If you find yourself anywhere near the water this summer, you’re guaranteed to see a paddle boarder or six around. It’s become extremely popular in recent years, which is hardly surprising considering what an accessible and versatile sport it is. With the option of racing, touring or surfing, SUPs are suitable for those who want to push themselves as well as for the more laid-back among you who are content paddling from A to B (and for the even more laid-back among you, an inflatable SUP also doubles up as a lilo, you can thank me later). Once you’ve got your balance sorted, the basics are quite straightforward to pick up, meaning pretty much anyone can have a go if they can get their hands on a board!
Anyone can see that a board and a paddle are pretty essential to this sport, but what else do you need? Having the right clothing on the water is really important, as it will help to keep you safe and protected from the sun, as well as making sure you look the part. Read on for our recommendations for this season…
(And if you don’t already have a board, take a look at our guide to buying a stand up paddle board to find out which one is right for you.)
This one depends largely on you and your own skill level and intentions. There are plenty of people out there who can confidently paddle out fully clothed on a calm day and make it back to shore bone dry. If this is you, and you back yourself to stay on your board, then you can skip this section. However, for any beginners, those with a little less confidence, and those who plan to take their SUP into the waves and surf, a wetsuit may be a good idea. Even just a shorty wetsuit will help to maintain your core temperature should you fall in, meaning you can stay out for longer without getting cold.
If you’ve decided to skimp on the wetsuit, or you’re lucky enough to be somewhere exotic enough not to need one, you should still consider investing in a rash vest. Rash vests are often worn to prevent surfers from developing a rash from the wax on their surfboards, or under a wetsuit to prevent wetsuit rash and chafing, however, they can also provide great protection from the sun if you’re choosing not to wear a wetsuit. The water is great for cooling you down on a hot day, but it can also wash off any sunscreen you have on and put you at risk of burning. Wearing a rash vest will keep your arms, shoulders and back protected from any harmful rays, which is an absolute must.
The best thing to wear with a rash vest is a pair of boardshorts. Lightweight and quick drying, they’re the perfect option for anyone who’s likely to get wet and doesn’t fancy spending the rest of the day in soggy denim.
Some people choose to paddle barefoot, but a pair of shoes is actually a really good idea. Beaches can be rocky places to launch and land, so protecting your feet from any sharp rocks or other hazards is super important. Also, particularly if you’re new to paddle boarding, a bit of extra grip will be very welcome when you’re out and about on your board. A pair of neoprene boots or water shoes will be a key addition to your SUP wardrobe, especially if you’re keen on exploring the places you paddle to on foot.
Perhaps more of an accessory than actual clothing, a dry bag is nonetheless a solid investment for anyone keen to get into paddle boarding. With a range of sizes available, dry bags can be used for keeping all sorts of things away from the water, from phones to picnics, and towels to tinnies.
Wearing a hat on the water is essential for keeping your face protected from the sun, whether you choose a baseball style, or 360 degree protection from a brimmed hat. If you’re worried about falling in and losing your hat, there are handy clips available to keep it close to you.
A changing robe or towel poncho is perhaps not essential if you’re confident in your ability to stay dry, but it’s still a brilliant addition to your SUP wardrobe. The great thing about them is that not only do they make it a hundred times easier to get changed on the beach in a dignified manner, they are super cosy and great for warming up small children (or fully grown adults) who are feeling a bit chilly after a day on the water.
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