A drysuit for paddle boarding is highly recommended for all kinds of SUP sessions in cold conditions. It keeps you dry, warm and comfy during your water sports adventures. High quality drysuits are an investment though, and you want to be sure that your money is well spent.
This buyers guide will answer all your questions about drysuits for paddle boarding and prepare you to choose the perfect drysuit for you. Let’s dive right in!
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If you want to skip ahead to a specific chapter of this article, use the table of contents below.
What is a Drysuit (for Paddle Boarding)?
A drysuit is a full-body suit that is designed to keep your body dry in the water. Drysuits are usually made of synthetic rubber or neoprene or a hybrid of both. Those materials create a waterproof shell that provides passive thermal protection, meaning it keeps the warmth of your body trapped inside the suit.
Drysuits are designed to protect the whole body except the head, the hands and sometimes the feet. They come with watertight zippers and are sealed by gaskets that are designed to keep the water out.
What’s the Difference Between a Drysuit and a Semi-Drysuit?
Compared to a drysuit, a semi-drysuit is not as watertight. The reason for this is that the neck gasket of drysuits is made of latex, while the neck gasket on a semi-drysuit is usually made of a more comfortable material, such as neoprene.
Which option is best for you depends on your personal preferences.
If you mainly stand up paddle board in calm conditions and don’t go out when it’s extremely cold, a semi-drysuit can do the job. Even if you do fall into the lake, river or ocean every once in a while, a few drops of water may enter your suit but you won’t get soaking wet.
However, if you enjoy stand up paddle boarding in rain, snow, or rough waves, you should aim for a proper drysuit.
Another thing to keep in mind with this is safety. Especially, if your area is known for unexpected weather changes. You don’t want to risk getting hypothermia because your drysuit gets filled with water in a sudden storm.
For example, if you live on the Pacific coast of the United States, consider getting a drysuit to be on the safe side.
Pros and Cons of Drysuits
Now that we’ve understood how drysuits work, let’s talk about their advantages and disadvantages.
Before we’ll take a closer look, here are all the pros and cons in a nutshell:
|You won't get wet at all.||It may get too hot on warm days.|
|Drysuits keep you warm.||They are more expensive than wetsuits.|
|They are easier to put on than wetsuit.|
|They are comfy + you can wear layers underneath.|
Pros of Drysuits for Paddle Boarding
You won’t get wet. Drysuits are designed to keep water out. Depending on the quality of the drysuit, there can be exceptions. However, compared with extreme watersports such as kitesurfing, paddle boarders usually don’t hit the water as hard when they fall. So unless you do some really hardcore whitewater paddling, you can be pretty sure that not a single drop of water will enter your drysuit.
They keep you warm. Say goodbye to cold, clammy wetsuits! In a drysuit, you’ll stay warm while paddle boarding in all weathers. This allows you to take a break, wait for better conditions or socialize with friends without feeling freezing cold and fantasizing about a hot shower – or even risking hypothermia on very cold days. However, it’s super important that you dress warm enough under your drysuit, as the suit itself does’nt keep you warm. We’ll get to this shortly, so keep on reading.
They are easier to put on than wetsuits. If you’ve ever put on a (wet) wetsuit, you know. Plus, it’s easier to swim and move around in general.
It’s comfy! A drysuit allows you to wear your favorite socks while paddling. Or enjoy a SUP session in the clothes you were wearing at work today. Or your pyjamas, if you feel like it. Again, whatever you wear underneath needs to keep you warm enough.
Cons of Drysuits for Paddle Boarding
It can get pretty hot on warmer days. Drysuits are made to protect you during winter water sports sessions. When it gets warmer outside but you don’t want to switch to a wetsuit yet, just reduce the amount of clothing you wear underneath.
Drysuits are more expensive than wetsuits. However, due to the option to wear layers underneath, drysuits cover you in a wide range of temperatures.
How to Choose a Drysuit for Paddle Boarding
When buying a drysuit for stand up paddle boarding, you want to choose one that will last as long as possible (obviously 🙂 ). Keep the following aspects in mind when doing your research.
Most drysuits will come with fabric booties or latex booties. Some also have a detachable zippered hood. Whether this is necessary really depends on the kind of paddle boarding that you plan to do. For example, we don’t think that a hoodie is necessary for recreational stand up paddle boarding.
Many companies produce drysuits with a neoprene cuff on top of the latex gaskets in order to shield the latex from sunlight. Otherwise, the material will deteriorate over time. Another plus of the neoprene cuffs is that they protect the latex from punctures.
Lots of drysuits also have covers for zippers that then go down with Velcro to stay in place.
High quality drysuit are often made from gore-tex materials which are extremely breathable and very waterproof.
A relief zipper allows you to use the toilet without taking off your entire drysuit. There are different kinds of relief zippers – the one for men is pretty much like the fly zipper on a pair of pants (just watertight). Women’s wetsuit come with a drop seat, which serves the same purpose.
We strongly recommend to get a drysuit with relief zipper, even if it usually does affect the prize quite a bit. It’s just so much more convenient and you will thank your past self for this smart decision each time nature calls.
As a general rule, less room in a drysuit is better than a lot. The reason for that is that all the extra space is hard to heat up, which can affect the warmth and thus comfort inside your drysuit.
However, a perfectly fitting drysuit is not super tight, either. The reason for drysuits sometimes looking too loose and poorly fitting when worn by stand up paddle boarders is that there’s a lot of extra fabric in the suit to accommodate a range of motions.
All the factors mentioned above can significantly influence the prize of your drysuit. And I’m not gonna lie to you: A high-quality drysuit is an investment. Prices range from a few houndred to far over a thousand dollars. But remember, if stored and maintained properly, it will last you many years.
Plus, you can definitely save some bucks by being smart.
How to Find Affordable Drysuits
Closeout sales: Liquidation sales are great for bargains. A quick Google search will help you to find closeout sales in your area – and save lots of money on a brand-new drysuit for paddle boarding. Platforms such as Direct Liquidation and BStock are a great start.
End of season sales: Around the same time each year, you can expect the prices of watersports gear to drop. While you’ll most likely find the best deals for stand up paddle boards and all kinds of accessories at the end of summer, end of season sales for drysuits occur at the end of spring. As the weather gets warmer, the demand for drysuits for paddle boarding decreases and you are more likely to find a bargain.
Second hand: You can obviously also save a lot of money by getting yourself a second hand drysuit. However, make sure that the drysuit doesn’t have any tears, that the zippers still function properly, that the gaskets aren’t worn etc.
Before You Buy
Before you buy a drysuit, try it on and move around a bit. If you’re at a watersports store, grab a PFD, put it on and see if you prefer a zipper either on your back, on your waist, or on your chest.
In order to figure out what kind of drysuit you like best, you can also rent one and spend a day stand up paddle boarding wearing it.
If you’re buying a second hand drysuit, take an especially close look at the condition of all zippers and neoprene seals. Avoid suits that have been patched. Ideally, also test the drysuit for leaks before you buy it second hand.
Drysuit for Paddle Boarding Maintenance
Once you’ve found the drysuit of your dreams, it’s important that you maintain it properly so that it will last you many years. Here’s how:
If you’ve used your drysuit in salty water, make sure you rinse it properly after use. Extent the life of your suit by treating it with a proper wash using products like ReviveX. Never use bleach or harsh chemicals and avoid liquid laundry detergent.
While it is possible to clean a drysuit in a washing machine (with mild detergent and a gentle cycle), we recommend just washing it by hand. Hang your dry suit to dry on a thick hanger with the zipper open, never put them in a clothes dryer.
Durable Water Repellent (DWR)
All drysuits are treated with DWR by the manufacturer. This causes water to bead up on the surface of the fabric instead of soaking into the fibres. DWR treatments are usually quite long lasting, so this is not something that you have to worry about in the beginning.
Once that protection starts to wear off, it’s time to restore the durable water repellent. There are several treatments to choose from, such as the ReviveX Spray-On and the Nikwax Direct Wash-in. Closely follow the instructions and make sure you clean your drysuit properly beforehand.
Replacing a broken zipper on a drysuit is quite expensive and should be avoided. Maintain your drysuit zippers properly by always treating them with care and patience. To lubricate your zippers, use products such as the Gear Aid Zipper Cleaner.
Read more: Should I Inflate My SUP With A Compressor? (Expert Advice)
Gaskets can be quite uncomfortable, especially in the beginning. But don’t worry, they stretch over time which makes it a bit easier to put the drysuit on and off. Never force your body through gaskets and always take your time when handling it.
Also, make sure that there are no sharp objects such as earrings or watches around that could cause punctures in your drywear.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that drysuit seals can get damaged by sunscreens that contain petrochemicals. In general, stay away from chemical sunscreens and get sustainable alternatives instead to protect the precious underwater wildlife!
You want to store your drysuit in cool, dry conditions and always out of direct sunlight. It’s als important to dry the suit properly before storage. Treat gaskets with 303 Protectant before storage.
Best Drysuit for Paddle Boarding
Below, we’ll give you a quick overview of our top 5 best drysuits for paddle boarding.
The GILL Drysuit is a true allrounder and protects you from wind and weather during all kinds of watersports.
It turns out to be quite big, so you may want to get a size smaller.
Material: 100% Nylon, PU coated
Why we like it: High breathability and durability, glideskin collar and cuffs, fabric socks, practical low thigh cargo pocket
Crewsaver Atacama Drysuit
This Crewsaver Atacama drysuit won’t let you down, even on your craziest stand up paddle boarding adventures.
It has a front zipper and comes with an undersuit.
Why we like it: Fully breathable 3 layer fabric, extremely watertight in all conditions, articulated arms and legs for increased freedom of movement.
Crewsaver Phase 2 Drysuit
The second Crewsaver drysuit for paddle boarding on our list is a bit more expensive than the previous ones but worth every penny.
Plus, it also comes with an undersuit.
Material: Glideskin neoprene neck and cuff seals, latex socks
Why we like it: reinforcement on the seat and knees, extremely breathable fabric
King Q Proof Drysuit
The KING-Q PROOF drysuit is breathable, durable and waterproof.
Material: latex neck and wrist seal
Why we like it: large waterproof chest pocket, relief zipper, user friendly turn locking function to seal the suit
Frequently Asked Questions
If you still have questions about drysuits for stand up paddle boarders, I’m sure you’ll find the answer in our FAQ.
What to wear under my drysuit when paddle boarding?
The warmth of your drysuit depends almost entirely on what you wear underneath. The advantage of this is that you can add or remove clothing layers depending on the temperature.
Avoid cotton, as it will get cold when it gets wet. And always remember: Dress for the fall, not for the activity.
What shoes do you wear with a drysuit for paddle boarding?
Usually, a drysuit for paddle boarding has ankle seals or socks fitted. Those socks are made of latex rubber or another breathable material. To protect them from puctures and other damage, stand up paddle boarders wear shoes or boots such as these ones over the socks.
Will I sink if my drysuit fills with water?
It’s a myth that you sink if your drysuit fills with water. The water in your suit has the same density as the water you’re swimming in.
However, water in your drysuit will make it harder to get back on your stand up paddle board, as the weight of the water will pull you down. Plus, a flooded drysuit can’t keep you warm anymore, which can even eventually lead to hypothermia.
When should I start wearing a drysuit for paddle boarding?
As a general rule, you should consider wearing a drysuit when the water temperature is below 60 °F (15 °C).
Can I wear a wetsuit under my drysuit?
Wetsuits are not designed to be worn under drysuits. The designs and gaskets of the different suits will most likely interefere with each other and cause safety issues. Plus, it’s not comfortable. Instead, wear undergarments made of multiple fleece and synthetic layers.
Last but not least, some general advice because it can’t be mentioned often enough:
Check your equipment: Make sure your gear is in good condition. Ideally, you check it before you leave your house and then again before you get on the water. If you have an inflatable SUP board, make you it’s pumped up to the recommended PSI.
Check the forecast: Take your time to properly check the weather forecast. In order to understand what you are looking at, familiarise yourself with the different wind and tide conditions that are relevant for stand up paddle boarders. It is important that you always check the conditions for the entire day, not only for the time that you arrive.
Dress appropriately: Always dress to fall in.
Wear a PFD: Put on a Buoyancy Aid or Waist Belt PFD (Personal Floatation Device
Put on a leash: Depending on the conditions, wear an akle leash or a quick release waist belt leash.
Communicate: Always (!) let someone know where you are, especially if you are a beginner and going out by yourself. Bring a communication device and schedule a call with a friend or family member after a certain amount of time. If you do get lost, call the Coastguard. We also recommend apps, such as what3words that help to locate you in case something goes wrong.
Alright, I hope that our Buyers Guide on Drysuits for Paddle Boarding has helped you figure out what’s best for your SUP adventures and what to look out for when choosing a drysuit. If you have any further questions or comments (or just want to say hi), feel free to pop me a message here!