10 Need-To-Know Winter SUP Tips
It’s that time of year when many of us are already dreaming of warmer weather.
The daylight hours have gotten shorter, the water colder and there may even be snow on the ground.
If these types of conditions are making you want to bundle up in front of a fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate you are not alone.
However it is very possible to paddle year round in many locations if you prepare wisely.
That cup of hot chocolate will taste a million times better after an exhilarating winter paddle boarding trip!
With years of experience paddling in less than ideal conditions we’ve got the tips you need to stay safe, warm and comfortable for cold weather stand up paddle boarding.
So channel your inner SUP warrior and find out what you need to know to stay warm and paddle safely year round.
TIPS FOR PADDLE BOARDING IN COLD WEATHER
1. DON’T GO ALONE
This is a general SUP safety rule that applies at all times of the year but it is especially important during the winter months.
So partner up or at the very least let someone know where you are going and when you will be back.
2. CHECK THE WEATHER FORECAST
The weather can change quickly in the fall and winter months and can be quite unpredictable.
Check the weather forecast before heading to the water. Ideal conditions are obviously calm water and no rain or snow.
However that may not always be the case. Know what you’re dealing with before you head out there.
If there’s wind in the forecast consider doing a downwind paddle only and skipping the tough paddle back into the wind, which can really take a LOT of energy.
If you’re not sure or feeling nervous about the conditions the best decision you can make is to simply skip it and save the paddle for another day.
3. STAY CLOSE TO SHORE
One of the biggest pieces of advice we could give is to stick close to shore… like really close. Don’t fool around here, the further from shore you get the more trouble you could be in if you end up in the water.
When the water is freezing cold hypothermia can set in quickly and is not something you want to mess around with.
A good rule of thumb is to never paddle further from shore than you can swim. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to swim as far in cold water.
You can still get in a good long paddle session and never go further than 20 feet from shore. Switch up your routine and keep that shoreline in close sight.
4. USE A PFD
In many places it is law to have a life jacket or personal flotation device with you when out paddle boarding so either wear one or keep one on your board at all times. In the winter months it is wise to make sure you actually wear the PFD.
Not only will it provide extra warmth but it could be critical to keeping you alive if you fall in the cold water.
5. USE A SUP LEASH
A leash will keep your board within 10’ of you at all times if you end up in the water. Regardless if you are paddling in flat water or ocean swells, use your leash and keep yourself safe.
There have been far too many drownings that could have been prevented if the person was wearing a SUP leash. Please use yours.
Don’t have a leash yet? Check out our paddle board leash here.
6. LAYER UP
Let’s talk clothing. Keeping warm while stand up paddle boarding in cold weather is not difficult if you put a little thought into it and plan your layers.
Start with a moisture wicking base layer for both your top and bottoms. An insulated pair of sports tights work perfectly with a moisture wicking long sleeve top.
Then add layers for warmth and protection from the wind such as a fleece top. The main rule of thumb is to avoid anything made of cotton.
Keeping your extremities warm is a must if you are going to stay comfortable and protected out there.
For your feet you can wear a pair of water socks or even a good pair of wool socks will work well paired with some water shoes/boots.
Keep your head protected with a toque and your hands warm with a pair of winter paddling gloves or a good pair of wool gloves.
7. WETSUIT OR DRYSUIT?
Now that you are layered up you may need a little added protection. A wetsuit will trap the water between your body and the suit and keep you warm.
If you will be spending time IN the water such as when surfing or in whitewater then a wetsuit is a good idea.
However if you are simply paddling in calm water and won’t likely be falling in then a drysuit is your best bet. A drysuit can fit over your base layers and keep your body completely dry and protected from wind and the elements.
The one drawback with a drysuit is that it will set you back a few dollars so it’s your choice whether you want to go that route or simply add a waterproof jacket and pants.
8. GET BACK BEFORE DARK
The days can get dark so early in the winter months so check what time is sundown and plan to be back well before that time.
Once the sun goes down it can get very dark on the water very quickly. Paddling in the dark is not a lot of fun and can make for a tricky return.
Not to mention other boaters won’t be able to see you.
9. PACK A WARM UP KIT
Have a bag packed with extra clothes (underwear, socks, warm top and bottoms). If you end up in the water you are going to need some dry layers when you get back to shore as quickly as possible.
Bring a towel and an extra jacket. Maybe even have a spare blanket waiting in the car.
Hopefully you won't need any of it but if you do you are sure going to be glad you have it!
10. ENJOY A HOT CUP OF TEA
Bring a thermos with something warm to drink. There is nothing better than enjoying a hot cup of tea at the end of a beautiful winter SUP session.
PADDLE YEAR ROUND
Paddling year round has many advantages. For one there are a lot less people on the water. You may even have the whole lake to yourself.
It can be very peaceful and a totally different experience from summer paddle boarding.
As long as the water isn’t frozen over you can still get out there and paddle. Don’t let a little snow and cold weather keep you indoors.
With these tips you can safely enjoy your paddle board year round.
Have any other cold weather paddling tips or stories you’d like to share? Comment below, we’d love to hear from you.