Winter on the water isn't for everyone!

"People don't notice whether it's winter or summer when they're happy" Anton Chekhov

For those of us that need a little bit of extra encouragement and a few more layers, there are things that you can do to greatly improve your winter SUPing experience. 

Dress the part!

Let's have a look at the essentials for a winter paddle. You may not be planning on falling in and you may think that you are solid when you are on a board. But you have to plan for the worst case scenario - and that is, that you may fall off. Cold water shock kills. Simple as that. You can greatly improve your survival rate by wearing a wetsuit that will protect you. 

Winter wetsuits can be anywhere from 4mm - 7mm thick. The most important thing to take in to consideration however is the technology, as different brands will vary. We strongly advise that you go to your local surf shop and talk to the people that work there, as they will be able to give you sound advice. Don't rely on guess work and get fitted properly.

Layer up - You may well over heat in a thick wetsuit, when you are expending lots of energy paddling. Decent thermals or base layers will keep the moisture away from your body, which in turn can cause a rapid cooling affect. Not something you want or need when exposed to the elements. As a snowboarder, I have found that the base layers I use when up a mountain are also perfect when out on the water. 

Head - unless you are a full on SUP surfer, it is unlikely that you will be submerged in or under the water, so "brain freeze" should not be a problem and I wouldn't advise neoprene surf hat. But be aware that you loose most of your body heat from your head, so a decent beanie and a neck tube/warmer are essentials.

Wetsuit Boots - These range in thickness, but if you are anything like me and suffer from cold feet, I would aim for the 5mm boots. These afford you good protection and just about allow you to feel the board and the motion.

Gloves There is slight debate as to whether or not you opt for traditional woollen gloves to keep your hands toasty warm or to get the specially designed tech gloves, which will keep your hands dry. For me there is only one option and that is to invest in neoprene gloves. It's almost unavoidable getting your hands wet. Plus wetsuit gloves give you a much greater grip. Cold wet hands are no joke - especially when you need them to essentially "power your boat"!


Plan ahead

Weather - It is essential when carrying out any activity that involves Mother Nature, to plan when and where you are going. There are many apps available to help you do this, such as Magic Seaweed and the Met Office app and we will be covering these in more detail in the next few weeks.

Tides - don't get caught out. A change in tides together with sudden unexpected shifts in weather patterns can be disastrous. There will be less people out, to call for help to - and beaches don't have life guards in the winter months.

Communication - always take your mobile phone with you, as we mentioned in our previous blog. And if you are paddling alone, tell someone where you are going, your planned route and what time you should be expected back by. If no one knows you are out - no one will come looking for you if you get in trouble.

Wear a PFD - a personal flotation device is an essential piece of kit ESPECIALLY in the winter. If you were to fall in, your body will shut down extremely quickly and you risk cold water shock. You will very quickly loose the ability to swim, think for yourself and hold your head above water. This really is part of your life saving equipment.

Take a hot water bottle - Wrap the clothes that you will be getting changed into after your paddle session, inside a massive towel and pop your hot water bottle inside. When you get out, you will have lovely warm clothes to change into. You can thank me later!

"I thought you said you checked the weather"

                                                                    Pre Paddle

Power Up - You will want to make sure that you have plenty of energy for your paddle, no matter how long you are planning to go out for. Eating the right foods beforehand will make a massive difference. Your body will need readily accessible fuel and the best way to achieve this is through complex carbohydrates such as wholemeal pasta, brown rice, sweet potatoes, bananas etc

Stay hydrated - drink plenty of water before and during your paddle. It may be cold but you will de-hydrate as quickly as you would in the summer.

Stretch - spend a few minutes stretching before you get out on your board This will help to keep you warm and warm your muscles up which will help prevent injury. Remember that you use multiple muscles to stay on your board and your core muscles will be working harder in the cooler temperatures.

Essential kit for your dry bag

  • Mobile phone - always make sure you can call 999/friends/family if you get in trouble
  • Towel and extra clothing
  • Energy bar/chocolate
  • Thermos full of hot soup or tea/coffee

Post Paddle

You have done that hard work and now it's time to reward yourself! Find your self a little coffee shack on the beach, or a river side pub. Grab a drink, give yourself a pat on the back and enjoy the warm tingling feeling as you warm up and the endorphins course through your body! 

Be proud of yourself - because we are proud of you!

Finally we want to leave you with this incredible video of some people that take getting out in the cold and nature to new levels!


Thats all from the Wild Side this week. Thanks for reading 🏄‍♀️ 

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