Choosing a suitable outfit for a paddle boarding or kayaking adventure can include a lot of factors that new paddlers may find unfamiliar and overwhelming. Here at Vero Tackle & Watersports, we want to make things as easy as possible for new paddlers, so we put together this guide to paddling apparel for any weather.
Before we get into clothing choices, it is imperative that we mention the most important thing to have with you for all paddling excursions: a personal floatation device. Also known as a PFD, you should never go out on the water without one. A PFD will not only help you if you fall into the water, but it is also legally required to be on your kayak or SUP, which counts as a vessel per the US Coast Guard. Children must always wear their PFD when on the water, but adults may choose to keep theirs on the vessel rather than wearing it.
If you’re venturing out on a paddle board, always wear the ankle leash. In the event that you fall overboard, the leash will keep your SUP from floating away from you and leaving you stranded in the water.
No matter what the weather is like, we always recommend regularly applying sunscreen to exposed skin while out on a kayaking or SUP adventure. Water reflects sunlight, and UV rays are still able to reach your skin on cloudy days. The only time it’s not necessary to wear sunscreen is after the sunsets.
Any time you run the risk of getting wet, it’s best to avoid cotton clothing and stick to synthetic fabrics. Clothing made out of neoprene, polyester, nylon, and polypropylene will dry faster than cotton, which will make a huge difference in comfort and safety during a paddling session.
Always dress for the water temperature. A body of water can remain cold even on a hot day, and dressing for the water temperature will greatly lower your risk of hypothermia if you happen to fall into the water. Never go out on water that’s at a temperature low enough to be deadly if you fall in.
SUMMER PADDLING (60°F or higher)
When the weather is warm, dressing for a day on the water is all about comfort. Swimsuits, swim trunks, and board shorts are all great choices.
We also recommend wearing a UV protective layer, like a lightweight and breathable rashguard. This will add some extra sun protection to your outfit and can help prevent chafing too. For women, a pair of shorts over your swimsuit can be beneficial in the same ways as long as they’re not jeans, which take a long time to dry.
A wide-brimmed hat and a pair of sunglasses can help keep you comfortable by keeping the sun out of your eyes and off your face and neck.
Many people opt for paddling barefoot when the weather allows, but for kayaks especially, we recommend wearing – or at least bringing along – a pair of water shoes, sandals, or neoprene shoes.
TRANSITIONAL WEATHER (30°F to 60°F)
Spring and fall are beautiful seasons filled with changing colors and scenery, but the temperature is liable to change too! For kayaking or SUP adventures during these times of the year, it’s advisable to dress in layers.
Rather than dressing in one or two bulky layers, we recommend wearing a few light, quick-drying, and ideally waterproof layers. If a layer is too bulky, it can restrict movement, and having multiple thinner layers allows you to make more precise adjustments for changing temperatures. Synthetic fabrics are going to be the best option for staying dry and comfortable.
A dry bag is a good investment if you plan to kayak or SUP often. As the name implies, these bags will keep your belongings dry, which is particularly helpful if you need to store some extra layers for later.
Other options include wearing a thin (3-5mm) wetsuit or a drysuit. A wetsuit will protect you from the cold by keeping a thin layer of water between you and the suit. This water barrier will be consistently heated by your body, keeping you warm. A drysuit, on the other hand, will not allow any water in. Staying dry will make a big difference, but the drysuit will not keep you warm without layered clothing underneath.
For footwear, water shoes or neoprene booties that are 3-5mm thick are recommended. These choices will offer your feet some protection from chilly weather without becoming waterlogged while kayaking or affecting your balance on a SUP.
WINTER WATERSPORTS (30°F and below)
Many people think paddle sports are only possible in the summer, but with the right preparation and clothing choices, you can enjoy kayaking and paddleboarding any time of year.
When temperatures dip into the 30°F and below range, a thicker wetsuit (4-6mm) is strongly recommended, as well as neoprene gloves and neoprene booties that are between 5-7mm thick.
For extreme cold temperatures (10°F and below), a thick, hooded wetsuit with neoprene gloves and booties will be your best bet, though it’s important to keep in mind that temperatures this low can be very dangerous.
Apparel aside, there are some other preparations you can make for a safe and enjoyable winter paddling session, such as keeping your route near the shore, avoiding ice in the water, and keeping warm clothes handy to change into afterward.
KAYAKING AND PADDLE BOARDING IN VERO BEACH, FL
The Treasure Coast sees mild weather year-round, with air temperatures rarely dropping below 50°F here in Vero Beach. In both the Indian River Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean, water temperatures usually average between 60°F at the lowest and 85°F at the highest
For most of the year, you can expect to follow the summer recommendations in this guide when it’s time to get on the water. Between November and March, you may need to prepare for the transitional weather recommendations before heading out. Even better, the only time you’ll need to buy a wetsuit for a kayaking or SUP adventure at Vero Tackle & Watersports is if you want to!
Author: Lauren Hamer