the SUP guru

this lady is well dressed for cold weather paddle boarding

How To Stay Safe During Cold Weather Paddleboarding

Now, before you put away your paddleboard, hear us out. Winter isn’t usually considered the ideal time to go paddleboarding because of the risks involved. But with the right equipment and proper practice, you too can enjoy the experience of paddleboarding all year round.
This article will help equip you with information and tips, you’ll need before paddling in the cold waters.

Table of Contents

Why Paddleboarding In Winter Is Fun?

Before we get too far in. You may be wondering why the heck anyone would get out on a SUP in the middle of a freezing winter.

Paddleboarding in cold weather may seem unnecessary and risqué, but it’s most definitely worth the hype. When you are on the board, above the bone-chilling water, all your focus and energy is on staying on the board. Every muscle in your body is working to maintain your balance. This helps you find your inner balance and improve your focus. Plus, the adrenaline rush you get while doing something potentially dangerous is just something else. Not to mention the fantastic locations and views that can be experienced in winter.

wildlife looking at me during a cold water sup

To make the most of this adventure. You will need the appropriate gear, But if you’re up for a new challenge, you should definitely give it a shot.

What Clothes To Wear When Paddleboarding In Winter?

Clothes are the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about winter paddling. 

In summers, paddleboarding clothes just consist of beach attire. 

Unless you have the same stamina as Wim Hof you’re probably going to need a bit more than a set of bathers. 

Coldwater can be harmful, and the risk of hypothermia is very real. So, winter paddleboarding attire needs a little more consideration. 

cold weather sup gear like this

There is a huge ongoing debate about the winter wetsuit and whether it actually does more harm than good when paddleboarding. Wetsuits are not sweat resistant. You will be doused in your own sweat in that suit which increases the chances of you developing hypothermia if you fall in the cold water. So, always layer yourself up

Wearing a perspiration-wicking layer with a thermal layer underneath can help combat that problem. 

Then, layer up with thick fleece jackets and bottoms to keep the cold breeze away. The fleece layer will also help you stay dry. 

The looser fit of the fleece layers will prevent your body from suffocating with its own heat. If you feel like you’re getting too hot, take a layer or two off to cool down a bit. 

Put the layers back up when feeling normal again. 

Don’t forget your feet and hands. Wear a protective and thick layer on both. A pair of thick wool socks are usually preferred, along with water-resistant shoes. The same goes for hands. Always wear thickly lined gloves with a water-resistant out surface. When buying gloves for winter paddleboarding, always make sure you have an adequate grip with the gloves on. 

Hot Tip: If you can’t find a proper pair of thick gloves for yourself, then make sure to layer wool gloves underneath a water-resistant pair. Neoprene is the ideal material here for both shoes and gloves. Not only do they provide good insulation, but they are also quick drying. 

There is also an option of a dry suit. Drysuits are different from wetsuits, as they won’t trap your sweat in them. The insulation in dry suits is due to the air trapped between layers. This will provide more insulation than wetsuits and reduce the risk of hypothermia. 

Drysuits are usually more expensive than wetsuits, but they are durable and long-lasting.

Another tip to keep in mind when you suit up for winter paddleboarding is to never layer cotton. DO NOT WEAR COTTON. Cotton will absorb your sweat and stay moist, increasing the chance of chill-induced hypothermia.  

Do You Need To Use A Different SUP In Winter?

SUP boards come in all shapes and sizes. You need to opt for a board that fits your needs best and is best suited for you, depending upon the use and the weight that’s going to be on the board. 

a woman having fun winter paddeling

Winter boards are not different, but you may need a board that can handle more weight as you may have more accessories onboard during winter paddling.

One common monster everyone encounters when paddling in winter is “ice-over”. Due to extreme cold weather and chilly water, when splashed on the board, the water turns into ice. This is extremely dangerous as it can cause you to slip. 

There is no real solution to this problem. That’s why winter paddling sessions are advised to be cut short. Once the board gets too slippery, it’s time to call it a day. Not only does the slippery surface increase the chances of you slipping, but it will also make it difficult for you to get back on the board. The longer you stay in the water, the more water will cover the board and the more slippery it’ll become. 

What Safety Gear Do You Need For Cold Weather Paddling?

Now, let’s go over some of the essentials you’ll need before heading out in the cold. 

two men winter paddle boarding in Greenland

Most of the items in this list are for your safety. so let’s begin.

  1. First things first, you need a backpack. A water-resistant bag is the first thing you need to get. An ideal bag would be one that you can wear on your back or your waist. This way, you’ll have your hands available to paddle freely. 
  2. Do not ignore hydration. Keep a water bottle on you. You may not get thirsty when you’re paddleboarding in the winter, but make sure to drink enough water to stay hydrated. After all, you are doing exercise. 
  3. A warm-up kit is also essential. Though it is less likely, keep a few backup layers if you do get wet. After your paddleboarding session, you might need to change out of your clothes immediately, so you don’t get sick. Keep a dry pair of pants and a top in the bag. Bring a towel and a puffer jacket. 
  4. Aftercare is also necessary. After a good winter paddling session, make sure to change wet clothes into dry and warm clothes. Bring some high-sugar snacks with you to eat afterward. This will allow your system to get warmed up again.  
  5. Do not forget the SUP leash. Always make sure you have a leash with you. Make sure the leash is intact and properly fastened on both ends. The leash will ensure that you are, at most 10 feet away from the board. If you do fall in the water. The leash will prevent your board from drifting away, which will stop an inconvenient situation from turning into a major problem.
  6. Plan your route carefully. Winters are a more challenging time of year to paddle. That’s why it requires special care and attention. Be careful and mindful of the route you decide on taking. Do not stray too far from land. It’s best to stay within 1/8 miles (200m) from land. This way, even if you fall, it will be quicker and easier to swim back to shore. Always check for ice, as shallow water tends to freeze sooner than the rest of the pond. 
  7. Personal Flotation Device or PFD is another essential device to have when paddleboarding. This just serves as another layer of protection if you fall in the water. You must wear the floatation device on you, don’t just have it in your storage area. It’ll help you stay afloat and will subsequently aid you in getting back to the shore.
  8. Navigation lights and Visual Distress Signal. These may sound a bit excessive, but better safe than sorry, right? Bring lights with you(VDS) are a great addition if you inadvertently end up paddleboarding after sunset. 

4 Tips To Help You Stay Safe On Your SUP During Winter

Safety requires you to take a few extra steps and measures. While paddleboarding is a popular sport, that doesn’t automatically make it safe.

Have a great day out winter paddle boarding

Paddling in winter requires you to be extra careful as some serious risks are involved. The cold water and chilly wind will have you developing hypothermia in no time. 

Leashes, floatation devices, reflective tapes in the paddle, and drysuits will most definitely help you stay safe in the water. Some of the other helpful tips are given below,

  1. Do not paddleboard for too long. Summer is the time to spend the whole day, or even night, paddleboarding to your heart’s content. But winters not so much. Reduce the length of your SUP trip and allow plenty of time margin, so you’re well and truly out of the water before sunset.
  2. Try not to go paddleboarding when it’s dark. Water bodies, chilly weather, and darkness are not the most ideal combination.  
  3. Try not to go alone. There are too many horror movies with similar plots to not take this advice seriously. Go with someone, a friend, a family member, anyone you trust. If you can’t find anyone to take, inform someone. Share your location. Make sure someone is aware of your whereabouts. 
  4. Do not take any chances with the weather. Check the weather forecast of the area you’re paddling in and make sure it will remain suitable for the duration of your trip. Do not go in if the weather and the water seem different than the forecast or your expectations. Go back home. It’s not worth the risk. 

Things To Keep In Mind In Case You Fall Into The Cold Water

If you are not experienced, you shouldn’t be in the water in winter. If you have prior experience paddleboarding, do so with caution. Either way, make sure you know what to do if you do slip in. 

This skill is worth practicing. You may want to do a practice run in a controlled environment.

Falling in with just your bathers is far different than falling in with a whole lot of clothes. It’s worth knowing and experiencing the differences, so you don’t get a surprise if it happens for real.

The problem is not the water but the cold water. Cold water induces severe cold shocks. It will cause shortness of breath, inducing hyperventilation. The longer you stay in, the more you are likely to experience physical incapacitation. This will steadily tire you out, leading to slower movements and more shivering. Eventually, hypothermia will set in. Hypothermia can lead to severe consequences, including death.

 If/ When you fall in the water, try not to panic. The flotation device will keep you afloat for long enough. Stay calm and lead yourself back to the board with the help of the leash. 

Once on the board, paddle all the way back to the shore and change out of your wet clothes. Do not stay in the suite if you’ve gotten wet through and through. Eat or drink something warm and wear warm clothes. 


While paddleboarding in winter does come with challenges, with the appropriate safety gear and planning, it can be a wonderful experience.

sup in cold weather in this amazing lake

It will allow you to continue your hobby, get fresh air and be outdoors exercising on the water year-round.

Until next time. Stay safe and happy paddling.

Steve Frankland

Steve Frankland

Steve Frankland loves the outdoor life and getting out in nature. He loves writing and sharing knowledge. He's part of the team at
He’ll find any excuse he can to get out on the water and can often be seen on a SUP with his kids and dogs.