Paddleboarding What to Wear | Essential Gear Guide for Maximum Comfort

Paddleboarding is a popular water activity that requires proper attire to ensure comfort, safety, and enjoyment on the water. Wearing the right clothing can make a significant difference in your paddleboarding experience. Here is why proper attire is important for paddleboarding.

Paddleboarding what to wear

Wearing appropriate clothing is essential for several reasons. Firstly, it ensures comfort during your paddleboarding session, allowing you to move freely and without any restrictions. Secondly, it helps protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays, preventing sunburns and minimizing the risk of skin damage. Thirdly, proper attire can also provide insulation and protection in different weather and water conditions. Wearing the right gear adds to your safety by enhancing visibility and providing buoyancy support.

When it comes to choosing what to wear for paddleboarding, there are a few key considerations. Swimwear or board shorts are ideal options as they allow for easy movement in the water. A rash guard or swim shirt can provide added sun protection and help prevent chafing. In colder conditions, a wetsuit or drysuit may be necessary to keep you warm. Wearing water shoes or sandals can protect your feet from sharp objects and provide traction on slippery surfaces. It’s also essential to wear a hat and sunglasses to shield your eyes and face from the sun.

Depending on your location and regulations, it’s important to wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) for safety. Even if you are a strong swimmer, unexpected incidents can occur, and a PFD can be a lifesaver.

Different weather and water conditions require adjustments in attire. In hot and sunny weather, wearing lightweight and breathable clothing with sun protection is crucial to stay cool and shielded from the sun. In cold weather, layering up with a wetsuit or drysuit and thermal undergarments can provide insulation and keep you warm. Windy conditions may require additional layers to protect from wind chill.

To ensure you are dressing appropriately for paddleboarding, consider factors such as weather, water temperature, and personal comfort. It’s also helpful to check local guidelines and seek advice from experienced paddleboarders. By wearing the right attire, you can make the most of your paddleboarding adventures while staying safe and comfortable.

Key takeaway:

  • Proper attire is essential for paddleboarding: Wearing the right clothing ensures comfort, safety, and protection from the elements while paddleboarding.
  • Recommended attire for paddleboarding: Swimwear or board shorts, rash guard or swim shirt, wetsuit or drysuit, water shoes or sandals, hat and sunglasses, and a personal flotation device.
  • Dressing appropriately for different weather and water conditions: Consider the temperature, sun exposure, wind, and water temperature when choosing paddleboarding attire.

Why is Proper Attire Important for Paddleboarding?

Proper attire is essential for paddleboarding due to the following reasons:

  1. Comfort: Wearing the right attire ensures comfort during your paddleboarding session. It allows you to move freely and perform paddling strokes without any restrictions. The right clothing and gear can help prevent chafing and discomfort caused by prolonged contact with water.
  2. Protection from the Elements: Paddleboarding often involves exposure to the sun, wind, and water. Proper attire provides protection against these elements. Sun-protective clothing shields your skin from harmful UV rays, reducing the risk of sunburn. Wearing appropriate layers can keep you warm in cooler conditions, while water-resistant or quick-drying clothing helps you stay dry and comfortable.
  3. Safety: Wearing the right attire enhances your safety while paddleboarding. Wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) or life jacket is crucial to ensure buoyancy and personal safety in case of accidental falls or emergencies. Bright-colored clothing enhances visibility, making it easier for other watercraft to spot you.
  4. Functionality: The right attire for paddleboarding should be functional and suited for water activities. Board shorts, rash guards, or wetsuits made from appropriate materials allow for easy movement and are designed to handle water exposure. Wearing non-restrictive footwear, such as water shoes or sandals, provides traction and protects your feet from sharp objects in the water or on the board.
  5. Hygiene: Wearing appropriate attire helps maintain hygiene on the water. Quick-drying and moisture-wicking fabrics prevent the buildup of sweat and reduce the risk of bacterial or fungal infections. This is particularly important if you plan to participate in paddleboarding for an extended period.
  6. Respect for the Environment: Choosing eco-friendly attire for paddleboarding, such as clothing made from sustainable materials, helps reduce the impact on the environment. Opting for environmentally conscious brands and avoiding clothing made from harmful chemicals or non-biodegradable materials aligns with responsible paddleboarding practices.

By understanding the importance of proper attire for paddleboarding and choosing the right clothing and gear, you can enhance your comfort, safety, and overall enjoyment of the activity.

What to Wear When Paddleboarding

When it comes to paddleboarding, knowing what to wear can make all the difference. So, let’s dive into the essential attire for this exciting water sport. From swimwear or board shorts to rash guards or swim shirts, we’ll explore all the clothing options that keep you comfortable and protected on the water. We’ll also discuss the importance of wetsuits or drysuits, water shoes or sandals, hats, sunglasses, and personal flotation devices. Gear up and get ready for an enjoyable paddleboarding adventure!

1. Swimwear or Board Shorts

When paddleboarding, it is important to choose the proper swimwear or board shorts to ensure comfort, mobility, and safety. Here is a list of suitable options that you can consider:

  • Swimwear or Board Shorts: Opt for swimsuits or board shorts that are made of quick-drying materials. They should fit well and allow for easy movement on the paddleboard.
  • Rash Guard: Wearing a rash guard or swim shirt provides additional protection against sunburn and abrasions. Look for ones with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) to shield your skin from harmful UV rays.
  • Wetsuit or Drysuit: In colder water temperatures, a wetsuit or drysuit is necessary to keep you warm. The choice depends on the severity of the weather conditions.
  • Water Shoes or Sandals: To protect your feet from sharp objects, wear water shoes or sandals with good grip. Make sure they are comfortable and secure on your feet.
  • Hat and Sunglasses: Shield yourself from the sun’s glare by wearing a hat with a brim and sunglasses that provide UV protection.
  • Personal Flotation Device: Safety should never be compromised, so always wear a proper personal flotation device (PFD) that fits well and is approved for paddleboarding.

Remember, when paddleboarding, it is crucial to choose the right swimwear or board shorts. They should be comfortable, allow for easy movement, and dry quickly. By wearing the appropriate attire, you can fully enjoy your paddleboarding experience while staying safe and comfortable.

2. Rash Guard or Swim Shirt

When paddleboarding, it is crucial to wear a rash guard or swim shirt for protection and comfort. Here are some reasons why:

  1. UV Protection: A rash guard or swim shirt offers UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) to shield your skin from harmful UV rays. It effectively prevents sunburns, minimizes the risk of skin damage, and reduces the likelihood of skin cancer.
  2. Rash Prevention: The smooth, non-abrasive fabric of a rash guard or swim shirt acts as a barrier, preventing chafing and irritation caused by friction against the paddleboard or your skin.
  3. Quick-Drying: Rash guards and swim shirts are constructed from quick-drying materials that efficiently wick moisture away from your body. This ensures your comfort and helps regulate your body temperature while you are on the water.

Always remember to choose a rash guard or swim shirt that fits well and allows freedom of movement. Opt for high-quality fabrics that combine both style and functionality. You can find these garments in a variety of designs, colors, and sleeve lengths, enabling you to select the perfect one that aligns with your preferences.

3. Wetsuit or Drysuit

A wetsuit or drysuit is essential when paddleboarding in cold water or during colder seasons. It provides insulation and protection against the cold, ensuring your comfort and safety on the water.

To understand the difference between a wetsuit and a drysuit, let’s compare their features:

Wetsuit Drysuit
A wetsuit is made of neoprene, a synthetic rubber material. A drysuit is typically made of waterproof, breathable fabric.
It allows a small amount of water to enter, which then gets trapped between your body and the suit. Your body heat helps warm up this water, providing insulation. A drysuit keeps water completely out, keeping you dry and warm.
Wetsuits come in different thicknesses, measured in millimeters, to provide varying levels of insulation. Drysuits can be worn with layering underneath for added warmth in extremely cold conditions.
Wetsuits are suitable for cooler water temperatures, usually ranging from 60°F (15°C) to 70°F (21°C). Drysuits are better for very cold water temperatures, below 60°F (15°C).
They are flexible, allowing for unrestricted movement while paddling. Drysuits are bulkier compared to wetsuits and may restrict movement slightly.

When choosing between a wetsuit or drysuit, consider the water temperature, weather conditions, and your personal comfort level. If you plan to paddleboard in colder water for a prolonged period, a drysuit may be a better choice. If you’re in milder conditions and prefer more flexibility, a wetsuit will suit your needs.

Remember, regardless of your choice, always wear the appropriate attire to stay safe and enjoy your paddleboarding experience to the fullest.

Note: The information provided above is based on general knowledge and may vary depending on individual preferences and specific circumstances.

4. Water Shoes or Sandals

  • Water shoes and sandals are essential for paddleboarding as they provide protection and comfort while in the water.
  • Water shoes and sandals are designed with a durable and flexible sole that offers good traction on slippery surfaces, such as paddleboards or rocks.
  • They are made from quick-drying materials like neoprene or mesh to prevent water from weighing them down.
  • Water shoes and sandals usually have adjustable straps or laces to ensure a secure fit and to prevent them from slipping off.
  • They are lightweight and provide a barefoot-like feel, allowing you to maintain balance and control on the board.
  • Sandals are another option for paddleboarding, offering a more open and breathable design.
  • They typically have straps or buckles that keep them securely in place, providing protection for your feet while still allowing water to flow through.
  • When choosing water shoes or sandals for paddleboarding, make sure they fit properly and provide enough support for your feet.
  • Consider the water conditions and weather when selecting your footwear. In colder conditions, you may opt for neoprene water shoes or booties for added insulation.
  • Having the right water shoes or sandals will enhance your paddleboarding experience, providing comfort and safety for your feet.

5. Hat and Sunglasses

When heading out for a paddleboarding adventure, don’t forget to protect yourself from the sun by wearing a Hat and Sunglasses. Here are some reasons why these accessories are important:

  • Hat: Wearing a hat while paddleboarding provides shade and helps to keep the sun off your face, neck, and scalp. It can prevent sunburn and also keep you cool on a hot, sunny day.
  • Sunglasses: Sunglasses are essential for protecting your eyes from the harmful UV rays of the sun. They also help to reduce glare from the water, making it easier to see and navigate while paddleboarding.


  • Did you know that the skin around your eyes is highly sensitive and prone to sun damage? Wearing sunglasses can help prevent wrinkles and reduce the risk of developing cataracts.

6. Personal Flotation Device

  • A personal flotation device (PFD), also known as a life jacket, is an essential safety equipment for paddleboarding.
  • PFDs are specifically designed to help keep you afloat in case you fall off your board or get swept away by strong currents.
  • When choosing a PFD, it is crucial to ensure that it is Coast Guard approved and fits properly. A snug fit is important to prevent it from slipping off in the water.
  • There are various types of PFDs available, including inflatable PFDs, foam PFDs, and hybrid PFDs. It is essential to choose the one that suits your needs and provides the highest level of comfort.
  • Before heading out on the water, always make sure to check that your PFD is in good condition and properly fastened.
  • Remember, wearing a PFD is not only important for your own safety but also required by law in many areas.
  • Some paddleboarding locations may have specific rules or regulations regarding the type of PFD you should wear, so it is crucial to familiarize yourself with these before setting out.
  • Even if you are a strong swimmer, it is still highly recommended to always wear a PFD as unexpected situations can occur on the water.
  • Always practice responsible paddling and remain aware of your surroundings to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Considerations for Different Weather and Water Conditions

Considerations for Different Weather and Water Conditions - paddleboarding what to wear

Photo Credits: Watersportsarena.Com by Frank Harris

When it comes to paddleboarding, dressing appropriately for the weather and water conditions is key. Let’s dive into the different considerations based on the elements. From what to wear under hot and sunny conditions, to staying warm in cold weather, and even tackling windy conditions, we’ll cover it all. So grab your board, and let’s get prepared for an epic paddleboarding adventure, no matter what Mother Nature has in store!

1. Hot and Sunny Weather

When paddleboarding in hot and sunny weather, it’s important to dress appropriately to protect yourself from the sun and stay cool. Here are some key considerations:

  • Sunscreen: Apply a waterproof sunscreen with a high SPF before heading out. Look for broad-spectrum protection to shield your skin from both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Lightweight clothing: Opt for breathable and lightweight clothing that covers your skin to minimize sun exposure. Long-sleeved shirts made of moisture-wicking material can help keep you cool while providing sun protection.
  • Sunglasses: Wear polarized sunglasses to reduce glare from the water and protect your eyes from harmful UV rays.
  • Hat: Choose a wide-brimmed hat that shades your face, neck, and ears, providing extra protection from the hot and sunny weather. Straw or ventilated hats can help keep your head cool.
  • Hydration: In hot and sunny weather, it’s crucial to stay hydrated. Bring along a water bottle and drink regularly to avoid dehydration.
  • Water-friendly footwear: Opt for water shoes or sandals that are comfortable, provide grip on the paddleboard, and can get wet without being damaged.

Remember, paddleboarding in hot and sunny weather can be enjoyable as long as you take the necessary precautions to protect yourself from the sun and stay cool. Stay hydrated, apply sunscreen regularly, and dress in lightweight, sun-protective clothing. Happy paddleboarding!

2. Cold Weather

When paddleboarding in cold weather, it is crucial to dress appropriately to stay warm and comfortable. Here are some important considerations to keep in mind:

1. Layering: Layering is essential in cold weather to trap heat and provide insulation. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer to keep your body dry. Add a thermal mid-layer for extra warmth, and finish with a waterproof and windproof outer layer.

2. Cold Weather Neoprene wetsuit: Wearing a neoprene wetsuit is highly recommended in colder temperatures. It helps to retain body heat and provides insulation even when wet. Choose a wetsuit thickness appropriate for the water temperature.

3. Cold Weather Gloves and socks: Protect your extremities by wearing neoprene gloves and socks. These will keep your hands and feet warm and prevent them from going numb in cold water.

4. Cold Weather Headgear: A beanie or a neoprene hood can help retain heat and protect your head from the cold wind. Consider wearing a hat or headband that covers your ears as well.

5. Cold Weather Sunglasses: Even in cold weather, it’s important to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays and glare from the water. Wear polarized sunglasses to reduce eye strain and enhance visibility.

6. Personal flotation device (PFD): Don’t forget to wear a PFD, especially in cold water where the risk of hypothermia is higher. Choose a PFD specifically designed for water sports to ensure your safety and buoyancy.

Remember, these suggestions are meant to serve as a guide for dressing appropriately for cold weather paddleboarding. Conditions can vary, so always check the weather forecast and adapt your clothing accordingly. Stay warm, stay safe, and enjoy your paddleboarding experience!

3. Windy Conditions

When paddleboarding in windy conditions, it is important to dress appropriately to ensure comfort and safety on the water.

  • Wear a windproof layer: Choose a lightweight windbreaker or shell jacket to protect yourself from the gusts of wind. This will help to keep you warm and prevent wind chill.
  • Wear fitted clothing: Opt for form-fitting clothing to minimize wind resistance. Loose-fitting clothes can catch the wind, making it harder to maintain balance and control.
  • Protect your head: Wear a hat with a secure strap to prevent it from getting blown off by the wind. This will also shield your face and eyes from strong gusts. Sunglasses with UV protection are also essential to protect your eyes from the sun and wind.
  • Secure your belongings: Ensure that any personal items such as keys or phones are stored in a waterproof bag or secured in a pocket with a zipper or Velcro closure.
  • Consider safety precautions: In windy conditions, it is advisable to wear a personal flotation device (PFD) for added safety. This will provide buoyancy in case of an unexpected fall into the water.

By dressing appropriately for windy conditions, you can enjoy paddleboarding with confidence and make the most of your time on the water.

Tips for Dressing Appropriately for Paddleboarding

Follow these tips to dress appropriately for paddleboarding:

  1. Wear a swimsuit or quick-drying clothing: Since you’ll be in and around water, it’s best to wear a swimsuit or quick-drying clothing that won’t stay wet for too long and provides comfort.
  2. Consider the weather: Dress according to the weather conditions. On hot and sunny days, wear lightweight and breathable clothing, while on cooler days, opt for layers to keep warm.
  3. Protect yourself from the sun: Apply sunscreen to exposed skin and consider wearing a hat, sunglasses, and a rash guard or long-sleeve shirt with UPF protection to shield yourself from harmful UV rays.
  4. Choose appropriate footwear: Depending on the type of paddleboarding you’re doing, wear water shoes, sandals, or barefoot. Avoid wearing heavy shoes that can hinder your balance.
  5. Wear a life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD): Safety is crucial, especially if you’re a beginner or venturing into rough waters. Always wear a properly fitted life jacket or PFD.
  6. Secure your eyeglasses or sunglasses: If you wear eyeglasses or sunglasses, consider using a strap or retainer to secure them. This prevents them from falling off and getting lost in the water.
  7. Bring a change of clothes: It’s a good idea to bring a change of clothes for after your paddleboarding session. This ensures you have dry clothes to change into and stay comfortable.
  8. Be mindful of water and weather conditions: Dress appropriately for the water and weather conditions you’ll be paddling in. If it’s cold or there are strong winds, consider wearing a wetsuit or windproof jacket to stay warm.
  9. Avoid loose or dangling clothing: Loose or dangling clothing can get caught on equipment or hinder your movements. Opt for snug-fitting clothing that allows you to move freely.
  10. Consider a waterproof bag: If you need to bring personal items like keys, phones, or snacks, use a waterproof bag or container to keep them dry and secure during your paddleboarding adventure.

By following these tips, you can ensure that you’re dressed appropriately for paddleboarding, stay comfortable, and have an enjoyable experience on the water.


Some Facts About What to Wear When Paddleboarding:

  • ✅ The decision on what to wear when paddleboarding depends on factors such as the season, weather, and paddler’s ability. (Source: Academy of Surfing)
  • ✅ In the summer, it’s important to consider the air temperature rather than just the water temperature. Wearing light layers or swimsuits are suitable attire. (Source: Gili Sports)
  • ✅ It is recommended to wear lycra and quick-drying layers like shorts and a t-shirt with UV protection to avoid overheating in the summer. (Source: Academy of Surfing)
  • ✅ In the winter, layering is key. Base layers of lycra-wear like leggings and long sleeve t-shirts can be built up and removed if necessary. (Source: Academy of Surfing)
  • ✅ A personal flotation device (PFD) or a USCG-approved life jacket is essential safety gear when paddleboarding. (Source: Gili Sports)

Frequently Asked Questions

What essential gear do I need for paddleboarding?

When paddleboarding, it is important to have the following essential gear: a paddle board, fin, paddle, SUP pump, life jacket, ankle leash, cell phone, waterproof bag, sunscreen, bug spray, water and snacks, whistle, and rope.

How does the air temperature affect what I wear when paddleboarding?

The air temperature should be considered when deciding what to wear while paddleboarding. In the summer, lycra and quick-drying layers like shorts and a t-shirt with UV protection are recommended. In colder weather, layering with base layers of lycra-wear and a windproof top or jacket is recommended.

Can I wear a wetsuit for paddleboarding in the winter?

Wetsuits can be worn for added protection in case of falling in the water during winter paddleboarding. However, it’s important to note that wetsuits may become cold when out of the water, so it is recommended to layer up with additional clothing.

What should I wear on my feet when paddleboarding?

For paddleboarding, barefoot is fine if the location allows. However, wetsuit boots should be worn to avoid cuts on the feet if needed.

What should children and pets wear when paddleboarding?

For safety, children should always wear a life jacket when paddleboarding. Pets should also wear a personal flotation device (PFD) while on the paddle board.

What should I do if the weather changes while I’m on a paddleboarding trip?

It is important to always carry a change of clothing when paddleboarding in case of weather changes. This will ensure you can stay comfortable and safe throughout your trip.

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