Featured Image: Chris Burkard
Geographers will point out that, located between 50 and 60 degrees north of the equator, the British Isles are bathed in warm water from the North Atlantic Drift/Gulf Stream, and that we bask in a balmy brine while at similar latitudes, coastlines in Canada are home to iceberg and polar bear.
Technically, they’ve got a point, but ‘warm’ is very much a relative term. Walk down to your nearest seashore in the winter months, dip a finger in the drink.
It’s absolutely freezing.
“Folk want their stoke 365, and are prepared to deal with some discomfort to get it”
While wetsuit technology has come on leaps and bounds in the last decade or so, at the same time so too has the fascination with ever more high latitude surf outposts in ever more icy seas. Folk want their stoke 365, and are prepared to deal with some discomfort to get it.
And yet despite all the science, there are also myths about being warm and staying warm. There are decisions to be made. Let’s explore some of the things to do and not do, in order to survive low mercury shred situations wherever you are.
You’re only really as good as your rubber coating, so it shouldn’t come as too much of a scoop to reveal the warmer your wetsuit, the better off you’ll be.
However, self-inflicted complications can tend to arise, where folk can have hang ups, often that start with a single bad experience one session, and end up self-fulfilling prophecies that blight their future surfing days. “I don’t do hoods” or “I can’t surf in boots”. I would invite a rethink. You almost certainly can.
In terms of the order of rubber accessory addition with decreasing temperature, the following makes the most sense: Full suit. Full suit plus boots. Full suit, boots, plus hood. Full suit, boots, hood, gloves. You’ll see people with gloves and boots but no hood, which to me at least, seems odd. A hood will keep you warm enough overall to tolerate chilly hands, at least down until about 10 deg C water. But a cold head, even if your fingers are in Bora Bora, and your sesh is effectively over.