How to safely use a paddleboard in the Winter

Winter weather in the UK can be incredibly variable, and this affects paddle boarding conditions. You can be faced with torrential rain, strong winds, freezing temperatures and you need to take this into consideration when you are planning for a paddle boarding session (especially if you are using an inflatable paddle board).

How winter weather conditions can affect paddleboarding

Aside from making it potentially less pleasant to be out on the water in the rain and the colder temperatures, the conditions can also have an effect on the water itself.

Strong winds can lead to trees and other debris entering the river or lake that you are paddling on, which can block your path or make paddling less straightforward.

Increased rainfall can lead to much faster flow of a river, so if you are an inexperienced paddler or you are paddleboarding alongside one; this much faster water can be harder to deal with. You need to make sure that you would be able to safely swim in the body of water if you are unable to balance on the board with the faster flowing water. It is better to be more cautious and choose not to paddle on a winter’s day, than throw caution to the wind and end up regretting it. 

Despite these challenges, winter paddling can still be incredibly rewarding and as long as you take the necessary precautions it can be a blissful experience.

How to prepare yourself for these conditions

Before your session

  • Planning

Make sure that you have properly planned your paddleboarding session ahead of time. Bring food so that you can refuel after a session. Bring some warm drinks in a flask so you can warm up after a session. Pack a set of warm and dry clothes to change into after paddling.

  • Think about how long you will be on the water

Whilst a long session might be what you are used to, it may not be ideal in winter conditions. Do you need to spend a whole day on the water if you are dealing with a -10 C wind chill on the water?

  • Take a raincheck

Make sure that you are aware of the weather before you paddle. Winter can lead to very changeable conditions in the UK, and being prepared for those changes can stop you from making mistakes.

During your session

  • Cold water shock

Cold water shock can happen at any time of the year, but it is one of the biggest concerns when paddling in winter conditions. Cold water shock is the body’s reaction to a sudden change in temperature. Make sure you know the symptoms of cold water shock so you can recognise it if you do fall into the water.

  • Clothing and Buoyancy aids

To reduce the chance of cold water shock, make sure you are wearing suitable clothing for winter paddling conditions. Wearing a hat and waterproof gloves will reduce the loss of body heat, and wearing some good wet boots is also a good idea. Due to the potential for faster river flows, wearing a buoyancy aid is also an essential for paddling in winter.

  • The state of your paddle board

A damaged paddleboard can make dealing with winter conditions much harder. You can learn how to best take care of your inflatable paddle board online. 

  • Use a Dry Bag

A dry bag is useful all year round, but is essential during the winter months. It does what it says on the tin, and keeps everything dry. You can store your valuable items in them, without fear of them getting lost or wet.

  • Communication

Being able to call for help is crucial for any paddling trip, but especially in winter. Being able to put your phone in a dry pouch and have it with you is always a good idea, so you can contact someone.

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