Have you ever dreamed of paddling in a Winter Wonderland, where Christmas trees are covered in magical snow? Well, you definitely shouldn’t agree to get cold eyes just to get in on the action, but it is possible to practice SUP during the winter.
Having lived this exciting experience several times now, allow me to provide you with several suggestions to practice winter SUP safely.
Selecting Your Paddleboard Spot
Selecting the right paddling spot during the winter season is very important. You should be less adventurous than during the summer. Choose water paths that you are already familiar with and make sure that a secure entrance exists in order to avoid falling in the water. Important fact: Lakes freeze much faster than rivers. The deeper into winter we get, the more you risk paddling on rivers. It is now up to you to choose a river where the current is sufficient yet secure.
Checking the Temperature
It is really a personal choice whether or not you decide to venture outside at -15°C. You should therefore check the wind-chill. If it is prominent, you will be combatting both the cold and wind all at once, causing your outing to be much less enjoyable. To facilitate your journeys on the water, choose calm and mild days. If the sun makes an appearance, great! Take advantage of its presence by warming up under its rays.
Apparel, It's Important.
The first thing to think about when tackling the water during winter should be your choice of apparel. And word of advice: Don’t simply head outside with your winter suit, big mittens and boots telling yourself: ‘‘I WON’T FALL IN THE WATER! C’MON! I AM A SUP PRO!’’ Mistakes are human nature, even for super humans.
It is therefore crucial to have a good drysuit or wetsuit. Why? In case you fall in the water, your drysuit will keep you nice and dry while your wetsuit will hold on to your body’s minimum amount of necessary heat. For your wetsuit, we suggest a 4/3 mm, a 5/4 mm or even a 6/5 mm, as well as booties (min. 5mm) and gloves (min. 3mm for flexibility). In addition, nothing is stopping you from wearing a tuque and a windbreaker jacket over your suit in order to keep you warm.
Take note that for paddle surf in the ocean or river, it is suggested to wear a 6/5 mm wetsuit with a hood to protect the body, hands and feet.
In Case You Fall
Yes, it is part of the risks when you practice winter SUP. And let’s be honest with each other, this danger factor adds an exciting challenge while overcoming SUP in an icy river. You can’t be scared to get wet, you just need to know how to react in consequence.
The first thing to do if you fall is to remain calm. Despite the shocking coldness of the water, it is important not to panic. Bring your head above the water, take two or three deep breaths and swim in order to safely retrieve your board.
If you are wearing a wet or dry suit, it is possible that such a fall puts an end to your outing for the day…and that’s okay! You are better off quickly finding a place to warm up. In order to do so, stay active to keep your body temperature as high as possible. As soon as you are back on your board, paddle at a constant pace until you reach your refuge.
- Don’t go alone. Try to convince a friend to come with you and inform your loved ones of your excursion.
- Stay close to shore. Avoid the middle of the lake.
- Stay close to your cottage, house or car.
- Don’t plan too long of an outing. You will see, your little frozen toes won’t last that long!
- Prepare a soup or a hot beverage in a Thermos to warm yourself up when you get out of the water. Oh yes!
Winter outings are not the easiest, just as winter surfing isn’t, but they can definitely be enjoyable. So, do it simply to have fun!