5 things you need to know if you’re going to paddle SUP in the winter

6 January, 2024SUP, Touring

5 things you need to know if you’re going to paddle SUP in the winter

Most people paddle mainly in the warm season, and perhaps not surprisingly, given the long days and warm water. However, the cold season can offer fantastic experiences, including completely calm days, a low sun, and crisp air. Here are some tips you need to know if you’re planning to venture out on you SUP in the winter:

1. Dress appropriately

A protective suit is a must if you were to fall into the water. A breathable drysuit is by far the best option. A 3-5 mm wetsuit works, but keep in mind that if you use a wetsuit, you will get sweaty inside because it is tight and does not breathe. On your feet, you should have proper wetboots, minimum 5-6 mm or insulated boots. Wetsuit gloves, typically 2-3 mm, help keep your hands warm, and an insulated hat is recommended to retain heat and protect against the cold. A life jacket is also an essential part of safety equipment, and, of course, a leash.

2. Choose a board that can handle the cold

Most SUP boards work well for winter paddling. Inflatable boards handle low temperatures effectively, but they may become spongy when exposed to cold water. The cold water causes a decrease in pressure within the board. To counteract this pressure drop, you can inflate the board to the desired pressure and then let it sit in the cold for a while, allowing the pressure to settle. Afterward, inflate a bit more to compensate for the pressure loss before heading out onto the water.

If you’re planning to paddle SUP in the winter on a hard board, make sure to choose a composite board made of materials such as epoxy. Hard boards made of thermoplastics can become brittle when the temperature drops. If you are unsure about the material your hard board is made of, contact your retailer.

3. Keep an eye on the weather

The weather can change rapidly both in summer and winter, but it can be more dramatic when paddling SUP in winter. Fog can roll in, and the wind can pick up quickly. If unsure about potential wind conditions, a good strategy is to start paddling against the wind. If it does get windy and you become tired after a while, it’s easier to turn around and paddle back with the wind at your back.

4. Keep an eye on what’s underneath the water surface.

When the sun is low, and the water is dark, it can be challenging to see obstacles like rocks under the water. Calm days make it even harder to detect obstacles because there are no waves breaking. Therefore, it’s a good idea paddle cautiously to avoid running into anything hidden in the water.

5. Bring a friend

Bring a friend – it’s not only safer but also more enjoyable to share the experience of paddling SUP in the winter with a companion.