5 tips for paddle boarding in winter
Are you new to paddle boarding and wondering whether you can continue to go paddle boarding in winter?
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We have discovered that paddle boarding is not the cheapest of hobbies, so it seems a bit of a waste to stop for half the year. Especially when it’s such a brilliant way to exercise, explore and have fun as a family.
Well, the good news is that you don’t have to stop!
But colder weather, shorter days and more extreme weather means paddle boarding in the winter in the UK needs even more care than in the summer.
So here are my five tips for getting that paddling hit safely in the winter months.
Winter paddle boarding tip 1: if in doubt, don’t go out
This goes without saying at any time of the year. Understanding tide, wind direction and weather forecast are essential to judge whether or not it is safe for you to get in the water.
Don’t just copy what other people are doing. You don’t know their experience level or how they have prepared for their paddle.
Read our tips on staying safe while paddle boarding.
Winter tip 2: what to wear for paddle boarding in cold weather
We’ve recently upgraded our paddle boarding clothing to prepare for the coldest months. Water temperature varies around the UK coastline and generally doesn’t start to warm up until well into the summer months.
In fact, the water in the UK is warmest in early September, even if an autumn chill is kicking in on land.
We managed to continue paddling around in our summer shorty wetsuits over Christmas. The conditions were very benign and we were close to the shore in shallow water.
However, this type of wetsuit really isn’t meant for the winter season. Hence why we bought long winter wetsuits along with gloves and boots at the beginning of January.
Choosing what to wear for paddle boarding in winter
What you choose to wear paddle boarding will vary greatly depending on the type of paddling and type of paddler you are.
On flat water, perhaps on a river or estuary, you may choose a layered approach with more traditional outdoor clothes and a buoyancy aid.
If you are paddle boarding on the coast and more likely to fall in, or you want to add in a swim as we often do, then a dry suit or winter wet suit is essential.
Regardless, your hands and feet will get very cold, so good waterproof boots and gloves are a no brainer.
Check out my post about the winter paddle boarding kit we use.
Winter paddle boarding tip 3: check your equipment
As well as what you are wearing, your board and paddle need to be in good condition. This is particularly important if you have packed your inflatable board away in the summer and just got it out to take advantage of a calm sunny winters day.
Inflate it at home to check it hasn’t deteriorated or developed a leak.
Winter paddle boarding tip 4: plan for the worst
The paddle boarding in winter you’re unlikely to find life guards on the beach or lake. There will also be fewer water users around to help or raise the alarm if things go wrong.
Summer or winter, you should have a method of calling for help if required. Ideally this will be a mobile phone in a dry bag or waterproof case.
Apps such as what 3 words are great for being able to pin point your position for the emergency services.
Have a good method of warming up either by carrying dry, warm clothing with you or by having something like a Dryrobe waiting for you ashore.
Our day van is great for this. We usually keep sleeping bags and blankets in the back as well as has flasks of something hot.
Winter tip 5: understand the cold
Don’t underestimate the power of nature. Cold can kill. The RNLI has lots of information about the risks of cold water shock and cold weather injuries when you are on the water.
Essentially: check the conditions before you go paddle boarding; wear a wet suit; and wear a floatation device.
Paddle boarding is definitely an activity that can be enjoyed all year round with the right precautions in place.
Have you got any tips for paddle boarding in winter? We do the majority of our paddle boarding on the coast, so it would be great to hear tips from river and lake paddlers.
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