When you are heading out on the water to paddle board, knowing what stand up paddle clothes to wear is important. Being out there on the open water without the right clothes can makes things less fun than they should be. You want to wear the right types of clothing for the conditions, so you are comfortable and able to enjoy your outdoor experience. There’s no reason to make things hard on yourself. SUPs have more than enough storage to pack an extra layer or two.


Most people can comfortably paddle through all of the seasons, summer months straight through to the winter months. Yes, winter paddleboarding is a thing and it’s beautiful. There is no limit to the temperature extremes if you are dressed properly. However, while the colder winter weather calls for wetsuits or drysuits, the warmer weather has more options and is less restrictive. But you still want to prepare yourself for a full range of weather conditions during your paddle session.

Close up of woman attach attaching ankle leash which is not a piece of stand up paddle clothes but essential to wear

Regardless of your SUP clothes, you should always wear your leash.

When Choosing What to Wear Paddling Remember, Safety First

No matter what the season or weather, wearing safety gear is a must when it comes to paddle boarding. Having a leash attached and a USCG-Approved life jacket with you is important. Paddle boards are considered to be a vessel by both Canadian and US water patrols so all boarders must have a personal flotation device (PFD) with them on the board. While not all will wear them, it is suggested that all paddlers keep them on. Children under 12 must wear life vests at all times if they are on a paddle board. The only exemption to this is if someone is SUP surfing and then there is no requirement to have a life vest with you.

When you are shopping for a life jacket, there are lots to choose from. They are much smaller and lighter than older styles you may be used to. These days you can find some pretty compact life jackets, There are even some that attach around your waist and are barely noticeable. Try them on before choosing to make sure they fit well and do not impede your stroke or mobility.

RELATED: How to Choose a Life Jacket for Stand Up Paddle Boarding

Man standing on rock holding SUP only wearing board shorts for his stand up paddle clothes

A swimsuit is often enough, but it depends on your plans.

Warm Weather Paddle Boarding Clothing Styles

There are very few places in North America that are not going to have a warm summer. While many hard core paddle boarders will try to paddle all 12 months of the year, the numbers are going to grow when the warm summer sun is out. Enjoying the sun and warmth makes everyone happy to be out on the water. But remember; even if the sun’s out, cold waters and cool winds can leave you shivering. However if you pack the right paddle clothing, you have nothing to worry about.

Sun Protection for Summer Paddle Board: Paddle Board T-Shirts and Natural Sunscreen

When the warm weather comes, paddlers are going to enjoy the board as well as a cool dip in the water. This means you will need something other than a wetsuit. Having a bathing suit, a short sleeve shirt, a rash guard or other water-resistant (hydrophobic shirt) wear is going to make time out on the water comfortable and fun. Men will often wear board shorts and women a bathing suit, be it one or two-piece.

Whatever stand up paddle clothes you choose, keep in mind that you’ll be spending a lot of time in the sun. Add in some waterproof UV sunscreen wherever your skin is exposed. These days you can even find some natural sunscreen options. There are also clothes that use sun protection in their fabrics if you are going to be on the water for extended periods of time. While bathing attire with or without UV protection is good for comfort and mobility, your feet have options as well. Many enjoy paddling barefoot, but you can also purchase paddle shoes. These are great if you are in areas that tend to be rocky or rough on the bottom.

Rash guards are important as well, particularly when surfing. They help reduce friction on your skin when climbing back onto the board. Rash guards also keep friction low when paddling and work to decrease soreness caused by repetitive movements on the water. They come in all shapes and sizes including short and long sleeve options.

Man and woman falling off of SUP into water only wearing swimsuits for stand up paddle clothes

A dry bag can come in handy…in case you need a change of clothes.

Layer Clothing Even if It’s a Summer Paddle Board Outing

When choosing clothes for a day of paddling, the best trick is to wear or pack layers. The weather may be cooler in the morning and warm up as the day goes on (and the opposite is of course true for sunset). Carrying a dry bag on the board is helpful as layers come off. It allows some versatility and clothing changes as the temperatures go up and down.

Sun Protection for Your Head

The other things to consider wearing is a hat and sunglasses. Even on hazy days, it is important to protect yourself from UV rays. Hats will help keep the sun off the top of your head, working to keep you cool and protecting you from sunburn. And sunglasses will protect your eyes from the sun and glare off the water. The reflection off the water can be intense and leave you squinting instead of enjoying the scenery. Plus, everyone looks cooler in sunglasses.😎

A woman paddling in open water wearing a hat, long sleeve shirt, and pants for stand up paddle clothes

A hat, long sleeve shirt, and pants can help protect you from the sun.

Stand Up Paddle Clothes for Cooler Temperatures: Wetsuits

Choosing to wear a wetsuit is not a tough decision in the winter. As it gets colder out, the suit you choose should get thicker. There are times such as early morning and night when you need something more than a bathing suit to stay comfortable as summer fades to autumn. Even some summer nights when you head out for a sunset paddle board excursion can make a long sleeve shirt or some other form of warmer paddle clothing worth packing.

If you are heading out for a cold weather paddle a neoprene wetsuit can make the experience much more enjoyable. It also protects you from hypothermia if you do end up falling in. A winter jacket or waterproof jacket will help you if it’s raining or protect you if you get splashed, but it won’t keep you dry if you fall in. That being said you don’t need a heavy-duty wetsuit necessarily, but one that is matched for the conditions and temperature you choose to paddle.

If you do not want to go the route of a wetsuit, then wear a long sleeve shirt over your bathing suit and sweatshirt over that. Leggings, long johns and gloves can be worn as well. Just be careful about the weight of the clothes and depth of water if you happen to fall in. You need to be able to swim and be safe as well. And again, if the water is too cold and you fall in it’s simply not enough.

SUP Yoga Stand Up Paddle Clothes

Being properly dressed for SUP yoga will improve your session. Be mindful of the weather so you are aware of how much you may need to layer your clothes. Keep the swimsuit or board shorts underneath, a rash guard if needed and then warmer yoga clothing can go over the top. If it is too hot out, then go with just the swimwear and rash guard. As you can see layering is key regardless the weather or activity

Woman wearing yoga pants and top for stand up paddle clothes while practicing on her Thurso Surf Tranquility yoga SUP

With a bit of practice, you’ll figure your clothing preferences for each SUP activity.

SUP Fishing Stand Up Paddle Clothes

If you are hitting the water to go out fishing, you do not need a lot of extra clothing other than what you would normally wear. However, sunblock or UV protective clothing, and a hat are worth strongly considering. With fishing you tend to spend a lot of time on the water, so keep that in mind when planning your trip. Another thing to consider when SUP fishing is bugs. Unlike regular paddle boarding, there’s a good chance you’ll be moving slowly or not much at all, and stick to the edges of the water, marshes, reeds, etc. Those are the places you’ll find fish because they’re looking for the insects that live there. Your regular insect spray, pants, and longs sleeves will do the trick.

RELATED: Stand Up Paddleboard Fishing: The New Fishing Vessel of Choice?

Proper Paddling Clothing for a Quality Time on the Water

No matter what stand up paddle clothes you choose to wear, make sure they provide you comfort and allow for a full range of motion. Layering is a great option because it provides you with a variety of choices throughout your day, so you can adjust as you paddle. The changing weather conditions, open water, and wind that comes with it make an extra layer worth it. Even if you don’t use it, you have it with you in case the air temperature changes and surprises you with cold conditions. In warm or cold weather, you’ll appreciate the options. Some items will be better suited for the water, but you’ll figure that out as you go. Just don’t wear something you’d prefer not to get wet. Eventually you may even have a stand up paddle boarding clothing section of your wardrobe.

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About the Author: Matt G.

Matt Gelgota is a traveler and all around digital marketing guy. His greatest adventure to date was the Mongol Rally, a 10,000 mile unsupported on and off-road saga from Sweden to Mongolia. He has visited more than 50 countries and has been paddling a Thurso Surf Expedition since 2018. Since then he’s had a chance to paddle board in Nepal, Thailand, Japan, and the US. When he’s not on the road he divides his time between Tokyo and Atlanta, Georgia.

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