The time has come when any glimpse of warm weather (65 degrees and up) lays strictly in the past and the future. We are now in the present moment of January. Winter is here. But that does not mean paddling has to stop! It just means you need to take the necessary precautions and wear the correct gear in order to make your paddling experience the best it can be!
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 wet suit 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 wet suit with an added hood or a 5/4mm wet suit with a hood attached.
The negative of using a wet suit to paddle comes on the flat water. A thick wet suit 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 wet suit 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 sell at Walk on Water, 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 dry suits are as aforementioned, 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 wet suit, dry suits will only get you cold if they have water in them!!
So, when surfing, choose a wet suit, and when flat water paddling, a dry suit is the way to go!!
Most paddlers tend to choose their wet suit 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. And while this may be a little inconvenient, it is most definitely effective.
Now, more importantly, what type of footwear should be applied?
Wet suit booties are a go to. They are tight, grip, well and keep your feet warm. With a dry suit 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 cartridge and the flotation device does not have holes in it. PFD’s don’t tend to float if they have holes.
A good example of an affordable 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 paddle boarding, 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 off season.