There’re no two ways about it: winter’s coming and with that the potential for fluffy white stuff falling from the sky. For some this scenario couldn’t be further from needed whereas others revel in flurries of flakes creating white carpets across our green and pleasant land. It can play havoc with travelling, such a driving in snow. Although with COVID restrictions in place perhaps that won’t be too much of a challenge as there could be less people on the roads?
Some weather forecasts are already modelling and trying to predict what type of winter we’re going to get. It’s impossible, even for the most high tech algorithms, to give a 100% picture of what’s going to happen. That said an indication may be believable – to some degree.
So what’s the suggestion as it stands? With it being a La Nina year, and an 85% probability rating of this lasting through winter, colder dryer conditions may be on the cards. And this could spell snow. For many this will automatically put the kybosh on going anywhere near water and getting afloat. A nice warm fire, cup of tea and a snuggly jumper the preferred option. Yet stand up paddle boarding when there’s snow on the ground is certainly doable.
The fact is: when it’s snowy the air temperatures are actually a bit warmer. Yes, you need it to freeze high up in the atmosphere to actually crystallise the raindrops and turn it to snow. But the blanket cloud that accompanies white stuff actually serves to keep some degree of temperature locked in. And if the sunshine turns on and you get bluebird skies following a dump then you’re on to a winner. The time a dampener may be put on things is if a gale’s blowing in accompaniment. In which case, maybe it’s best to sit it out and wait for a calmer window.
The bottom line, however, is that you can SUP in the snow. With the right protection (water wear) and adhering to SUP safety practises, there’s no reason not to bag a sesh even if fluffy powder’s falling from the sky.
Yes, we know it’s currently baking in the UK, and winter seems like a way off. But it isn’t really. We’re already into mid-August and soon it’ll be autumn. This isn’t to sound negative. In fact, for many autumn and winter can be the best seasons for stand up paddle boarding – particularly if you want ‘conditions’ and not just flat water. But now’s the time to prepare – you don’t want to get left out in the cold (literally) come time.
Make sure you have good quality paddling attire. A decent wetsuit or drysuit if necessary will stand you in good stead. Mostly, you get what you pay for. Of course, there are deals (particularly if you shop around now) but a decent wetty does mean you have to stump up a little. But you’ll be thankful for it. Also, make sure this part of your kit is durable and robust. When clambering on and off boards you don’t need your wetty getting a hole in it!
Gloves, hood and booties should also be considered. They need to be comfortable and ideally not impede movement. Of course, to some degree, wearing gloves, hood and booties isn’t as ‘free’ as paddling in just boardshorts. That’s why getting the correct fit and type which suits you is important.
Check over your paddle. If you’ve been afloat plenty this summer you may have picked up scuffs and potentially nicks on the shaft, handle or blade. For those using an adjustable it’s worth looking at the locking mechanism. Any SUPer needing to replace their paddle should definitely be looking to before winter. It’s your engine and main form of propulsion so definitely shouldn’t be overlooked.
Damage to your stand up paddle board will need sorting if you’ve picked anything up – whether hard SUP or inflatable. Fins also. Wear and tear is par for the course unfortunately but is usually easily fixable. You may also be considering an upgrade that’s more in line with the SUP performance you’re after based on the conditions you plan on tackling.
Leashes are another item that tend to show signs of use and therefore need replacing in time. Having a worn leash snap on you while out in the wild isn’t pleasant so make sure you sort before too long. And don’t forget the leash retainer as this can also wear.
Any flotation aids should be checked over before doing battle with Mother Nature. Whether that be a float belt, that self inflates, a PFD or buoyancy aid all of which need to be in good working order. Any other peripheral gear like helmets as well. You may not have had need for these during summer so definitely worth having a look/see.
All in being prepared for winter stand up paddling is the best course of action. If you are then we’re pretty sure you’ll have a fruitful season.