Both wetsuits and drysuits are standard gear for stand up paddle boarders. When dressing for cold weather, SUPers want clothing that won’t restrict movement. If you are planning to own one of these, the choice is personal. If you engage in a range of paddling you may want or need both.
Even though the wet suit is designed for warmth you may opt to choose a dry suit since it proves to be warmer once underneath layers are added. The decsion for which to choose really depends on the degree and type of activity.
An outstanding feature of the wet suit is that it moves as one with you. In choosing between the two, consider the following factors: weather conditions, how long you’ll be out, and style of ride (gentle or adventurous; touring or ripping through waves). Let’s take a look at both:
WetSuits - reviews and comparisons
Wetsuits by Patagonia – R1 Lite Yulex
Thermal Protection Test – floatation and thermal protection
The following video shows safety apparel and its effectiveness in cold water immersion environments. Narrated by Gordon Giesbrecht Ph.D.
Wet suits are made of a rubber neoprene. They are designed to keep you warm, especially if wet. A proper fit is key to experiencing the warmth your wetsuit is rated for. It's not waterproof, so a loose fit will let too much water in and cause chills. A skin-tight fit it what you’re looking for. If it becomes wet, your body temperature will warm the water absorbed by the neoprene to keep you warm.
There is no need to wear clothing underneath, although depending on temperature you may want to wear a thin layer such as a swim suit, or a full thin liner if paddling in very cold weather.
Paddlers’ wetsuits are generally 2 to 3 mm thick. There are full-length suits that cover your entire body and may include booties, or shorty suits that are typically cut above the knee and to the elbow for warmer weather. If you are paddling in extreme weather you might consider a getting a thicker suit such as can be found at a dive shop. It’s always a good idea to ask other boarders what they’re wearing for a particular situation.
The following link gives insight on the dangers of cold weather paddle boarding. This post is written by a …hardcore winter waterspouts dude… http://www.sup-talk.co.nz/
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Neoprene doesn't breath so your neoprene wetshoes can begin to acquire foot odour over time. The following video gives some solutions for how to maintain and keep your wetshoes as fresh as possible.
A drysuit is made of waterproof material (various materials are used). It is basically a shell with seals at the neck and wrists to keep the water out, and the boot is built in. These suits are not designed for warmth, so you need to consider the temperature the drysuit is rated for and layer underneath to address weather conditions. The typical suit is designed with divers and kayakers in mind, but is widely used by SUPers and works well. Some drysuit manufacturers are beginning to design specifically for stand up paddlers: lightweight, good fit, and with room for thermal layers for cold days.
More in-depth details on drysuits:
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Drysuits, wetsuits and rash guards. You may need all three depending on your paddleboarding preferences.