Paddling Tops

ONE-STOP TOPPING: Standup surfing’s greatest advantage? It’s warmer up top. When the weather cools and you don’t want to don the full suit, check out five core-warming options to keep your better half covered.
Sean Klinger
paddling tops
1. NRS HydroSkin Shirt: Feel bad about using too much oil? NRS quells any guilt with its 0.5-mm Terraprene top, made from a neoprene material processed with calcium carbonate from limestone instead of petroleum. This produces an increased number of thicker nitrogen-filled cells for a warmer, lighter, and more buoyant top. Add ThermalPlush inner lining, a body heat-retaining titanium laminate and spandex underarms and you’re left with a stretchy and formidable cold-weather companion ($85, nrsweb.com).

2. Xcel Xcelerator SmoothSkin 2/1 Top: Xcel offers a variety of top options for paddling, with the Xcelerator SmoothSkin 2/1 as a cold-water heavy hitter. Covering the front, back, and upper sleeves, the 2-mm SmoothSkin material (also a limestone-based neoprene) is super stretchy yet wind/water-resistant. The lower sleeves and side panels are a lighter 1-mm UltraStretch material for unrestricted paddling. A short back zipper, boardshort loop and waist cinch complete this blend of smooth and solid ($89, xcelwetsuits.com).

3. Quiksilver Front Zip Paddle Jacket: A svelte Waterman Collection jacket specifically designed for SUP paddlers, the front and upper arms feature a fleece-lined polyurethane barrier to buffer the wind and spray, while the back, lower sleeves and armpits boast stretchy, unbrushed polypro for breathability. The dual-sided top is built to tour, with cyclist-like lower back pockets for hydration/food storage and an easy-venting front zip ($94, also available in plain front pullover, $84, collections.quiksilver.com).

4. Dakine Neo-Insulator: Perfect for those unsure, inclement, can’t-decide days, the Neo-Insulator has 1.5-mm neoprene front and back panels to keep your core cozy with 8-oz. Lycra side panels and sleeves. This lightweight love-child of wetsuit and rash guard offers the benefits of both. Seamless under arms, plus a back zipper with hem closure for easy on-offs, make it a great choice for high-performance SUPing ($40, $30 s/s, dakine.com).

5. Hyperflex AMP 1.5-mm Pullover: This surf-ready long-sleeve puts a warm layer of 1.5-mm AMPstretch, 6-way superstretch neoprene between you and the elements without sacrificing mobility. With the same material for the torso and arm panels, the AMP is simple and effective. Durable flatlock seams join these panels and minimize abrasive areas to keep you paddling ($69, hyperflexusa.com).