When you think of SUP (Stand Up Paddleboarding), you likely imagine warm sunny days and just-right water temperatures. But what if we told you that paddleboarding during winter can be just as enjoyable but in a different way?
It’s true, paddleboarding during the winter provides a different look at the world through a paddleboarder’s eyes. But that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable.
- Why Go Paddleboarding During Winter?
- Dream Winter Paddleboarding Destinations
- 12 Paddleboarding During the Winter Tips
- Are You Ready for Paddleboarding During Winter?
Why Go Paddleboarding During Winter?
Let’s be real: You love paddleboarding because there’s nothing like being in the water as the sun beats down on you. You get to see lush landscaping all around as you paddle through the water.
As a paddleboarder, it’s easy to get stuck in the warm month’s box. Here are two great reasons why you should consider winter paddleboarding.
You’re not competing for water space
Think about all the times you’ve had to dodge swimmers and other obstacles while summer paddleboarding. Then, imagine a cool, serene lake or other body water where you’re the only person there.
Seashores and lakes bustle with activity during the warmer months. But when you paddleboard during the winter, you will enjoy a quiet, serene landscape. And who doesn’t love a little quiet time once in a while?
You will see the other side of nature
Sure, a beach filled with colorful umbrellas and people sunbathing up and down the coastline is a great scene. But so is a deserted beach with magnificent snowy landscapes all around it. When paddleboarding during winter, you will get to see and enjoy the cooler side of nature.
Dream Winter Paddleboarding Destinations
Before we give you tips for paddleboarding during winter, we first want to show you some of your options. You can paddleboard during the winter someplace local to you or take a trip to one of these breathtaking locations.
Lake Blindsee, Austria
If you’re looking for a fairytale-type location, this is it. You will have to carry your paddleboard down a mountain to get to the lake, so you might consider using an inflatable paddleboard for this trip. The trip down is about 30 minutes. Once you arrive at the lake, white mountain peaks surround you, snow-laden trees, and a sky so blue it doesn’t look real.
Austria, here we come!
Lago di Braies, Italy
Lago di Braies, also known as Pragser Wildsee, is known for its magnificent views. That’s why you’ll find loads of stunning photos of the area on Instagram. But be aware that the freezing temperatures in this area can cause this beautiful lake to freeze, especially once the sun goes down.
It’s important to look for moving water when paddleboarding during winter on this lake! Once you’re off the water at this pristine lake, you take a five-minute walk into town for a hot drink.
Lake Walchensee, Germany
If you’re looking for snow-covered mountain peaks and clear, glassy water, Lake Walchensee in Germany might be the perfect spot for you. A small village surrounds it with plenty of places to find a warm place to sit and enjoy a meal after your adventure.
Reviewers on Trip Advisor say it’s one of the most beautiful spots they’ve seen.
Recommended Read: Top 9 SUP App Options You Need Out on the Water
12 Paddleboarding During the Winter Tips
When paddleboarding during winter, planning is an important part of staying safe and having a successful trip. Here are 12 tips that help ensure that your winter paddleboarding trip is the best it can be.
1. Don’t be a wanderer
During the summer months, it’s fun to venture out on a lake and explore. But when paddleboarding in the winter, you need a plan. Your visibility may be lower, and all that snow and ice make areas of the landscape hard to differentiate.
Set up your route before you take to the water and know the areas where you will be paddling into the wind and where ice is more likely to form. You can even use a GPS app to help plan your route.
2. Stay close
During the summer, you can venture out to any part of the water that you want. But when hypothermia is a possibility, it’s wise to stay close to the shore. By staying no more than 15 feet from the shore, you will ensure that you can make it back to the ground if a problem should arise.
3. Use that leash
It’s easy to become too confident and think that you don’t need to use a SUP leash in the summer months, and while most experts would argue that’s not true, it’s more important than ever when paddleboarding during the winter.
Your leash is what ensures that you stay close to your board, and the truth is, you never know what can happen when riding. During the winter months, being in cold water can cause hypothermia. So, it only makes sense that you have a 10-foot lifeline to your floating device.
4. Add this just in case
When paddleboarding in winter, falling in the water is far worse than in the summer months. That’s why it’s a great idea to wear a lifejacket. When you fall into very cold or freezing water, it can be difficult to swim.
In other words, a lifejacket could help you make it to shore when everything else goes wrong.
5. Can you hear me now?
When paddleboarding in the winter, it’s important that you have access to a cell phone while you’re out on the water. If you get into trouble, you need to be able to call someone to come and rescue you. To keep your cellphone safe and away from the water, pack it in a waterproof bag, and clip it to your clothes.
You can find bags with double seals to ensure that even if your phone does go into the drink, it will stay dry and functioning.
6. Dress the part
If you’re going flat water riding, the chances of falling into the water while riding on flat waters are slim. That means you can dress like you would if you were doing something athletic during cooler weather.
For instance, wear layers and make sure your base layer can wick moisture. On top of that, add some additional layers that will protect you from the wind and cold.
You will also need to protect your lower extremities from the cold. To do this, wear fleece leggings or waterproof pants to stay dry.
Don’t forget to wear a thin pair of gloves with a grip to keep your hands warm. A pair of wet socks and neoprene booties will keep your feet nice and dry. Also, wearing some sort of hat will help your body retain some heat. A fleece beanie is a great option.
Remember that cotton absorbs water quickly and becomes heavy, so you should avoid wearing it while paddleboarding in winter. Choose thin clothing that you can easily layer.
7. Go a step beyond if necessary
Depending on where you are paddleboarding in the winter, you may need to level up your clothing and opt for some of the best cold weather SUP gear.
For example, if you plan to surf or do whitewater riding, you might need another layer of protection from the elements. The same is true if you plan to spend time in the water.
You can either wear a wetsuit or a drysuit to give you this added layer of protection. Here are the differences between the two.
Wetsuits allow water between the suit and your body, but it heats that water, keeping you warm. If you plan to spend a little time in the water or if there is a chance that you will fall into the water, a wetsuit may be enough protection for you.
A drysuit will give you more protection from the cold water because it’s waterproof. That is a great option if you plan to paddleboard in areas where you will spend more time in the water. Keep in mind that whitewater riding will get you wet regardless of whether or not you fall in the water.
Remember, you don’t need to wear a wetsuit or a drysuit. It’s entirely up to you and whether or not you think it’s necessary for your trip.
8. Check with the boss
Before paddleboarding in the winter, it’s a good idea to look at the weather forecast. The ideal forecast includes calm winds with no chance of precipitation. If the forecast calls for wind, you can still go out, but be sure to ride the section of your route that goes against the wind first.
It will take up the most energy, so you won’t want to save it for last when you’re already tired.
Remember that during the winter, the weather can change quickly. If you know a storm is coming, don’t try to beat it and get your board in the water. The last thing you need to be paddleboarding in the winter months in the middle of a lake as a severe storm hits.
It could cause you to drift off course or fall into freezing water. And lower visibility could make it difficult for others to see or find you if you get into trouble.
Recommended Read: Types Of Stand Up Paddle Boarding
9. Avoid the sharp stuff
When paddleboarding in winter, you will have to be on alert for ice in the water. Not only will it damage your board, but it could cause you to fall in the water. And you need to pay attention to ice in other ways, too.
If you see some calm water in the middle of a lake, don’t walk over ice to get there. And if you are maneuvering through large sections of ice, sit down on your board. Standing up could cause you to fall in the water if you accidentally bump into a large piece.
10. Stick to a curfew
When you’re out on the water during the cold winter months, the last thing you want is for the sun to go down before you’re back on the shore. In the winter months, it gets dark much earlier than it does during the summer months.
To prevent getting stuck on the water after dark, start by checking the local forecast for the sunset time. Then, plan on being on the shore at least 30 minutes before that.
11. Don’t be a loner
Paddleboarding in the winter is not a solo sport. Even in the summer, paddleboarders should always pair up with a partner before taking to the water. But in the cold winter months, it’s even more critical.
If it’s impossible to take along a partner, be sure to let someone know where you are. They should also know where you plan to launch from and approximately how long you plan to stay on the water.
And when you finish your ride, let them know that you are off the water so they can relax, knowing you’re safe!
12. Finish strong
It’s a great idea to pack a kit to use after you get off the water. You can include a warm (and dry!) towel, shirt or sweater, a pair of pants, socks, shoes, and a jacket. Also, include a thermos full of hot coffee or soup and a snack so you can replenish your energy after a long day on the water.
Are You Ready for Paddleboarding During Winter?
Paddleboarding during winter months does have its unique challenges, but it can also provide you with a thrill that warm weather paddleboarding can’t. Just imagine gliding across a lake with the white mountain peaks as your audience.
Or hiking down a mountain trail, drinking hot tea from a thermos, and then setting off on a paddleboarding adventure few others have taken.
To ensure that you stay safe and enjoy your winter paddleboarding trip, be sure to plan ahead and follow the safety rules more closely than you normally would.
Do you have any SUP tips for paddleboarding during the winter? Or maybe you’d like to share the details of your own adventures? Please, share them in the comments below!
Featured Image by Will Walker on Unsplash