cold feet

I did a little research to see who's right about water temps, Black’s or Dub. I think Dub is right that the Oregon coast can have colder water than BC due to upwelling and other factors. Still, the left coast doesn't compare to the right coast in terms of frigidity.

Ever see the Patagonia ads of the bearded Malloy brother surfing in BC in a full suit? Notice no gloves? Try no gloves in winter around here. Hell, try 5 mm fingered gloves and see how long you can manage it.

Water temps here have dipped to below 0 C. in winter but generally stay in and around 0. The freezing threshold of sea water depends on the salinity. I heard somewhere, but cannot verify it, that around here water has to dip to -4 C. before it starts to freeze –that’s 24.8 F. All I can say is that I never had icicles on my beard or wetsuit visor when I surfed in Oregon.

By the way, I have a special request for any reader who may know someone working in the wetsuit industry. Can you please ask them to make some winter booties that are worth a shit!

The best booties we can buy at the moment are Xcel’s 7mm Infinity. They are quite warm and comfortable at first. However, if you surf regularly you’re lucky if they’ll continue to keep your feet warm for over three to four months. They begin to deteriorate quickly and after one season they basically do little to keep water out and feet warm.

Now if you were in some sort of manufacturing business and you made a high end product whose lifespan in terms of intended usage was less than three months wouldn’t you go out of business? Perhaps it’s because there’s a lack of competition? Should this be acceptable? OK Xcel reps this is your chance.

Forget the battery powered wetsuits and bloated dry-suits. Most of the winter wetsuits offered by the top companies seem to work well. I use an O’Neil Psycho II 6.4 which is plenty warm and stretchy. But after the first season I had to send it in for repair because the liquid seams on the chest panel were coming apart. They fixed it at no cost, as they should, but now there are seems on the lower part of the sleeve that are splitting in half. Wetsuits are not made to last. This is a sad fact considering the non-renewable materials and exorbitant cost to the consumer.

Wetsuit: $550 or more for an Xcel, Quick or O’Neil – don’t think any of the Yamamoto suits are at the moment are warm enough for NS winters (Matuse, Patagonia, etc.)
Booties: $75 plus for Xcel
Mitts: $75 plus for Xcel
Tax: 14%
Staying warm on a head high glassy day: EXPENSIVE.

I am planning on trying out a pair of the new Patagonia booties. They claim that their boots are made for Icelandic conditions. And given their record of making quality gear, this may be the way to go.

Small kine waves this weekend -may have to go fishin.


Anonymous said...

Maybe a bit cryptic, but what I was was trying to say is I know about the diferences from experience. I've logged a lot of surf time up on the island and enjoy it thoroughly. Can't say I've hit the left coast, of Canada that is, but I grew up surfing on the East Coast and still surf Rhode Island yearly. I realize its shinkingly cold in NS and hope to make it there soon. Also, check out the last issue of Water where Steve Hawk (the best Surfer editor ever) mentions a Canadian pro complaining about how cold the water is in Oregon in his article about Nootka. Currents and upwelling are the main factors. Cool picture!

Peace Dub-

Eric said...

We've been saying the same thing here on Superior. The 6mm suits, by xcel, oneil etc are fine, it's the booties that are the weak link. It's tough to stand up on feet that are blocks of ice. My first go out with the Patagonia booties was positive except for the end of the session when it felt like they were leaking. Further inspection at home proved that they had a small leak. Returned them and Patagonia shipped me a new pair. Wore them out the other day...freezing feet in about 40 minutes. Small leak in the seem of the heal i think. Not sure what to say now. I hate to give up on a company that has always proven itself worthy.

ras said...


I found out aboput those boots from you. I garauntee that Patagonia wants to know if their boots are flawed. If I were you I'd write to them again. Review them on your blog too. People from So Cal are reading your blog and word will get back to Patagonia. They are probably one of the few companied who'll actually try to improve their prducts.

Gazelle said...

Love that photo!

Anonymous said...

Right on Ras boots are the weekest link hell i would pay 300. bucks for a pair of boots that would stay along for the ride aslong as the rest of the body,and last longer then one year doing it.(Maybe heated boots)

pushingtide said...

Man I don't know how you guys do it sometimes. I can't stand booties and never wear them even though my feet get frozen and bloodied. Oh well. Wish they could make some bootie that you could wear when walking out over rocks and reef and then take them off and attach them to your suit somewhere. Hate the feel of booties. But look who I am talkin' too, I am just a spoiled LA cat I guess.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't get anything worthwhile on BC or Oregon but found this on NS water Temps.


Good info to have on Patagonia. Worries me to think you could get two sets of boots that leaked from them. Disappointed.

Starting to get into this blog thing you folks have goin' on.

Chill (pun intended)
Black Spidey

ras said...

Ol Blacks you should start one titled "Raging in Nova Scotia, Tales of a two-armed paddle"

nm said...

Hey push - if you're not worried about the "looking a complete tool" factor......wear a fanny-pac. Wear your booties across the rocks (etc..) then put your booties in it and flip it around to your back after you paddle out. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I think I've seen that guy (and waxed his windows)!

When August comes around and the water is actually warm enough to go bootless here (didn't happen last summer) I tend to hate the first few days when I go without. Board feels sketchy and I don't feel like I have enough control. That feeling fades pretty quick but still... we are creatures of habit. That said, I never mind losing the gloves!!!


Black Spidey

Mark Johnston said...

I am from B.C. but surf down in Oregon often, It seems to me that the icecream headache down in Oregon happens much more often than on the island.