SUPing in winter is a popular activity. While most people tend to paddle board during the summer months, stand up paddle boarding in the winter also presents its own unique challenges and benefits that you should definitely try.
The colder weather and shorter days call for extra preparation and attention, but on the other hand, the beautiful winter surroundings, a clear blue sky and the calm, pristine waters are definitely worth it. Whether you are an experienced supper or have never stood on a SUP board , wonderful supping in the winter is an unforgettable experience that you should definitely try.
Where can you sup in the winter?
If you go stand up paddle boarding in the winter, do yourself a favor by avoiding remote locations. We also do not recommend visiting the sea. The sea water is unpredictable in winter and therefore it is not safe to paddle board at sea during this period.
Lakes, ditches and medium-sized puddles are often good places to paddle board in winter, as they provide shelter and the water is flat. Check in advance for any sailing bans, as it is not allowed to paddle board everywhere. Also look at the routes that have already been explored.
In the swimming pool
SUPing in the pool is also a good option in winter. It is more common than you might think, there are several SUP schools in the Netherlands that teach in the pool during the winter. Some of these schools combine paddle boarding with a workout on the shore or opt for a trip in the open air.
SUPing in the pool offers an excellent opportunity to improve your agility and balance on the board. You sacrifice a bit on the sense of freedom, but this should not spoil the fun.
Clothing for supping in winter
For a comfortable SUP session in cold weather, it is recommended to dress according to the proven 3-layer system.
The system consists of the following three layers:
The 3-layer system for cold weather supping is aimed at absorbing sweat and preventing cold. Below we have set out a step-by-step plan for you so that you know exactly how it works:
1. First layer - base
- Provides the basic heating
- Thermal clothing that is worn directly on the skin, such as thermal underwear
- Absorbs moisture, keeping the body dry and warm
2. Second layer - insulation
- Provides insulation and retains body heat
- Worn looser than the first layer to optimize the insulation function between the two layers
- Further wicks away moisture to support the function of the first layer
- Depending on the outside temperature, you can choose thickness and materials such as wool, fleece or polyester
3. Third layer - protection
- Protects against weather conditions such as wind, rain and cold
- Breathable material for the heat and sweat
- Water and windproof or water repellent
Of course you can also wear your sports outfit when you go supping. Chances are you also use this outfit while running, playing tennis or other outdoor sports. It is best if it is made of Dri-Fit material. Unlike cotton, Dri-Fit materials wick away sweat well and your body is kept warm.
Keep in mind that sportswear in many cases is not waterproof. In this case, work with layers and make sure you have enough stuff with you.
Here is an example of a suitable outfit for stand up paddle boarding in autumn or winter:
- Long running pants (possibly with thermal pants underneath)
- Thermo shirt or Dri FIT long arm shirt
- Sweater or cardigan
- Windproof jacket
A drysuit is designed to keep you completely dry and warm, ideal for paddlers who often fall into the water and want more security. The suit is loose around the body, so you can wear warm clothes underneath and move freely while paddle boarding.
The neck, ankles and wrists are well sealed to prevent water ingress. The only disadvantage of drysuits is that they are relatively expensive. Especially novice suppers are more likely to opt for a wetsuit.
Wet suit or long john
A wetsuit is designed to keep the water between the skin and the suit when you go paddle boarding. It works as follows: the thin layer of water is heated by your body. For this reason it is crucial that a wetsuit fits your body well, this prevents cold water from flowing in and the heat is retained.
The neoprene material is used for insulation and keeps the body warm. (winter) wetsuits are available in different thicknesses, where the thickness determines the degree of warmth.
This is indicated by two numbers, for example 4/3 mm, where the first number indicates the thickness of the neoprene on the chest and back and the second number indicates the thickness of the neoprene on the arms and legs. Good to know is that wetsuits with a thicker neoprene insulation material can be stiff.
Different types of
There are different variants of wetsuits available. For example, you choose a body-covering wetsuit or a so-called long john. A long john is a suit with long legs, but without sleeves. Many suppers find wearing a long john more comfortable, because it allows freer movement in the water.
The long john is an ideal suit because it can be worn in different weather conditions. In cold temperatures you can wear extra layers over it and in warm weather you can simply sup in your long john.
Neoprene SUP clothing
Neoprene is a synthetic rubber material with excellent water and UV resistance. It provides insulating properties and improves buoyancy. It is resistant to all kinds of weather conditions and very durable.
Thickness neoprene SUP clothing
|Temperature of the water
|Thickness of the wetsuit:
|> 2ºC (icy cold temperature)
|6/4, 5/5 or 5/4
|Dry suit, steamer
|> 8ºC (cold temperature)
|5/4 or 5/3
|Steamer, full body suit
|> 14ºC (mild temperature)
|5/3 or 4/3
|Full body suit
|> 18ºC (warm temperature)
|Full bodysuit, over the knee or short arm
|> 22ºC (Tropical warm temperature)
|3/2, 2/2 or 2/1
In many sports it is increasingly common to wear rash guards, better known as lycra shirts. These offer protection against harmful UV radiation and are comfortable, even under your wetsuit.
Protect your feet
Keep your feet warm and dry in cold weather with, for example, waterproof socks. Movement during supping is limited and water can get on it, which does not benefit the warming of your feet.
Cold feet reduce overall body temperature. It is recommended to wear water shoes or socks in the fall and winter while paddle boarding.
Protect your hands
To prevent you from quickly suffering from cold hands when supping in the winter months, it is wise to wear gloves at the start of the trip. Often they become unnecessary after a while when you warm up and you can store them in a waterproof drybag .
SUP in winter: safety
It is possible to paddle board in winter, but this brings additional risks and challenges. The water is colder and there is a greater risk of hypothermia.
- Get good clothes, let someone know what your plans are
- Bring a phone
- Always use a leash
In the past, the safety leash has been a life saver several times.
A life jacket is also recommended, as this ensures that you stay afloat and that you stand out more quickly in the water in the event of an accident. If you go on the water longer, also bring something to eat and drink.
Swimming or life jacket
The differences between a swim jacket and a life jacket are often unknown, but they are extremely important during winter paddle boarding.
- A life jacket assists you in floating, but is not specifically designed to save you.
- A life jacket, on the other hand, is specifically designed to help you if you are in trouble and keeps you afloat on your back with the airways clear of water.
Although many paddlers do not wear a swim or life jacket, it is important to wear one. Unexpected falls can lead to confusion resulting in dangerous situations, especially in deep waters.
A life jacket significantly increases your chance of survival in our cold waters and is therefore recommended by the KNRM. An alternative is a restube, a compact rescue tool that you can use to inflate a life buoy.
There are no legal safety requirements for SUP athletes , but the KNRM gives clear advice to wear a life jacket.
What else should you think about when you go supping in the winter?
When supping in the winter you also have to think about lighting. It gets dark earlier and your visibility on the water decreases.
There are different ways to mount lighting on your SUP board, such as bicycle lighting or specially made lighting for SUP boards.
It is wise to use strong lighting and be visible from a distance. In the best case, wear reflective clothing and, if necessary, bring a flashlight for extra visibility and signaling.
Benefits of winter supping
Maybe you consider yourself a summer supper. Give it a try during cold weather and discover the benefits. We think you will never want it any other way. There are therefore few disadvantages to mention, the only requirement is good preparation, and then you can fully enjoy paddle boarding:
- Experience supping in a unique way in autumn and winter. The water is calmer and the nature you see from the water is special.
- SUPing in autumn and winter is good for your health. By being outside, you make enough vitamin D, which contributes to strong bones and an improvement of your immune system.
- The water and nature offer pure relaxation in your daily life, even when the days get shorter and fresher.
- You burn a lot of calories by supping in colder temperatures, because your body has to work harder to stay warm.
- SUP makes you happy and the production of the happiness hormone endorphins is stimulated by movement. It's a shame to only do this in the summer!
Tips supping in the winter
SUP is a fantastic sport that can be practiced all year round. However, the winter season brings other challenges, such as colder temperatures and shorter days. Make sure you are well prepared if you want to paddle board in the winter.
Below we will give tips on what you should know and consider if you want to go paddle boarding in winter:
1. Check the weather conditions:
The weather is always changeable, so it is wise to always consult the weather forecast before you go supping. Pay attention to the wind force, direction and chance of rain. SUPing during rain, wind and storm is not pleasant.
A windless, sunny day is of course the best. It is wise to go paddle boarding between 11am and 3pm in the late morning and afternoon when it is usually warm and well lit. SUPing in the dark is less pleasant and also less safe.
Remember that both the water temperature and the outside temperature are lower in autumn and winter than in summer. When paddle boarding you do move, but you also stand in one place and sometimes in the shade. The sun is less powerful, so you don't heat up as quickly.
2. Safety first:
Always keep safety as a top priority when paddleboarding, especially when the outside and water temperatures are low. Always use your leash, also known as ankle cord, to hold your paddle board in the event of a fall.
This is especially important in places with currents or wind, so that the board does not drift too far and you do not have to swim behind your SUP board, which can be tiring, especially in combination with cold water.
It is always wiser to sup together, because this is not only more fun, but also safer. If you want to paddle board alone, tell someone where you are going and take your phone with you. It is not recommended to paddle board alone on running or large water. Also download the KNRM Helps app on your phone so you can share your location and ask for help if you get into trouble.
3. Take a break and enjoy:
It is part of paddle boarding to take a break every now and then and appreciate the surroundings. In cold weather it is nice to drink something warm, such as tea, coffee or chocolate milk. Don't forget to bring your thermos flask.
4. Get the right clothes:
In warm weather you don't have to worry about your clothes, at least you won't get cold quickly. A bathing suit, a shorty wetsuit , shorts and a shirt are sufficient. But in autumn and winter it is wiser to choose dry and warm clothing. There are plenty of options, so choose what you like, taking into account how quickly you feel cold or hot and what type of supper you are.
There is a difference between a supper who regularly falls into the water and suppers who want to avoid this at all costs. You yourself probably know how you are in this respect, but a fall can always happen, even if you have never fallen.
It is wise to have extra clothes with you, in case you get wet (don't forget to buy a drybag or waterproof barrel , especially for the longer trips).
We recommend wearing layers so that you can easily put on and take off clothing. If you paddle solidly in succession, you will be warmer than if you take a break every now and then. When you stop supping, you cool down quickly, just like when running or cycling, watch your muscles and prevent cramps.