These are the days. The temperatures hover in the 60s, the sun is out, the ocean is sparkling and the leaves are beginning to turn. Fall paddling excursions have begun. Many folks believe that once the hot, sultry days of summer are over, its time to put their stand up paddleboard into storage and turn inside to other, more sedentary pursuits. However, if you live in the Hamptons and are a lover of the outdoors, you know how special this time of year can be on the water, to witness the wildlife reemerge, and enjoy the beauty that surrounds us. The question is: What do we wear while paddling in cooler temperatures?
Take this past week for example. We had plenty of wind, and temperatures dropped into the mid-50s. Obviously, a bikini just won’t do. How do we adjust? I’ve found that fall paddling means that we learn to layer up and prepare ahead of time. Rather than just run down to the water with SUP board in tow at any hour like we do in the summer, we need to take into consideration the air temps, the wind speed and the daylight hours remaining.
Autumn usually brings some gusty winds so I gear up by wearing a sports tank or a long sleeve paddling shirt (something that wicks away sweat from the body) with an outer shell or windbreaker. I can always tie the windbreaker around my waist if I begin to overheat or carry a backpack to store excess clothing. Sweetwater Wear makes several good paddling shirts with appropriate ventilation that are comfortable & fashionable. On my legs, I either wear my Xcel paddling capris (purchased at Main Beach Surf & Sport) or a pair of yoga shorts covered by wind pants traditionally used for running/hiking. Patagonia makes several pairs that work; however, their men’s line is much more extensive so I’ve found purchasing a men’s small usually avoids the headache of trying to find what I want in the women’s line. When the sun goes down, it gets cool quickly, so if it’s near dusk or there is a chill breeze in the air, a pair of fingerless gloves and a fleece headband helps to avoid losing body heat through the extremities. So far, it's been fine barefoot, but a pair of rock booties or 2mm wetsuit boots are an excellent choice for keeping the toes warm as the air temperature drops.
If falling in is a concern, then a 3/2 wetsuit is a great option. I have several friends who wear a “farmer john” or sleeveless wetsuit covered by a fleece to aid in range of motion while paddling. One of my complaints about paddling in a wetsuit is the close fit, a plus when you’re surfing and want your body heat to warm up the water next to your skin, but a clammy & sweaty option if you’re on top of the water and paddling hard.
To continue stand up paddling into the fall, I just have to be a bit more cognizant than I was in the heat of summer in terms of my gear. But I’ve found that for very little $$, one can outfit themselves nicely for fall excursions and stay comfortable through the change in the seasons.
Stay tuned for fall paddling routes according to wind direction and winter paddling tips for the hale & hearty!