Paddleboarding brings thoughts of warm weather, bathing suits, summer breezes, and just all-around good times. The great thing about standup paddleboards is that you don’t have to use them only during warm seasons. Sure, paddling on frozen water isn’t going to work out too well, but as long as you can find water, you can use your standup paddleboard this winter.
This post examines what you need to think about before heading out with your paddleboard this winter. While some precautions mirror what you’d need to consider during warmer months, winter adds a whole new dimension to paddleboarding. Nothing beats the calm serenity of paddling on a lake surrounded by snow cover, so use this post to get prepped to get out on the water this winter.
Preparing Your Gear for Winter Paddleboarding
The cold winter months in many climates can be a game-changer for most people who want to use their standup paddleboards on wintry water. However, knowing what to expect and being honest with yourself about your abilities and your physical well-being while on the water can help your time on the water be successful and fun.
If you regularly exercise or participate in winter sports, you may already have a good grasp of how your body responds to physical exertion in colder conditions, but water—and its temperature—adds a whole new element to your activity. So whether you have experience in the great outdoors in winter time or not, you need to carefully make the following considerations so that you have the correct gear and clothing for a great winter workout on your standup paddleboard:
Safety equipment: While you should always have a leash no matter what time of year it is, you should also be sure you pack additional safety gear for winter paddleboarding.
- Personal flotation device: While you may be a strong swimmer, the cold weather and cold water can change that in an instant. Wear a life vest or other personal flotation device no matter your strength or swimming ability. Not only can it serve as an extra layer to keep in the heat, but it keeps you buoyant and above water, if you find yourself out too far and unable to swim in quickly.
- Whistle: Many paddleboarders carry a whistle so they can signal if they’re in trouble, but in winter, a whistle for a distress signal should be a must-have.
- Layers: Dress in layers made from synthetic fibers. Wearing layers under your pants and jacket allows your body to stay warm and use its cooling system to keep you from overheating or staying soaked in sweat. Don’t forget to layer your hands with at least one pair of gloves. Gloves will keep your hands nice and toasty.
Sustenance: It’s cold, and if you’re not used to working or exercising in the cold, you may think you can’t work up a sweat, burn calories, or dehydrate. However, your body works harder to circulate your blood and keep you warm, burning calories and dehydrating your system just like when you’re out in warmer weather.
- Liquids: Be sure you pack plenty of water or even hot tea. A warm drink can do wonders to warm you up.
- Snacks: Just like any other time of the year, pack some snacks for your paddleboarding adventure. Remember that you’ll likely be wearing gloves so choose snacks and containers that are easy to open and consume with your hands covered.
- Back-up: Cold weather can ruin the day if your clothes get wet. If you just started out and end up wet, it can cut your day short. So pack extra clothes in a dry bag so you can make a change along the way if needed.
Cold-weather paddleboarding can offer a lot of fun whether you have a solid or inflatable SUP board. As long you have a quality board and the right cold-weather gear, you can get out on the water and paddle along just like you would in warmer weather. For many, the tranquility of cold-weather paddleboarding becomes addicting.
Taking the Right Precautions for Cold-Weather Paddleboarding
When you have all the right gear ready to go, you still have to take some precautions before you set out and while you’re on the water. Regardless of your experience on the water or in winter weather or both, never assume you can tough it out. Always set up the following precautions to keep yourself safe so you can confidently enjoy your touring:
- Check the weather. Maybe this sounds logical, but don’t just check the forecast for the next couple of hours, keep an eye on the weather while you’re out on the water. Conditions can change quickly in some areas, so noticing a strong wind or clouds rolling can help you get back to safety before bad weather hits.
- Tell somebody where you’re going. Even if you’re going out in a group, tell someone exactly where you plan to go, how far you plan to go, and how long you plan to stay out. Make sure you text or call if anything changes.
- Bring your cell phone. Some balk at taking their phone on the water. After all, they are trying to participate in some healthy escapism. However, your phone may be the only lifeline you have if conditions turn rough.
- Stay close to shore. The great thing about paddleboards is that you can remain close to shore without running aground, and that helps keep you safe in winter weather. Rather than plunging into deep water if you fall, you may just get wet from the knees down, and if you packed backup clothes in a dry bag, you’re close enough to shore to change quickly and keep going.
Cold-weather paddleboarding can be safe, fun, and addicting, and when you buy a quality standup paddleboard, like those sold by Hydrus, you won’t want to store it out of sight for the winter. So knowing you can do a little extra prep and enjoy your paddleboard year-round makes the investment into a quality standup paddleboard all the more worth it.