How to Stay Warm this Winter


While the surf media has their eyes trained on the sunny, warm waters of Hawaii, dedicated surfers in the North East are busy chipping the ice off their windshields and scraping the frost off their 5/4mm fullsuits. For this week’s installment, we’re paying homage to those of you who won’t be spending December in boardshorts. To help keep you warm, we’ve consulted with New York’s own Balaram Stack to gain some insight into staving off frostbite this winter.

Put Your Suit On Before You Leave Your House. It’s almost like an adventure getting all of your gear on and jumping in the snow and then jumping in the ocean. I love it. It’s crazy to think that we do it for fun. When I can, I’ll put my suit on at my house before I even get to the beach; it can be pretty brutal not surfing near home and changing in the snow. It’s also a good idea to invest in a few different suits. Two to three suits are pretty much necessary. Putting on a wet wetsuit in the snow is no fun.

Keep Moving. When you first hit the water you’ll feel the cold air on your face but the real shock of the temperature comes on the first duck-dive. You’ll feel a really sharp brain freeze right ###### of your forehead. If you have to duck-dive more than three times in a row, you’ll feel like you’re gonna throw up from the cold. The trick is to start moving and get a couple waves right off the bat so you can get your blood flowing.


3 years ago

Oof, 32 degree water, I can't even imagine.

Anyone looking to warm up this winter might consider a Patagonia wetsuit. I picked up an R3 (3mm neophrene, 3mm wool), which is supposed to be for 48-55 degree water, but I kind of wish I'd gotten the R4, which is a bit warmer. But man o man is that suit toasty. A completely different world than the Excel 5/4 I owned previously. And about 20x easier to put on and off.

3 years ago

I just from moved from the most northern beach in nj (which is about 10 miles from long beach nyc) and surfed there year round for 8 years and can testify the water temp is never 32 degrees......much less in December like the article states....its currently 50 deg. Come February water temps do get down to 38/40 degrees and the wind chill is a bitch when the air temp drops below freezing. Now rhode island and new Hampshire does get that cold. May seem like I'm splitting hairs but 32 deg. water in December to me is a little bit of an exaggeration. I need a new suit for out here and will check out the Patagonia suits......been hearing great things about them on both coasts. My 3/2 seems too cold and 5/4/3 is way too cumbersome. By the way how does the sizing compare to the excel wetsuits?

3 years ago

> My 3/2 seems too cold and 5/4/3 is way too cumbersome.

Have you tried a 5/4/3 in the last few years? They've gotten so much more flexible lately. I don't find a 5/4/3 cumbersome in the least, but then again I never wear a 3/2.

> By the way how does the sizing compare to the excel wetsuits?

I'm an XL short in both, so I guess they're similar? But man o man is the Patagonia easier to put on and off, especially my feet.

3 years ago

Thanks for the Patagonia review wrybread.. I've been through 5 or 6 4/3 XCELs with attached hoods but am looking for something warmer/higher-quality. Curious about the Patagonia and the Matuse.

I've heard the Patagonia gets really heavy when wet. True?

3 years ago

Hey there aardddd.
Yeah the Xcel 5mm is a bit Cumbersome even with the new technology but after about 1 month of heavy use it's a lot easier to take off and also paddle in. It lasts longer too in the seams it seems. never tried either Patagonia or Matuse. Interested though

3 years ago

My xcel 5/4/3 is about a year old so it's pretty new, I'm just an old dude that gets tired out easier than i used to and need all the advantages that a thinner wetsuit provides.......probably gonna add a r3 or xcel 4/3 to my collection depending on the price difference. Thanks all for your input. Definitely enjoying nor cal and all the positivity.

3 years ago

Going to pimp out Isurus here, same neoprene material as Matuse but the company is from Montara. Been rocking a 4/3 and have actually been overheating on the long paddle outs to the outer-bar. The Yamamoto Neoprene is awesome it barely holds any water and drys in a day. A nice side effect from being hydrophobic is that when you pee in your suit, it doesn't stink!

My Xcel 5/4 Drylock would stink my car up after a session from me peeing in my suit.

the beard
3 years ago


I wear a LT in both Patagonia and XCEL. They are pretty much the same, maybe the Patagonia suit has a hair more length. When Patagonia began their suit line, they used the XCEL sizing as their fit, as XCEL has the most accurate sizing apparently. I find the R3 to be plenty warm for year long use here, with it actually being a bit too warm for a few months. Hope that helps.


The Beard

3 years ago

Seconding the Isurus. Love my 4/3/4. If I had to get something else, I'd probably get an R3. I have friends who like theirs quite a bit.
I've had the I-Evade since Feb and I wear it every time I go out. Toasty.

3 years ago

> I've heard the Patagonia gets really heavy when wet. True?

I haven't noticed. The suit has a wool lining, which I suppose could hold water, so maybe its a possibility. But I definitely haven't noticed any weight difference.

But holy crap there's a wetsuit maker in Montara! I had no idea. I'd definitely give them a look if I were in the market.

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