The list of little tricks you can do to increase enjoyment of cold-water sessions is seemingly endless. Here's a few more that have worked for us over the years:
Use a Robe
Get a change robe. Especially one with a hood. They seemed a little kooky when they first came out, but the joke was on me. Change robes are a pretty cozy way to change outdoors without flashing the neighbors. Bottom line, these things make getting naked in a parking lot a lot more pleasant for everyone.
Keep it Clean
Keep the sand and street grime off of your wetsuit! Your suit will last longer, you will be happier, and your skin will be happier! Get a change mat or anything you can hose off to keep clean and dry. Make sure your suit stays on it when you peel it off in the parking lot. This little hack keeps everything including your car and your house clean.
Clean and Condition
Some of my buddies put their wetsuits in the washing machine to clean them but I never do this. Reason why? It can damage the seals and seams. For me the best way to really clean a wetsuit is with wetsuit shampoo (with built in conditioner). I hand wash my suits in cold water in a big bucket using this product. I rinse my surf booties with it too. Wetsuit shampoo not only cleans out the bacteria and stains but also conditions the neoprene, bringing back the soft feel to the suit when you bought it. Your wetsuits look, feel and smell like new after using this product and also last a lot longer. One of the many nice things about Solite Boots is that because the lower is made from an exclusive patented material that is hydrophobic (meaning that it soaks no water) the insides dry much faster and don't have open cells to collect bacteria. As long as you rinse them often, they will never stink!
It’s in the Bag
A nice waterproof wetsuit bag works to keep everything together. Which is important when you start adding accessories like wetsuit boots, Heat Booster Socks, gloves and hoods. Plastic trash bags work in a pinch, but you always risk your wetsuit getting taken out with the trash if you leave it laying around in one of those things. On a trip to Oregon I saw a lot of guys using a spackle bucket as a wetsuit carrier. They would also use oversized Fisherman’s boots that they slipped on over their neoprene booties for a long rocky walk. Of course, Solite Boots are so durable you really don’t have to worry about that, but shoot, I love that ingenuity!
Fire can be Your Friend
The other thing that these guys like to do was build a fire. There’s a lot of places where you can’t do that obviously. But in the middle of the cold northern nowhere a little bit of lighter fluid and a lighter combined with dry-ish driftwood can buy you a second or third session. Just don’t burn anything down or melt your wetsuit!
Wrists and Ankles
Another problem can be a wrists and ankles rolling up during a wipeout or even in hand drags and pig dogs. Some of the more flexible materials used in suits to make them stretchy have a tendency to over-stretch or roll up on impact with the water. This leaves you with bare skin and a surf boot or a glove full of water which is very cold very quick. If you have this problem, old leash cuffs work well to seal your non-leash ankle. You can also find a lower profile velcro strap at most hardware stores to seal your wrist/ankle cuffs. The idea is to have your suit pretty sealed so you can take a pretty good wipeout without having it flush and send you to the beach to drain all the water out. Your kit is only as good as its weakest link.
Getting it On
Damp skin tends to stick to the inside of your wetsuit and make putting that thing on excruciatingly tedious. A pair of socks works wonders, so do plastic bags on your feet. (The ones that you were recycling anyway hint hint.) Of course, Solite gives you a pair of Heat Booster Socks with your boots so you can always use those! They are for heat molding your boots, but also handy for suit entry and extra insulation when the water is really cold. Some people get parking lot foot from oil or mud in or on their wetsuit boots. The socks are great for that too because they clean out whatever is there, and you can then just throw them in the washer.
Getting Out of it
Taking the suit off can be hard sometimes. A little bit of rinse water down your neck and up your sleeves helps break the suction between your suit and your skin. Get as much water between you and the suit if as you can and it will slide right off. The same goes for booties and gloves.
What if I Have to Pee?
It’s the dirty little secret of cold-water surfing. Some people think it’s gross and do anything to avoid it. Others embrace it and think of it as a nice hot Jacuzzi for a few moments. Whichever camp you fall into, just be sure to rinse your suit out really well no matter what. Saltwater, your water, whatever... Rinse it well and it won’t smell.
What about Wetsuit Rash?
If you’re surfing a lot, sometimes the suit will give you a rash especially in your armpits. Once it starts it just keeps getting worse for that session. The solution is a bit of petroleum jelly, Vaseline etc. under each arm before you put your suit on. It not only soothes whatever rash you have but coats the inside of your suit a bit to prevent further chafing.