Hang your wetsuit up correctly
There are afew ways of hanging a wetsuit up. One thing you want to stay away from is using a thin hanger. Most thin hangers are the worst nightmare for wetsuits because they put a lot of strain on the lycra base neoprene on the shoulders, causing them to soon become out of shape. If you are going to hang your wetsuit up using a hanger these are the best ways of doing it. Hang your wetsuit halfway through the main body of the hangar is probably the best way as your wetsuit will have equal weight to the widest point of a wetsuit. If you want to use your hangar in the traditional way it is always best to use 3 or 4 hangers together to make a wide-body hangar, and therefore less strain on your wetsuit shoulders.
Storing your wetsuit for a long period of time
When it comes to storing your summer suit for the winter period (or if you have decided you just can’t face the whole winter thing!) it’s well worth storing your wetsuit correctly.
Stay away from hangers when storing for a long period of time. The lycra-based neoprene over time will stretch on a thin hanger eventually destroying and mis-shaping your suit. The best option is to roll your wetsuit up. But it’s very important that your wetsuit is completely dry, otherwise mold will form and make an unpleasant surprise when you unroll it the next season! It’s best to store your wetsuit in a cool, dry place. But beware of lofts and basements… because mice love neoprene!
Try your best not to pee in your wetsuit!
Okay we all do it, even if we don’t admit it! But having a pee in your wetsuit every SUP session is not best practice. Apart from making your wetsuit absolutely stink, if not rinsed thoroughly urine will rot your wetsuit and affect the heat tape glues. But if it was a particularly chilly session and you just had to go in your suit, the best thing you can do afterwards is to soak it for at least half an hour in freshwater and something sweeter smelling!
Stand on something when getting changed
There’s nothing worse than being unable to feel your feet when you’re trying to get out of a wetsuit. And you’re more likely to damage your wetsuit if you’re cold and in a hurry. Insulation, used in building houses, is phenomenal for getting changed on. Find a off cut or buy a sheet of insulation (foam insulation with silver backing) like Kingspan or Celotex, with a couple friends. All you need is a piece approx 400mm in diameter. When used as a changing mat the installation will reflect back all the heat making your feet feel warm almost immediately. This is undoubtedly the quickest way to get your feet warm. Try it… you’ll be amazed.
Buy a builders bucket
In fact buy two! It will be the most universal piece of equipment you can own for £2.50. The possibilities are endless… get changed in the bucket and roll your wetsuit down into it, leaving you with a nice clean wetsuit free from soil or sand. Then as soon as you get home fill your bucket up with fresh water and leave to soak. By having two buckets you will always have a dry bucket for dry wetsuits and booties etc. And your car boot will stay salt and sand free too!
Get two wetsuits
Okay you may not have a spare £200 to buy another wetsuit the same. But lots of people have two wetsuits that cross over each other i.e. a 5/3mm and 4/3mm. Both these wetsuits can be used for SUPing in the spring and autumn and possibly a nice midwinters day. Using two wetsuits gives you the option of always having a dry one for those multiple sessions. Also having two wetsuits that you can use in similar conditions, will in turn prolong the life of both the wetsuits because you’ll be using each one half as much i.e making both your wetsuits last twice as long. These are all good arguments if you’re thinking about trying to talk yourself or maybe a family member into the fact that you should really buy another wetsuit!
If anyone has any other good ‘how best to care for your wetsuits’ tips then please share them with other SUPboarders here. Or ‘what not to do’ if you’ve learned from your mistakes!!