It’s spring and time to get out on the water! But it seems so cold! Well, it’s certainly chilly, but that’s no reason not to get out and paddle!
When it’s chilly, think of paddling as the aquatic equivalent of skate or Nordic skiing. You’re going to warm up really fast. The more clothes you have on, the more clothes you’re going to end up putting in your backpack, as you warm up really fast. The same thing is true with Stand Up Paddle boarding. The trick is to not over dress.
Many people have this feeling that they’re going to be falling in the water so they wear a bulky wetsuit. If you are paddling on flat water in relatively calm conditions, you’re not likely to fall in. And if you do, you’re going to get right back up on your board. However, if you are going on a downwinder, paddling in rough water, or SUP surfing in the ocean, you will likely need to wear a thicker wetsuit more appropriate for the conditions.
What TJ and I like to wear best in cold conditions is a really simple farmer-john-style O’Neill Superlite, an inexpensive 2mm throwback to the old days. The Superlite John has front and ankle zips. It works great, is stretchy, easy to get in and out of and is inexpensive, priced at just $99. O’Neill also has a version for the ladies called the Bahia Jane for only $85.
I wear a very thin capilene zip turtle neck underneath the Superlite — the same base layer I would wear skiing — and a fleece or hoodie over the Superlite that I usually peel off once I get going and warm up.
There you have it: chilly conditions for SUP, don’t overdress. If you’re going on a downwinder and know you’re going to be in the water a lot, dress appropriately to stay warm. If you’re paddling in relatively flat, calm water, you probably won’t get wet. So don’t overdress and you’ll be a happy camper!