This article was provided by our buddies at Seventhwave Wetsuits
1. Invest in a really good wetsuit.
Firstly, if you’re surfing in New Zealand (or anywhere cold) you’re gonna need a really good wetsuit. Ideally this suit needs to to be sealed and made from Yamamoto limestone neoprene.
A really warm winter suit might seem expensive but if you only wear it for the coldest winter months it will last you many season. (look after it and it will look after you).
2. Wear a hood.
Yep we know they suck to wear but up to 80% of body heat escapes through your neck and head.
Choose a hood that has a generous length cuff that way you’ll have a good overlap with the collar on your wetsuit.
There is two ways you can wear your hood, either have it sitting over your wetsuit collar - this way will eliminate and water flushing down your collar when you duck dive. The other option is to tuck your hood into your collar - this way you’ll create a tighter seal around your neck, but you are more exposed to water sneaking in when duck diving. Either way is ok but you’ll probably find one is more comfortable.
If you can afford - it choose a wetsuit that has interchangeable or fixed hood these are the most comfortable and leak the least.
3. While you’re in the water, keep moving.
Especially if it’s a windy day, instead of sitting there waiting for waves, go for a paddle around even in quick little bursts it’ll keep your blood flowing and increase your water time.
Also it’ll take your mind off the cold.
4. When you’re getting changed make sure you have something warm to change into.
Woollen clothes are the fastest way to warm up, so invest in some woollen socks and a nice thick jersey.
Part of lasting in cold water is mentally knowing that you’ve got something warm to change into when you get out of the water.
Also if you haven’t got a good towel you could always invest in a cozy changing poncho these are great for changing in terrible weather.
5. Get some thick booties and gloves.
Booties arguably suck more than hoods, until you get used to them you feel like your trying to surf in gumboots. They are the only way to avoid numb toes.
Most people probably won’t notice the difference between 2mm, 3mm and 5mm boots, so just get the thickest boots you can find (also thicker booties will last longer and still do the trick with small holes). Make sure your booties have a split toe (internal or external) this minimises slippage and increases sensitivity. Gloves feel just as bulky as booties but keep you noticeably warmer.
6. Warm after surf shower.
If you drive to the beach, take a big bottle of hot water and use it to give yourself quick boost of warmth when you come in.
Extra tip: As soon as you unlock your car, start it up and crank the heater - By the time you get changed your car will be tropical.
7. Check your wetsuit for holes before winter kicks in.
Before the water gets cold, cast your eye over your wetsuit for holes and leaky or worn seams, you can either fix your suit yourself or send it to us for a service.
8. Make sure your wetsuit is dry before you head to the beach.
There’s many ways to dry your suit, but in the depths of winter keep it under cover so it’s not frosty for the dawnie. Let it drip dry in the shower and it should be dry in the morning. If you need to speed it up a bit, squeeze the water out of the lower arms and legs out every 20 minutes or so.
9. Before you start paddling out splash a little bit of cold water on your face.
This doesn’t warm you up but it takes away the cold shock when you duck dive under that first wave or take your first beatdown/wipeout.
Photograph by Chris Burkard - www.chrisburkard.com
10. Layer up.
If you’re planning on spending a long time in the water and your top of the line suit just isn’t cutting the mustard, wear an extra layer on your core. It’s best to wear a neoprene top if your suit is flushing or leaking. If your suit is super sealed you might be ok wearing a polyprop or something similar but often when these type of layers get wet you’ll struggle to warm up again.