Knowing what to wear when heading out paddling in the UK can be surprisingly difficult. The air can be warm but the water can be very cold. You may not be planning on getting wet, or you may fall in. You don’t want to get too sweaty and overheat, but you certainly don’t want to risk cold water shock should you fall in. So, what to wear?! Here, SUP pro Sam Ross offers his advice on the go-to SUP wear for each season in the UK.
When touring or racing during summer lightweight clothing that will keep you cool but will also dry quickly if you do fall in is great. When surfing you’re likely to be spending more time in the water, so something that will keep you warm whilst retaining flexibility for freedom of movement and not getting heavy when wet is what you’re after.
Recreational / Touring > Quick dry shorts, base layer top or t-shirt. Maybe an extra layer depending on weather. Top layer or lightweight waterproof. Bare feet, or neoprene shoes for protection if getting in and out of rivers. Coiled leash and Personal Flotation Device.
Surf > 3/2 Full length wetsuit, or in the warmer months a shorty wetsuit or 2mm neoprene top and board shorts. Bare feet. Straight surf leash.
Racing > Quick dry shorts, quick dry t-shirt, bare feet. A rash vest or thin neoprene rash vest in surf environments, or where weather is making it a little cooler. Coiled leash. Hydration pack for any races over 40 minutes.
Spring / Autumn
The in-between seasons are all about lightweight clothing that will keep you cool when paddling hard and generating heat, but also dry quickly if you do fall in. There is increased need in Spring and Autumn to keep the wind off and to make sure that if you get wet you’ll stay warm. When touring a dry bag with an extra layer or two in is useful should the conditions change whilst you’re out. A SUP jacket is perfect for this time of year.
Recreational / Touring > Quick dry shorts, base layer top or t-shirt, top layer with a possible lightweight waterproof. Thermal shorts or dry trousers if a little cooler. Neoprene Shoes or boots. Coiled leash and Personal Floatation Device.
Surf > 3/2 Full length wetsuit, or into 5/4 full length wetsuit. 3mm neoprene boots or 6mm neoprene boots in Spring. Straight surf leash.
Racing > Thermal shorts, short or long sleeved neoprene top in surf environments, base-layer top in flat water environments. 6 or 3mm neoprene boots. If surf is bigger or temperature is a little cooler then a long john with neoprene top is ideal. Coiled leash. Hydration pack for any races over 40 minutes.
Make sure you keep the extremities warm so a good pair of boots and mitts are a must. If I know I’m going to get wet and be working hard then Neoprene and/or drysuits work well. So Surf or White Water and even Technical race events, I dress for immersion. However if I’m touring or recreationally paddling then I’ll over heat pretty quickly in these. This is where I like to wear quick drying, insulating but breathable gear. Layering works really well and taking a dry bag containing a spare neoprene or thermal top can be a good back up. Most importantly with all types of paddling I wear a leash and often back it up with another flotation device, so even in the coldest environments I can always swiftly get out of the water and back on my main piece of flotation; my SUP!
Recreational / Touring > Thermal base layers, waterproof top and dry trousers. A drysuit in most extreme conditions. Palmless mitts. Coiled leash and Personal Flotation Device. 6mm Neoprene boots.
Surf > 5/4 Full length wetsuit or 6/5/4 hooded suit. Palmless mitts. 6mm boots. Straight surf leash.
Racing > Thermal shorts, short or long sleeved neoprene top if flat. Long john with neoprene top. Palmless mitts. 6mm Boots. Coiled leash. Hydration pack for any races over 40 minutes.
We’d like to thanks SUP pro Sam Ross for sharing his advice on what to wear paddleboarding throughout the year. For more info on Sam’s SUP exploits, head to sam-ross.co.uk