One of the wonderful things about standup paddling in the southwestern part of the United States is that you can do it practically any time of year. Some parts of Arizona have over three hundred days of sunshine! Precipitation is occasional, and actually a welcome, refreshing environmental change. Fall and winter make pleasant times to standup paddle with less boat wake, and more serene settings. Imagine a festive paddle on Christmas Eve with your family, or celebrating at sunset on New Year’s Eve with friends. You can enjoy the lake or river all tethered together, with proper winter attire, and sharing a wonderful holiday outside. The Northern Arizona lakes will tend to get snow and freezing temperatures this time of year. That is why off season SUP is fantastic option after all the triple digit weather in the summer.
Selecting proper gear to enjoy the colder temperatures is one of the more important aspects, and will make year around paddling a pleasure. Here are some things to keep in mind especially when paddling in the morning or evenings where temperatures can drop 20° to 40°. To provide the most comfort choose a winter hat, protective eyewear from sun glare, long sleeve rash guards or something formfitting so as not to be blowing around, and getting in the way of you paddling, any kind of long pants that might be wind resistant, water shoes or booties to keep your feet warm, but because of less wake you will not have so much splashing around on your deck which will keep you mostly dry. Wetsuit gloves or any kind of glove that will not slip on your handle or shaft, and always your PFD.
If you are new to stand up paddling, a wider more stable board is a good idea so there is no tendency to fall in.
(*TIP: A dry bag is a good idea to bring a change of clothes in case of any emergencies to prevent hypothermia. You always want to immediately get out of wet clothes and put on something dry. It may not even be for yourself but someone else who may be in your group.)
If you are someone that gets warmed up fast, all of this gear might not be necessary. You may still prefer bare feet and bathing suit, especially during the daytime temperatures, that can sometimes reach up to 70° or higher in the winter. You can even wear sneakers if you know the tread is not too slick and worn.
(*TIP: Be watchful that there could be ice on the deck of your boards if you are going out in really frigid temperatures.)
When you continue your standup paddling at different times of year you also be able to enjoy a change in the outdoor beauty with sharper sunsets and warm, brilliant sun rises, also different wildlife comes out. But, best of all? Instead of paddling in triple digits, you will be paddling in the most comfortable temperatures the southwest has to offer, while still having the option donning your favorite swimwear from time to time.
Written by: Suzi DeMaio-Amore
Pictures by: Nate Amore