Wetsuits are expensive, and they are not getting any cheaper. Performance technology keeps getting better to make them lighter, more flexible, warmer, quicker drying and better for the environment.
The only thing that has not been invented is a wetsuit that lasts forever, which is exactly why we need to care our suits extremely well. Here are five tips that can extend the life of your wetsuits.
I know this can be difficult. Usually you are either trying to get in the water as soon as possible, or your wetsuit seems to have shrunken a size during that last session. When trying to manipulate your suit on or off of your body, it is best to be as gentle as possible and never force anything.
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Sure, the first few times you are working your suit that hard it may seem like it can take the abuse, but over time and constant exposure to salt, neoprene and rubber will become extremely brittle. All the pulling and tugging at your suit will prove fatal when it rips from the groin to halfway down the thigh (yes, that has happened to me).
always rinse your suit
If you are surfing or diving in the ocean, or anywhere else that may have salt, then you cannot stop the damage that salt will cause – you can only attempt to slow the process. Rinsing your wetsuit is critical to having a healthy and robust suit that is going to last it’s maximum life potential.
I like to carry a large water container with me to the beach, leave it in my car (so it gets as warm as possible), then when I am done surfing, I pour the entire container of water on myself. My wetsuits gets a quick rinse and so do I. After I return home, I then hang my wetsuit up, rinse it thoroughly with clean water for about five minutes. Then I hang it somewhere shady and dry so it can completely dry out.
There are multiple products made especially for cleaning your wetsuit. The RiseKit lets your shower and rinse anywhere, including the ever so popular beach front parking lots or campgrounds. Products such as Piss-Off are also helpful in cleaning your suit.
storage is key
I am not always the best at storing my suit, which probably adds to the faded color and plethora of holes and tears in it. I have been known to leave it hanging by the shoulders, in the sun for days on end. The absolute best way to store your suit is somewhere shady and somewhat dry.
Also, be sure to hang it by the waist, not by the shoulders. Hanging a heavy wetsuit by the shoulder, (especially when wet) will stretch the shoulder neoprene and make it thin, somewhat transparent, and often very cold in the water.
Try to get your hands on a wetsuit hanger that either offers a way to hang the suit by its waist, or even accommodate large portions of the shoulders, making it less stressful on small portions.
peeing in your suit: is it worth it?
No, my friend, it really isn’t. I don’t know if I should really need to include this. The waves are killer, the paddle-out was tough and you really have to pee. You decide you could probably use the warmth, however, in regards to your suit’s health and performance, this may not be the best idea.
Plain and simple, it can make your suit reek, and it can also be damaging to your suit. Not to mention, many surfers think it may even attract unwanted attention by those large finned sharp-toothed fish that swim below. Just paddle in and pee on the beach. It’s worth it nine times out of 10.
I am the self-proclaimed king of do-it-yourself repairs. My go-to repair items are dental floss and shoe-goo. Liquid neoprene will also do the trick if you really want to go the extra mile. Normally, I use a needle and some floss to completely sew up the tear or hole. Be sure to sew it together very tight. Next, I add generous amounts of shoe-goo to seal the mend from water.