Surf wetsuit accessories & aftercare guide

Surf wetsuit accessories & aftercare guide

Wetsuits are wonderful things, miracles of modern technology that allow us to surf in warmth and comfort year round, but we don’t always show them the love and respect they deserve. Most wetsuit owners are careless from time to time, many are positively negligent, some are downright cruel – soaking their suits in scalding hot water, stamping them into the asphalt as they try and wriggle free, leaving them to fester for days in a salt and ammonia marinade.

This guide to wetsuit accessories and aftercare is here to put an end to such barbaric practices – to help your wetsuit live to a ripe old age, and hopefully to make your life a little easier in the process.
Getting changed while protecting your wetsuit: O & E High N Dry Wetsuit Bucket
 A cold morning, the wind’s howling, the car park’s frosted over, and somehow you’ve got to drag yourself out of the warm car and slither into a soggy wetsuit – it’s arguably the least pleasant part of the whole surfing experience. Well, you should have hung your wetsuit up for a start, but we’ll get to that later. Another thing that we’ve found helps is the High N Dry collapsible wetsuit bucket by Ocean & Earth. It’s a big step up from any change mat we’ve ever tried, and it not only makes getting changed easier but protects your wetsuit from abrasion on the bare ground – a leading cause of wetsuit damage. It’s made from durable waterproof fabric so won’t leak when it’s holding wet gear, and features 55mm of foam padding in the base providing cushioning and warmth underfoot.

Staying warm while you change: Dryrobe
For an effortless and fully insulated change, you’ll need some kind of changing robe which will help you expose as little bare flesh to the elements as possible. It’s a simple idea but a game-changer. Over the last 5-10 years, these brilliant poncho-like contraptions have become a ubiquitous sight in beach car parks; they range from basic hooded towel robes to heavy-duty zip-up coats. This one by industry-leaders Dryrobe is definitely one of the latter, featuring 100% waterproof and windproof outer-shell and a synthetic lambswool lining which draws water away from your skin and dries super quickly.
Warmth and convenience is the main aim here, but you’ll probably be doing your wetsuit a favour, too. Chest-zip wetsuits are generally harder to get on and off than back-zip wetsuits, especially for the unpractised, but clawing and yanking desperately at the neoprene or stamping it into the stony ground will only lead to deterioration. If you’re warm and sheltered, you’ll be in less of a hurry and able to treat your suit more tenderly.

Keeping your wetsuit clean: Piss Off
What’s the single worst thing you can do for the health and life expectancy of your wetsuit? Leaving it to stew in its own juices has got to be up there. Like eating a fruit pastel without chewing it, going for a surf and not weeing in your wetsuit is almost impossible, a major physical and psychological challenge, but it’s not just piss that’s bad for your suit – salt and even moisture will gradually gnaw away at the construction if you don’t rinse your wetty out promptly and properly after every session. Freshwater alone is not enough: using wetsuit shampoo will help keep the neoprene soft and supple and preserve the seams, zipper, etc.

Drying your wetsuit properly at home (1): Dritek V2 Hanger 
Which brings us to hanging your wetsuit up. Common mistakes include leaving it to dry in direct sunlight – a definite no-no – and hanging it up in such a way that damages and disfigures the fabric.
When a wetsuit’s soaking wet it’s obviously much heavier, and hanging it by the shoulders from a standard hanger will stretch it out something rotten. So hang it doubled up, ideally not over a washing line or through a normal coat hanger – this can also put the fabric under stress – but through something like this hanger by Dritek, specifically designed to be as fabric-friendly as possible. Another thing to make sure of is that the whole suit dries out when it’s not in use; after you’ve left it hanging up for a day or two, flip it round and allow the other side to dry as well – otherwise, moisture will hang around on the inside.

Drying your wetsuit properly (2): Northcore Hook Up Magnetic Hanger 
Even if you’ve got a Dritek V2 hanger, which comes with its own super-sized carabiner, you won’t always be able to find something suitable to hook it on. That’s when the Northcore Hook Up, with its powerful silicone-rubber-coated magnet, comes in handy. It can be attached to any reasonably flat metal surface and holds up to 20kg – easily strong enough to support a sodden 6mm winter suit. On camping trips or long days out you can stick it on your car or van – the open boot probably works best – without fear of damaging the paintwork. This is much better for both wetsuit and car than the usual tactic of draping it over an open door or sprawling it across the bonnet. Just make sure it’s in the shade.

Fixing minor damage: Northcore Neoprene Queen
 Sooner or later, no matter how carefully you look after it, some sort of damage is likely to occur to your wetsuit. But whether it’s a hole, a split, or a seam that’s come unstitched, there’s no need to send your wetsuit to an early grave. If you’re going on surf trip and the water is wetsuit temperature, you’d be a fool not to take a wetsuit repair kit with you. Northcore’s Neoprene Queen is a black liquid adhesive that dries in under ten minutes and comes with several circular neoprene patches for extra support.

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