What to wear paddle boarding in winter, spring, summer and autumn

what to wear paddle boarding

Last Updated on 2 March 2023 by Sarah Dunes

What should I wear in every season - winter, spring, summer, autumn?

As a minimum you should always wear and take with you the following:

  1. Lifejacket or personal flotation device (PFD) 
  2. Paddle
  3. SUP Leash
  4. Safety Whistle
  5. Swimsuit
  6. Rash Guard
  7. Wetsuit
  8. Water bottle

In any sport, the fundamental basics are the most important things to nail first. The same goes for gear when it comes to paddleboarding or any other water sport. Being in open water is already a risk in itself and although facilities are keeping watch to maintain safety standards, there are incidents that are caused by naturally occurring events in the environment. Thankfully, there are basic garments and equipment that can help you stay safe even through unfavourable circumstances. 

Remember that among all equipment and gear, safety devices should always be top priority. The basics mainly cover you as a user to protect you from possible injuries and flotation devices to keep your head above water. Also, note that the SUP leash can turn the board into an added flotation device by keeping you attached to the buoyant board. It might seem like a trivial accessory but it can save lives. 

Especially if it’s your first time to paddleboard, you may want to go through this article to check what you need to bring and do before the trip!


What Wetsuit thickness do I need?

A Wetsuit is a basic piece of clothing that is used for many watersports including paddleboarding. Of course, there are many variations in terms of thickness according to different temperatures. It is best to take note of that and wear the appropriate wetsuit. To make things easier, here is a quick guide on how thick your wetsuit should be according to temperature as recommended by the Wetsuit Centre:

  • 3MM – 16.5 Degrees Celsius
  • 4MM – 14.5  Degrees Celsius
  • 4.5MM – 12  Degrees Celsius
  • 5MM – 11  Degrees Celsius
  • 5.5MM – 9  Degrees Celsius
  • 6MM – 6  Degrees Celsius
  • 7MM – 5  Degrees Celsius

You can access the full detailed guide here. However, you can still definitely go a bit thicker or lighter depending on your tolerance. If there is a risk where the season has shifted to unpredictably cold temperatures, it would be best to pack extra garments to cover up, adding more layers of protection and warmth. It’s always best to stay safe by being ready for the extremes, so always pack for the unexpected.

    What to wear paddle boarding in winter

    Winter is a jolly season for most but for paddleboarders, it can be excruciating. You certainly shouldn’t paddleboard in the winter when weather conditions are unfavorable or are predicted to turn for the worse. If you do intend on paddleboarding in the winter for the less crowded locations and beautiful sites, timing is key. Make sure you are well-informed with the weather movements and with any updates from the local authorities regarding regulations if the activity is allowed.

    With temperatures averaging at 2-7 degrees Celsius and sometimes even going even below 0, the cold can be your worst enemy in open water. So it is crucial to gear up with insulating garments:

    • Thermal Wear (Tops and Bottoms) – In the winter time, it’s all about insulation. Some suits may provide a certain level of insulation but it is best to layer up so you don’t freeze in and out of the water. 
    • Wetsuit or Drysuit – You can go for a wetsuit or drysuit according to preference. A drysuit designed specifically for paddleboarding is recommended as  you may prefer to not have water against your skin. Either way, try to avoid a full body suit. A full body suit may be restricting and in the cold, you wouldn’t want to limit your range in motion. 
    • Neoprene leggings – Whether you’re already wearing bottoms and a suit, the neoprene can act as an extra layer of warmth that can also protect you from splashes of water. 
    • Socks – Thermal or neoprene is highly recommended to keep you warm and dry.
    • Boots – You definitely want to keep your feet dry so you don’t freeze them off. There are wetsuit boots that may be ideal for this activity but any pair of boots that have non-slip soles can work just as well.
    • Gloves – Neoprene gloves or any other material that can keep your hands warm and dry will be best for paddleboarding. You can’t risk losing the strength in your grip with the numbing cold so make sure to keep your hands warm.
    • Hat – Your head will be exposed to the cold so make sure to bring a wool hat or beanie to add a layer of protection as well.

    On top of these garments, you’re welcome to wear additional layers such as hoodies or jackets that can provide some added warmth (but don’t forget the lifejacket). The basic rule you can follow is you need as much heat as possible without compromising movements and grip. You want to be able to move freely especially once you’re on the board. Preplan your gear and acquire waterproof garments if you can. You’ll enjoy your trip more if you’re equipped for the weather.


    What to wear paddle boarding in Spring

    Spring is a beautiful season where everything is just starting to thaw from the icy winter. Likewise, Autumn is a beautiful and colorful season where it’s just starting to get chillier into winter. It gets tempting to go paddleboarding and appreciate the mesmerising views during these seasons. Despite having warmer temperatures compared to winter, the temperature could still be chilly, making the water considerably colder than during the summer. The key trick here is to stay dry. 

    Here is a quick list of what you can equip yourself for the trip:

    • Appropriate wetsuit or drysuit as preferred
    • Long sleeved shirt (thermal wear or neoprene according to preference)
    • Waterproof jacket
    • Non-slip water sport shoes or neoprene boots
    • Hat – if it’s still chilly and for UV protection
    • Gloves as preferred – it’s not really necessary but may help with your grip.
    • Dry bag – if the intent is staying dry, a dry bag would be a good choice to keep your belongings dry including a spare shirt or jacket to wear if you feel like adding some layers or if you accidentally get wet.

    In spring and autumn, there may be more leeway in comparison to winter but it is still best to go over prepared. Weather can turn in the most unexpected times and as sometimes, it can get very unfavorable very quickly. 

    What to wear paddle boarding in Autumn

    Paddle boarding in Autumn is much the same as in the Spring, so you can refer to the section above for all of the essentials. Just be sure to be aware of the air temperature, as especially in the evenings it can get exceptionally chilly. Don’t go out after dark, and make sure that you’re prepared for every eventuality. 

    What to wear paddle boarding in Summer

    Summer is the best season for watersports. Almost all bodies of water become friendlier during this season and they’re ideal for paddleboarding. Of course, there are still environmental factors that can cause mishaps and one of the most important elements to protect yourself from is the sun. It’s crucial to take care of your skin, stay hydrated, and put on ample protection so you don’t get burnt and in extreme cases, pass out from the heat.


    Here is a list of what you should wear during the summer on your paddleboarding trip:

    • Swimsuit – you have more freedom here since the weather is warm but make sure it fits well and doesn’t restrict movement.
    • Wetsuit – the air may be warmer, but the water temperature (particularly here in the UK) will still be cold. If you’re a beginner paddle boarder or going far from shore, its probably a good idea to don a wetsuit or drysuit.
    • Shorts or Swim tights – this can serve as protection in case of falls or slips.
    • Hat for sun protection
    • Rash guard
    • Light jacket or overshirt – in case of a breeze or if it gets windy.
    • Non-slip water sport shoes or go barefoot
    • Sunscreen – protect yourself from those harmful UV rays.

    Paddle Boarding Shoes

    When choosing shoes for your trip, you definitely need to consider the weather. In the summer, going barefoot is one of the best options since the grip on the boards are designed for that but when the temperature is too cold, you need to add layers to your feet too.


    It is best to make sure you have a pair of handy non-slip water sport shoes that can protect your feet during colder weather or rockier environments. Likewise, have an ample supply of neoprene and thermal socks for icier weather when you don’t want to freeze your feet off.