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When deciding what to wear paddle boarding, consider the water temperature, weather conditions, and type of water body. For cold water, a drysuit or wetsuit is essential. In warm conditions, a swimsuit or quick-dry shorts and a rashguard are suitable. Always include a life jacket for safety.

Embarking on a paddle boarding adventure?

Dressing right is key to your experience.

Discover the essentials of paddle boarding attire in our comprehensive guide.

Master the art of choosing the perfect gear for every condition.

Stay safe, comfortable, and stylish on the water.

Learn how to make every paddle boarding journey unforgettable!

  • Select clothing based on the specific water and weather conditions.
  • Use layers and specialized gear for thermal protection and safety.
  • Choose bright and buoyant apparel to enhance visibility in the water.

Understanding the Paddle Boarding Environment

Before you choose your paddleboarding attire, it’s essential to consider the environmental factors that will impact your experience.

The water temperature, weather conditions, and type of water body you plan to explore are crucial elements that dictate what you should wear.

Water Temperature

Water temperature plays a pivotal role in how you should dress for paddle boarding.

If you’re heading out into cold water, you’ll need a drysuit or wetsuit to maintain your body’s core temperature.

In warm water conditions, a swimsuit or quick-dry shorts and a rashguard will suffice to keep you comfortable and allow for free movement.

Weather Conditions

The weather can change rapidly, and being prepared is key.

On sunny days, opt for clothing with UV protection to shield your skin from the sun’s rays.

For windy or rainy conditions, consider a windbreaker or waterproof jacket.

Layering is essential as it provides flexibility to adjust your clothing based on changing weather.

Water Bodies

The type of water body you’re paddling in affects your clothing choices.

On a calm lake or bay, you might prefer lightweight and flexible clothing.

For rivers or oceanic settings with currents or waves, wearing a PFD (Personal Flotation Device) and possibly a helmet is advised for safety.

Always respect local regulations regarding safety equipment.

Essential Paddle Boarding Apparel

When preparing for paddle boarding, it’s important to dress appropriately to ensure both comfort and safety.

The following apparel is essential for paddle boarders across various environments and conditions.

Wetsuits and Drysuits

Wetsuits are crucial for cold water conditions, providing insulation by trapping a thin layer of water between the suit and your skin, which your body then heats.

They are available in a variety of thicknesses, typically measured in millimeters.

For example, a 3/2mm wetsuit means the material is 3mm thick on your core and 2mm on the limbs, providing both warmth and flexibility.

REALON Womens Wetsuits 2mm, Adult
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Check here our reviews of the best wetsuits

Drysuits are designed for very cold environments and keep you completely dry by sealing out water at your neck, wrists, and ankles.

They are typically made from waterproof and breathable fabrics, allowing sweat to escape while keeping external water out.

Gill Verso Drysuit - Fully Taped &
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Check here our reviews of the best SUP drysuits

UV Protection Clothing

UV protection clothing helps shield your skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.

Look for garments rated with an UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) of at least 30, which indicates how much of the sun’s UV radiation is absorbed by the fabric.

A UPF rating of 50 means that only 1/50th of the sun’s UV radiation passes through the fabric.

  • Long-sleeve tops
  • Board shorts or leggings
  • Hats with a wide brim
  • Sunglasses with UV protection

All the above should be made from materials that offer high UPF ratings.

BALEAF Men's Sun Protection Shirts
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Footwear is essential to protect your feet from sharp objects and to provide grip on the board.

In warm conditions, go for water shoes or sandals that offer both protection and ventilation.

In colder waters, neoprene booties provide insulation while still giving you a good feel for the board.

Mesh panels or drainage holes are beneficial features to help avoid water collection in the shoes.

VIFUUR Water Sports Unisex Shoes
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Check here our reviews of the best SUP shoes

Additional Paddle Boarding Gear

When paddle boarding, the right gear enhances both safety and experience.

Here’s what you should consider beyond your clothing.

Personal Flotation Devices

PFD (Personal Flotation Device): It’s essential for your safety to have a USCG-approved life jacket while on the water. Look for types that are comfortable and designed for paddling activities.

Airhead Adult Type II Life Jacket |
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Board Leash: Always use a leash tethered to your ankle or calf to prevent your board from drifting away if you fall into the water.

HEYTUR Coiled SUP Leash 10'
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Check here our reviews of the best SUP leashes

Gloves and Hats

  • Gloves: For better grip and protection from the elements, gloves are practical. They can prevent blisters during longer journeys.
Palmyth UV Protection Fishing
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Check here our reviews of the best SUP gloves

  • Hats: They provide shade and protect your face from UV rays, with a preference for designs that stay on securely even in windy conditions.
Quiksilver mens Bushmaster Sun
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Layering Strategies for Paddle Boarding

Choosing the correct layering is crucial for your comfort and safety while paddle boarding.

Each layer serves a specific function: moisture control, insulation, and protection from the elements.

Base Layers

Your base layer is essential for moisture management.

Opt for materials like synthetics or merino wool that wick away sweat and keep your skin dry.

In warmer conditions, a rash guard or a lightweight, quick-drying T-shirt can suffice.

In colder weather, you’ll need a thermal base layer to retain warmth without absorbing moisture.

AXESEA Women Long Sleeve Rashguard
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Insulating Layers

The insulating layer captures and retains your body heat.

Fleece or microfiber tops are excellent choices due to their lightweight and warm properties.

For colder temperatures, consider thicker materials or additional fleece layers.

Make sure these layers fit comfortably without restricting movement.

Outer Layers

Finally, your outer layer should shield you from wind and water.

A waterproof and windproof jacket is pivotal, especially if you’re paddling in chilly or variable conditions.

Look for jackets with sealed seams and adjustable cuffs to keep water out.

If you’re expecting to get wet, a wetsuit or drysuit can be appropriate depending on the water temperature and your activity level.

Helly Hansen Men's Seven J
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Considerations for Specific Paddle Boarding Activities

When suiting up for paddle boarding, your clothing choices should align with the type of activity you’ll be engaging in.

Each discipline has its unique demands and appropriate gear that will enhance your experience and performance on the water.


For paddle boarding races, you’ll need attire that minimizes drag and maximizes your freedom of movement.

Go for form-fitting rash guards or a wetsuit top if temperatures are cooler.

Additionally, a personal flotation device (PFD) that does not restrict your paddling motion is a must for safety.

Check here our reviews of the best racing paddleboards


Paddle boarding yoga requires clothing that allows for flexibility and balances warmth.

Choose a comfortable swimsuit or stretchy, quick-dry yoga wear.

Since you’ll be stationary at times, you might feel cooler, so consider a light jacket or a wetsuit depending on the water temperature.

Check here our reviews of the best yoga paddle boards


Touring on your SUP involves long durations on the water; thus, comfort and protection are key.

Opt for quick-drying, UV-protective clothing, and layer accordingly.

Your ensemble may include a PFD, long-sleeve rash guard, and board shorts or leggings.

Also, remember to protect your extremities with a hat and water shoes.

Check here our reviews of the best touring paddle boards

Clothing Tips for Paddle Boarders

Selecting the right clothing for paddle boarding is crucial to ensure comfort, mobility, and protection against the elements.

Here are specific tips for achieving the optimal experience on the water.

Fit and Comfort

Your paddle boarding attire should provide a snug fit without restricting movement.

Breathable, stretchable fabrics like spandex or nylon blends are ideal for summer wear, allowing for a full range of motion and efficient moisture-wicking to keep you cool.

In colder conditions, a properly sized wetsuit or drysuit is essential to retain warmth without feeling too tight or cumbersome.

Gill Verso Drysuit - Fully Taped &
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Check here our reviews of the best SUP drysuits

Always remember to check that your life jacket or Personal Flotation Device (PFD) fits well over your chosen layers.

Durability and Maintenance

Longevity in SUP clothing is key.

Opt for garments with reinforced seams and high-quality materials to withstand frequent use and contact with your board and the water.

Maintenance is also straightforward; rinse saltwater and chlorine from your clothing post-use to prevent degradation.

For wetsuits, use specially formulated soap and avoid direct sunlight when drying to preserve elasticity.

By focusing on fit, comfort, and the durability of your paddle boarding apparel, you’ll be well-equipped for a positive experience on the water.

Safety and Visibility While Paddle Boarding

When you’re paddle boarding, your safety on the water is paramount.

High-visibility clothing and reflective gear enhance your ability to be seen by others, which is crucial, especially in areas with high boat traffic or low light conditions.

High-visibility Clothing

Wear bright colors that stand out against the water to increase your visibility.

Colors like neon yellow, bright orange, or lime green are effective in making you more noticeable to boaters and rescuers.

Your top layer should be a brightly-colored life jacket that not only provides flotation but also makes you visible from a distance.

It’s important that the life jacket is USCG-approved, which signifies it meets safety standards.

In addition, wearing a colorful rash guard or quick-dry T-shirt can help ensure you remain conspicuous on the water.

Reflective Gear

During low-light conditions, such as early morning or late evening, reflective gear becomes vital.

You should consider gear with reflective trim or tape that will bounce back light, making you noticeable in the beam of a boat’s light or under subdued sunlight.

Accessories such as a paddle leash with reflective elements, and a reflective hat can significantly enhance your visibility.

Ensure any equipment attached to your board has reflective properties whenever possible.


What type of clothing is appropriate for different temperatures while paddle boarding?

When paddle boarding, your clothing should match the water and air temperatures. In warmer climates, lightweight, quick-drying attire is sufficient, whereas colder conditions require layers including wetsuits or dry suits to retain warmth.

Is it necessary to wear a life jacket when using a paddleboard?

Yes, your safety is paramount. The US Coast Guard classifies paddle boards as vessels, hence a USCG-approved life jacket is required while paddle boarding.

Are there specific features to look for in women’s clothing for stand-up paddleboarding?

Women’s SUP clothing should offer comfort, motion freedom, and protection. Look for stretch fabrics, UV protection, and tops with secure fits to avoid clothing shifting during movement.

Can leggings be worn for paddle boarding, and are they suitable for all conditions?

Leggings are a popular choice for their comfort and range of motion. Opt for water-resistant and snug-fitting options. However, they may not be adequate for colder temperatures without additional layers.

What kind of footwear is recommended when paddle boarding?

Shoes aren’t always necessary, but in rocky areas or cold weather, water shoes or neoprene booties provide protection and warmth.

What essentials should you bring along when going paddle boarding?

Besides a life jacket and leash, consider sunscreen, hydration, snack, a dry bag for valuables, and depending on the duration and conditions, additional protective clothing.

Since 2016, Max has dedicated himself to reviewing SUP boards and accessories. What began as a humble blog has now grown into the premier German website for Stand Up Paddling enthusiasts.

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