This weekend I have been on a SUP Safety course with Josh at Rapid Skills. Although I have been paddle boarding for over 5 years and would say I am fairly confident, there is always room for improvement. I felt that completing the course would give me peace of mind and make sure I have all the knowledge I need to be safe when I am out during future adventures with friends.
Did I expect to learn anything new? not overly... but guess what, even after all these years, I did! There are so many little things that I know newcomers to this sport would not even consider, and I can honestly say that this course is worth every penny. I am now much more confident should I ever find myself in a situation where I need to rescue someone. This course covers all the basics and a little bit more and I highly recommend you get yourselves booked on to one soon.
What also came from being on the course and meeting my lovely fellow students is the lack of knowledge on kit available for paddling throughout Autumn and Winter. I see people online and meet people on the river banks thinking wetsuits are the only option… like a surfer would wear. When you get more confident on a paddle board and fall off less, a wetsuit is not always the best option as these are designed to work best when wet. As a confident paddle boarder, I have never fallen off my board as much as my friends try to push me off!
This year I have invested heavily in kit that will enable me to keep paddling all year round. It is all too easy to sit on the sofa when the colder and shorter days start drawing in. Having the right kit for me means I have no excuse and I find I feel much better for having gone out and paddled; my mindset and happiness is much improved even after an hours paddling. The outdoors is great for uplifting our spirits and releasing the happy endorphins we need to work harder for in winter.
I am going to share with you what I currently wear to paddle in, or more specifically, what I wore this weekend during my SUP Safety course. I hate being cold so am very much into lots of layers. I wore four layers on my feet this weekend, including thermal socks, my dry trousers, another pair of socks and my neoprene boots.
To break it down, I wear some NRS Expedition Weight Thermal Pants next to my skin and then, put on my Palm Tsangpo Socks, these are thermal lined and as well as being toasty they help to protect the dry sock on the trousers from my toenails, as this is the most vulnerable part of them. I then add my Kokatat Tempest Pants which are Waterproof Dry Trousers and are such a great investment now the water temperature is cooling down. I stay nice warm and dry throughout my whole paddle trip. On top of the trousers I put on some 2mm neoprene Palm Index Socks, these help to protect the waterproof socks on the trousers and add another layer of warmth. Then finally, I put on my NRS Paddle Wetshoe Boots. These are neoprene with a flexible but decent sole and most of all very comfortable. I have gone up a shoe size in these to allow for all the layers to fit inside my footwear.
I know this seems like a lot of layers. However, trust me, when the water is constantly running over your feet, or the wind splashes the water up at you, your toes will ever remain warm and toasty. Previous to this, I always had cold feet and it really does take away some of the enjoyment of paddling.
On the top half of my body I wore my Peak Thermal Rashy Shirt, which I have had for years. There are many options available in thermal layering; this is purely personal depending on how much you suffer with the cold. As it was about 12 degrees during the course and I knew we would be static for a little while, I also threw on my NRS Lightweight Thermal too. Then added my Palm Vantage Jacket over the top which helps keep the wind off, is waterproof and has a hood ready for any potential downpours. My final top layer is, of course, my buoyancy aid. I am currently wearing a Palm FX which I like because it has a big belly pocket and is handy for carrying my whistle, knife and phone. I finally finish off layering with my trusty bobble hat from Ozdzynes and some Peak 2mm neoprene gloves. As the weather gets colder I will wear thicker thermals and probably add more layers as I see fit; you just need to work out what’s best for you and your body.
All this together made me comfortable enough to be able to stay out on the water for a few hours, stay warm and dry and have a great day of learning and being active. This may not have been the same feeling I would have had if I had fallen in as I most certainly would have got wet and cold; well at least the top half of me would have. But as I am confident in my own abilities, I was not worried about this happening, and a risk I was happy to take. Yes, some of this kit is expensive, but it really makes a world of difference to being able to get out and go paddling on colder days with a warm smile on my face. As the saying goes there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.
My next purchase is most definitely a dry suit. This will mean I can be a bit braver in trying to do tricks, paddling longer distances and to not worry about falling in and getting cold. Perhaps if I am lucky Santa might surprise me with it for Christmas! Being an outdoors lover I could spend so much money on various clothing and kit, but a few key items can keep you going, especially when paired up with some other items you may have at home already that you haven’t even considered before.
Please feel free to ask me any questions and I look forward to seeing you out on the water soon!
Keep paddling, all the best