Can You Use an iSUP in Cold Water? Yes!

Cold water paddle boarding is a thrilling and invigorating activity that many paddle board enthusiasts enjoy. But can you use an inflatable paddle board, or iSUP, in cold water? The answer is a resounding yes! In this blog, we will explore the world of cold water paddle boarding with iSUPs and discover how to properly prepare, dress, and maintain your board for a fun and safe paddling experience in cold water conditions.

Understanding Cold Water Paddling with iSUPs

When it comes to cold water paddling, it is important to understand the unique challenges and considerations that come with paddling in lower water temperatures. Inflatable paddle boards, or iSUPs, have become a popular choice among paddlers, thanks to their durability, buoyancy, and ease of use. These qualities make them well-suited for cold water paddle boarding.

Defining Cold Water for Paddling

Cold water is typically defined as water temperature below 70°F (21°C). Paddlers venturing into cold water conditions need to take extra precautions, as cold water immersion can cause a rapid decrease in core temperature, leading to hypothermia. The United States Coast Guard recommends wearing a life jacket, wetsuit, and other appropriate cold water paddling gear for safety.

The Effects of Cold Water on iSUPs

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Cold water can have some effects on inflatable paddle boards, or iSUPs, due to temperature changes. Inflatable boards are durable and can withstand cold water conditions, but it is important to monitor air pressure, as cold water immersion may cause a slight loss of rigidity in iSUPs. iSUPs with good attachment points, fin systems, and durable materials are ideal for paddling in cold water.

Are cheap iSUPs okay for cold water paddle boarding?

When it comes to cold water paddle boarding, investing in a good quality iSUP is essential. Cheap iSUPs, especially those from Costco or Amazon, may not offer the necessary durability and quality required for cold water conditions. In cold water, durability is crucial, and a higher-quality iSUP is a better investment for a fun day paddle boarding in cold water.

How can I tell if my iSUP will work for cold water?

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To ensure that your iSUP is suitable for cold water paddle boarding, there are a few factors to consider. First, check the iSUP's weight capacity and material to ensure it can handle cold water conditions. Look for iSUPs with reinforced seams and a high-quality air valve to prevent leaks. Additionally, consider purchasing an iSUP with a textured deck pad for better grip in colder weather. Always wear appropriate cold water gear, such as a wetsuit, when using your iSUP in colder conditions.

Appropriate Clothing for Winter Paddling

Dressing appropriately is a crucial aspect of cold water paddle boarding. In this section, we will explore what to wear and what not to wear during winter paddling to ensure comfort, insulation, and safety.

What Not to Wear during Winter Paddling

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When paddling in cold water, it is important to avoid certain clothing choices. Cotton clothing is a no-go, as it does not provide insulation when wet. Loose-fitting clothing should also be avoided, as it can get caught on equipment or hinder movement. Latex gloves are not recommended, as they do not provide sufficient insulation. Additionally, wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) over a dry suit is not advisable, as it may restrict movement and buoyancy.

The Role of Wetsuits, Paddle Jackets, and Dry Suits

To stay warm and protected during cold water paddle boarding, wetsuits, paddle jackets, and dry suits are essential gear options. Wetsuits provide insulation and protection against hypothermia, making them a popular choice for cold water paddling. Paddle jackets, on the other hand, offer a more flexible and breathable option for paddlers who prefer a lightweight layer. Dry suits provide the highest level of protection against cold water immersion and air temperature, making them a good choice for extreme cold water conditions. Neoprene gaskets in wetsuits, paddle jackets, and dry suits provide better insulation and water protection.

Dressing Appropriately for Different Water Temperatures

The water temperature will determine how paddlers should dress for cold water paddle boarding. In water temperatures below 70°F (21°C), wearing a wetsuit or dry suit is recommended for insulation. In water temperatures below 50°F (10°C), a dry suit is a better option to provide better protection against hypothermia. In water temperatures above 70°F (21°C), paddlers can opt for lighter clothing, such as a paddle jacket, for better comfort. It is important to consider air temperature, wind chill, and water conditions when dressing appropriately for cold water paddle boarding. Maintaining core temperature is essential for preventing hypothermia.

Precautions and Equipment for Winter Paddling

When paddling in cold water, taking precautions and having the right equipment is crucial to ensure a safe and enjoyable paddling experience.

The Benefit of Paddling in Groups

One of the key benefits of paddling in a group during cold water paddle boarding is extra safety, support, and protection. In a group, paddlers can look out for each other, assist in case of emergencies, and share paddling experiences. Paddling in a group reduces the risks associated with cold water immersion and hypothermia, as paddlers can paddle further, explore new areas, and enjoy a fun day on the water together. Paddling in a group also promotes a sense of community, camaraderie, and a shared passion for paddle boarding.

Creating a Paddling Plan for Safety

Creating a paddling plan is an essential step for safety, especially when paddling in cold water conditions. A paddling plan should include a route, estimated time of paddling, emergency contact information, and equipment checklist. Paddlers should inform a trusted person about their paddling plan, including departure and return times. Checking weather, water, and air temperature conditions before heading out is vital. Creating a paddling plan ensures preparedness, safety, and a smooth paddling experience in cold water conditions.

Keeping Extra Layers and Emergency Kits Handy

To ensure a safe paddle boarding experience, it is important to pack extra layers and emergency kits. Weather conditions can change rapidly, so being prepared with extra clothing and equipment is essential. A dry bag is a great way to keep essential items, such as a first aid kit, a whistle, and a flashlight, dry and easily accessible. Layering is also important for regulating body temperature in cold water. Wearing neoprene gaskets, a wetsuit, and a hood can help keep extremities warm.

Maintaining Your iSUP in Cold Weather

Proper maintenance of your iSUP is important, especially in cold weather conditions, to ensure its durability and performance.

Regular Pressure Checks for Your iSUP

Before every paddle boarding session, it is crucial to check your iSUP's air pressure. Using a good quality air pump, inflate your iSUP to the recommended PSI. Proper inflation is important for better stability, buoyancy, maneuverability, and control. Inflatable paddle boards have a recommended air pressure range, so it is important to stay within that range for optimal performance.

Equipment Care Tips for Prolonged Durability

In order to extend the longevity of your equipment, it is important to follow some basic care tips. After each use, rinse your gear like paddles, fins, and leashes with freshwater. Make sure that all the equipment is properly dried before storing them so as to avoid mold or mildew growth. Dragging iSUP on rough surfaces can cause damage to the fin, board or leash, hence one should avoid doing so. Store your equipment in a dry and temperature-controlled area to maintain its durability.


Regular inspection of equipment such as fins and leashes for any signs of wear and tear should be done periodically. Fins can be easily damaged if they come in contact with hard objects like rocks or sandbars, which can affect their performance in water. Similarly, leashes can also get worn out over time due to saltwater exposure or sun exposure. By taking these simple precautions, you can ensure that your gear lasts longer and performs at its best every time you use it.

Can Cold Water Affect the Performance of an iSUP?

The performance of an iSUP can be affected by cold water. The buoyancy is influenced by the air temperature, which makes it less stable. Look for brands that have a proven track record of reliable and fun paddle boards. Especially ones that have a great record when it comes to cold water paddle boarding. Despite these difficulties, iSUPs are robust and offer excellent performance in cold water situations.

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In conclusion, you can definitely use an iSUP in cold water. With the right precautions and equipment, winter paddling can be a thrilling and enjoyable experience. Understanding the effects of cold water on your iSUP and choosing the appropriate clothing are crucial for your safety and comfort. Remember to paddle in groups, create a paddling plan, and keep extra layers and emergency kits handy. Regularly check the pressure of your iSUP and take care of your equipment to ensure its longevity. Cold water may slightly affect the performance of your iSUP, but with proper maintenance and care, you can continue to enjoy paddle boarding even in colder temperatures. So don't let the cold stop you from exploring new waters and experiencing the beauty of winter paddling.