What to Wear Paddleboarding: Think Like An Onion

When it comes to stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), what you wear can make a significant difference in your comfort and performance. Weather and conditions are king here. Better be safe than miserable. Plan that you will fall in and go from there.

Paddleboarding is a year round activity and don’t let any softy tell you otherwise. No such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.

For Warm and Sunny Conditions:

  • Swimwear: A good starting point for paddleboarding attire in warm conditions is swimwear. Quick-dry, stretchable fabrics are ideal, as they provide comfort and flexibility.
  • Rash Guard: To protect your skin from the sun and potential irritation from the board, a rash guard is a great addition. Look for one with UV protection.
  • Board Shorts: These are designed to be lightweight and water-resistant, perfect for paddleboarding. They also offer more coverage and protection than standard swimwear.
  • Sun Hat: A hat with a brim will protect your face and neck from the sun. Consider a hat with a strap to prevent it from blowing away.
  • Sunglasses: UV-protective, polarized sunglasses will protect your eyes from glare off the water. Make sure they have a secure strap. I lost my nice sungods while paddleboarding through a mangrove forest once. A very sad situation indeed.

For Cooler Conditions:

  • Neoprene Layers: For added warmth without the bulk of a full wetsuit, neoprene tops and bottoms offer a good middle ground.
  • Waterproof Jacket: A light, waterproof jacket can provide protection from wind and spray without overheating you.
  • Wetsuit or Drysuit: Depending on just how cool the conditions are, a wetsuit or drysuit can provide necessary warmth. Thickness will depend on water temperatures.

What Wetsuit Do You Need? I hear you shout.

  • Full Wetsuits: Cover the entire body except for the head, hands, and feet. Ideal for colder waters (below 60°F or 15°C).
  • Spring Suits, aka shorties: With shorter arms and legs, these are good for milder conditions (60°F-70°F or 15°C-21°C).
  • Wetsuit Tops: For days when the air is warm but the water is cool, a neoprene top can be paired with board shorts or a swimsuit.

The thickness of a wetsuit plays a crucial role in determining the level of warmth it provides. This thickness is typically measured in millimeters, directly correlating to the suit’s ability to retain heat.

  • 2mm: Suitable for relatively warm water conditions (69°F-73°F or 21°C-23°C), a 2mm wetsuit offers a good balance of flexibility and a touch of warmth, making it ideal for activities in warmer climates where just a slight insulation is needed.
  • 3mm: Designed for mild water temperatures (59°F-69°F or 15°C-21°C), a 3mm wetsuit is a versatile option that offers a good compromise between maintaining body warmth and ensuring mobility, perfect for a wide range of water sports and environments.
  • 4mm: Best for cooler water ranging from (53°F-59°F or 12°C-15°C), a 4mm wetsuit is tailored for colder seasons or cooler water conditions, providing enhanced insulation while still allowing for a reasonable degree of flexibility.
  • 5mm: Intended for cold water temperatures (below 53°F or below 12°C), 5mm wetsuits are designed for very cold conditions. These suits typically feature sealed seams and thermal linings to maximize warmth, making them suitable for extended periods in cold water.
  • 7mm: For extremely cold conditions (below 48°F or 9°C), a 7mm wetsuit offers the maximum insulation for water activities. Equipped with features like sealed seams, thermal linings, and sometimes additional enhancements like hood attachments, these suits are engineered to provide the utmost warmth and protection in frigid waters. I recently had the joy of trying my first 7mm wetsuit for diving with seals and it was very much needed!

For Your Feet:

  • Water Shoes: Shoes with grip will protect your feet from rocks and slippery surfaces when you’re entering or exiting the water. Not necessary if you are on a white sand beach but always a good idea to have in you bag.
  • Neoprene Socks, yes that’s right, socks for water! In cooler water, neoprene socks can provide warmth without the bulk of a full wetsuit.

Additional Accessories:

  • Gloves: For cooler conditions or longer journeys where you might want to protect your hands from blisters, gloves are a good option.
  • Personal Flotation Device (PFD): Regardless of the weather, always wear or attach to your board a PFD for safety.
  • Leash: While not clothing per se, a leash is a critical piece of gear that keeps you connected to your board if you fall in.

Final Tips:

  • Layer Up: Dress in layers that you can remove or add as needed. Conditions on the water can change rapidly.
  • Check the Weather: Always check the weather forecast before you head out and dress accordingly.
  • Choose Bright Colors: Brightly colored clothing makes you more visible to other water users, helpful is you find yourself in a spot of bother.


Remember, the key is to prepare for the water temperature, not just the air temperature, and always dress for the possibility that you might take an unexpected dip. With these tips in mind, you’re ready to hit the water with confidence and style.

Before you head out on your paddleboarding adventure, visit adventuro to explore our range of courses and gear tailored to your water sport needs. Dress smart, paddle safe, and enjoy the serenity and excitement of SUP!

What to wear when paddleboarding

Check out some of our other Paddleboarding resources below!

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Co-founder and Chief Adventurer

I am Max, the co-founder and CEO of adventuro. We are on a mission to help you get into the sports you have always wanted to try, or develop in the sports you love, exploring new skills and locations. We do this by partnering with the best instructors, guides, and activity centres to get a great spread from beginner all the way to instructor training.

For too long, it has been way to confusing to find your next steps, or even to know where to start when getting into adventure sports. I am an experienced and/or qualified paraglider, skydiver, scuba diver, freediver, power boat driver, snowboarder, kitesurfer, kayaker, mountain biker, surfer, dirt biker, wakeboarder, and sailor.

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