The essential guide to cold-weather surf gear

Because life's not all sand beaches and sunny swell. Photo courtesy of stuartleigh1/Twenty20
Because life’s not all sandy beaches and sunny swell. Photo: stuartleigh1/Twenty20
While the magazines and videos have done their best to make surfing look like a never-ending Blue Crush sequel, most surfers live in waters far different than the lands of bikinis and Bali swell. In fact, a solid chunk of wave riders are making it happen on a daily basis in cold weather and even colder water.

Frozen digits, chattering teeth and the constant feeling of not being able to (ever) get dry are rites of passage for this alternative surf crowd.

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So to celebrate the diehards that paddle out in Northern California, the Pacific Northwest and solid swaths of New England, we compiled a list of gear built for the cold-weather surfer that refuses to let a little wind chill ruin a good day in the water. (We’re looking at you, October.)

Quiksilver Cypher Bootie ($69.95)


When water temps dip into the 50s, booties shift from convenience to necessity in a hurry. Available in 3, 5 and 7.5 mm thicknesses, the Quiksilver Cypher is a boot that integrates a few nice technical features to hold off the chill and extend your surf day.

Where some booties can be difficult to get on and off (especially when cold hands aren’t cooperating), the Cypher utilizes a 100 percent Superstretch air-cell neoprene for easy on-and-off and increased heat retention. The bootie also has a microfleece liner, which, aside from being slipper comfortable, wicks moisture, keeping puddles from forming in your toe box.

Add to that a durable sole that will get you down the trail and over the rock jetty, and these bad boys are good to go in just about any condition.

Xcel TDC Drylock Hooded 5/4 Wetsuit ($579.95)


No need to fumble getting in and out of your skin saver: The Xcel Drylock offers up overlapping flaps at the wrists and ankles along with a front entry system to make getting in and out of a wetsuit easier than ever. Getting in the water is easier too, with each pesky seam sealed, blindstitched, glued and fused to make sure no unwanted chill is slipping into your dungaroos, plus a revolutionary TDC liner for added warmth.

Getting out of the water? Well, once you’re in the Drylock, you may not want to.

Hyperflex Access Gloves ($21.99)


Last but certainly not least in the in-water equation, a good pair of gloves is a must for keeping your hands from turning into floppy lobster claws. The Hyperflex Access Gloves offer 5 mm of thickness and warmth and are 100 percent seam-sealed to prevent an untimely blowout.

Patagonia Fjord Flannel ($89)


It may not sound that romantic, but seriously, whether you’re checking the morning swell or calling it a hard-earned day, nothing feels better than a dry, thick flannel. Patagonia has a steeped history in surfing the rough shores of Chile and Northern California, so they know what we’re getting at, giving us the thick and rugged Fjord Flannel.

Yes, the 100 percent organic cotton construction may be a little disconcerting in the damp cold of the maritime regions, but the heavyweight material will be all that you need around the campfire or sipping a post-session beer.

If the Fjord isn’t in your price range, raid the thrift stores, where battle-tested flannels are just waiting for a second chance.

Dakine Jetty Wet Backpack ($110)


When the weather isn’t cooperating, gear storage can be pretty critical, because, let’s face it, stepping out of the waves to a wet towel can be a real day-ruiner. With a waterproof roll-top pocket that doubles as a wetsuit pocket, the Dakine Jetty Wet has your dry interests in mind. Additionally, side access lets you get at your gear on the fly and a cooler pocket keeps that all-important beverage at just the right temperature.

O’Neill Surf Turkey Shoe ($49.50)


Reward your feet, you cold-water warrior, you, with the O’Neill Surf Turkeys, the most comfortable surf slip-ons out there. Shielding your digits in a high-top boot, the Surf Turkey features a wool liner and padded footbed for unreal comfort and warmth when you need it most. Unlike a traditional slipper, the Surf Turkey has a durable rubber outsole to ensure that you can get back to the car over just about any terrain.

Brunton All Day GoPro Battery Pack ($49.99)


If you didn’t film your cold-weather surf day, it didn’t happen, right? Well, instead of the battery draining as soon as it hits less-than-tepid ocean conditions, attach the Brunton All Day GoPro Battery Pack to your POV cam for nearly four times the normal battery life. The All Day attaches to any GoPro Hero 3+ and will soon have a Hero 4 edition.
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