Supping in winter is a popular activity. Although most people tend to do supping during the summer months, winter supping also offers its own unique challenges and benefits that you should definitely have tried.
The colder weather and shorter days require extra preparation and attention, but on the other hand, the beautiful winter scenery, clear blue skies and calm, pristine waters are well worth it. Whether you are an experienced supper or have never been on a SUP board have stood, delightful supping in winter is an unforgettable experience you should definitely try.
Where can you supp in winter?
If you go supping in winter, you do yourself a favour when you avoid remote locations. Also, we do not recommend going to the sea. The seawater is unpredictable in winter and therefore it is not safe to surf at sea during this period.
Lakes, ditches and medium-sized lakes are often good places to supp in winter, as they offer shelter and the water is flat. Check in advance for any boating bans, as supping is not allowed everywhere. Also check routes that have already been explored.
In the pool
Surfing in the pool is also a good option in winter. More common than you might think, there are several SUP schools in the Netherlands that offer lessons in the pool in winter. Some of these schools combine the supping with a workout on the shore or opt for an outdoor trip.
Surfing in the pool offers an excellent opportunity to improve your agility and balance on the board. You sacrifice a little on the feeling of freedom but this should not spoil the fun.
Clothing for supping in winter
For a comfortable sup session during cold weather it is recommended to dress according to the tried-and-tested 3-layer system.
The system comprises the following three layers:
The 3-layer system for supping in cold weather is aimed at trapping sweat and preventing cold. Below, we have laid out a roadmap for you so you know exactly how it works:
1. First layer - base
- Provides basic heating
- Thermal clothing worn directly on the skin such as thermal underwear
- Cushions moisture, keeping the body dry and warm
2. Second layer - insulation
- Provides insulation and retains body heat
- Worn looser than the first layer to optimise 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 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 will 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 keep your body warm.
Keep in mind that in many cases sportswear is not waterproof. In this case, work with layers and make sure you carry enough gear.
Here is an example of a suitable outfit for supping in autumn or winter:
- Long running trousers (possibly with thermal trousers underneath)
- Thermal shirt or Dri FIT long-arm shirt
- Jumper or cardigan
- Windproof jacket
A drysuit is designed to keep you completely dry and warm, ideal for suppers who often fall into the water and want more security. The suit is loose around the body, allowing you to wear warm clothing underneath and move freely while supping.
The neck, ankles and wrists are well sealed to prevent water ingress. Only disadvantage of drysuits is that they are relatively expensive. In particular beginner suppers are more likely to opt for a wetsuit.
Wetsuit or long john
A wetsuit is designed to hold the water between the skin and the suit when you go supping. It works like this: the thin layer of water is heated by your body. For this reason, it is crucial that a wetsuit fits snugly to your body, this prevents cold water flowing in and preserves warmth.
The material neoprene is used for insulation and keeps the body warm. (winter) wetsuits are available in different thickness grades, with the thickness determining the degree of heat.
This is indicated by two digits, e.g. 4/3 mm, the first digit being the thickness of the neoprene on the chest and back and the second figure indicates the thickness of the neoprene at the arms and legs. It is good to know that wetsuits with thicker neoprene insulation material can be stiff.
There are different variants of wetsuits available. For instance, you choose a body-covering wetsuit or a so-called long john. A long john is a suit with long legs but no sleeves. Many suppers find wearing a long john more comfortable, as it allows for 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 just sup in your long john.
Neoprene SUP clothing
Neoprene is a synthetic rubber material with excellent water and UV resistance. It offers insulating properties and improves buoyancy. It is resistant to all types of weather conditions and highly abrasion-resistant.
Thickness of neoprene SUP clothing
|Water temperature||Thickness of the wetsuit:||Proposed model:
|> 2ºC (freezing cold temperature)||6/4, 5/5 or 5/4||Drysuit, steamer
|> 8ºC (cold temperature)||5/4 or 5/3||Steamer, full body suit
|> 14ºC (mild temperature)||5/3 or 4/3||Full bodysuit
|> 18ºC (warm temperature)||3/2||Full bodysuit, overknee or short arm
|> 22ºC (Tropical warm temperature)||3/2, 2/2 or 2/1||Shorty|
In many sports, it is increasingly common to wear rashguards, better known as lycra shirts. These offer protection from harmful UV rays and are comfortable even under your wetsuit.
Protect your feet
Keep your feet warm and dry in cold weather with waterproof socks, for example. Movement while supping is limited and water can get on them, this does not help warm your feet.
Cold feet reduce overall body temperature. It is recommended to water shoes or socks to wear in autumn and winter while supping.
Protect your hands
To avoid easily getting cold hands when supping in the winter months, it is wise to wear gloves at the beginning of the trip. They are often redundant after a while when you have warmed up and you can store them in a waterproof drybag.
Suppen in winter: safety
It is possible to supper in winter, but this comes with extra risks and challenges. The water is colder and there is a greater risk of hypothermia.
- Get well dressed, let someone know what your plans are
- Bring a phone
- Always use a leash
In the past, the safety leash has been life-saving on several occasions.
A life jacket is also recommended, as it ensures that you stay afloat and are more likely to be noticed in the water in case of an accident. If you are going out on the water for longer, take some food and drink with you too.
Swimming or life jacket
The differences between a swimming and a lifejacket are often unknown but hugely important while supping in winter.
- A life jacket supports you when floating, but is not specifically designed to rescue you.
- A life jacket, on the other hand, is specifically designed to help you when you are in trouble and ensures that you stay afloat on your back with the airways clear of water.
Although many suppers do not wear a life or swimming 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 KNRM. An alternative is a restube, a compact rescue tool that allows you to inflate a life buoy.
There are no legal safety requirements for sup-sportsmen, but KNRM gives the clear advice to wear a life jacket.
What else should you think about when you go supping in winter?
When supping in winter, you should also think about lighting. It gets dark earlier and your visibility on the water decreases.
There are different ways to mount lights on your SUP board, think bike lights or specially made lights for SUP boards.
It is wise to use powerful lighting and be highly visible from a distance. Ideally, wear reflective clothing and, if necessary, carry a torch for extra visibility and signalling.
Advantages of winter supping
Maybe you consider yourself a summer supper. Try it out during cold weather and discover the benefits. We think you'll never want it any other way. Therefore, there are few disadvantages to mention, the only requirement is a good preparation, and after that you can fully enjoy supping:
- Experience supping in a unique way in autumn and winter. The water is calmer and the nature you see from the water is special.
- Supping in autumn and winter is good for your health. By being outside, you produce plenty of vitamin D, which contributes to strong bones and an improvement in 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, as your body has to work harder to stay warm.
- Supping makes you happy and the production of the happiness hormone endorphins is stimulated by exercise. It's a shame to do this only in summer!
Tips for supping in winter
Suppen is a fantastic sport that can be practised 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 supper in winter.
Below, we will provide tips on what you need to know and consider if you want to go supping in winter:
1. Check weather conditions:
The weather is always changeable, so it is wise to always check the weather forecast before you go supping. Pay attention to wind force, direction and chance of rain. Surfing during rain, wind and storm is no fun.
A windless, sunny day is of course best. It is wise to go supping between 11 and 3 in late morning and afternoon, as it is usually warm and well-lit then. Supping in the dark is less pleasant and also more unsafe.
Bear in mind that both water and outdoor temperatures are lower in autumn and winter than in summer. When supping, you do move, but you also stand in one place and sometimes in the shade. The sun is less powerful, so you are less likely to be warmed up.
2. Safety first:
Always keep safety as a top priority while supping, especially in low outdoor and water temperatures. Always use your leash, also known as ankle cord, to hold your SUP board in case of a fall.
This is especially important in places with currents or wind, so the board doesn't drift too far away and you don't have to swim your SUP board behind, which can be tiring, especially when combined with cold water.
It is always wiser to supper together, as it is not only more sociable, but also safer. If you do want to supper alone, tell someone where you are going and take your phone with you. It is not recommended to supper alone on flowing or big 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 supping to occasionally take a break and appreciate the surroundings. In cold weather, it is nice to have something warm to drink, such as tea, coffee or chocolate milk. So don't forget to bring your thermos with you.
4. Make sure you dress appropriately:
In warm weather, you don't have to worry about your clothes - at least, you won't be cold anytime soon. A swimming costume, a shorty wetsuit, shorts and shirt will suffice. But in autumn and winter, it is wiser to opt for dry and warm clothing. There are plenty of options, so choose what you like, taking into account how quickly you get 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 it at all costs. You probably know yourself in this respect, but a fall can always happen, even if you have never fallen.
It is wise to carry extra clothing with you, in case you get wet (don't forget a drybag or waterproof barrel purchase, especially for longer trips).
We recommend wearing layers, so you can easily put on and take off garments. If you sup firmly in a row, you will be warmer than if you take occasional breaks. When you stop supping, just like running or cycling, you will cool down quickly, be careful with your muscles and avoid cramping.
Last updated on 03/02/2023