How to Stay Warm When Surfing in Cold Water

When surfing, coming for surf lessons or spending time with a surf school, staying warm in the water is essential in order to maximise your session and experience. Listed below are our top tips for staying warm even in the coldest conditions!


  • Keep fit! If you can keep active and constantly paddling for the entirety of your session it’s unlikely you will get cold. If you are having to take breaks to catch your breath or rest that is when the cold will set in.
    The best training will include running and swimming, to ensure you have good cardio and shoulder strength.
  • Having a good meal before you enter the water will keep your metabolism going, increasing your body temperature. A good mix of carbs and protein will ensure your body has everything it needs for the surf and will aid recovery.
  • Warm up! Performing the appropriate amount of stretches and exercises will not only reduce your chances of injury, but will increase your performance and endurance, keeping you more active and less likely to get cold.

Having good kit and taking good care of it is probably the most important method for keeping warm when in the water. For surf in the UK a 3/2mm wetsuit will keep you warm in the summer, while a 5/4mm wetsuit will ensure you are toasty all through the winter. Additionally to a 5/4 wetsuit, boots, gloves and a hood are also needed. These range in thickness from 3mm – 5mm and should be chosen on how much you feel the cold. Generally 5mm boots, a 2mm hood and 3mm gloves will be perfect for the winter season. When a wetsuit is referred to as a 5/3 or a 3/2 or maybe even a 6/5/4, this simply means that it will be 5mm thick in the chest and back – where the organs are and the most heat is needed, and then 3mm in the legs and arms, where flexibility is an important compromise to warmth.

Look after your kit and it will look after you! Keeping your wetsuit in a good condition and caring for it in the appropriate way will not only guarantee that it lasts a long time, but it will also keep you warmer!

  • Try to avoid hanging it from the shoulders – the edges of the hanger will dig into the shoulders of your wetsuit degrading the fabric eventually allowing more cold water to flow through your suit. Try folding it in half over a rail, or the middle bar of the hanger
  • Don’t expose the seams of your suit to harsh sunlight! The glued seams can be damaged by strong uv – allowing more water in to the suit.
  • Rinse in cold fresh water. Not rinsing your wetsuit/boots can seize the zip. The neoprene can also loose its stretch when constantly dried salty – making your suit a lot less flexible.

Remember try and get your wetsuit as dry as possible for your next session and to warm yourself up with a nice hot shower afterwards

For kit we recommend the Rip Curl Flash bomb series of wetsuits. Durable, flexible and always dry for your next surf!

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