a man standing on top of his floating paddle board

What to Wear When Paddle Boarding in the UK

You’ve probably seen the amazing photos on our site of the team in action and you’ll notice we are mainly wearing shorts and bikinis. It’s not always like that! I wish I could get away with just a pair of swimming shorts in the winter, but as we all know, the UK isn’t exactly famed for its weather!

With that in mind, before you take to the waters and jump into paddle boarding, you must consider your attire. For a sport involving potential cold water immersion, I'm afraid lads and ladies it’s function over fashion (you can achieve both though!). In this guide, I explain what to wear when paddle boarding in the UK to keep you safe and comfortable during your water expeditions.

Understanding the UK Weather and Paddle Boarding Conditions

When looking at what to wear paddle boarding in the UK, you have to think about our blessed weather and how it changes from season to season. It’s also great to know the specific things that affect your comfort and safety and these include:

  • Likelihood of immersion
  • Water/sea temperature
  • Air temperature
  • Wind factor

Firstly, even seasoned pros like myself still fall in sometimes! And it can be unavoidable depending on where you are getting on and off your board. To that end, think about how likely it is that you have to fully immerse yourself in the water as this will affect the clothes you wear.

Climate factors are also important for gear and other activities like when you buy a paddle board. This includes sea temperature, air temperature, and wind conditions. For example, average UK sea temperatures range from 6-10 degrees Celsius in the winter to 15-20 degrees in the summer.

Having these things in mind makes your equipment and clothing choices easier!

Get Kitted-Out For The Season

I wish I could give you a one-stop solution like “wear a wetsuit and neoprene boots” and that works all the time but I’d be setting you up for some uncomfortable paddle boarding sessions! Instead, I’ve given a seasonal breakdown that accounts for climate variations.

Spring

Spring is a tricky one! It feels like our springs are becoming milder and indeed when you are standing on your paddle board the spring sun feels amazing. However, the same can’t be said for the water! Water temperatures in spring can still be as low as 10 degrees Celsius therefore I advise wearing:

  • 5mm wetsuit
  • Wetsuit hood

Now, this can vary depending on your likelihood of immersion and if you are flat water paddle boarding or a confident paddle boarder, you can get away with just neoprene leggings and a t-shirt instead.

Summer

Ah, the summer, this is THE paddle boarding season and it’s the time we can show off our bodies and forget about full-body wetsuits! With average water temperatures of 16 degrees Celsius, and air temperatures of 20 degrees Celsius, you don’t have to worry as much about staying warm.

On coastal waters, you may still want to wear lighter 3mm wetsuit bottoms, but if you’re paddle boarding on inland water then shorts and bikinis are the way forward!

On a serious note though, aside from your paddle boarding accessories, don’t forget your suncream as the sun’s reflection on the water can burn you quickly! UV protection is important, especially with the rise in things like melanoma and sun damage.

Autumn

Autumn is a weird one and it’s difficult to give sound advice. For example, right now when writing this, we’ve had like two weeks of miserable weather and rain. Generally, the sea temp is around 14 degrees Celsius, while the air temperature cools off and averages at 10-14 degrees Celsius.

When looking at what to wear when paddle boarding, you can use the same approach as springtime. You can’t go wrong with a 3mm or 5mm wetsuit and wetsuit boots but this could vary depending on the air temperatures on the day and you could get away with less.

Winter

Winter is definitely the most challenging season for paddle boarding. With average sea temps of 8 degrees Celsius and air temperatures of 5-8 degrees, things are getting colder and you will feel it!

For coastal paddle boarding, you really need to stay protected and it’s a full 5mm wetsuit, hood, boots, and gloves, plus a thermal vest. If you are staying in-land and flat water paddle boarding, 5mm wetsuit boots are a must, but your other attire can be different and you can get away with a thermal rash vest and drysuit.

Protect Yourself and Combat the UK Weather When Paddleboarding

One of the amazing things we love about paddle boarding is the ability to enjoy it all year round, even somewhere like the UK where let’s face it, we aren’t blessed with super weather.

That enjoyment depends on your choice of clothing though and while we all want to have a blast on the water, I advise you to take your equipment seriously and get kitted out appropriately for the season and water temperature.