If you love your paddle boarding and want to keep at it all year but you’re not sure what to wear then you’ve come to the right place! Here we’ll guide you through what to wear during the winter while out on the water.
So, to start off with we’ll talk about wetsuits. Wetsuits are not the right clothing to wear at paddle boarding at any time of year, unless you are in the surf or in the water more often than not. Wetsuits work by holding a thin layer of water between the neoprene and your skin, they’re not breathable so when you get warm they get itchy and uncomfortable and this happens quickly when you’re dry, which is the aim to achieve when you’re paddling in the cold.
Seeing as we’re aiming to keep dry we can use materials which are more efficient at keeping the warmth in. We firmly recommend polyester fleece base layers, should you take an unintentional dip and get them wet they will maintain a great deal of their warmth while wet and they dry quickly. A well designed one will also have a fluffier or more fibrous inner, this helps the base to wick any moisture away from your skin and transport it outwards to evaporate away.
Staying dry and out of the wind is the key to remaining warm in the winter. This being said the ideal outer layer to wear would be a drysuit – these have inbuilt socks and seals around your neck and wrists meaning if you were to enter the water your head and hands are the only things which would get wet! The price of these can put them outside of many peoples budget however so, what to do if you can’t afford a drysuit? The most cost effective option would be to wear a waterproof Cag with a good base layer underneath and neoprene on the legs, be aware though that if you go for a swim wearing this combination you will be wet throughout. A warmer option than this would be to go for dry trousers and a cag, a good fitting and well designed set of cag and dry trousers will interact with each other well to minimise the amount of water which can enter through the waist meaning if you’re in the water and out again quickly there is a good chance you will come out dry.
In the winter the footpaths and river access are generally in worse condition through a lack of use, you’re likely to find both sharp branches or thorns on the water as well as more mud so you want footwear which has a decent sole unit, good grip and protection from the floor are critical. A neoprene upper would help to keep your feet warm too. Neoprene socks if you’re not wearing dry trousers will go a long way to helping keep you warm too. If you’re wearing a drysuit then fleece socks are an amazing way to finish the job!
We would recommend using palmless mittens rather than full gloves – you get a massive amount of feedback through your paddleshaft, as soon as you wear a full set of thick gloves you loose that contact and thus feedback.