What to Wear for Spring Paddle Boarding?
When Stand Up Paddleboarding in the Spring, it can be a bit confusing as to what to wear. There are a lot of great options in between Wetsuit and Bikinis, and here are a few of my favorite outfits highlighted below!
The two strict rules I go by when getting dressed for SUP are:
1) Don’t wear anything you don’t want to get wet
2) Don’t bring anything you are not willing to lose.
Your favorite hat, your expensive sunnies, your super trendy new earrings/watch/sneakers, etc… If you go over into the water, you have about a 50/50 chance to find them again. That said, I wear what I love anyways! Ryan has very sensitive eyes after laser surgery and it is important to wear good quality eye protection. He is on his 3rd pair of Oakleys in 1 year- We call it the Davey Jones Tax.
Wetsuits are great for protection against the cold, but can be a bit uncomfortable and inconvenient (especially when nature calls!) However if it is a swelly day or I want to work on my footings and pivot turns and plan to be in the water at all, I still wear my 3/2mm Women's Rip Curl DAWN PATROL Full Wetsuit, my 3/2mm flashbomb 5 finger gloves and the flashbomb 3mm hidden split toe booties. If the air is warm and I am getting a bit hot I leave my gloves and booties off but the last thing I want to do is cut my paddle short because I am cold. Cold leads to shivering, to cramping and to trouble, so for safety I always error on the side of warmth.
When the water is as calm as glass and the air is warm, I feel very confident and I wear my quick-dry active wear. If I were to fall it might be a fast paddle back to shore to the Jeep to dry off and change, ending the paddle sesh, so it is a planned risk for sure. The quick dry is key, and so is wearing the PFD, especially so because it is very, very hard to swim with clothes on. I forgo the shoes, and wear flip flops to the water and tuck them under my tie-down bungee once I have shoved off. I prefer looser fitting pants so I can roll up the legs above the knee for launching. Some of my favorites are the Studio Pant from Lululemon, Columbia’s OmniShield casual or trail pants.
For Upper I love an Under Armour hoody- it is light, breathable and warm. The material wicks sweat and dries really fast. Their Heat Gear shirts are very attractive and dry really fast too. In late spring and all summer when it is warmer I like to wear a full sleeve zippered Rip Curl rash guard, both for warmth and UV protection.
Flip Flops are among the most-lost items when SUPing, plus I really prefer the bare-foot feel, so if it’s not cold enough for wet-suit/wet-suit booties, I take any old pair of flip flops and don’t pay too much attention to the style/brand. My recommendation is to bring SOMETHING for footwear, because if my feet get cold they become more sensitive and I want that protection on the way back in over rocks, barnacles, pokey grass and parking lot. There are a lot of quick drying water shoes out there if you prefer to go that route. If I am hiking with the SUP over some more trecherous terrain that will tear apart my wetsuit booties I wear my hiking shoes and wool socks, although it is not ideal.
That Spring Sun feels so glorious on my pale, ray-hungry skin and it is tempting to go out and just soak it all up, but UV damage is no joke so I try to stay vigilant with sunglasses, SPF and a cute hat.
The main thing to remember when getting set for a Spring SUP Sesh is that you should never underestimate the danger of cold. If you chose to go out in marginally warm weather and fall in, the slightest breeze can get your chilled super quick and that can bring on unexpected hypothermia. I always wear my PFD and without a wetsuit I don’t venture too far from my launch point where a nice warm change of clothes and a towel are waiting.
Nothing is as sweet as the fresh salt air, the warm sun and fresh leaf buds welcoming the return of the whales, orcas and the fair-season Paddleboarders! Dress well, stay safe and have a great paddle!