uncomfortable on warm and sunny days. It is recommended to wear SPF 50+ UV clothing instead of a surf suit that’s designed to be in the water the majority of the time.

In case you are going to dip yourself in the water from time to time, only then wearing a wetsuit pays off.

*It is not recommended to leave a wetsuit (especially a dry suit) out in the sun. It is the UV rays that shorten the lifespan of a wetsuit’s outer shell.

shorty wetsuits
A shorty wetsuit only works well when you are going to get wet on purpose.

 

What to wear stand-up paddleboarding during spring/autumn?

Moderate temperatures in windy conditions expect a more technical gear to maintain your bodily warmth. As paddleboarding is performed at open water with the chance of cold winds passing by, a properly chosen gear lets you enjoy the session regardless of the weather.

Cold-water SUP clothing consists of:

  • Wetsuit boots, or a combination of completely waterproof boots and pants.
  • Wind- and rainproof jacket.
  • Warm sports top inner shell.
  • Windproof pants.
  • A warm and ventilated sports hat.

 

What to bring to stand-up paddleboarding session?

  • Waterproof bag – to store valuables such as keys & phones.
  • Extra clothing – In case you get wet or need to protect yourself from the sun.
  • Rain jacket – In case it starts to rain.
  • Sunscreen – To protect yourself from damaging UV rays.
  • A repair kit – For inflatable SUP in case you are going to puncture your board and need to get it fixed quickly.
  • Snacks – In case you need that extra boost.
  • Water – Although sipping saltwater in small amounts can do the trick, you are better off with a bottle of fresh water with you.

 

SUP Shoes

The best shoes for paddleboarding keep your feet warm when wet, offer good grip on the deck and protect the board’s surface from scratches. A pair of 2mm or 3mm wetsuit boots are a great choice for colder waters, while you can use reefs shoes with rubber soles during the summer as well.

*Having a pair of shoes with rubber soles comes in handy when you decide to go explore some cool destinations.

wetsuit boots
A collection of wetsuit boots for surfing

 

What shoes do you wear paddleboarding?
  • Tropical waters don’t require a pair of boots unless there’s a coral reef on the bottom.
  • Low-top paddleboarding shoes work great on rocky shores & coral bottoms.
  • 3mm Wetsuit boots work well on spring/autumn sessions.
  • A pair of waterproof shoes & pants are a must in cold-weather SUP boarding.

 

How to get on a paddle board?

To protect the board fins from damages you’ll have to get in knee-deep water to step on the board.

 

What shoes to wear stand-up paddleboarding?

  • Warm water – Reef boots with a solid bottom
  • Moderate temperatures – 3mm wetsuit boots
  • Cold temperatures – A set of waterproof boots with pants.

 

Top

Men’s and women’s stand up paddle boarding clothing should always include an SPF top or long-sleeve shirt for sunny days, and a warm inner layer for cooler days.

*SPF 50+ loose rash vest or a shirt for warm days.
*Warm and flexible sports shirt for colder days.

warm shirt
Inner layer for cold-weather paddleboarding. A loose version of an SPF top is another great option.

 

Pants

Whether you are going to do yoga, touring, or go surfing with a SUP, a pair of properly chosen paddle boarding pants offers protection from the outer elements. Being out on the water – the weather can change quickly therefore it is recommended to check the forecast well ahead.

Stand-up paddle board shorts are slightly different from your regular workout shorts. While women often like to wear leggings for paddleboarding, men prefer shorts or pants. The fact that your legs don’t get as much workout as arms when paddling means that the occasional breeze can take its advantage to reduce body temperatures. A pair of paddleboarding pants also protect the skin from excessive UV rays on sunny days.

Best shorts for paddle boarding are often similar to hiking shorts – they are lightweight, durable, and quick-drying.

*Quick-drying
*UV-protection
*Flexible

 

Gloves

Paddleboarding gloves have pads in the palm area and plenty of ventilation on the fingers. Some ocean athletes like to wear mid-length gym gloves as well which keep the wrists tight. A few-hour workout of constant paddling can be quite a workout for your hands.

 

Hats

Wearing a hat during paddleboarding helps to keep your head warm, and protect from damaging UV rays alike. In case you are going out on a hot day and your only hat is black, you can easily dip in the water from time to time to keep your head cool. We recommend wearing a bucket hat to stand-up paddleboarding, or hat with a neck cover for underage kids. Just keep in mind that the sun that reflects from the water doubles the intensity combined with direct sunlight.

wave
On days like this, your eyes and skin are exposed to the sun twice as much as you’d experience on land.

 

SUP Wetsuit

So far there is no such thing as a paddle board wetsuit, but we are most likely going to see them in the future. Currently, the only discipline where wearing a wetsuit is a must is obviously SUP Surfing. Wiping out from the board is an inevitable part of surfing, therefore a good wetsuit helps to keeps the body warm.

The benefit of wearing a surf wetsuit to a SUP surf session comes down to flexibility and warmth. Although most high-end surf-specific wetsuits are designed in a rider stance where the surfer’s hands are pointed upwards to imitate the act of swimming. Any 2mm or 3/2mm wetsuit works fine for paddling on beaches with waves.

surfing with sup

SUP Jacket

Wearing a paddle board jacket to moderate and cold weather helps to maintain body temperatures to a safe degree. Almost all jackets have a hoodie as well to protect the neck from chilly breezes.

Do you need to wear a high-viz jacket to paddleboarding?

Depending on where you are about to go paddleboarding, make sure you are visible to others around you.

Do you need to wear a lifejacket to paddleboarding?

It is recommended to bring a lifejacket with you to each ride. In a worst-case scenario where you’d have to abandon the board, a lifevest becomes a luxury. Although a regular lifejacket is quite bulky and might be difficult to store under the bungee cords, there are some other alternatives available.

 

The SUM


Paddleboarding clothes consists of a slightly different approach due to its low-resistance workout performed on wide-open spaces. As weather can be unpredictable, one should always be prepared for the worse and rather pack extra, than less.

Having the right gear for paddleboarding is the least you can do to maximize this one-of-a-kind recreation.

 

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About the author

Ermo J

I created Nulltuul to share my experience, knowledge, and analysis with other surf enthusiasts out there. If I'm not surfing on my travels, I like to photograph waves, surfers, and the surf lifestyle in general.

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