Christos and I know there is so much information out there that sometimes can just be way too much! Well that’s why you have us! Lucky you!!!! We spend lots of time researching and exploring. Tons of trial and errors, its actaully what we love. So many brands and companies have epic technology land uber amounts of knowledge. We are like sponges and soak it all up. In the past 7 years we have developed some really great relationships, professional and personally with many of the brands we do business with. Wether we have discovered them at expo, met them on an adventure, it’s all a testiment to them and us of how can truly and honestly speak and feel confident about every item and service our business provides. Now, let us introduce you to badass, amazing waterman, endless amounts of knowledge, and the man that for me hooked on all season paddling, Danny Mongo. I personally was a tough, tough sell because if you know me, you know I am a summer lover, beach bum for my first choice for all things sup/surf. But he made me into a believer! I am addicted and get can’t enough! (Thank you🙏🏽) Now it doesn’t have to be the perfect winter warm day, sun shining and no wind to get me out on the water all year long! With the right gear I’m out there all year long loving it and it’s kinda of my new obsession. I’ve always loved the magic and peacefulness of winter paddling but didn’t get to enjoy it as much as I do now!!!! My perfect magical winter days don’t have to be so perfect to get me out there. With the right Gear I can keep paddling anytime I want! (Yes please💁🏽❄️☃️👍🏾) After Danny getting me hooked, I asked him to write for our blog and here is what he has to share with all of you!
Enjoy! And then let’s paddle together all year long!
Author- Danny Mongno
A note from the author. So many “educational” reads end up really being an opinion piece. So Danny wanted to be up front, yes… this is another opinion piece. Many paddlers have a system that works for them and they are entitled to their opinion as well. There is no FACT that one method works better than another. This piece will draw from Danny’s lengthy, 30 year experience in the paddle sports industry and as a paddler. So we feel there is some really good stuff in here to make you a more informed paddler, on this topic.
So to start this piece, we must first identify the primary purpose. Staying alive when you are exposed to cold water. Certainly discussions roll on about performance wear and sun wear and they are also important. But at the end of the day hypothermia can set in within 5 minutes in the water temps we see in New England Spring, Fall, Winter, and greatly increase your chance of drowning. We realize who the audience of this piece will be, good, outdoors people who want to enjoy the quiet of nature in the offseason or perhaps to stretch their training season. So yes, there are points on how different clothing options perform for the SUP paddler. But as a community, we must address the very serious risks that we face paddling in cold temps. So before we get too deep into apparel options, let’s look at some easy things we can add to our cold weather paddling to decrease the likely hood of getting in danger.
1) Wear your LEASH. There it is again right? If not dressed properly, you are going to be COLD when you climb back on your board…but at least you were able to quickly access it and get back on.
2) Eliminate risks that you can control. Pick days that do not have wind in the forecast. Choose a location that is more sheltered from wind, as a backup plan. Stay closer to shore. Plan to do several loops, as opposed to one long out and back, so you are closer to your vehicle.
3) Paddle with a partner. If you just can’t, or just don’t want to, leave a float plan with a friend. Where are you putting on, where are you heading? Have a plan to call that person at a prearranged time when you are off the water. If you do call 10 minutes after that time, they should be sending help.
4) Consider a more stable board. Speed is not the goal here, fitness and fun are. If anything, the additional resistance of a wider board can allow you to increase output while decreasing time on the water. More stability can add a great layer of safety in cold temps and allow you to take time to look around with more confidence.
Training wear designed specific for SUP, or cross over from running or cross country ski, will keep you warm and manage perspiration in cooler temps. These items will generally be less of investment, as we most likely own some already, and be the most comfortable and performance orientated for the high energy expended during stand up paddling. For the person who is 100% committed to the 4 tips we gave at the onset of this article and are very confident in their skills, simple training wear may suffice. However, you have to be honest with in yourself in accessing the risk you are taking. These types of clothes are going to offer little to no insulation against cold water and make swimming very challenging when soaked through. The odds of falling in may be low, but are you willing to accept the outcome if something should happen?
Are by no means going to win you any awards for fashion and at the $700-$1200 price range are not inexpensive. However you will stay dry and depending on the investment you can make, can be highly breathable. A dry suit uses a combination of different materials to create a highly water resistant seal against your neck and wrists. (Waterproof feet are attached to the suit, so no need for a seal there.) Using a waterproof zipper, you close the suit to keep water out. (Most suits also offer a waterproof “relief zipper” as well, allowing you go number 1, without taking the entire suit off.) Underneath, you layer for the temperature of the water. This can be done with higher end fabrics, or as simple as cotton, depending on how well you want to manage perspiration. So as Summer approaches, air temps rise but the coastal waters are still cold. You may wear just a very thin silk weight layer. Winter paddling, full on wool or expedition weight pieces. The suit will be made of some level of breathable fabric and depending on if you want to invest in a 2.5 layer material or 4 layer material, will be the deciding factor in how well the suit manages perspiration for you. (Gortex or Eclipse, are popular 4 layer fabrics you have seen in rain wear or ski clothing. These would lean toward the higher end of the price scale, but also be the most breathable.) Due to the looser fit of a dry suit; paddling is not inhibited in any way. To look at both sides, surfers have NEVER taken to dry suits for a few reasons that do make sense. Since surfers are in the water (even SUP surfers fall in) the in water insulating properties of neoprene makes sense. Surfers are not working that hard, so breathability is not important. The seals on a dry suit (at neck and wrists) are water resistant. The constant submersion that occurs in surfing would allow water in, which in turn would soak the layering worn and make one cold. But that all said, in the end, the dry suit does perform the best for an active paddler, provides the driest safety option and gives lots of options depending on the water and air temperature combo.
With SUP having a history tied to surfing, and many people paddling a SUP for fitness may also SUP surf as well, the neoprene wetsuit has had its place in the sport. It must be told though, that neoprene only insulates when wet and when dry does not breathe. So dragging on your 3×2 or 4×3 to go for a fitness paddle, is going to be a hot and sweaty experience. Even with the amazing technology in today’s wetsuits, they still make them a challenge for the paddling motion, so additional effort is required. Neoprene options are less expensive however, so they can have a place. You just should consider options more for paddling and less for surfing. Thinner layers that are sold as tops and bottoms are available. A favorite piece of paddlers is a zippered top, so you can regulate heat when paddling but zip back up to get warm if you should fall in. Tank top style suits called a “Farmer John” and “Farmer Jane” allow freedom of movement and higher breathability. Paired with a thin wicking layer against the skin and a wind layer over the top, this can be a great lower cost option. Remember though; unlike in a dry suit your feet are at the mercy of the cold water, so get thick boots.
So as we go back to the original purpose of this piece, staying alive when you are exposed to cold water, we feel confident that the 4 sections of this piece can certainly better educate us to be safe. Even if some of this is repetitive for you, or maybe you don’t agree with some of it, it opens up the conversation and creates a discussion on safety when paddling this Fall-Winter-Spring.”
Thanks Danny Mongo!
And to our Sup Friends, we hope you join in on all season paddling awesomeness. Wether you just want to get out and enjoy the magic of it all or your looking to train all year long. We have workshops, adventures, retreats, rentals and lessons. We do have gear to demo too! See you on the water.