It's been a serious cold winter for surfing this year in upper and central east coasts. Water has been hovering at around 35 degrees with the air has been 35 degrees or lower on some blistery days. Cold weather demands good equipment. Personally I've been using an Xcel drylock hooded 5/4 wetsuit with 7mm booties and 3 finger 5mm gloves. It's super expensive, so try to find them on sale. Personally I use seshday. And yes that link is pointing to my personal invite. I love that site and have been shopping with them for some time.
I went all Xcel, mainly because I fully believe in the drylock system. There are times that no water will get in at all, it's kind of crazy. I've used hyperflex before, but wasn't happy with it constantly flushing. Also a neat aside, the founder of Xcel, Ed D’Ascoli; grew up a Jersey native. So the company has perspective on our cold water needs.
The problem I've been running into, is that the air feels like it's 0 degrees and the water temperature is hovering between 30 to 35 degrees. I can only last in the cold water for about 2 hours. Mind you, my body is pretty warm considering the temperature, but my feet get frozen and numb in that time period. Once you can't feel your toes, you have serious problems.
I needed to find a reasonable solution to help stay in the water a touch longer or at least have my feet not feel like a frozen popsicle. Nothing worse then walking and not being able to feel your feet. A friend of a friend got a tip from a surfer up in MA. They wear wool socks in addition to thick booties.
About 2 weeks ago, I decided to give that a try and I have to say; it helped, a lot. Instead of the usual frozen toes attached to a numbed stump, I considered a foot. My feet got cold, but not to the point before they start to tingle and get numb from freezing. I didn't stay longer then 2 hours in the water, but I could have and I've repeated this a couple more times. It works!
So, you might be wondering, what kind of wool socks did I use? I've been using the kirkland brand from costco just for normal everyday use. I think it's a wool blend. It's pretty similar to these wool socks they sell there. The version I own are probably not available anymore.
Another question that arises, did I lose any feeling with the added thickness? Sort of. Wearing the wool socks makes it feel slightly squishy. But, I'd rather the thickness then numb feet.
Lastly, There's one additional added benefit, besides keeping your feet warm. I have a super hard time getting out of the wetsuit. Mainly around the ankles. It's almost impossible being tired and cold. But, with the socks, the wetsuit peels away so much easier. It's a win win.
I hope this helps somebody out there looking to surf longer during the winter.