With winter now in full swing a good wetsuit is essential! New modern wetsuits, with their space age neoprene materials are pretty amazing at keeping the body warm and dry. However with the more supple and stretchy neoprene (and not to mention the cost!) it is more important than ever to treat your suit properly. Getting into a good habit caring for your wetsuit before/after your SUP session will not only prolong your wetsuits life, but also ensures you have many happy hours in and on the water. Here are afew top tips to help you get the most out of your wetsuit…
Always rinse your wetsuit off with freshwater
Probably one of the most important things to do to prolong your wetsuit life especilly when used in saltwater. Your wetsuit will absorb salt crystals, that will over time degrade the materials and quality of your suit. Rinsing off your wetsuit in fresh water after every use will help maintain the elasticity properties of your suit, stop it from smelling and also make it dry faster. For best results wash in slightly warm water and soak thoroughly with a wetsuit shampoo.
Always dry your wetsuit inside out
Drying your wetsuit inside out is always a good idea if possible. Obviously a wetsuit that is dry on the inside but still damp on the outside is much more pleasant to put on, especially if you have a short drying time between sessions. Also if you often leave your wetsuit out on the washing line to drip dry, then (hopefully!) chances are it will be spending a fair amount of time in the sun. The hot sun is a great way to dry your wetsuite quickly but the sun’s rays will soon damage the neoprene and glues on your suit. The best drying conditions for your wetsuit is in a warm area out of direct sunlight… however as we all know, this is not always the quickest! So chances are, if you’re want to get back in the water as quickly as possilble you’re going to put it in the hottest and sunniest spot possible! Just be aware that although your car bonnet will dry your wetsuit out the quickest, it’s unlikely to give it the longest life.
Take care when taking your wetsuit on and off
Most of the visible damage to a wetsuit occurs when it’s being taken on/off. Rushing to put on/take off your wetsuit and using the wrong technique, for example – standing on rough tarmac and pulling your wetsuit off by standing on it is not the best practice! Wetsuits are not designed to be stretched and pulled off violently. They should be gently pulled/rolled down especially when it gets to the tricky bits i.e. around your legs. It’s best to gently pull as much down as possible, then roll your wetsuit off around your heels and foot. Be particularly careful not to damage your wetsuit (espcially neoprene) with your fingernails. Having your friend pull your wetsuit off whilst you’re sitting in the back of the car may be the quickest and most comfortable way, but it’s not the best way to prolong your wetsuit life! And with the new wetsuits being stretchier than ever, you’ll likely end up with your friend 15+ feet away!
The plastic bag trick!
One of the oldest tricks in the book, but it’s still a goodie. Put your foot in a plastic bag before putting your leg into your wetsuit. This will make it much easier to put on, as there is no friction at all. It also makes putting on a wet wetsuit much more bearable – probably just because its quicker and takes less effort.