5 Tips for California Winter Paddling

Get some paddling in this winter! SUPing is often mistaken as a summer-exclusive sport, but don’t be discouraged by the cooler temperatures out. With the right gear, and a few tips and tricks, you can enjoy your board all year round.

Winter in California actually provides some of the best paddling days of the year. With little to no wind, and smooth, glass waters, these cooler months offer the best conditions for a relaxing morning or afternoon out on your board. Plus, you get to skip out on some of those summer crowds!

Of course, one of the most common deterrents paddling this time of year is the lower temperatures. When looking to find tips for winter paddling, they are often geared towards cooler climates with snowy and icy conditions. Within California, however, our winters tend to stay on the mild side. So, with a bit of layering and a few essential items, you’ll be ready to hit the water.


5 tips for winter paddling in California


One of the perks of paddleboarding is that you get to be on the water, rather than in it. And with calmer conditions, the potential for falling in is much lower. So, layer up! Opt for a quick-drying base layer, followed by layers for warmth and wind protection. A splash jacket or waterproof windbreaker is a great option.

Think of quick drying material. Running tights, leggings, or compression pants are a great choice for your legs, which can easily be layered with splash pants to keep you dry and provides additional warmth. On those cooler days, neoprene booties, gloves, and fleece hats and beanies will help lock in some heat to keep you nice and toasty! Keep in mind, we're focused on lake paddling here. If you are in the ocean, a wetsuit is a must. In colder, icy conditions, investing in a dry suit would be wise.

We won't go into wetsuits here, but it's important to not only know the air temperature, but to know the water temperature of where you are paddling, to help you make a decision on what to wear.

After you’re all layered up, throw some extra clothing in your car for the end of your paddle session. In case of any mishaps on the water, having a change of clothes when you get back to shore will allow you to ditch anything wet and help keep you warm for your drive back.

SUP Leash

Although this is the best time for flat water and calm conditions, all paddlers should be using a SUP leash, regardless of experience. Your board is your largest flotation device. With a leash, it stays attached to you if you do happen to fall in, and can be a huge help if you run into any trouble. If you don’t have a leash yet, you can check out some options here

Water and snacks

While this is a tip for all year round, remember to pack some water and snacks. Sometimes we lose track of time when paddling and end up being out on the lake longer than we plan. Whether you’ve got snacks on board, or back at your car, it’s always good to have for a re-fuel. And don’t forget your water! On hot summer days, bringing a water bottle is a no-brainer. But, we need to stay hydrated throughout the winter as well. So remember to fill up before heading out to paddle.

Tell a friend

For solo paddling, letting someone know you’re about to head off from the dock is an easy way to make your trip safer. Throughout these winter months, less people will be out on the water if something were to happen, so keeping others aware of your plans can help you stay safe.

Be aware of daylight and time


During these winter months, the sun sets much earlier than usual and can quickly sneak up on you when you’re out paddling. It’s important to check sunset times before you go out, so you can plan accordingly.

Despite the cool weather, winter truly is a beautiful time to get out on a board. With a few of the tips above, we hope to encourage you to explore this season in a new way, on the water. Remember to prep, stay safe, and enjoy some paddling!