Small SUP tips, #1 Cold water SUP

Last few years have been mainly SUP paddling for me. I have been paddling SUP since 2009. Along these years I have done many different kind of paddling and now i thought i could share some of my findings under posts called “Small SUP tips”.

#1 Cold water SUP

Most of the years i have been paddling almost around the year here in Finland. Here are few of my findings when paddling in cold conditions.

  1. Don’t start your SUP hobby in cold conditions. You should have experience in falling of your board and getting back up. When you fall in water that is only few Celsius it creates a little shock to your body and it might lead in to a small panic. It might get difficult to act rationally.
  2. Always use a leach. When you fall try not to swim to your board but pull the board to you from the leach. It’s rally hard to swim with a paddle in your hand. There is few different techniques swimming efficiently with a paddle.
  3. Where clothing that allow you to stay comfortable in the water for a little time and also on the board after the fall.
  4. Paddle with a friend or at least on routes that you are familiar with.
  5. Check the weather forecast and plan the route accordingly. The weather can change really fast and it can get cold really fast.
  6. Try to launch from a place that you can get on your board with dry feet.
  7. Neoprene booties are the best to wear on your feet while paddling. Booties come with different thicknesses from 2-8mm. Booties are not water tight so you can wear for example water tight shocks under them. I don’t own water tight booties so i have used small plastic bags on my feet on really cold days. To give more warmth you can use woolen socks under the booties also. You have to take in to consideration that all you have between your feet and the board affects the way you feel your board and the overall balance.
  8. Thick gloves make your forearms sore very easily. Use the thinnest gloves you can comfortable paddle in. Neoprene gloves are usually too thick under your palm. If you don’t get your hands wet while paddling then i do not recommend neoprene gloves. Thin Nordic skiing gloves have worked well for me. Usually i can paddle without gloves when air temp is 6c or more. I usually start with gloves and when i get blood flowing i take off the gloves.
  9. Wetsuit, drysuit or something else? If you are serious about paddling in cold a breathing drysuit is the best option. Whit a dryisuit you can paddle in almost any condition and it’s the safest option. You can put clothing under the drysuit according to conditions. I would say a wetsuit is the minimum requirement. You can easily get over heated in a wetsuit and controlling your temperature is quite difficult. A thin wetsuit with something over it to block the wind chill has worked the best for me.

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