This post contains our best tips for stand up paddle boarding, including checking the weather forecast, so you know when to go out and have a splash, and when to stay home and safe.
If you work all day and can't wait to get out paddling, you are officially like the rest of us! Paddling provides so many benefits such as relaxation and exercise - especially if you are sitting all day. No matter how badly you want to get on the water, it’s important to plan for the weather.
When you’re chomping at the bit to get out paddling, always check the weather first.
Air Temperature Paddle Boarding Tips
How warm is it outside? Is it cool or warm? What is the humidex like? Air temperature is what you are going to feel when you are out on your board. It is important to know what the temperature is going to be so that you can dress accordingly.
If it is cooler - consider some immersion gear like neoprene top or pants or a shortie or a full wetsuit. Dress in athletic clothing (not cotton) and layers. You can always take off or add a layer and tuck it into your dry bag. If you’re uncomfortable, you won’t be focusing on your surroundings and paddling. Instead, you'll be distracted.
Checking the Weather Forecast for Cloud Cover For Paddling
Paddling in bright sun is awesome, but wear sunglasses with a eye glass strap to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. I(f you’re wondering if I’ve learned this from personal experience, yes, I have donated $600 prescription eye glasses to St. Malo Lake!)
Even when it is a bit cloudy, consider reflections and bugs, and choose to protect your eyes.
How the Water Temperature relates to the Weather Forecast
Depending what season, previous air temperatures, amounts of precipitation and where you are will dictate the water temperature.
Dress for the water temperature. Air temperature is important but there is always the small off chance that you could fall off your board.
If it is cooler, wear immersion gear like a dry suit or a wet suit. Check out different charts - here is one that is useful: How to Choose a Wetsuit & Temperature & Thickness Chart | evo Canada
Checking for Wind Before Going Out Stand Up Paddle Boarding
“Can I paddle in the wind?” is one of the most common questions I get as a paddle instructor. The answer is yes, but it also depends.
If you are just learning how to paddle or taking your board out for the first time, don't choose a windy day to do so. Practice your paddle strokes and balance on calm flat water first to get used to your board, figure out your paddle techniques and how you can handle your board in slow and quick movements.
Once you are more comfortable on your board and stronger with your paddle techniques, you could choose to go with a friend and paddle in breezy conditions in an environment that is controlled. Aka a smaller lake, or sheltered river. If you are paddling a river - go upstream or upwind and then your ride back will be easier.
Wind will also cause wave action different in different lakes. For example a 38 km/hour wind and wave action in the St Malo Lake Reservoir will be smaller than a 38 km/hour wind in the large and open Lake Manitoba or Lake Winnipeg.
If you see whitecaps, it can be fun to play in them, but know your limits. If in doubt, DON’T GO OUT.
If you find yourself getting blown around and you can't keep up with your paddling, get low. Paddle on your knees, sitting down or drop down to a prone paddle position. Also don't paddle your board sideways to the waves, it can knock you over. Instead, paddle directly into the waves and stand a little further forward on your board than in normal conditions. This can potentially help adjust or compensate slightly for the wave action.
A really helpful app to check wind conditions is WINDY: Windy as forecasted
Questions You May Have about Stand Up Paddle Boarding and the Weather Forecast
How cold is too cold for paddle boarding?
If you are paddling in cooler water temperatures, it is important you wear immersion gear such as neoprene on your head and hands if you are paddling in colder temperatures.
If you go paddling when the water temperature is below 70F, cold water gear is essential to your safety.
If the water temperature is 50F (10C), a 2mm wetsuit will protect you from cold shock, but it won’t delay incapacitation for very long.
If you wear a wetsuit, be sure it provides you with enough protection for the conditions in which you paddle.
How windy is too windy for paddle boarding?
It depends on what body of water you are on. 40 km/h wind gusts on St Malo Lake Reservoir look very different than wind gusts and waves in Lake Winnipeg. Sheltered river systems may be better on windier days.
It also depends on the wind direction and the direction you are paddling. Many folks paddle into the wind on their first leg of the journey and then have the wind to their backs on the way back. Know your water source and water body, and pay attention to the wind speed, wind gusts and direction of the wind. This will dictate the best time and place to paddle.
What temperature should I paddleboard?
There are two things you need to be aware of water temperature and air temperature.
1. Water temperature is important to know since you may end up in the water - be sure to dress for the water temperature. Charts can be found here Paddler's Guide to Cold Water Gear
2. Air temperature is also dependent on cloud cover and wind. If it is hot and sunny and there is little wind, then it will be more pleasurable than if you are paddling in rain and gusts but the temperature is warm.
What are the best conditions for paddleboarding?
Calm conditions, with slight cloud cover, warm air temperature, warmer water temperature and little wind, in a lake or river system with little obstructions on a board that is sized properly for you.
How do you paddle board in choppy water?
Paddle into the wave. You may be able to put a bit more weight when balancing at the front of the board. It is also important to have a strong forward stroke. If you are struggling, get low and paddle on your knees or prone position.
How many knots is too windy for paddle boarding?
The strength of the wind has a big impact on stand up paddling so as a 'rule of thumb':
Less than 15 knots (less than 27km/h) is ideal flat water conditions.
At 15 knots (27km/h) small waves and whitecaps start to form.
At 20-25 knots (37-46km/h), more experienced paddlers may want to use the wind to surf downwind.
Why Checking the Weather Forecast Before Stand Up Paddle Boarding Is Important
It ensures that you have a safe and enjoyable experience on the water!
By considering various factors such as air temperature, cloud cover, water temperature, and wind conditions, you can make informed decisions about when and where to paddle.
Remember, safety should always be a priority. If conditions become challenging or you're unsure, it's best to stay on land. Paddling in whitecaps or strong winds requires advanced skills and knowledge of your own limits.
By using resources like weather forecast apps and consulting charts for water temperature and wetsuit selection, you can make well-informed decisions about paddleboarding conditions.
Ultimately, understanding the weather and its impact on paddleboarding allows you to plan your outings wisely, ensuring a safe, enjoyable, and rewarding experience paddling on the water.