McConks SUP user guide #13: what to wear when you stand up paddle board.

Seasonality and the time of year will ultimately depend on what you wear when you stand up paddle board. That as well as your chosen SUP discipline and location. Summer, for instance, when mercury levels are at their highest will require less attire, whereas winter in contrast demands you ‘thread up’ with essential SUP garments.

The UK SUP weather mix.

Whatever you plump for the thing that should remain in your thoughts is: “we’re not living in the Tropics”. Even on the balmiest of days, with Mr Sunshine’s hat firmly on, the elements can (and will) conspire against you. The water around the UK remains cold by most standards and air temperatures fickle. Chuck in the mix evaporative cooling and windchill and it can be a recipe for disaster if you aren’t prepared.

The automatic assumption with SUP wear is: wetsuit, when actually that might not be the best choice. For sure, if you’re tackling ‘Neptune’s revenge’ (surf) then a wetsuit will be worth its weight in gold. You’ll no doubt fall – all the best do – so neoprene rubber will see you right, keep you warm and safe. As long as you’re wearing the correct type.

You can find lots more technical SUP wear via the link below

Wetsuits for SUP.

Wetsuits come in different thicknesses. Usually: 3-2mm summer suits, 4mm shoulder season suits and 5-6m winter battle wear. If it’s mid-Feb we’d highly recommend NOT plumping for a 2mm summer wetsuit! Whilst it will offer some protection before long you’ll be bluer than the Blue Lagoon and probably have the onset of hypothermia. Likewise, a full head to toe 6mm wetsuit isn’t a wise choice during the height of summer. You’ll be toasty, but probably too hot. In the worst cases heat stroke and dehydration will set in, both of which aren’t great.

Mr McConks showing off his winter paddling attire – the bespoke drysuit that’s available through the webshop.

SUP layers and removable graments.

If you’re tackling placid, flat water then be aware that windchill can cool you down, even in July/August. If there’s any breeze in the mix, and you’ve taken a dunking, then the evaporative cooling effects of moisture wicking away from your skin will cause more than just goose bumps. In most instances layering up, with option to add or remove garments is a good course of action. Fleeces are great ‘tools’ as even when wet these will still keep paddlers warm. And they’re fairly easy to dry out.

stand up paddle board winter wear
Ready for winter stand up paddle boarding – the kids are!

SUP feet!

Don’t forget your feet. Noting beats the feel of a board when paddling barefoot in the summer but be aware that it’s not just cold water that is hard on your feet. There is a huge choice of wetsuit boots out there and if you are paddling on rivers or in urban environments then think about more robust soles to protect you from sharp stuff.

Summing up your SUP wear.

In a nutshell there’s no right or wrong answer to what you should be wearing for SUP, only sensible choices dictated by time of year and what you plan on doing. If in doubt err on the side of caution but don’t take things to the extreme.

what to wear stand up paddle boarding
Shoulder season SUP layers in action.

To download a PDF of this article hit the button below –

You can read more from the McConks SUP user guide by clicking the link below –

The Academy of Surfing have this article about SUP wear/clothing which is worth a look.

For further reading check out the following articles –

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