What to Wear for Paddle Boarding: SUP Clothing & Gear

Stand up paddleboarding is an open water sport that you can indulge in during any of the four seasons. However, for most novice paddlers, you may not know which is the best attire to wear and in which season. While some lightweight shirts, a bikini, or a swimsuit are not a bad choice, being in the right attire will make your water adventure more comfortable and enjoyable.

During the hot summer season, you can wear board shorts, swim trunks, rash guards and water shoes. If you are paddling in the winter, you need to wear a wetsuit or a dry suit, neoprene gloves or booties to protect yourself from cold. Besides, there are additional non-clothing items such as PFDs and leashes.

Find out more about below!

Paddle Board Clothing

Paddleboariding clothes include rash guards, swimsuits, wetsuits, drysuits, board shorts, etc. Before we jump into the specifics of these attires, here are several features you should aim for when it comes to SUP clothing.

  • Light in weight – indulging in water sports is fun except when the weight of waterlogged clothes starts to wear down. Lightweight clothing refers to those that dry easily and tend to wick off moisture faster. This then disqualifies cotton from the list.
  • Loose – even if you’re going for a rash guard, don’t choose something that makes you feel suffocated. What’s the fun in that?
  • Season friendly – in the article below, you will read about all types of clothing, go for something that’s best for the particular season. Don’t go for a wetsuit during summer.
  • Appropriate – this mostly refers to shoes. Sneakers, rubber shoes, bathroom slippers are not the appropriate choice of water shoes.
Paddle boarding clothing

With that in mind, let’s delve right into the article. Below are several attires you can have on during your stand up paddleboarding sessions.

Board Shorts

These are lightweight shirts made with synthetic materials to allow for water to drip faster as well as dry faster. They are just like ordinary shorts, however, they have been optimized for use with water sports such as paddle boarding.

As you shop for these board shorts, you will come across various types of them including those sold as single pairs, alongside those sold with rash guards attached. Different color patterns, sizes, and fits for men and boys.

Rash Guards

Another essential waterboarding clothing is a rash guard. These are specifically designed shirts used to protect the skin against grazes caused by rubbing the skin against the board. Occasionally, you will fall on the board as you paddle, or when your learning how to balance you’ll be lying on the board more than half the time.

The rash guard will help protect your bare skin from these harsh conditions. But that’s not the only benefit. Other advantages include;

  • SPF protection – most rash guards will offer the same sun protection as sunscreen would. Providing a cover against harmful UV rays from the sun as you’re out enjoying the waters.
  • Sting/bite protection – the material used to make the rash guards provide favorable protection from stings by corals, rocks, and jellyfish.
  • It can be worn by both men and women, all sizes, kids, and adults.

Lastly, rash guards are not wet suits, they’re the only intention is to provide sun protection not to stabilize body temperature by keeping you warm. Hence, they are used in tropical conditions such as late spring and summer as a replacement for using your daily sunscreen lotion or cream.

Swim Suit or Swim Trunks

A swimsuit/ bathing suit for ladies and swim trunks for men are also great choices for warm conditions. Not too tight and open like a bikini. Swimsuits and trunks will offer sun protection, protection from bites, and more importantly, the clothes will easily dry.


Wetsuits are great for the winter. These special suits are worn during cold seasons to help retain body temperatures. It’s worn by swimmers, surfers, paddlers, divers, and people who spend a great deal of time in the water.

The suit works by insulation protecting the user from getting conditions such as hypothermia caused by decreased body temperatures.

Wet suit
man paddleboarding in a wet suit

Insulation is achieved when the rubber material (neoprene) used to make the wetsuit creates a thin layer of water between the material and the body.

So even if you feel wet the body remains warm because the trapped water will provide a blanket. The suit has to be tight so the water in between in just the right amount.

Wetsuits can be of different types such as a full body cover from leg to the torso, hood, jacket, or just a vest. Furthermore, the suit can have different thicknesses to fit different water conditions and user’s needs. Most will be between three to five millimeters thick, but here’s a guide to show you what thickness is best for which situation.

50°F / 10°C Weather Conditions

  • 3-4mm Thick Wetsuit
  • 3mm Thick Neoprene Booties
  • Neoprene Gloves

30°F / -1C° Weather Conditions

  • 4-5mm Thick Wetsuit With A Hood
  • 5mm Thick Neoprene Booties
  • Neoprene Gloves

10°F / -12°C Weather Conditions

  • 5-6 mm Thick Wetsuit With A Hood
  • 7 mm Thick Neoprene Booties
  • Neoprene Gloves

As you have read above, the colder the weather, the thicker the wetsuit should be to keep you warm

Winter Jackets

If the wetsuit isn’t to your liking, you can also try a winter jacket. This is using thick long-sleeved shirt with a waterproof jacket over it. This will also create a sort of insulation for your body. This option is cheaper, but it doesn’t work as efficiently as the wetsuit.

SUP Drysuits

Unlike wetsuits, which work by trapping a layer of water to maintain body heat, drysuits create a warm layer of air against your body to keep the temperatures normalized. With assured heat retention, they are a great choice for the cold season.

However, they can be quite uncomfortable especially if you get the wrong fit. Water can easily get into the clothing causing you to feel even colder than before. They are best worn with other attires such as a rashguard. Lastly, they are very costly to purchase.


It’s not a mandatory choice but with the hot sun shining down in you and the rays reflecting off the water, a hat or cap is a good idea. It can protect you from getting sunburns as you paddleboard and it can also protect your neck and face in general from and half ultraviolet rays of the sun.

Both men and women can put on a hat. Select a ball cap or a wide-brimmed hat that will protect throw face and neck. However, you can always wear what you have 

Water Shoes

You can go stand up paddle boarding barefoot as you would go for swimming. But if you’re looking for something slip-proof, lightweight, and right for water. Then there are water shoes you can invest in.

High-quality water shoes are light in weight, fast-drying, and have a grip on preventing you from slipping. They have added traction below the shoe using tread marks to aid with proper standing on the board. Most will be made with rubber as they offer the best slip protection.

There are also surf booties used by those who surf, windsurf, scuba dive, kayak, paddle, and even hike. They are very rigid and durable mostly because of their make and specialization. These surf booties look similar to socks which you can tuck into tour wetsuit to also keep your feet warm.

Lastly, these water booties can be used during the summer and winter as they can also provide adequate ventilation during the hot season.

Top SUP Clothing Brands

  • Stohlquist
  • Kanu
  • Roxy
  • Speedo
  • ONyx
  • MTI
  • O’Brien
  • Pro lite
  • Naish
  • NP Surf

Non-Clothing Stand Up Paddle Boarding Accessories

Besides the clothing attire you should wear, there are these items that you should also carry along with you. These SUP items are crucial for safety, convenience, and sun protection.

Personal Flotation Devices

These are devices you put on to keep you safe while on the water. In case you fall into the water, or you lose track while paddleboarding, the flotation devices will best keep you alive until help arrives. These devices include a life jacket/ life vest.

In some areas, the law requires you to wear these devices before you can be allowed to partake in any water sports. The device is very crucial especially for fast-moving waters, unchartered waters, or during rough and cold waters.


First paddle boarders and surfers, it’s very easy to lose your board in case you fall in the water, or under other multiple circumstances. Therefore, the leash is attached to your ankle and the SUP to keep you tethered to the board. This way, in case of anything, the board won’t float away leaving you behind.


The hot sun sometimes can be overwhelming, especially during summer. Furthermore, when your surfing, the sun rays tend to bounce back on the water surface or even on your board causing your eyes to strain. The constant glare of the sun can easily and gradually damage your eyes.

This is why sunglasses are very essential. And not just any type of sunglasses. Select one with adequate protection from the sun’s UV rays and one best for water sports.


To go along with the sunglasses, get some sunscreen as well. Most especially if you’re not dressed in something that’s covering your body like a rashguard or swimsuits. Select one with a high SPF, say between 30 to 45, and higher, to offer you the best protection from sunburns.

Further SUP Ideas & How-tos

The following is a collection of more Stand up paddleboarding ideas and board guides


SUP Equipment & Accessories

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