What to Wear For Paddleboarding: A Guide for All Seasons

If you’ve recently picked up paddleboarding, you’re probably wondering what you’re going to need to sport on the board. If you’re considering paddleboarding during all seasons, you’ve come to the right place. We have just what you need to do just that.

So what do you wear for paddleboarding?

Warm Weather Cold Weather
Board Shorts or SwimsuitDrysuit
Hat or wet capWetsuit
RashguardJacket
SunglassesLong sleeve shirt

What you choose to wear for paddleboarding is going to depend on the type of weather you’re paddleboarding in. For example, if you’re paddleboarding in the summertime, a pair of board shorts will suit you just fine. Lucky for you, there’s a lot to choose from. Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

What You Should Wear When Paddleboarding in the Summer

There isn’t much to consider when you’re shopping for things to wear for the warmer months. The main things you need to worry about are sun protection and rash protection.

For even the casual paddleboarder, you’ll still want to take into account attire to protect you from the sun. You’ll also want to know how to avoid getting what paddlers call “swimmers rash.” Let’s take a peek so you’ll know what to look for when you’re shopping.

Board Shorts

Many paddleboarders, mostly men, opt to wear board shorts. These shorts are fashionable, which is why most men who paddleboard prefer to wear these.

They tend to come to the knees and come in many different designs. They are made out of a fabric that allows them to dry quickly, which is another reason many boarders prefer these shorts.

You may want to abandon your traditional trunks while paddleboarding. The reason is because trunks are not water-resistant. Board shorts are also longer and offer more protection if you’re boarding in a rough area.

Board shorts also have a drawstring on the front, so they fit snug. This is necessary so they don’t fall off when you hit the water hard like trunks would. Trunks are most often elastic and don’t stay up upon impact. That could be embarrassing.

Swimsuit

For female paddleboarders, you have the option to wear either a bathing suit or board shorts with a loose shirt. This is a matter of personal preference. But a normal bathing suit will suffice.

Now that we have covered what you’ll need for the warmer season let’s move on to what you’re going to need for the cooler months.

Rashguard

When you’re paddleboarding, you should consider a rash guard. Rashguards are important for paddleboarders because when you drive in and out of the water, you’ll likely start chafing from being wet or develop what’s known as swimmer’s rash.

A rash guard is also the perfect piece to wear under a wet or dry suit in the cooler months. However, you can also wear it alone in the summer. It’s a good investment for all seasons.

Hat or Wet Cap

For those of you that dislike getting your hair wet or if you’re a beginner, you may want to consider a wet cap. More experienced boarding may wear a baseball cap or a beach hat while boarding for sun protection.

If you’re a beginner, you’ll want a wet cap to keep the water from running into your eyes. Wet caps are made of neoprene and water-resistant. Wet caps also will not fly off if your head in the wind like a baseball cap or a beach hat.

Sunglasses

Believe it or not, there does exist different types of sunglasses designed just for paddleboarding, and they aren’t anything like goggles.

These sunglasses are designed for the water and to stay on your head. Paddleboarding sunglasses come with a strap that goes around your head, so they don’t fall off.

They also come in one lens or two lenses. So you can choose whichever one you like. These sunglasses are also waterproof. You’re going to want to invest in a pair of these babies. They are a small but wise purchase.

Sunscreen

Sunscreen is something that you may want to pick up at the store for obvious reasons. Many people simply brush off the dangers of sun exposure. But, if you’re going to be out in the sun for a long period of time, you’re going to want to consider it.

You’ll want to look for a sunscreen that protects against high UV rays, and one that is waterproof. Look for a sunscreen that you don’t have to apply often, so you don’t have to reapply every hour.

What to Wear for Paddleboarding in the Cooler Months

If you’re a die-hard paddleboarder and want to paddleboard in the cooler months, you’re brave. Also, there’s some attire you should consider to keep you warm. Let’s get to it so you can go hit the water!

Drysuit

A dry suit is completely waterproof and keeps you dry. Hence the name “dry suit.”

A dry suit keeps you warm by using your body heat and trapping it inside the suit. Pretty simple, yet efficient.

The downfall of wearing a drysuit is that because it’s kind of bulky, it can be uncomfortable to wear. You can’t really manoeuvre that well in them either. But that is a small price to pay if you’re going to paddleboard when the temperature dips.

Wetsuit

Wet suits are the perfect choice for those of you that can’t stand the drysuits but still want to brave the cooler weather and ride the water.

Wetsuits work by trapping the water in between your skin and the suit itself and warming it up, ultimately keeping you nice and toasty.

Wetsuits are also the perfect choice for those of you that choose to wear a rashguard. Simply wear the suit over your rash guard, and you’re good to go!

Jacket

A SUP jacket is perfect for cooler weather. It’s meant for standup paddleboarding, covers the upper half of your body, and it isn’t bulky. This is good if you want a little extra thermal layer for the top half of your body.

Even something lightweight and waterproof would help during the cooler months. You may also want to consider a jacket to help protect you from the sun. Just because the seasons are changing does not mean that you still can’t get sunburnt in the fall and spring.

You can also find some jackets that have pockets in them. This feature comes in handy to carry a whistle in or to carry an inflatable life jacket in. It might be a wise investment even if you don’t need it.

Long Sleeve Shirt

If you don’t want to wear a jacket during the cooler months, you should at least look for a lightweight, long sleeve shirt. Not just any old shirt from your closet will do. You’ll want a long sleeve shirt that is waterproof.

You can find some pretty stylish long sleeve shirts for paddleboarding. Make sure they are loose-fitting and allow breathability. You’ll want it to fit loosely, so you can still wear a rashguard underneath it.

When you choose to board in cooler temperatures, you will need more clothing than you would in the summertime. Make sure you take as many safety precautions as possible if this is what you’re going to do. Speaking of safety, there are a few other things you should add to your shopping list.

Safety Gear for Paddleboarding No Matter the Season

When you’re on any kind of water and in any season, there are always safety precautions you should be taking. It is fun, but it can also be dangerous if you don’t know what safety measures to take or what to get when you’re shopping. You want to have fun, but have fun while being safe. Here are a few things to look for while you’re out shopping for your boarding gear.

Leash

A leash is a very important piece of equipment to have whether you’re paddleboarding on the river, lake, or an ocean. It provides security and will allow you to get back on your board a whole lot faster because you’ll be able to find it faster. You’ll be able to avoid hypothermia in colder waters as well by being able to find your board quickly and get out of the cold water as fast as you can.

A leash for paddleboarding is simply a rope or a chain that you can velcro around your ankle. You can tie it to the back of your board, then velcro it to your ankle. There is a variety of designs that cater to different types of paddleboarding. Take your time to find the right one.

Floatation devices

This one is not just a safety precaution, it’s the law. The paddleboard is actually considered a vessel by coast guards. Most boarders do not wear these. Instead, they carry them with them on the paddleboard. If you’re a beginner, it is probably a smart decision to wear a life vest.

Manufacturers do make life vests that are specifically designed for paddleboarding. They are much smaller than a regular life vest. You can move around much easier in these, and for paddleboarders, it is a very wise investment.

Another flotation device you may want to consider is a lifebuoy. This will attach to your paddleboard in the same spot as the leash would. You can use this or the leash to quickly retrieve your paddleboard.

Shoes

Although most boarders go barefoot in the summertime, you just may want to consider some sort of covering for your feet in the cooler months. Remember the water trick the wetsuits perform? The same thing applies here for water shoes that are meant for the cooler months.

They are not that expensive and have many other benefits. Most paddlers do wear them for the cooler months to keep warm, and others wear them to avoid getting their feet cut. But do you need them to paddleboard? Are they essential?

Do You Need Shoes For Paddleboarding?

No, you certainly do not need shoes for paddleboarding, but if you live in Brighton, England, you will need them to get across the painful to the foot peddle beach. There are also a number of other advantages to wearing them as well. They are nice to have during the cooler months to help keep your feet from getting too cold. If you’re going to paddleboard in the cooler months like a mad man, you’re going to want them.

Shoes for paddleboarding have tons of other benefits for all different seasons. Let’s take a look to see if wearing shoes will benefit you.

  • Avoid Injury: Are you going to be boarding in some rough water? Shoes are a fantastic idea if the place you’re going to has shells on the bottom, rocks, or anything else that could hurt your foot. Shoes would be very beneficial to you in this case
  • Protect Your Toes: Shoes should also be included on your shopping list to protect your toes from getting caught in the D-rings on your board. Some borders wear shoes for this reason. Better to be safe than sorry.
  • Type Of Boarding: The type of paddleboarding you’re doing will depend on where you put your toes on the board, and this will determine if you need shoes or not. Are you going to surf or race? Are you going to be in flat water? This will help you make your choice.
  • Sun Protection: Frequent borders have been known to wear shoes just for sun protection on their feet. Once you burn your feet, it can hurt to use your board. Wearing shoes can be a good preventive measure.
  • Warmth: People who paddleboard in the cooler month have to have some sort of neoprene shoes to keep their feet warm. This is a must to avoid hypothermia in the cooler months. So, if you’re going to be paddleboarding in the cooler month, you’re for sure going to want to pick some shoes up.

So, what’s the verdict? Do you think you need shoes for paddleboarding? If you have, then you may want to read on. We will help you find the perfect shoes that fit your needs best.

Finding a Good Shoe

So we have decided whether or not you need shoes. If you have indeed decided shoes are a must for you before you hit the water you’re next question is going to be what to get. Let’s figure out what to look for in a good shoe.

  • Water Resistant: This one is essential to avoid getting a rash on your feet for soaking them in water for an extended period of time. Make sure the label says they are water-resistant.
  • Traction: When you’re looking at wet shoes for paddleboarding, you’ll want to take how the bottoms look into consideration. You’ll want a shoe with a good grip on the bottom to avoid slipping on your board.
  • Durability: If the place you’re going to be paddleboarding at most is fairly rough, you’ll for sure want to consider how tough they are. Will they easily tear? Will they protect your feet if you step on something sharp? Are they padded in case, heaven forbid, you smash your feet on something if you fall off of your board?
  • Thickness: If you’re going to be paddleboarding in cooler weather, the thickness of the shoe matters. This is one of the main reasons to consider wearing shoes. You’ll want to be able to paddleboard in comfort. Try to find something that will allow your feet to breathe, but stay warm.
  • Good Drainage: Finding a pair of shoes with good drainage is important so your shoes don’t become heavy and weight down. This will slow down your movements and make paddleboarding uncomfortable.
  • Flexible Sole: You should look for a shoe that has some flexibility in the sole so you can shift from one foot to the other fairly easily.

If you’re looking for shoes for cool or cold weather, all of these things are a must to avoid frostbite or hypothermia. Water the is very cold can kill a person in under five hours if their body temperature drops too low. Hypothermia kills paddleboarders every year.

Types of Boarding Shoes

Well, now you know what to look for when you’re shopping for shoes. Now comes the question of what to buy. There are many options to choose from and many different styles. The different styles are meant for different types of paddleboarding. Let’s narrow it down a little bit.

  • Neoprene Booties: These booties are made for cooler weather. Manufacturers offer two styles; one that comes up over the ankle for really cold conditions or below the ankle for fall-like weather. To avoid blisters, it is highly recommended that you wear a bootie that comes up over your ankle.
  • Water Socks: Water socks provide warmth in cooler weather and are fairly tough. You will have a less likely chance of cutting your feet on something with this style of shoe. An added bonus is that they are comfortable to wear, and they make shifting on your feet easy.
  • Water Sandles: Water sandals work very well as long as they have a durable strap on the back of them and they have good grips on the soles.

Ultimately what you wear when you’re paddleboarding depends on where you’re going to go the most, what kind of weather you’re going to be in, and what you think is the most comfortable.

For summer-like weather, you won’t need much more than a pair of good boarding shorts and maybe some low ankled wet shoes. Remember to take into account the dangers of the sun. Try to find some sort of protection against it. Your skin will thank you when you’re eighty years old, and you don’t have skin cancer.

For cooler weather, you might don a lightweight jacket to keep the edge off while you’re rocking that board. You might even consider picking up a wet cap to keep the chill off of your head and some aqua socks.

For cold weather, you might think about picking up a wetsuit or a drysuit whichever you prefer. Some paddleboarders switch out between the two suits preferring to use both. Remember, you can wear a rashguard under the drysuit. So if you’re prone to getting swimmer’s rash or chaffing, a dry suit would be your best bet.

Safety should be your number one priority. Don’t get too prideful, even if you have been on the board hundreds of times and think you could paddleboard without your vest handy or without a leash.

The safety tools for paddleboarders are made because they benefit and help protect paddleboards, and people have found a way to make this sport safer. They are designed to work with paddleboarders, not against them. If you don’t want to wear a regular life jacket, then you might consider an inflatable one, for example. 

Make Sure Everything Fits

After you’ve picked up the proper gear make sure you try it all on and it works properly.

Life jacket: Try out your life jacket, and make sure it fits snug. You don’t want it to be loose or it won’t serve its purpose.

Shoes: Make sure your shoes aren’t too loose or too tight. Your shoes, if you decided on some, should have good grips on the bottoms and fit tightly, but comfortably. If your shoes are too loose you could fall off of your board in places you wouldn’t ideally like to fall at.

Wetsuit and drysuit: This is also very important for safety. What you wear could potentially pose a threat if one thing doesn’t fit you right. Your wetsuit should be loose-fitting, but not so loose that it won’t hold water. Your drysuit should be loose enough that you can fit a rash guard under if you’d like.

Leash: Your leash should fit firmly around your ankle. There should be no room for it to wiggle free. There should be enough slack in the rope that it nicely hangs from the D-ring, but not so much that your feet get tangled in it.

Your gear should fit you well enough to suit the purposes you intend to use them for. If it doesn’t then don’t go out until you’ve acquired the proper gear, especially in cooler weather or at night.

Take your time in choosing the right type of clothing. Get some help from the store clerk if you have to. As long as you choose the right clothing for the right type of weather and for the place you intend to go, and, you have all the safety gear you need, you should have a fantastic, but safe trip.

Safety on the Water

We have gone over some of the safety attire that you can wear to keep you safe on the water. However, there are more safety tools you should consider shopping for while you’re on your shopping trip. Safety on the water is important. Your board is considered a vessel. Therefore, there are some mandatory things all paddleboarders should carry with them.

  • A Whistle: A whistle is something the U.S. coast guard enforces. If you’re caught without one, you are asked to leave the beach. The reason it is important is that if you get stranded somewhere, you can blow it, and someone will eventually hear it and come to your rescue.
  • Engaging Your Core: This isn’t something you need to pick up, rather, start doing. The reason this is considered a safety precaution is that if you come across some rough water, you’ll be able to swim through it and save your life. Paddlers live by this motto.
  • Know Where To Go: Knowing where to go is an important part of safety. The best places for paddleboarding provide shelter from wind and waves. If you don’t know where to go paddleboarding try Googling possible places in your area or ask around. Don’t just hit the first body of water you see.
  • A Leash: Yes, this was mentioned above; however, this can not be stressed enough. A leash is very important because it connects you to your board. The faster you can get to the board in a bad situation, the safer you are.
  • A Light: If you are out on the water after dark, in order to legally be out there, you need to have a light source. Pick yourself up a waterproof flashlight and store it in your vest.
  • Bright Coloured Life Jackets: This was mentioned above as well. However, brightly coloured life jackets could make you easier to spot in case of an emergency. Try picking a colour such as bright orange, pink, or lime green, so you can be seen better.

You should also be advised that if you are out on the water and you witness an accident, by law you are required to report it to the coast guard immediately. If you do not, you could potentially face some hefty fines.

If you do see someone that looks to be in danger do not leave them, however, do not risk your own life trying to save them if the situation seems too dangerous. If you can help, then do so, after notifying the proper people. You all share the water together. Try to look out for one another.


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Carlo Raffa

Carlo Raffa is a blogger, stand-up paddleboard enthusiast, water lover and local to Brighton city in the South of England. Paddle boarding is my escape and this is only the starting point. Being a larger guy at 260lbs I am finding it very good exercise as well, especially for building core muscles. This is something that believe it or not cycling 16 miles a day at 6 miles per hour doesn't seem to be doing. Paddle Boarding allows me to just grab my board and walk right through the busy bar filled beachfront between the two piers in Brighton and head straight out of shore. It's not long before the shouting and cheering of our buzzing beach fade into just the lapping waves and the people to just small dots of the Brighton shoreline.

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