What to Wear for Paddle Boarding: A Comprehensive Guide

Stand-up paddle boarding is a fantastic way to explore the outdoors and water bodies. Not only does it offer an excellent workout, but it also allows you to immerse yourself in nature and enjoy breathtaking scenery. Whether you are a seasoned paddler or a beginner, you need to dress appropriately to make the most of your experience. In this article, we’ll take you through the essentials of proper attire for paddle boarding, so you can feel confident and comfortable while out on the water.

Understanding the Importance of Proper Paddle Boarding Attire

Before we delve into the specific clothing items you need for paddle boarding, it is crucial to understand why dressing appropriately is so important. When you’re on a paddle board, you face unique challenges compared to other water activities. Not only do you need to balance on the board, but you also need to paddle through water currents, waves, wind, and varying temperatures. The right attire not only protects you from these elements but ensures that you have maximum comfort and mobility as you enjoy your paddle boarding experience.

But paddle boarding is more than just a sport. It’s a way to connect with nature and explore the world around you. When you’re out on the water, you’ll see things from a different perspective, whether it’s a school of fish swimming beneath you or the sun setting on the horizon. Proper attire can enhance this experience, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of your surroundings.

Safety Considerations

One of the most critical reasons to dress appropriately for paddle boarding is safety. Even if you are a skilled swimmer, you need to have a personal flotation device (PFD) on at all times while paddle boarding. A PFD will help you stay afloat if you fall into the water. Additionally, you need to dress in bright and reflective clothing to make yourself visible to other watercraft. Consider wearing a brightly colored rash guard or a swimsuit with reflective details.

But safety isn’t just about the gear you wear. It’s also about being aware of your surroundings and the potential risks. Before you head out on the water, make sure you know the weather forecast and any potential hazards, such as strong currents or rocky areas. And always paddle with a buddy or let someone know where you’re going and when you plan to return.

Comfort and Mobility

Paddle boarding requires significant body movement, so it’s crucial to wear apparel that does not restrict your movements. Opt for stretchy clothing, such as board shorts or swim leggings, that allow you full range of motion. You’ll also want to wear clothing that wicks sweat and dries quickly, so you don’t feel weighed down or uncomfortable.

But comfort isn’t just about the clothing you wear. It’s also about taking care of your body. Make sure you stay hydrated and apply sunscreen regularly to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. And don’t forget to take breaks and stretch your muscles to prevent cramping or injury.

Weather and Water Conditions

As with any outdoor activity, monitoring the weather and water conditions is crucial. Dress accordingly, so you’re prepared for the elements. In hot weather, you’ll want to wear lightweight and breathable fabrics that offer sun protection. In cooler weather, opt for thicker clothing or a wetsuit to keep you warm.

But weather and water conditions are also an opportunity to explore different aspects of paddle boarding. For example, in calm waters, you can practice yoga on your board or take a leisurely paddle to explore the shoreline. In rougher waters, you can challenge yourself with more advanced techniques, such as surfing or navigating rapids.

Essential Paddle Boarding Clothing Items

Paddle boarding is a fun and exciting water sport that requires the right clothing and gear to ensure you have a comfortable and safe experience. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the essential paddle boarding clothing items you’ll need to hit the water in style.

Rash Guards and Swim Shirts

When it comes to paddle boarding clothing, rash guards and swim shirts are a must-have. These types of shirts are specifically designed for water sports and are made from quick-drying and stretchy fabrics that offer sun protection and keep you cool. They come in different styles, including short and long-sleeved options, so you can choose one that feels comfortable for you.

Rash guards and swim shirts are ideal for paddle boarding because they protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays, which can cause sunburn and skin damage. They also help to regulate your body temperature, keeping you cool and comfortable even on hot days.

Board Shorts and Swimsuits

Board shorts are another essential item for paddle boarding. They are designed to offer comfort and optimal movement, allowing you to move freely on your board. Board shorts are made from quick-drying and durable fabrics that can withstand the rigors of water sports. They come in a variety of styles and lengths, so you can choose one that suits your personal style.

For women, swimsuits are a great alternative to board shorts. Swimsuits offer more freedom of movement and can help you avoid clothing bunching up, which can be uncomfortable when you’re on your board. Like board shorts, swimsuits are made from quick-drying and durable fabrics that can withstand the demands of water sports.

Wetsuits and Drysuits

If you’re planning on paddle boarding in colder waters, you’ll need to invest in a wetsuit or drysuit. Wetsuits are designed to keep you warm even when wet, making them ideal for paddle boarding in colder temperatures. They come in different thickness levels, so you can choose one that suits the water temperature.

Drysuits, on the other hand, are designed to keep you dry in cold or wet conditions. They are a more expensive option than wetsuits, but they offer maximum protection from the elements. If you’re planning on paddle boarding in extremely cold water, a drysuit is the way to go.

Footwear Options

When it comes to footwear for paddle boarding, you’ll need something that offers excellent grip and protects your feet from sharp objects. Water shoes or sandals are a good option as they offer protection while allowing your feet to breathe. They are also designed to provide excellent grip on wet surfaces, making them ideal for paddle boarding.

You can also use sneakers or other closed-toe shoes, but avoid wearing flip flops or anything that could easily slip off your feet in the water. The last thing you want is to lose your footwear while you’re out on your board!

So there you have it, some essential paddle boarding clothing items that will help you stay comfortable and safe while you’re out on the water. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, having the right clothing and gear can make all the difference in your paddle boarding experience.

Accessories for Paddle Boarding Comfort and Safety

Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)

We’ve already mentioned the importance of Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) in ensuring safety while paddle boarding. While most paddleboard rentals come with PFDs, investing in one that fits you comfortably and offers additional features like pockets for storage and attachment points for accessories is essential. A PFD is not just a safety item, but it can also be a fashion statement. There are different styles and colors of PFDs available in the market that can make you look cool while keeping you safe. Some PFDs even have built-in speakers that allow you to listen to music while you paddle.

Sun Protection Gear

When out on the water, you’re exposed to the sun’s harmful rays. Protect your skin and eyes by wearing a hat or cap, sunglasses, and applying a water-resistant sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. You can also invest in sun protection clothing with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) ratings built-in to provide an extra layer of protection. Sun protection gear doesn’t just protect you from the sun, but it can also make you look stylish. There are many fashionable hats and sunglasses available in the market that can complement your paddleboarding attire.

Hydration Packs and Water Bottles

Paddleboarding is an intense workout, and it’s easy to get dehydrated. Carry a hydration pack or a water bottle to ensure that you stay hydrated during your paddleboarding experience. A hydration pack is an excellent option as it allows you to carry water hands-free, and some packs come with pockets for storage. Hydration packs are not just for water; you can also carry other beverages like sports drinks or even beer. Some hydration packs come with a built-in cooler that can keep your drinks cold while you paddle.

Waterproof Storage Solutions

When paddleboarding, it’s essential to bring along some essentials like your phone, wallet, and keys. However, these items can’t get wet. Invest in waterproof bags or cases that can keep your belongings safe and dry while you’re out on the water. Waterproof storage solutions come in different shapes and sizes. You can get a small waterproof pouch that can hold your phone or a large waterproof bag that can hold all your belongings. Some waterproof bags even come with straps that allow you to wear them like a backpack.

Overall, paddleboarding can be a fun and relaxing experience, but it’s essential to have the right accessories to ensure your comfort and safety. By investing in Personal Flotation Devices, Sun Protection Gear, Hydration Packs, and Waterproof Storage Solutions, you can have an enjoyable paddleboarding experience while staying safe and comfortable.

Dressing for Different Paddle Boarding Environments

Ocean and Coastal Paddle Boarding

If you’re paddleboarding in the ocean, be sure to dress appropriately for the water and weather conditions. Take into account the potential for rough waves, wind, and currents. Wear a wetsuit or a rash guard with board shorts to keep you comfortable. Don’t forget to bring along appropriate safety gear like a leash for your board and a PFD.

Lake and River Paddle Boarding

In calmer bodies of water like lakes and rivers, you can dress more casually. Board shorts or a swimsuit with a rash guard will suffice. However, it’s still important to protect your skin from the sun and wear a PFD. Keep in mind that water levels and currents can vary even in calm bodies of water, so monitor conditions and dress accordingly.

Cold Water Paddle Boarding

Cold water paddle boarding requires more extensive preparation. Wear a wetsuit or drysuit and insulating layers if necessary. The goal is to keep yourself protected from the cold while allowing for ease of movement. Wear gloves and a hat to keep your extremities warm, and don’t forget to wear your PFD.

Warm Water Paddle Boarding

When paddleboarding in warm water, you have more flexibility with clothing options. You can opt for lighter fabrics and minimal clothing such as a swimsuit or board shorts. Don’t forget your sun protection gear and PFD.


Dressing appropriately for paddle boarding is crucial to ensure safety, comfort, and maximum enjoyment. Invest in the proper clothing and gear for your paddle boarding environment, monitor the weather and water conditions, and always wear your PFD. With the right attire and preparation, you can make the most of your paddle boarding experience and create memorable moments on the water.

Katie Sophia

Hey there! I'm Katie Sophia - your go-to gal for all things style at WhatKatieWore.com. With a love for fashion and a knack for picking the perfect outfit, I'm here to make dressing for any event a breeze. I believe in looking fabulous without the fuss. Join me as we conquer the fashion world one outfit at a time!

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