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Red Paddle Co’s Complete Guide To Wetsuits For Paddleboarding

Posted by Lydia Burdett

When it comes to what to wear for paddleboarding, things are slightly different to other watersports. With paddleboarding, there’s no requirement to actually get into the water (unless you fall in!) and this can make your outfit planning a little tricky. Then comes the small matter of seasonality and comfort and suddenly getting dressed for paddleboarding can become a real conundrum.

In our experience, much of the confusion comes when people start to think about the idea of wetsuits for paddleboarding. While most surfers and swimmers wouldn’t even consider entering the water without their trusty neoprene layer, paddleboarders are more divided on the subject of wetsuits. To help you work out whether you could do with the added insulation for your next adventure, we’ve compiled a handy guide that includes everything you need to know about wetsuits for paddleboarding. Let’s get right into it. 

Do I Need To Wear A Wetsuit for Paddleboarding?

The first question you probably have about wetsuits for paddleboarding is what might seem like a simple query: ‘do I actually need one?’. Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer, as it largely depends on your own preferences. Some people feel more comfortable in the company of a second skin, while others prefer to wear just their swimming costume or performance clothing when gliding through the water. 

Besides how a wetsuit looks and feels when you’re wearing it, there are a couple of things to think about when deciding whether you want to wear a wetsuit for paddleboarding. Firstly, consider the season and how cold it might be. If you’re heading out somewhere hot or hitting the water in the height of summer, then a wetsuit won’t be necessary. However, if you’re paddleboarding in cold weather or in winter, the extra insulation provided by a wetsuit will offer invaluable benefits both in terms of safety and your general comfort. Similarly, if you are planning to incorporate some kind of swimming into your time out and about then a wetsuit for paddleboarding is a wise choice. Just remember your changing robe and a dry change of clothes to pop on afterwards. 

The Best Wetsuits For Paddleboarding

If you are swaying towards team wetsuit, your next consideration will be the type. There are wetsuits out there labelled as ‘SUP wetsuits’, but there isn’t much need to go for one of these supposedly specific ones if you know what to look for. 

Think again about the season and how strongly you feel the cold. If you are just looking for a bit of extra insulation or protection then a shorty wetsuit should do the trick and will provide adequate protection from the wind and UV rays too. If you’re going all out in open water or in winter though, then go for a full-length wetsuit. You should never underestimate the cold and a long-sleeved wetsuit for paddleboarding will help to create a nice toasty layer of warm water next to your whole body. 

Wetsuit length is undoubtedly important, but perhaps the most important feature you should look for from the best wetsuit for paddleboarding is the range of motion offered. While you won't be moving your arms quite as quickly as an open-water swimmer or surfer would, you’ll still be moving continuously to make strokes with your paddle so go for a sporty cut that allows for a full range of mobility. In terms of thickness, 3mm is a good middle-ground that will keep you warm but won’t feel too restrictive.

…What About Underneath?

Another question we often get asked is ‘what do you wear underneath a wetsuit for paddleboarding?’. The answer to this one really does depend on your own personal preference and what you feel comfortable in, though we’d suggest going for a tight rash vest if you’re worried about your wetsuit rubbing against your skin and causing discomfort. A thin garment underneath your wetsuit also adds an additional warm layer which can be valuable in cold conditions.

Alternatives To Wearing A Wetsuit For Paddleboarding

If the conditions don’t allow or you don’t want to wear a wetsuit for paddleboarding, you’ve still got plenty of options. A wetsuit isn’t the only way that you can layer up, and we always suggest adding some kind of layer on top of your swimming costume like a Red performance t-shirt to keep you protected from the wind and the sun. Seasonality will still be the biggest factor as you decide which wetsuit alternative to go for, so check out our guides on what to wear paddleboarding in autumn, winter, spring and summer before you hit the water. 

Should you wish to know more about the best wetsuits for paddleboarding or want to know whether you even need one, the Red team are always happy to help you decide. Simply get in touch today with any questions you may have!