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Paddle Boarding at Night: SUP Lighting and Safety Precautions for a Safe Night Stand-Up Paddleboard Adventure

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One of the greatest things about stand up paddle boarding is that it’s extremely versatile and there are very few limits. You aren’t limited by time and seasons–any time can be paddling time!

Paddle boarding at night is starting to become a common practice. SUP tour companies are now having “glow in the dark” tours which are quite popular. Regular paddlers are also embracing night paddles and not letting their busy schedules keep them from the water. 

But night stand up paddle boarding is a little more complicated than daytime paddling. You don’t have the comfort of daylight and there’s more to worry about. 

This guide will help you paddle safely when the sun goes down, so that you can make the most of your night SUP expeditions. 

Key Takeaways

  • SUP boarding at night is becoming increasingly popular amongst paddlers. It’s perfectly safe, as long as you’re smart about it.
  • Having a plan in place, paddling with friends or taking a tour, and packing all necessary gear will ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
  • You need to wear appropriate clothing and have your leash, PFD, whistle, headlamp, and SUP lights for visibility to other water users.
  • Nighttime paddle boarding provides peace and tranquility without the disturbances of daytime crowds or boat traffic, so it’s a great way to experience SUP from a different perspective.

How to Stand Up Paddle Board At Night

Stand up paddling at night is much like paddling during the day–except for the fact that you have limited visibility and you aren’t visible to other water users. 

Pick a Good Paddleboard Location

The decision of where you’ll paddle is a crucial one. 

I highly recommend picking a location that you’re familiar with. Your evening expedition is not the right time to start exploring new locations, especially when paddling alone. 

A familiar location is safer for the simple reason that you know it well. You know the best spots for SUP and any tricky spots that you might want to avoid.  

Ideally, it’s better to go nighttime paddling in a calm, sheltered bay or lake and not the ocean or a fast river. A lake is much more predictable and you’re less likely to encounter unpleasant surprises compared to ocean paddling.  

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Check the Water and Weather Conditions

Another key step that you can’t afford to skip is checking the water and weather conditions. This is a must-do even though you’ve been paddling in that location for years – don’t just wing it, and don;t leave anything to chance. 

Knowing what to expect enables you to prepare properly. For instance, knowing the temperatures allows you to dress appropriately so you don’t get uncomfortably sweaty or risk cold shock if you fall into the water.

Besides, you wouldn’t want to be caught in a bad situation because you didn’t check the weather first. Avoid going paddling at night if the weather is not looking friendly.

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Have a Plan Prepared

A paddling plan serves two important purposes. One, it guides you so you’re not just winging it as you go. You’ll have a clear idea of where to launch, the route to take, your exit point, and how long your evening paddle session is going to take. 

The second purpose is that you can leave the plan with someone–a friend or family member. This way, someone will know where you are and what time to expect you back. 

Get Paddling Buddies or Find a Tour

There’s safety in numbers. 

Stand up paddle boarding is more peaceful alone but more fun and safer with company. Even when paddling during the day it’s always best to go with someone. 

In case of an emergency, you won’t be alone. Sometimes you can find yourself in a bad situation, unable to help yourself. In that case, you’ll need someone to have your back.

Find paddling buddies to accompany you on your nighttime SUP adventure or look for a company that offers night tours.

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Night paddle boarding always paddle with a friend

Start Gathering What You’ll Need

Once you have a location, a plan, and a clue of what the weather will be like, it’s time to get everything you need together. 

Remember paddle boards aren’t that big and storage is limited. Pack wisely, bringing only what is necessary for your nighttime SUP trip. Don’t forget to get a dry bag to keep your belongings dry in case you end up in the water. 

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What You Need To Safely Paddle Board at Night

Here are some must-haves for your night paddle boarding tours. 

SUP Safety Gear

While paddle boarding at night you have to follow the same safety regulations that you follow for day paddling. 

This means that you should wear your approved personal flotation device and leash at all times. These are two essential safety accessories that you can’t afford to go paddling without as they could save your life. 

Bring a whistle as well and wear bright reflective clothing to make you visible to others around you. 

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Paddleboarders paddling calm waters at night

Head Lamp

This is a great bit of equipment that’s specifically useful for night time paddling. A headlamp will light your way in the direction of your eyesight and you don’t have to hold it as you would a flashlight or phone. This leaves your hands free to paddle. 

SUP Paddle Board Lights

The U.S. Coast guard classifies a SUP board as a vessel outside bathing, swimming, and surfing areas. So you’re required to have lighting devices when paddle boarding in the dark. 

SUP lights not only illuminate your surroundings, but they also warn other water users so they can keep a safe distance. 

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Bug Repellent

Bugs can be a nuisance, especially at night.  

Bring bug spray to keep them off and prevent bug bites. You wouldn’t want to spend what’s supposed to be a fun trip fighting bugs. 

Snacks and Drinking Water

This goes without saying. 

You need to stay hydrated, even at night. This is especially important because you’ll be doing a physically engaging activity. Besides, it’s always a good idea to have water and snacks in case you come into an unexpected situation. 

A Buddy System

I’ve mentioned this above. Solo night paddles are nice but they are safer and more enjoyable with friends. 

Why You Should Try Night Paddle Boarding

If you have never gone on a nighttime SUP adventure, here is why you should consider it. 

You Won’t Be Limited by Time

Has your paddling gear been gathering dust because you just can’t find the time to hit the water? Life can be busy like that. 

But the good news is that you don’t need the sun to go paddle boarding. If you can spare an hour or two after sunset there’s nothing to stop you from having fun on your SUP! 

It’s More Peaceful Without Crowds

If your favorite paddling location gets crowded during the day, consider going at night. You’ll be able to enjoy a much-needed quiet and peaceful session. 

You also won’t have to deal with crazy boat traffic which can be quite annoying. 

Nature Is Magical at Night 

While paddling at night, you’ll enjoy viewing breathtaking skylines and marine animals and other wildlife.

The LED lights you attach under your paddle board at night will attract fish to your SUP. It’s a magical show that you can’t get during the day. 

It’s Calmer and More Relaxing

Nighttime paddle boarding is perfect for paddlers who don’t like strong winds or rough waters.  

At night, the water is most likely to be glassy and the air calmer compared to daytime. 

Note: you should still check the water and weather forecast to avoid running into an unpleasant surprise. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Night Paddle Boarding

What safety precautions should I take for night paddle boarding?

When engaging in night paddle boarding, it’s crucial to prioritize safety by adhering to several important precautions. First and foremost, always paddle with a friend to ensure mutual safety and support. It is a legal requirement to have adequate lighting on your paddleboard to increase visibility; consider using a head lamp or glow board for this purpose. Additionally, choose calm waters for your night paddling adventure to ensure a calmer and more relaxing experience. Selecting a safe location is equally important to avoid potential hazards and ensure an enjoyable outing. Don’t forget to wear a PFD (Personal Flotation Device) for added safety.

By following these guidelines, you can enhance your night paddle boarding experience while staying safe and prepared for any situation.

How can I increase my visibility while paddle boarding at night?

To increase your visibility while paddle boarding at night, it is essential to ensure you have adequate lighting. Using a head lamp or attaching lights to your stand-up paddleboard (SUP) can significantly enhance your visibility. It is also a legal requirement to have adequate lighting when night paddling. Additionally, always paddle with a friend to enhance safety and visibility. Choosing calm waters and safe locations for your nighttime paddleboarding adventures can also help ensure a safer and more enjoyable experience.

Is it safe to paddle board alone at night?

Paddle boarding alone at night can be risky due to the limited visibility and potential hazards. To ensure safety, it is always recommended to paddle with a friend. Additionally, it is a legal requirement to have adequate lighting, such as a headlamp or flashlight, to make yourself visible to others. Choosing a safe location with calm waters is crucial, as it provides a more relaxed and controlled environment for nighttime paddleboarding. Always ensure you have a PFD (Personal Flotation Device) and check local regulations before heading out.

What are the legal requirements for night paddle boarding?

When paddle boarding at night, it is a legal requirement to have adequate lighting to ensure visibility. This usually means using a head lamp or attaching lights to your paddle board. Always paddle with a friend for safety, and choose calm waters to reduce risks. Additionally, a PFD (personal flotation device) is mandatory in many areas to enhance safety. Selecting a safe location is crucial, as it allows for a calmer and more relaxing experience. Following these guidelines ensures compliance with regulations and promotes a safe nighttime paddleboarding adventure.

What should I wear for night paddle boarding?

When preparing for night paddle boarding, it is crucial to wear the right gear to ensure safety and comfort. Always paddle with a friend and opt for calm waters to enhance safety. Start with a personal flotation device (PFD), as it is a legal requirement and crucial for safety. Wear a wetsuit or drysuit depending on the water temperature to keep warm. Use a head lamp and attach adequate lighting to your stand-up paddleboard to improve visibility. Additionally, consider reflective clothing to increase your visibility to others on the water.

What are the benefits of paddle boarding at night?

Paddle boarding at night offers a unique and serene experience compared to daytime paddleboarding. One of the primary benefits is the opportunity to enjoy calmer and more relaxing waters, as wind and waves tend to die down during the evening, creating a tranquil environment for paddlers. Additionally, nighttime paddleboarding allows you to witness the beauty of the night sky and possibly bioluminescent waters, adding a magical glow to your adventure. Always paddle with a friend for safety, and ensure you have adequate lighting as it is a legal requirement. Exploring new locations at night can be exhilarating, but it’s important to pick a safe location for your nighttime SUP activities.

Wrapping Up

Night paddle boarding is a truly exceptional experience. You get to enjoy the beauty of nature without having to deal with crowds or boats zooming past you every few minutes. You also won’t have to worry about being limited by time ever again if you’re usually busy during the day.

To have a happy and safe evening or nighttime SUP expedition, pick a location in advance, check the weather forecast, create a plan, and find SUP buddies to accompany you. 

Ensure that everyone in your paddling group wears their leash and PFD for their safety. Don’t forget to bring enough snacks and drinking water for your trip as well as an insect repellent. 

Last but not least, get yourself SUP lights. You are legally required to have them when paddling in the dark. 

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