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Red Paddle Co FAQ: Do You Need Special Paddleboarding Clothes?

Posted by Luke Green

One of the main barriers to entry for paddleboarding is equipment. We see it time and time again: budding adventurers who want to hit the water but are apprehensive about the extra outdoor gear they might need to be safe and successful on the water.  While there is no escaping the fact that you will need to make an investment in (or rent) a reliable paddleboard before you hit the water, it’s simply untrue that you must tick off a seemingly endless shopping list to reap the rewards of paddleboarding.

What to wear is one of the biggest question marks among those unsure whether they are ready and able to go paddleboarding. Of course, there are huge advantages to wearing the right things and investing in high-quality equipment, but you should be assured that you do not necessarily need special paddleboarding clothes to get started. What is more important is that the clothing you do choose matches the type of adventure you’re planning to undertake!

Things To Consider When Choosing Paddleboarding Clothing

The beauty of paddleboarding is that each adventure is different. Some of us enjoy taking our SUP to the beach, while others prefer the more gentle pace of lake paddleboarding. Each experience brings different conditions and challenges and therefore there’s no ‘one size fits all’ answer when it comes to what to wear paddleboarding. 

Anybody who spends some of their spare time in or around the water is likely to already have the essential items needed for paddleboarding (moisture-wicking layers, a hat or sunglasses and a swimming costume or pair of shorts if you’re planning to get in the water!). This means that your existing wardrobe should always be your starting point when you try and pick out your paddleboarding clothes. As you pack your kit bag and get dressed for your adventure, make sure you’ve considered the following factors:

Are You Getting In The Water?

The misconception that you’ll need loads of specialist paddleboarding clothes often stems from the fact that paddleboarding takes place on the water. However, unlike other watersports like surfing and open water swimming, there’s no actual guarantee that you’ll get into the water and this means that there is no absolute requirement for swimwear or a special wetsuit for paddleboarding

Before you head out, have a think about whether you plan to get in the water or not. If you are planning to have a post-paddle dip or are still working on your paddling technique and balance, it’s wise to wear swimwear or a wetsuit (depending on the season). However, if your intention is to spend the whole time above the water rather than in it, your ‘paddleboarding clothes’ will likely be items you’d just as easily wear in the car or for a bite to eat like a t-shirt and shorts. 


The climate and time of year should also be a key consideration when choosing your paddleboarding clothing. Layers are key to getting things right no matter whether it’s the height of summer or you’re braving a cold water paddle. Always check the forecast and think about whether your skin is adequately protected from the sunlight. UV rays can catch you even on a chilly day so make sure that you opt for clothing with adequate UPF and a hat or sunglasses to protect your face and eyes.


And don’t forget that your paddleboarding clothes should be comfortable! Proper paddling technique requires a full range of physical movement so you should wear clothing that allows for a full range of movement. You might also work up a bit of a sweat, so go for moisture-wicking fabrics where possible to keep cool during your adventure. Quick-drying garments are a plus too - especially if you find yourself taking an unplanned dip in the water!

Red’s Recommended Paddleboarding Clothing

While we’ve made it clear that you don’t need an entire wardrobe overhaul for paddleboarding, you might notice a few gaps that need filling. If you are going to purchase new paddleboarding clothes, we suggest prioritising items in the following three groups:

Performance Clothing

As we have mentioned, layers are the bread and butter of paddleboarding clothing. If you need to add some versatile options to your wardrobe, Red’s range of performance clothing is the perfect place to start. Made from highly breathable and moisture-wicking fabric, the 50+ UPF performance t-shirt is the ultimate base layer while the versatile long-sleeve performance top is perfect for slipping on and packing away when the conditions change.  

Changing Robe

It’s easy to get carried away thinking about your time on the water, but paddleboarding clothing also encompasses what you might wear on either side of your adventure. With this in mind, it’s important to have paddleboarding clothes that keep you warm and dry like a changing robe. We suggest our Pro Change Robe EVO for the ultimate cosy post-paddle experience or our microfibre changing robe for fuss-free changing.

Cap or Beanie

Accessories are also key and a hat should be your priority no matter the season. In winter or colder temperatures, go for a beanie like our Voyager beanie to keep your head warm and comfortable. When it’s bright and sunny, swap to a cap to keep the sun out of your eyes. Our Paddle Cap is specially designed with an invisible ventilation system that helps your head stay cool even when the sun is shining on it all day.