Do you ever wish that you could snap your fingers and be in your wetsuit ready to snorkel, surf or dive without all the rigmarole of getting grit, mud, (or worse), ground into your feet and wetsuit during the process of getting changed? While we have no magic solution to the problem, we do have a checklist of options. Below, is what you should look for when buying a wetsuit changing mat and changing towel robe or poncho – our aim is to help you to make the process of getting into, and out of, your wetsuit as easy as possible.
Wetsuit Changing Mat Options and Alternatives
There is no point in having an expensive wetsuit and risk puncturing it in the car park as you hop about on the gravel trying to get the thing on, or off, for the sake of the few dollars it costs to get yourself an inexpensive and practical changing mat.
Many of these double as bags for carrying dry gear to the beach, and wet gear home again. These are either circular with drawstrings and carry handles or the zip-out, hold all type.
Another idea is the popular grass mat, about two feet square, these practical mats keep the grit out of your toes and your wetsuit and double as a doormat for your tent or RV if needed. These roll up, so are easily portable. Some of the changing mat bags also have a grass mat base.
If you want to be super-practical and frugal, buy yourself a nice big Rubbermaid storage container, take the lid off, stand inside to get changed and simply snap on the lid and leave your wet gear inside, to keep your vehicle dry and sand free on the journey home!
Our Other ‘Must Have’ Accessory
Apart from the wetsuit changing mat detailed above, a changing robe is the other accessory you must have, particularly if the weather is cold and/or windy. There are two main types:
1. Traditional Changing Towel Robe:
This will give you privacy while you change, but it does have some limitations:
- These changing towel poncho garments have holes for the arms so you can get changed inside.
- They are relatively inexpensive and suitable for warmer weather or dry days when there may be a cold wind blowing.
- They are an inexpensive option.
- Towelling takes forever to dry unless the sun is baking hot.
- These robes do not provide any protection against wet weather and not much protection from cold winds.
What to look for:
Choose a microfiber option for a lightweight, quick-drying version of this popular garment. Make sure you have chosen a large enough size to make changing inside, an easy operation.
2. ‘Dryrobe’ Style Changing Towel Poncho:
We think that these are vastly superior to the old style toweling changing robes.
- These dryrobe poncho garments have a waterproof, and windproof outer, with a cozy hood and sleeves.
- They double as a coat that you can wear from your vehicle to the beach.
- The soft inner fleece lining gets you dry by wicking water away from your skin – and keeps you warm.
- They can be pricey, often about three times the price of a toweling robe.
What to look for:
Go for quality! These are not inexpensive, so look for one with a really tough, chunky zipper that will not snag if you get sand in it and top quality stitching throughout and good-sized outer pockets.
After spending good money on the best wetsuit and other essentials for when you are in the water, it really pays to spend a little time researching and choosing the accessories that can add to your enjoyment of the day when you are on the shore. There is nothing more frustrating than puncturing your wetsuit (or your foot!), in a gritty parking lot because you didn’t have a wetsuit changing mat, or having to pack up early when your cheap towelling robe is soaked and you’re freezing cold because you didn’t invest in a good quality all-weather changing towel robe!