When winter’s icy grip squeezes down on the coast, dedicated surfers reap big rewards, but venturing into the ocean during the deep freeze is no joke: Proper gear is vital for performance. Here in Newport, RI, where water temperatures drop into the thirties, and the air even lower, a good wetsuit buys serious surfers some time on the waves. Patagonia’s R4 front-zip, hooded version is lined with chlorine-free merino wool and recycled polyester for maximum warmth, strength, and flexibility. Meanwhile, their 5-millimeter boots and gloves from the same line keep dangling digits from freezing.
Losing your board in frigid surf is dreadful on so many levels. Not only are you left bobbing, but you’re likely to have some repairs to make when you finally find your board. The Wave Tribe eco-surfboard leash, made from strong, recycled plastic, is designed to keep your board close by during major wipeouts. Since winter means big waves, that requires using a big board. At about 7 feet long, a Spirare semi-gun carves the thin line between paddling-power and performance. Handmade in Providence, RI by shaper Kevin Cunningham, Spirare boards are built using recycled EPS foam wrapped in fast-growing paulownia wood for durability and a natural feel on the wave.
Sometimes being tacky is a good thing, and Jimbo’s Surf Co. wax, which is cooked by hand on wood stoves in New England, creates some serious traction for your stick. When it comes time to scrape it off, use the Endless Wave’s Wax Buddy, a three-in-one tool that’s a scraper, a comb, and does the board’s rails, too. Ergonomically designed to clean the hardest wax off a board, it can also double as an ice scraper for your windshield before that morning surf check. When an an icy sesh is complete, there’s nothing like a hot beverage to warm you up. Try a Sigg Thermo Classic, which keeps stuff warm for about eight hours, so your coffee is ready when you need it most.