Many of us paddle all year in the Pacific Northwest. And when it shows, we love to head to the water to see the changes and immerse ourselves in the best of winter NW paddling!

Read on to learn about my winter SUP clothing.  It took years of trial and error to figure out what works for me.  And that’s the key – this works for me and I run cold. You may find that these items aren’t what works for you.

Some may feel a drysuit is a better and more comfortable option for cold air and water. But I used to have drysuits and have found that I prefer a wetsuit for the type of performance paddling I do.

NRS Freestyle Wet Shoe

NRS Freestyle Wet Shoe

Tip: The key for me in staying warm – is to stay dry. Back in the day, I’d wear a wool sock under my booties get cold due to the sock getting wet and my foot unable to stay warm. Same goes for upper body.

Pre / Post Paddle Cloak

Before or after I paddle, I wear my Surf Fur wind and waterproof cloak that fits over my wetsuit. It’s super warm and keeps me warm when getting ready and/or after the paddle. I keep it on for the drive home as well.

Winter Tip: if you live a short distance to the water, put your paddling clothing on at home (or office) and wear it back home afterwards.

For weather down to 40 F

Aqua Therm Hood

5/4mm Flashbomb (fleece) RipCurl Wetsuit – This suit isn’t wet, it’s totally seam sealed, hooded and dry.

NRS Freestyle Wet Shoes – Fleece lined and a thicker sole for walking and insulation. Unlike surf brand booties, the boot doesn’t go my a millimeter rating. With my experience with the other brands, this one is as warm as a 7-9mm and lasts longer. I use them for my rental fleet too.

NRS Expedition Sock under the Wet Shoe – They don’t make the Expedition Sock anymore but their other waterproof
Wet Socks will work. UK’s Reed ChillCheater has a Agua Therm sock that is fleece lined and waterproof. I use their Agua Therm hood which is epic.

Not Shown – Season5 windproof and water resistant hooded jacket. I use this to cut windchill and find it’s super warm and is loose thus doesn’t make padding difficult. The jacket works on it’s own when the suit isn’t on whether on water or not.

Glacier Gloves Perfect Curve – These are waterproof and fleece lined. I’ve used them for many years!

Weather Below 40F

This week, we had our annual one-week blast of snow and ice. Air temps got down to the mid-20’s with wind chill even less.  In these conditions, I add a few items to keep warm but not affect my mobility.

Xcel Anti-Wetsuit Glove  – These are thin neoprene gloves that fit under my Glacier Gloves or a NRS Maverick glove. They help me stay extra warm and can be used as a light glove in the parking lot while loading / unloading gear.

Reed Chill Cheater Aguatherm High Vis Hood – This is a very thin fleece lined waterproof / windproof hood that fits nicely under my 5/4mm RipCurl hood.  It cuts windchill and bumps my heat rating up at least 10F.   This one is a hi-vis color, great on it’s own. There’s also a sun visor version as well.

Surf / Paddling Helmet – In extreme temps at these or colder, or in sleet, hard driving snow and/or super cold temps in surf, downwinding or tidal rapids, I’ll add my Gath Hat or Convertible Surf Helmets. This thin plastic helmet protects my head from stuff hitting me (or vice versa) and helps to further cut the elements out and keeps me warmer. Hi-vis colors are recommended.

Additional Items for Warmth

A vest style life jacket will keep you warmer, provide body protection from gear collisions and help with your visibility if you need to be seen. I use the MTI Vibe in orange. I also keep Hammer gel or an energy bar in by PFD pocket for extra energy/warmth.  Get a bright color.


About Rob Casey – Named a pioneer in the SUP industry by Stand Up Journal, Rob is the author of “Stand Up Paddling Flat Water to Surf and Rivers” and “Kayaking Puget Sound and the San Juans, 60 Trips.” Rob owns SUP school Salmon Bay Paddle in Seattle and was the founder of PSUPA. He also runs several NW paddling races throughout the year.
Disclosure: This post may include affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you.


Salmon Bay Paddle SUP Tips

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