Stand up paddle boarding is a brilliant outdoor activity for families – we are totally hooked. However, you need more than something to ride to try out this fun water sport. Here’s what we recommend you wear paddle boarding in the UK in the summer and winter.
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What to wear paddle boarding in the summer
We started paddle boarding in the summer in the UK, which is the best time for anyone to start with warmer, calmer weather while you familiarise yourself with SUP.
If you’re wondering what to wear for your first time paddle boarding here’s the kit we started out with and some bits we have since replaced:
Wet suits should be top of your mind when wondering what to wear paddle boarding, especially in the UK.
Our youngest (four-years-old at the time) inherited a Jakabel toddler wetsuit* from her older sister when we started paddle boarding. It originally had inbuilt floats which were great for when the girls were splashing around at the beach.
We would always advise wearing a buoyancy aid for water sports (see below). Pool floats or arm bands are not adequate for water sports.
Our eldest daughter has had a few shorty wet suits, starting with a Nalu child’s wetsuit* which we picked up during a day out at a country park. It’s really flexible and lasted as long as it fitted her. Our youngest inherited this too.
Mr Tin Box bought a XCEL shorty wetsuit from a local surf shop. There’s similar ones on Amazon*.
Wetsuits can be an awkward fit so sometimes going to a shop where you can try them on before you buy is a good idea.
Meanwhile, I picked up a £30 wetsuit from our local supermarket to see what the quality difference was. It was definitely thicker and less flexible, but it did the job.
It lasted two seasons before the seams started to give in! Here’s a similar one on Amazon*.
We spent a bit more on my next shorty wetsuit* so that I had something more flexible and comfortable to wear for longer.
The Mystic Diva is 2mm thick, so a good wetsuit for the summer. The long arms mean I don’t need to worry so much about the sun. However, I’ve found the short legs roll up a bit around the top of my thighs.
More slimline ladies will probably not have the same issue. I’m a size 16 and have the XL. The DIVA is out of stock with Mystic at the moment but there are similar styles.
The key to keeping a wetsuit in good condition is what you do with it after you’ve worn it. Here’s some tips for how to store a wetsuit properly.
UV protective swimwear
If you are paddle boarding in the summer or in warmer climes then you can probably ditch the wetsuit and opt for standard swimwear.
I know from experience that you can burn easily when on the water – ouch! When doing any kind of water sport like paddle boarding wear UV protective swimwear, rash vests and hats to protect you and the kids.
Paddle boarding shoes
If you’re wondering do you have to wear shoes when paddle boarding, this is very much a personal choice.
I prefer to be bare foot as I find it easier to move them on the board without a grippy sole. However, I often wear beach shoes to get to the water.
Non-slip, water shoes make it easier to walk across shingle beaches.
We have used KEEN Stingray water shoes for the kids, which are fab.
If you’re out on the water you’re bound to be picking up plenty of sunlight reflecting off the surface of the water.
Good sunglasses will help to protect your eyes and your kids’ eyes.
In the water, you might also like to buy snorkel sets for your kids.
What to wear paddle boarding in winter
If you want to enjoy paddle life all year round then you must make sure you have the right gear for paddle boarding in winter.
We’ve kitted ourselves out for the UK’s colder months as well as the summer. Here’s what we recommend you wear for paddle boarding in the colder months:
Wetsuits for paddle boarding in winter in the UK
After feeling the water temperature dropping over the autumn we knew we would need long wetsuits for winter paddling in the UK.
Mr Tin Box went for the Xcel 5-4mm Axis X wetsuit from a surf shop local to us in Devon.
I needed something that allowed for my curves. Circle One do wetsuits for women up to size 18. I have the Kona 3mm wetsuit. It’s a summer wetsuit but the long arms and legs have kept me toasty during our winter swims and SUP adventures.
Our eldest has a Circle One Faze kids 3/2mm wetsuit and our youngest has an Australian Board Co Pulse 3/2mm wetsuit. These are also long summer wetsuits, which are fine for the short periods of time the girls are in the water. They are mostly splashing about.
We have had trouble finding proper winter wet suits for children, so we only plan short SUP trips in the winter.
We also make sure the girls’ hands and toes are toasty…
Wetsuit boots and gloves
I didn’t understand why people raved about wetsuit boots and waterproof gloves until I tried them myself. OMG, they are a revelation.
The simple version of the science is that if your hands and feet are cold then your whole body feels cold. So, keeping your extremities warm means you can have fun for longer.
So, if you’re wondering how to keep your hands and feet warm while paddle boarding, boots and gloves are a must!
We have also got the girls boots, wetsuit socks and gloves.
Having said all this, I actually find it difficult to paddle board in boots. I much prefer bare feet because it’s easier to move them on the board. I reserve my boots for swimming.
Read our tips for paddle boarding in winter for more information.
When you get out of the water after paddle boarding in the winter you need something you can throw on quickly to keep you warm.
They are large enough to change in and have big pockets for keeping essentials like phones and keys safe while you climb in or out of a wetsuit.
You can also pop them on over your swim suit for the car ride home for a hot shower; minimising the amount of time changing at the beach.
If you want to shop around read this guide to Dry Robe alternatives.
What to wear paddle boarding in Spring
As the weather changes we move from our long wet suits and gloves to shorties. So our paddle boarding gear in Spring transitions between the Winter and Summer kit lists above.
However, don’t transition fully too soon. The sea temperature takes a long while to warm up after the winter even if the air temperature is feeling summer-like.
If you are paddle boarding in the UK you can check sea temperature, wind direction and weather forecasts using Windy.com.
Don’t forget to use sun cream. It’s really easy to get caught out by bright Spring days.
More things you need for paddle boarding all year round
Don’t forget these important extras whether you are paddle boarding in the summer or winter:
Whether you are paddle boarding in the summer or winter you need buoyancy aids for you and your family.
Something that we didn’t have before starting paddle boarding were buoyancy aids for the kids.
We picked up a Gul from Go Outdoors and a Circle One from a surf shop. Similar ones are available on Amazon*.
It’s a good idea to talk through the various options or seek advice from a professional to make sure you get an appropriate buoyancy aid for your kid based on their height and weight.
Read more of our tips for paddle boarding with kids.
When we borrowed boards from Red Paddle Co they also supplied us with two Airbelt personal flotation devices*. Think of those life jackets they use in safety demonstrations on planes but tucked away in a waist belt that you can quickly put over your head and inflate should you get into trouble.
These have been specially designed for Red to give you the reassurance of carrying a buoyancy aid without it getting in the way.
When we bought our own boards we found these buoyancy floats*, which are very similar. You wear them like a belt and hardly notice them.
They are easy to maintain – just carefully unwrap the floatation bag and air dry it water each use. If you do need to use your Restube replacement cartridges* are available.
The paddle boards
Our first paddle boards were borrowed for a summer from the manufacturer Red Paddle Co*.
We loved them and the fact they are a Devon company – not that we are biased!
But when we decided to buy our own we opted for Sandbank SUP Style boards. The difference between the two brands? The price.
If you like tracking your outdoor activities a sports watch like a Garmin will keep a record of your SUP adventures.
I’m not what you’d call a ‘sporty person’ but I find it satisfying knowing how far we’ve paddled. I also use my Garmin smartwatch to keep track of my steps, sleep and stress levels using the Garmin Connect app. It’s been a bit of a revelation.
I have the Garmin Venu 2S*.
Mr Tin Box is a long term user of smart watches to track his exercise routine. Read his review of the Garmin Fenix 6 Sapphire.
Donning a wetsuit on a beach or in in a car park is no mean feat.
If you are planning an expedition with your paddle boards then you may want to take a picnic with you.
Red make a waterproof, insulated cool bag* that is ideal for this with plenty of contact points for you to secure it to the webbing on your board. It is pricy but it keeps things cold for ages so is also ideal for festivals and camping too.
When you are using a public beach to launch you will want to take dry bag for essential items you don’t want to leave in your car.
Mobile phones, car keys and cash, as well as a microfibre towel* and change of clothes can be kept drip free in a dry bag. We have one from Red Paddle Co* but there are cheaper ones that work just as well on Amazon*.
Mobile phone case
If you need to keep your mobile phone accessible, which is always handy if you are paddle boarding off shore, a waterproof mobile phone case* is a must. You can also slip a bit of cash into this.
Have you been paddle boarding? What kit do you always take with you?
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Planning a SUP adventure with kids? Why not save this post about what to wear paddle boarding.