How to Stand Up Paddle in Cold Water
Not Just for Summer.
Board shorts and bikinis maybe the norm for stand up paddleboard attire. However they are not the only attire for stand up paddeboarding.
With the stand up paddling hitting global audiences. Not everyone has the luxury to paddle in warm tropical waters beside the palm trees.
Cold Water Stand Up Paddling.
So how do we get out on the water when the weather is cold?
Growing up in New England. And being dealt a hearty dose of cold weather starting as early as September. We have sorted out ways to stay on the water until it freezes.
The tips below are taken from my personal experience. To make stand up paddling a year round activity. And keep us warm and safe while doing so. But there are a lot of great articles floating around on Distressed Mullet as well.
And if anyone knows cold water paddling it is my good friend Larry Cain. He has it down to a science on how to get out on the water, no matter the weather.
Cold Water Equipment.
Stand Up Paddleboard.
Any stand up paddleboard will work. But due to the chilly conditions we will want to find something stable. And we can easily paddle. If this is the first go in chilly temperatures grabbing our family friendly stable ride is a great way to test out all the nuances that paddling in this weather offers. It will also help keep us on the board and dry.
Any of our paddles will work. Just make sure they are not covered in ice or snow. Prior to heading out on the water.
Layering is key. And having the right stuff to use. I use my base layers for snowboarding. This works well to insulate but if I get warm the keep from getting wet. As they are water wicking. The next piece is the most important.
Wetsuit or dry suit. Depending on the temperature the thickness of the wetsuit may vary. As well as the comfort level of paddling. A 5/4 with a hood is a great option. But if paddling distances or working out it may be a bit much. We use these surfing and stay toasty. Dry suits have been my favorite even before the days of paddling. We still layer, but the mobility is a bit more than a traditional wetsuit. There are a few options now of paddle specific drysuits.
Booties and Gloves.
These are really important features to making our time on the water enjoyable. I’ve always been one to rather be too warm then too cold. 7 mm booties are great and 5mm lobster claw gloves will work on the coldest days. But again knowing the conditions is key. I’ve used snowboard mittens and had great luck as well as 2 mm gloves. Air on the side of caution. Then on the next paddle you can downsize.
As important as the clothing. This next piece will save us if we happen to slip or lose our balance and head in the water. A lifejacket, wearable is my go to. I use the paddle specific one as I have the freedom to move. The inflatable options, unless inflated, are not the right tool for the job.
My leash always accompanies me on these paddles as well. The simple reason of not being able to swim as well after my board with all the clothing on. And I’m not really into cold water long distance swims. But in all seriousness with the water being cold, a leash is as important as the board we stand on.
The Weather, Location and a Plan.
These should always be in our research and part of our paddle plans. No matter the season.
During the winter knowing what Mother Nature is serving up is extremely important. Being caught in a snow squall with no visibility is gnarly. And puts us at risk of getting in trouble quickly.
The location of where we are paddling is important as each body of water has unique and hidden obstacles. If we go out paddling not knowing what lies below we could create hazard for ourselves.
By looking at the map. Telling someone where we are going and how long we will be out playing. Is very important. Accidents happen. Whether it is a broken paddle or a fin falling off.
Bringing a communication device along for the ride. Whether it is a phone or marine radio this is another must have during our paddles. It will help us if we need it.
A Year Round Activity.
Stand up paddling is a great, healthy activity. One we can do year round no matter where we live. I hope these tips and this video help you get out on the water.
This video is aimed at showing a bit more about how to get out on the water. And enjoy the sport we love.