Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is an amazing water sport that brings together physical fitness, adventure, and a connection with nature. Whether you’re riding the waves on the coast or exploring the calm waters of a lake or river, practicing SUP is an experience like no other. However, it can also be a physically demanding activity that requires proper preparation and equipment. One essential item that every paddleboarder should have is a wetsuit. In this article, we’ll explain why wetsuits are necessary for SUP and how to choose the right one for your needs.
Why do you need a wetsuit for SUP?
First, let’s talk about why wearing a wetsuit is so important when you’re paddleboarding. The answer lies in the fact that wetsuits provide insulation, protection, and enhanced buoyancy. Here are some specific reasons why you need a wetsuit for SUP:
1. Temperature: Depending on where and when you practice SUP, the water temperature can vary significantly. Even if the air temperature is warm, the water can be cold enough to cause hypothermia. Wearing a wetsuit allows you to stay in the water for longer periods, and it also protects your body from wind and other elements.
2. Protection: When you’re paddling, you’re exposed to various hazards such as rocks, branches, and wildlife. Wetsuits are made of durable neoprene materials that can provide some protection against these threats.
3. Buoyancy: A wetsuit’s insulation can help you float more easily in the water, which can be helpful if you lose your board or need to take a break. Plus, wearing a wetsuit can help reduce drag and improve your mobility and speed.
Now that you understand why wetsuits are necessary for SUP let’s move on to the question of how to choose the right one.
What are the factors to consider when choosing a wetsuit for SUP?
Choosing a wetsuit for SUP can be a bit tricky, as there are many types and brands available. The best wetsuit for you will depend on several factors, including your skill level, the water temperature, and your body shape. Here are some of the most important factors to consider when choosing a wetsuit for SUP:
1. Thickness: Wetsuits come in various thicknesses, typically ranging from 2mm to 6mm. The thicker the wetsuit, the warmer it will be. However, a thicker wetsuit can also limit your mobility and flexibility. Consider the water temperature, the duration of your sessions, and your tolerance to cold to determine the right thickness for you.
2. Style: Wetsuits come in different styles, including full suits, springsuits, and shorties. A full suit covers your entire body and provides the most insulation but can feel restrictive. A springsuit covers your torso and arms but leaves your legs bare, making it ideal for warmer water. A shortie covers your upper body and thighs and is useful when the temperature is mild.
3. Fit: A wetsuit should fit snugly but not be overly tight or restrictive. A too-loose wetsuit can allow water to enter, reducing its thermal performance. Similarly, a too-tight wetsuit can cause discomfort and restrict your movements. Try on different wetsuits and choose the one that feels comfortable and allows you to move freely.
4. Mobility: Wetsuits with more stretchable neoprene materials offer better mobility and flexibility. This is especially important if you like to perform SUP maneuvers or if you’re a beginner who needs to practice balance and technique.
5. Features: Other features to consider when choosing a wetsuit for SUP include reinforced areas to protect high-wear zones, anti-microbial linings to prevent odor and infection, and zippered or zipless designs for ease of use.
6. Budget: Perhaps the most critical factor for most people, the price of a wetsuit can vary widely, depending on its brand, style, and features. Consider your budget, but also remember that investing in a high-quality wetsuit can pay off in the long run in terms of performance, durability, and comfort.
How do you take care of your SUP wetsuit?
Once you’ve chosen your wetsuit, it’s essential to take care of it properly to ensure it lasts as long as possible. Here are some tips for maintaining your SUP wetsuit:
1. Rinse it after each use: Rinse your wetsuit thoroughly with fresh water, both inside and outside, to remove salt, sand, and other debris that can damage its neoprene fibers.
2. Hang it to dry: After rinsing, hang your wetsuit in a shaded and well-ventilated area. Avoid direct sunlight or heat sources, as they can cause the neoprene to degrade and lose its elasticity.
3. Store it properly: Once your wetsuit is dry, fold it neatly or wrap it around a wetsuit hanger. Do not leave it crumpled or stuffed in a bag, as this can damage the neoprene or create creases that may not come out.
4. Avoid sharp objects: Be careful when handling your wetsuit, and avoid contact with sharp objects or abrasive surfaces that can tear or puncture the neoprene.
5. Use a wetsuit shampoo: From time to time, use a wetsuit shampoo to clean your wetsuit more thoroughly and remove any odor or bacteria buildup.
By following these care tips, you can extend the life of your wetsuit and keep it in good condition for many SUP sessions to come.
When it comes to stand-up paddleboarding, wearing a wetsuit is essential for a safe and enjoyable experience. A wetsuit provides warmth, protection, and buoyancy, allowing you to paddle longer and explore new waters. To choose the right wetsuit for SUP, consider factors such as thickness, style, fit, mobility, features, and budget. Some of the best brands for SUP wetsuits are Rip Curl, Xcel, O’Neill, Patagonia, and Billabong. And remember to take care of your wetsuit properly by rinsing, drying, storing, and cleaning it regularly. With the right wetsuit and care, you can make the most of your SUP adventures and enjoy the beauty of nature from a new perspective.