Most people dread the end of summer. The beaches, the hot sun, the sand between your toes, and most important the salty water in your veins (if you were lucky enough to visit an ocean over the season). Most, paddlers dread the end of their seasonal sport….
Like many other sports, you can enjoy SUP year ‘round. You just have to dress for the conditions. So here is a few tips from our experience that will help you get through the sometimes very long winter while also enjoying your favorite sport.
Know the conditions. Just because it’s winter and the sea is often calm, doesn’t mean it can’t change in a second. Make sure to check the marine forecast before heading out. We like wind finder, and they have a great app with visuals to help understand what is happening out there.
Bring Coffee. This one might not be obvious but there are few ways to spend a Sunday morning than on a SUP with the brisk salty ocean air and you thoughts while enjoying a hot cup of coffee.
Wear a PFD and a Leash. This one should go without saying but people still die every year from drowning while out on their SUP and most of these deaths could have been prevented with proper safety gear.
Wear the Right Layers. This one goes without saying but there are many options and they all have their benefits. We tend to lean towards using a proper wetsuit. They are less expensive than dry suits, they can be incredibly warm, and they are quite flexible. Plus, Seagods founder – Ryan Johnston, likes to go for a swim often when he is out in the cold. It is so refreshing. Ryan wears a Ripcurl Dawn Patrol 5/4 chest zip suit with a fleece lined torso and a hood, dawn patrol 5mm boots, and dawn patrol 3mm gloves. This setup has been more than enough to paddle in weather as cold as -12C and water temp below 0 on the surface.
Tell someone where you are. Cold weather can make something as simple as falling in a real issue. It is best to paddle with a buddy but, if you insist on going alone, be sure to let someone know where you are launching from, where you are going, and when you’ll be back. If you have cell service, it is also handy to bring a phone in a floatable weatherproof case. If you have a chest zip then you can stow your phone in the little zip area so it doesn’t get lost.
What do the numbers in the suit mean? Well it’s simple. A 5/4 suit means that the Torso is 5mm and the limbs are 4mm. More than enough for negative single digit weather.
If you are going to be out for a while the 3mm glove may not work. We found that in the colder temps it was better to bring the gloves along in case we fell in, but we’d wear actual winter glove/mitts while paddling.
Don’t let old man winter stop you from having fun. Get the right gear for your weather conditions and get outside.