Official paddling season is over here in northern Nevada, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still get on the water. The real test of the diehard SUP paddler will come when the snow falls, but serious paddlers can make the most of the fall weather with a few tips.
Around here, we paddle alpine lakes – brrr – so if you’re hitting Lake Tahoe, Boca, Stampede, Lahontan, even the Sparks Marina, here’s what we recommend to keep yourself warm and ready.
• Know the Forecast
This is a no-brainer. Before you hit the water, you need to know the air and water temperature, and the forecast for the day. Wind chill can make a sunny fall day downright Arctic, and high winds will spell trouble. Northern Nevada natives know Tahoe’s winds can kick up in minutes, and hypothermia is serious stuff.
• Plan Your Route
Your typical loop may be too much in when the temp drops, so consider cold-weather paddling an opportunity to explore shoreline territory if you typically strike out for deeper waters. Be smart. Map your route beforehand so you can have an approximate idea of where you’re going, paddle with a buddy, and let someone know when you plan to be back.
• Gear Up Smart
If you don’t outfit yourself appropriately, cold-weather SUP is an exercise in frustration (or downright disaster). Your head, hands, and feet are your biggest sources of heat loss, so keep them cozy with neoprene booties (bonus if they’re rated for cold water), a beanie and good gloves. Layer up with something like Underarmour, but remember that you’ll be working out on the water. You don’t want to overheat, and you don’t want to wear something too bulky – either will have a detrimental affect on your cadence. If it’s cold enough to warrant a wetsuit despite the sunshine, go for something that won’t suffocate you. Two to three mm should do the trick.
Bonus tip – we’ve talked about the importance of choosing a board based on the water, and it’s a concept that applies even more in cold weather. Slogging through icy water, huffing and puffing and getting your heart rate up because you’re paddling a surf-style board isn’t much fun. If you’re paddling our local waters, paddle a board made for them. ‘Nuff said, right?