How to Stay Warm While Surfing

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Your friend is surfing with just swim trunks, but you think the water is freezing. Even if you feel like you are cold-blooded and cannot stay warm in the water, there are steps you can take to be warm while surfing.

Things You'll Need

  • Wetsuit
  • Rash Guard Shirt
  • Booties
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Food. You must eat something warm in the morning. Bring some warm tea or coffee in a mug for the drive to the surf.

  • Pre-Surf. Make sure you stay warm before getting in the water. Sit in front of a heater before you leave the house, turn the heat up in the car, or sit on the beach in the sun for a bit before venturing into the surf.

  • Surfboard Type. Use a long board instead of a short-board. Get a board that is longer and bigger so the board does not sink at all when you are waiting for waves. The air will be warmer than the water so you want to stay out of the water as much as possible. If you use a short-board you will probably be almost completely submerged as you sit on your board waiting for the waves.

  • The Current. The ocean temperature can vary significantly from day to day depending on which direction the waves are coming from. Each beach will vary, but figure out which direction the warm water comes from at your beach. Go out when the warm current comes in.

  • Time. As long as the weather is warm and the sun is out during the day, the ocean temperature near the surface should be warmer towards the end of the day. Skip the AM session and go out in the late afternoon when both the ocean and the air temperature will be warmer.

  • A Wetsuit. Buy a full body wet suit with at least 2-3 mm thickness on the body. [The wetsuits will be rated for temperature. A 4-3 wet suit means you have 4 mm of material on the body and 3 mm on the arms and legs]. Be sure to buy a properly fitted wet suit. A wet suit that is too big will let water in the ankle and wrists. Be sure the wet suit is made to prevent water from seeping in at the hands and feet. Buy a wet suit with a good seal at the neck as well. Buy a black wetsuit to absorb the maximum rays from the sun. Be sure to rinse your wetsuit with non-salt water after each session to prevent holes from forming. You also need to avoid laying your wetsuit out to dry in the hot sun. The combination of the sun and the heat over time will weaken the material rendering your wet suit essentially useless.

  • A Rashguard. Now that you have a wet suit, buy a long sleeve rash guard to wear under your wet-suit. A thin long-sleeve rash-guard for your body should fit under your wet suit. The added layer will keep you warmer.

  • Booties. Get some 5 mm booties. Be sure that your booties work with your wet suit to prevent water from entering your wetsuit at the ankles.

  • Gloves. If your hands are still cold, wear gloves with your wetsuit as well. Remember to keep your hands out of the water while waiting for waves on your surfboard.

  • Hat. If you are still cold with your hot tea, wet suit, rash-guard, booties, gloves and long board, then buy one of the hats designed for surfing.

  • Vasoline. If you are still cold even with a hat, you can put a thin layer of vasoline on your face. This layer of vasoline will act as a small insulator between your face and the freezing wind or water.

  • Keep Moving. If you are waiting for the next set of waves to come in, then paddle around in circles to stay warm.

  • The Night Before. Do not leave your wetsuit and other items in the car overnight. Your wetsuit and other equipment will be cold and wet in the morning. You want to make sure your keep all your equipment inside the house to dry over night.

  • Apres-Surf. If you managed to stay warm in the water while surfing then enjoy your day at the beach. If you are still cold, take a hot shower and try again the next day.

Tips & Warnings

  • Surfing is an inherently dangerous activity. Surf near lifeguards when possible and always bring a buddy.
  • Be serious about staying warm in the water. Cold water can cause muscle cramps. Muscle cramps while swimming in the ocean can limit your motion, creating a dangerous situation.

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