How is the body able to withstand winter temperatures when winter surfing?

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I’ve seen videos of people surfing in the winter and read articles about it, it’s never explained how they are not dying of hypothermia. It just looks like they are wearing a wet suit. I read that it hypothermia starts below 95 F (35 C), I’m unsure how they are able to hit the water without freezing to death.

In: 4

Wet suits are not water proof. The water which seeps its way into the suit is rapidly warmed by your own body heat thus creating an insulated layer of warmth. Gloves, boots, and a hood are often necessary as well, although spending more than a couple hours in the water is not recommended

Wet suits usually do the trick, and come in varying thickness. They’re designed to keep you warm by insulating the water within layers of neoprene. Plus you can add booties, gloves, and a hood if you really need to. It’s still cold on your face (seriously, diving under a wave makes your eyes hurt when it’s cold enough) but your overall temperature is more than enough to avoid hypothermia. The waters I surf are usually in the 40s or 50s and I rarely use gloves or a hood.

If you need something even warmer there are also dry suits. Similar principle, but instead of using the water as part of the insulation it keeps your skin dry and the air within the suit is warmer by your body. Think of a wetsuit as blubber and a dry suit as otter fur or waterproof feathers.

Its also worth mentioning the water temperature doesn’t always become coldest in winter. I’m my location that’s spring, the water currents happen to bring up cold water from deeper depths (upwelling)

I am shit at surfing but I tried 16C water with a 4 mm wetsuit. A 4 mm proper wetsuit did warm me like a sleeping bag in spring… but I got very cold feet and hands and my ears were a pain.

This to say, the suits available on the market, can be up to 8 or more millimeters, they are extremely hot. It’s incredible the first time you try them, it’s wet clothing that is hotter when whet than when is dry.

So the answer is, they use the appropriate protection. And they are doing sport. So they heat by moving.

A suit for non-sport need to be a lot thicker. If you remove the activity from the equation you feel the cold way more.