Alright, so where do we start?
Easy- with your body. In order to brave the cold you need to dress appropriately. And this means choosing between a dry suit and a wet suit. The major difference between the two being one is dry and one is wet- duh. But which one is better? Well, they’re both good but each is useful in their own way.
A wet suit is great for SUP surfing. When you get wet in a wetsuit it lets water in and the thin layer of water is warmed by your body heat keeping you toasty in the process. They’re not the most mobile as they tend to be pretty tight if they fit correctly, but they work great for paddling in the waves. If you decide to go surfing in January it is recommended to purchase a 4/3mm wetsuit with an added hood or a 5/4mm wetsuit with a hood attached.
The negative of using a wetsuit to paddle comes on the flat water. A thick wetsuit will keep you warm for a period of time when paddling on the bay, however, if you are not getting in the water consistently you begin to get cold- especially in the wind. One way to counter this is to jump in the water and then back up onto your board immediately in order to fully use the suit but if that doesn’t seem like a good idea to you than the other idea is to invest in a dry suit!
What the wetsuit lacks in flat water paddling, the dry suit more than makes up for it! With a dry suit the paddler has the ability to add warm winter layers underneath, negating the need to jump in the water to keep yourself warm. A good dry suit like the Ocean Rodeo suits we at Walk on Water sell, are sealed suits to keep water from making its way in even if you do fall in the drink once in a while. However, it is not recommended to surf in one. While the best drysuits are as aformentioned, sealed, if a paddler had to duck dive multiple times underneath heavy surf, it will more than likely going to begin to leak. And unlike a wetsuit, dry suits will only get you cold if they have water in them!!
So, when surfing, choose a wetsuit, and when flat water paddling, a dry suit is the way to go!!
If you’re paddling flat water, any warm glove with a grippy palm will work as long as you’re only paddling flat water. But you have to make sure it has a grippy palm!! If you’re using a slick one, gripping the paddle on the top handle as well as the shaft will be difficult, causing your hands to slip and create more problems than they’re worth. Which will make you take off your gloves, cause your hands to freeze, while screaming at the sky cursing your luck for living in a place with a winter. Well, maybe not all of that will happen, but trust us, grip is much better.
Most paddlers tend to choose their wetsuit gloves because they’re tight, flexible, and will keep your hands relatively warm. However, they are not insulated the same way a regular winter glove is, and in the wind, they can get cold. Which again can be negated by dipping your hands in the water occasionally. While a little inconvenient, it is most definitely effective.
Now, more importantly, what type of footwear should be applied?
Wetsuit booties are a go to. They are tight, grip, well and keep your feet warm. With a drysuit on you can wear socks underneath and still be able to strap the booties on with no problem. This will keep your feet both warm and dry. And that is important- as we all know there is nothing worse than cold feet. Unless you have cold feet and cold hands. Which, let’s be honest, you should just give up at that point and move to Costa Rica.
So we have our suits, our gloves, and our booties. Do we need anything else for winter paddling?
Much like with all paddling, but especially with the added dangers of cold temperatures, a good PFD is absolutely necessary when out on the water. The best one’s are the waist pack belts- they’re sleek, easy to use, and will come in handy in a pinch. Make sure it is loaded with a usable C02 cartrdige and the flotation device does not have holes in it. PFD don’t tend to float if they have holes.
A good example of an afforable waist pack belt are the Onyx M-16 pictured below and sold at Walk on Water:
What are we missing??
Oh yes. A board!! Of course! Luckily, we have you covered there. If you’re looking to get into paddleboarding, don’t wait for summer! We can help you out with a great deal today. And with the proper gear- there’s no such thing as an offseason.