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Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) can be very enjoyable. One of the things that makes it so attractive is that it is relatively easy to start, and you can join family and friends together for a great paddleboarding session.
However, to make it as pleasant, comfortable and even as safe as possible, you should be equipped with the proper gear.
We’re here to help you choose the right equipment for your paddleboarding adventures. So stick around to find out exactly what to wear for stand-up paddleboarding.
Table of Contents
We begin this guide on what to wear for stand-up paddleboarding by talking about proper clothing. Obviously, since SUP is a watersport, you should expect to get wet, so you should dress accordingly.
Also, you might think that SUP is a summer activity, but you can actually do it all year round, as long as you dress adequately.
The most versatile outfit to wear for stand-up paddleboarding is a pair of boardshorts and a rash guard. While this might not be appropriate for extreme weather conditions, it can handle most climates.
The rash guard will protect you from sunburn for the most part, and both pieces will dry quickly when wet.
If the conditions are extremely hot, you may want to simply wear a swimsuit or swim trunks. If this is the case, never forget to wear sunscreen for stand-up paddleboarding!
You’ll want a waterproof or water-resistant formula, with SPF 30 or higher, and both UVA and UVB protection.
You might also wear a swimsuit not just because it’s hot, but because you’re paddleboarding on the ocean. You may want to take a swim without having your movements restricted.
Should you do this, also don’t forget to bind yourself to the paddleboard with a leash. We’ll talk more about leashes in a minute.
If you’re an avid paddleboarder and can’t live without it, you can do it even during the coldest months, as long as you properly choose what to wear for stand-up paddleboarding.
If it is not too cold, a wetsuit will do just fine. You’ll want to choose a thick suit to keep you warm, but not so thick that it restricts your movement. A thickness between 3 mm and 5 mm is ideal.
If the conditions are extremely cold, then a drysuit is probably best. It will protect you not only from the cold air but also the cold water.
Also, because a drysuit is worn loose, it not only gives you more freedom of movement, but also allows you to dress with more layers to protect you from the cold.
You’ll probably want an insulated rash guard as your base layer. And don’t forget to protect your extremities. Wear some paddleboard gloves to keep you warm while providing the necessary grip, and also a hood or hat. There are some nice hoodies especially made for paddleboarding.
We haven’t mentioned shoes yet, which is another important aspect when talking about what to wear for stand-up paddleboarding. Depending on where and when you’re paddleboarding, you might choose to wear shoes for stand-up paddleboarding or not.
However, we could say that in cold weather, you don’t actually have much of a choice. You should really wear board shoes or booties to prevent your feet from freezing.
In the summer season, it really depends on the type of paddleboarding you’re doing. If you’re going to a whitewater zone with lots of rocks, or paddleboarding the ocean in an area with irregular floors, you should wear shoes to prevent injuries, especially if you plan on getting off of the paddleboard a lot.
However, some paddleboarders say that being barefooted gives them a better feel of the board, providing them with greater balance and stability. It comes down to a matter of personal preference.
The leash is one of the most important items when it comes to what to wear for stand-up paddleboarding; you should always have it on you. It keeps your board near you at all times. This is important not just for keeping you from losing it, but helping you stay afloat in case of an emergency.
If you’re not wearing a leash and fall off the board, it can get away really quickly, depending on the wind and current.
Generally, the ideal size for a leash is about one foot longer than your paddleboard. Leashes come in two types: coiled and straight.
Coiled leashes are generally better because they have less drag inside the water. However, they might not be the best choice for whitewater paddleboarding because they tend to get tangled more easily with the turbulence.
Personal Flotation Device (PFD)
The paddleboard is a flotation device itself, but it is advisable that you wear a personal one for stand-up paddleboarding. You should always have a life vest with you when paddleboarding.
In fact, it is required by the U.S Coast Guard that you have one with you when paddleboarding outside swimming or surfing areas. Children are required to wear it at all times, while adults are not. But since you need to have it on board anyway, you might as well.
Safety whistle and light
A safety whistle is also required by the Coast Guard, as well as a light-emitting device, if you’re paddleboarding after sunset. Some life vests might include these as a package.
Most scratches and dents to a paddleboard actually happen outside of the water. It is best to have a protective case to store your board in. This will not only keep your board unscathed, but also make it easier for you to carry it.
Paddles are not something that you actually wear for stand-up paddleboarding, but since we’re talking about gear, we thought we’d mention them. The most important aspect of a paddle is its length. It will depend not only on your height, but also on the activity you’re doing.
You may want a shorter paddle for surfing and a longer one for racing. For all-around purposes, a good rule of thumb is to choose a paddle that is 8 to 10 inches taller than you.
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I’m an Colorado native, who learned to surf in the Pacific Northwest, and SW Canada. I live inland near the mountains now, and love to get out on my SUP. It’s weird, but I love windy, choppy days as no-one is out and I like the challenge.