SUP clothing usually isn’t as complicated as what you have to wear for sailing, deep-sea fishing, and other ocean activities. You don’t go too far off-shore, and you don’t have to worry about some of the more serious risks that those other aquatic activities produce.
However, not thinking about your clothing at all is a mistake.
Sure, you’re not going to hop on your board in jeans and a sweater or some other silly nonsense, but you do need to put a bit of thought into the SUP clothing you use.
1: Consider the Weather
The weather has a big impact on what you need to wear, but it’s more complicated than just looking at the temp. Consider the fact that the ocean is colder the further out you go, and that wind compounds that cool feeling dramatically. If it’s windy at all, or if it’s just in the 70s for a cool summer afternoon, you probably need a wet suit. The water will be much colder than the air. Even on a relatively hot day with no wind, the water can be cold if you go deeper out to hit the big waves.
2: Your Activity
What are you doing on the water? Are you fishing along the banks, just enjoying a little exercise close to shore, or doing some yoga? You’re perfectly fine in normal swimming trunks. However, getting some quick-dry swimwear will ensure you’re dry by the time you get back to your car, and that’s always welcome.
However, what if you’re doing something a bit more intense? Riding deep out into the ocean for a race, hitting massive waves, or doing things like that means you’ll be exposed to colder temperatures that can affect your fine motor skills; even on relatively hot days. Wear a wetsuit or similar gear to ensure you’re warm after a quick dunk; whether that is intentional or not.
3: Shoes or No Shoes?
Whether or not you wear swimming shoes is up to you. Mostly, there are two things to consider, and you need to ride at least once to figure it out for yourself.
Are you slipping off the board a lot and struggling to stay balanced? If so, swim shoes might be worthwhile. They can help you grip the board even when it’s wet when the grip on top isn’t enough to get the job done. If you’re balancing just fine, you don’t need to worry about it.
Also, consider the hazards your feet face. If you’re in shallow water, is the bottom covered in sharp rocks, sticks, or pollution? You might want to wear shoes. If you’re fishing on a fishing SUP, you might need shoes to keep hooks out of your feet and to give you a little more grip on the board when you’re fighting fish. Also, if the water is super cold, you might need shoes as a sort of insulation to keep your feet from freezing.
Choose Situation-Appropriate Clothing
SUPs are very situational, and the clothing you wear on them is, too. Take a minute to figure out what you’re doing and what the weather is like, and make good clothing decisions.