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I'm a southern California surfer and when winter comes around I “rubber up”. On cold days the water temperature will get down into the mid-50’s but it can be in the low-30s when getting in and high-30s when getting out. That’s pretty cold for me, so this surfing outdoor gear guide is for that range and not the poor brahs dealing with much colder temperatures.
So here are our recommend “must have” cold water outdoor gear.
1. XCEL 4/3MM DRYLOCK C/Z Fullsuit.
There are many great wetsuits makers out there like Rip Curl, Billabong, Body Glove, 7till8 and more, we just love the durability and fit of the DRYLOCK. It’s made from Japanese limestone nanoprene and good for 49-58F water temps. We prefer the front zip, but that’s a personal preference. You may ask “why not hooded”? Again, it’s personal, we just like a separate hoodies as its easier to turn your head.
2. Rip Curl Flashbomb 5/3 5 finger gloves.
I know, real surfers don’t wear gloves. Well, I do, and I’m real. When the water is really cold, you can’t even keep your hands cupped for paddling, without gloves. I’d rather get a few looks and catch the waves. Its personal on fingers vs. mittens, but fingers allow me to grip the board better and that’s my choice here.
3. O’Neill Heat 3MM Split Toe Booties
There is nothing worse than not being able to feel your toes after an hour in the water. I remember one session when I forgot my booties, I popped up and my feet hit the board and I went over, as my feet were numb. Never again. I like the O’Neill’s as they have up to size 15 and the top of the booties sits well under most suits.
4. Body Glove 3mm VAPOR X Hood
I like the Body Glove Hood as it is just more comfortable that the other ones I’ve used. It tucks well into the top of my wetsuit and I love that it gives more maneuverability of my neck to see how the lineup than a hooded suit. The Body Glove has a cinch on the side rather than on the chin and will keep you pretty water-tight!
5. Westone Custom Surf Ear Plugs
I have tried every pair of one-size-fits-all ear plugs for surfing. Maybe it’s just my ears, but none fit right or they were too much of a hassle to use every day. If they don’t fit right, you’ll lose them when you “blow up”, or they won’t do what they are supposed to do. Ear plugs are supposed to prevent surfer’s ear caused by exposure to cold water and wind. For me, it also reduced the amount of colds I got each year. They are really expensive, you need a custom fitting, take a couple weeks to make but they will last you years upon years.
6. Malo’o Portable Wetsuit Drying Rack
When I get out of the water, drying my gear and taking care of it, it the key to it’s longevity and why I started Malo’o. Drying wetsuits, hats, gloves, booties on a bush, or letting them sit in a tub in the back of your car is not the right way. The Malo’o wetsuit hanger and car rack sides over the side view mirror of most vehicles and gives you a place to dry out your gear, while not stretching out the neoprene. It’s affordable, portable and collapsible and you can use it in the lot, at the office or at home. It’s a perfect drying rack as it works inside or out.
7. Surf-Fur Surf Parka
I got this for Christmas one year from my wife and I thought about returning it. I have a towel, it works fine so why do I need to carry another piece of gear with me? She encouraged me to try it once and if it wasn’t great, return it. They are pricy, but once you try one, you can’t go back. Thick, warm, and it keeps the wind out. It could be a little longer ,as I’m pretty tall, but it is phenomenal. I pull my shoulders and arms out of my wetsuit and the parka goes on. I then proceed to remove my booties and suit while staying warm inside the parka.
8. Leus Surf Towels
I don’t know if you’re like me, but once I find things that work, I stay with them. The Leus 100% cotton towels (another So Cal company-yea!) work. I have 2 favorites and I rotate between them. Before my parka goes on, the hair, ears and face need attention, and Leus delivers. I’ve been using these two for over a year with no fraying or ripping, they look like they could keep going and going.
9. FCS Change Mat Bag
Some folks swear by grass mats, other use rubber mats, once in a while I’ll see a fancy teak wooden mat for standing on while taking off your wetsuit. All accomplish the same thing, not ripping your suit along the asphalt while getting changed. For me it’s about utility. The FCS mat is simple to use: stand, take off, cinch up. When I get home, I rise it along with my all my rubber and its good. I can stuff it in door side pocket or anywhere. Easy, simple.
These are my recommended “must haves” for winter surfing in 50-60F water like we have in southern California. I’m going to throw in a couple bonus items that you might want to consider also!
10. Rip Curl Search GPS Series 2 Surf Watch
I have been using my Series 1 for almost 2 years now, and I surf 4-6 times a week. It tracks my sessions like no other solution. I get to see visually each of my rides and it records my time in water, paddling distance, riding distance, longest ride, speed and more. I’m surprised how well it has held up with the salt water, and it’s a simple sync to smartphones or computers.
11. YETI Rambler 30oz Stainless Steel Tumbler
We’ve given you recommendation for in the water, out of the water and now for the ride home or to the office. It will keep your liquid hot or cold and the best part is it is durable enough for a dump truck driver! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dropped it. The outside is dented and the lid pops off, but it still keeps working.
If you have some recommendations, please add them in the comments and I’ll check out the rear. Mahalo,