Have you ever tried winter SUP? Stand-up paddleboarding is a popular summer sport, and is often associated with hot weather, warm water, and sunny skies. But once the temperature drops and the snow starts to fall, most people end their SUP season, counting down the days until they can paddle again. But what if we told you that there is no need to put your board, paddle, and gear into hibernation? Winter SUP is a growing trend in the paddleboarding community as more and more people hit the water in the chillier months, braving the cold weather and water. Need a bit of convincing to get out there? Here are our top five reasons why you should take the plunge and try cold weather paddleboarding!

woman kneeling with dogs on SUP in the middle of a lake during the winter

Our friend Ngiao, her dogs Wonton and Abby (pictured) and, our Ambassador Kristine (benhind the lens) recently went on a winter paddle hike together!

5 Reasons to Try Winter SUP

The Cold Will Make You Cooler

Picture this: you’re at a party, meeting some new people. Casual conversation turns to interests and hobbies. What could be cooler than saying you’ve gone paddleboarding in the winter? It’s a definite ice breaker for sure! People might think you’re crazy at first, but disbelief will quickly turn to awe. You’ll have some fun anecdotes and great pictures to show for it. You may even convince others to try winter SUP! But the person you’ll impress the most is yourself. You’ll have that satisfied feeling of knowing you took a chance and tried something new and different. So step out of your cozy comfort zone and get yourself and your SUP out on the cold water!

The Scenery is Stunning When You Winter SUP

There is something magical about SUPing in a winter wonderland. Imagine paddling near a rocky shoreline covered in layers of glistening ice, gazing at trees topped with fresh snow, as gentle flakes fall from the sky. The cold weather can transform the most ordinary landscapes into something out of Frozen. It’s guaranteed to take your breath away, and not just because it’s cold! This is especially great for those of us who are limited in options for nearby waterways to explore, as it can give you a fresh perspective on the same old familiar paddle routes. Prepare to be amazed at the transformation. Don’t forget to pack your camera! You can even mount one on the nose of your board! The photo opportunities will be plentiful.

woman winter paddling on Thruso Surf Waterwalker all-around SUP

Dress right and wear a PFD like Kristine to extend your SUP season right through the winter.

It Will Extend Your SUP Season

Once the cold weather hits, most people pack away their SUP gear. But wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to store your beloved board and could practice your favourite sport year-round! Getting into winter paddleboarding ensures your SUP season never ends. Sure, it involves a few more layers of winter SUP clothing and a bit more planning, but it is definitely worth the effort for the increase in opportunities to get out on the water. Winter SUP is especially beneficial if you’ve been working on becoming a better paddler and want more time to practice your skills. Having too long a break between SUP outings can hinder any progress you’ve made. If you get out a few times in the winter season, you’ll be able to keep those skills fresh and be a better, well-rounded SUPer for it.

The Invigorating Benefits of Cold Weather and Winter SUP

Breath in that cold, crisp winter air! We all know that getting some exercise and being in nature provide us with many well-known physical and mental health benefits. With winter paddleboarding, the addition of the cold air and water might bring about even more benefits. Cold water plunges (or “polar dips”) are popular in Scandinavia and Russia, as they are believed to be good for the human body. Wim Hof, a Dutch extreme athlete otherwise known as “The Iceman”, touts the benefits of “cold therapy,” claiming it can help with weight loss, inflammation, and mood. If you’ve been curious about any of these practices, cold water paddleboarding can be a fun way to dip a careful toe into these icy pursuits. You’ll get the benefits of being out in the cold without having to take the full, watery plunge … unless you fall off your board! Always be prepared, dress for the conditions, and make sure to check in with a trusted medical professional before going for your first winter SUP if you have any pre-existing conditions or health concerns.

You’ll Have the Place to Yourself During a Winter SUP

Popular SUP locations can get busy and crowded in the warmer months, with other paddleboarders, boaters, and swimmers out on the water. Winter puts a pause on most of this activity, allowing you to have your favorite paddle spot to yourself. You’ll be able to nab those prime parking spaces closest to the water and have all the room you need to spread out as you prep for your cold water SUP adventure. Once you’re out on the water, the sense of quiet and calm is astounding. Gone are the loud motorized watercrafts and noisy crowds. There is rarely another person to be seen, except for your SUP buddy (safety in numbers!). As a bonus, if there’s been a recent snowfall, the snow on the ground can absorb sound. Enjoy this moment of peace and stillness.

So Why Not Give Winter SUP a Try?

So, have we convinced you to try paddleboarding in the winter? Just remember to be smart and be safe; have a good exit plan, wear the proper gear, stay close to shore, and go out with a reliable paddle pal. Always be aware of and respect your limits. When done safely, winter SUP can have a multitude of benefits. It’s the coolest thing happening in the SUP world. And there’s nothing like taking a hot bath and treating yourself to a warm cup of hot chocolate post-winter paddle. You’ve earned it! Once you’ve defrosted, post about your excursion and tag us with #thursosurf. We can’t wait to hear about your first cold water SUP adventure!
winter SUP paddler makes her way through a harbor

Give winter SUP a try and enjoy paddling all year long like our Ambassador Kristine and follow her for more adventures at @hikenearvancouver and @adventuresnearvancouver.

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About the Author: Jordan-na

Jordan-na Belle-Isle is a Toronto-based SUP instructor, lake surfer, and writer. Born in Montreal, she has been sporty her whole life and discovered stand-up paddleboarding in 2013. Since then, she has been active in the SUP scene, paddling and surfing the Great Lakes year-round. Jordan-na is a patient and encouraging instructor. She obtained her first SUP instructor certification in 2017 and has been teaching ever since. She has worked with Surf the Greats and Toronto Island SUP, running everything from group classes, to one-on-one training, to winter SUP safety clinics, to team-building events for clients and partners such as Google, Brown Girl Outdoor World, L’Oreal, Swim Drink Fish, and Ryerson University. She currently holds an Advanced SUP Instructor certification with Paddle Canada and is Bronze Cross certified with the Ontario Lifesaving Society. A recognizable face in the Great Lakes SUP and surf scene, her image has been used in a national campaign for Tourism Canada and she has been interviewed by several media outlets such as SUP Connect, Breakfast Television, Daily Hive News, and the Toronto Star. She was also the subject of a short documentary film titled ‘In Winter.’ A skilled writer with a masters degree from the University of Toronto, her work has appeared in Explore Magazine and she is a regular contributor to the Thurso Surf blog and Surf the Greats Journal. She is a co-organizer for Lake Surfistas, a grassroots group that connects, empowers, and educates women who surf and SUP the Great Lakes year-round.


  1. Keith January 21, 2021 at 3:13 pm - Reply

    Nice article on cold water or winter sup. Would you expound more on suggested attire for winter/cold water SUP?

    • jordanna January 26, 2021 at 10:30 am - Reply

      Hi Keith,

      Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the article. We’ll be posting more articles on winter SUP, so stayed tuned! Briefly, I can suggest either a drysuit or wetsuit rated for the water temperature in your area. In Toronto, I’m wearing a 5/4mm wetsuit as the waterways here are pretty cold.


  2. auckland surf April 5, 2021 at 3:28 am - Reply

    Thank you very much for sharing about winter sup here… I really hope I can work on your tips and it works for me too, I am happy to come across your article. Great post I must admit, keep sharing more…If you are looking same kind of valuable information, then can also visit Aotearoasurf.co.nz

    • Jordan-na April 5, 2021 at 3:36 pm - Reply

      Greetings, Auckland Surf, and thanks for checking out our winter SUP article! Have we convinced you to try cold water SUP? Not sure how many opportunities you’ll get for that in New Zealand but glad you liked our post.


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