Winter SUP Tips – Paddling the off Season
Paddling through winter, especially in colder waters, is perfectly normal provided we use common sense and take necessary precautions. SUP nuts need to be aware that during the off season hypothermia is a concern. If you become separated from your kit – your only real form of flotation – or have an accident then having counter measures in place will ensure you come out on top.
Here are Loco SUP‘s top tips for paddling in winter – after all, we can’t all live in the tropics!
pic courtesy Mountain Life Mag CA
It sounds obvious but there are still people out there who paddle with inadequate attire. For those SUPers frequenting surf breaks; a decent, well fitting and warm wetsuit (at least 5mm thick) will not only see you ripping during cold snaps, you’ll actually enjoy it!
If you’re an inland or river paddler, or even a sweeper that spends more time above the water, then a drysuit could be a worthy purchase. Being able to layer up underneath the suit will keep you nice and toasty; free from experiencing cold shock therapy when you do take a dunking. Some drysuits are even applicable for surf environments these days.
Fuel for the journey
The cold weather, and even colder water, will zap your strength in a heartbeat. Without enough fuel you’ll feel these effects even sooner. If situations go awry then a decent meal beforehand will give you a fighting chance of survival – whereas not stoking the fire will decrease these odds by a considerable margin.
If you’re out on the flat, or sweeping along coasts then it might also be worth carrying extra ‘boosters’ such as chocolate bars and energy drinks. A hydration pack is also a great investment.
Check your kit
Before heading out it’s worth giving your SUP gear a once over to make sure everything is in good working order. Making sure leashes are intact, paddle shafts and blades aren’t cracked, fins secured and wetsuits/drysuits are in good working will help keep you safe this winter.
Hitting a spot of bother because of not carrying out simple checks will see you kicking yourself (or worse) should everything go belly up.
Pick your times
Wintry SUP conditions can be some of the most fun paddlers face all year. However, it’s also worth asking yourself if your skills are up to the challenges Mother Nature can bowl your way. Charging big surf, paddling downwind during bouts of nuking wind or taking on big volume white water is great if you and your kit are up to it, but if not, then it could be an unwise move to head out.
If you’re about to embark on a serious SUP mission, ask yourself honestly if you can cope with what’s on offer. There’s no shame in waiting for a more suitable period to do battle.
Telling someone where you’re going and what time you’ll be back is a way to stay safe while out paddling this winter. For those marathon offshore downwind sessions; alert the coastguard to your activities as you never know, you may need their help.
If you choose to head off alone without mentioning it then nobody will miss you until it’s too late.
Safety Kit and Spares
If you’re out in the surf then it’s quite hard to keep spare kit with you. There’s no harm in having a spare paddle or leash on the beach though – just in case you need to head in after a breakage for a quick swap out.
pic courtesy Bruno Sroka
When covering any type of distance on the flat it’s possible to carry a backpack of essentials. For those who head offshore; keeping flares and a whistle for attracting attention is a good idea. It might also be wise to have a backup leash and three piece paddle with you.
If you’re doing battle with your local river spot having a throw line on your person is a definite must – the ability to get a rope to shore is a vital safety prerequisite for white water SUP.
Winter can be a super fun time of year to be out on your stand up paddle board. Use your common sense and you’ll enjoy a season of stoke that’ll give you memories for years to come.
For any tips or further stand up paddle advice, give Loco SUP a tinkle as we’re always happy to steer you in the right direction.