How To Make The Perfect Wetsuit Changing Mat

How To Make The Perfect Wetsuit Changing Mat

Grass surf mat

Stop damaging your expensive wetsuit!

I know how expensive wetsuits can be. My most recent O’Neill wetsuit ran almost $500.

Don't damage your wetsuit
Don’t damage your wetsuit
There’s nothing worse for your wetsuit than grinding it in to the dirt or asphalt when you’re changing in and out of it. Every time you do this, you rub dirt and oil into the suit, which is extremely damaging, even if you rinse it as soon as you get home.

If you live right across from the beach, then it’s all good. You can go straight home after surfing, and change out of your wetsuit in the shower, no harm done.

But if you’re like 99.9% of the population, you will be driving to and from your surf spot.
This requires you to change outside of your vehicle, on the dirty asphalt. (Or maybe just plain old dirt, depending what the parking situation is).

Have you ever looked closely at the parking lot surface? It’s not as clean as you think, and this fact becomes obvious after you lay your wet wetsuit on it. There’s plenty of sand, dirt, oil and other fluids from all the vehicles.

Now I’m not trying to say your wetsuit is a baby that can’t handle the elements. But the fact is, wetsuits are made to touch your skin and water. Not dirt and contaminants.

With all of the advancements in wetsuit technology, we can surf longer and more comfortably than ever before. But this is because wetsuit material is becoming more delicate than ever.
Compare today’s super stretchy and light wetsuits to the old neoprene slabs a few decades ago, and the difference is clear. Today’s revolutionary material is extremely flexible so we can surf for hours without getting jello arms, but this material is also more susceptible to abrasive particles (like sand and dirt). The seams will crack, and the inner neoprene will fray.

Wetsuits keep you warm because the neoprene has millions of tiny bubbles trapping gas in the material. How well do you think that works when your suit is clogged with dirt and oils from the ground?
Don’t think you can just wash it off either… we are talking on a microscopic scale here. Even if your suit looks clean after rinsing it, the damage from laying it in dirt is irreversible.

Do you want your wetsuit to last for years, even if you surf every day?
It’s actually easy to accomplish, you just need to treat it right.

How to Make Your Own Grass Mat

You can really use almost any material, but artificial turf is the most popular. The grass brushes off any sand and debris from your feet, and then you just have to shake the mat before rolling it back up.

  1. Buy the turf.
    This is the difficult part. It’s hard to find a small amount of turf to work with. You really only need about 21″x26″, but you can make it whatever size you would like. I went to a local turf company, and they had rolls of “remnants” for sale. Basically if you choose from the big rolls of turf, they charge a $40 cut fee, plus the cost per square yard. The remnants are small rolls of “leftover” turf, for a discounted price.

    It’s still probably too expensive for just yourself, so see if a few friends want to chip in for the project and split the cost. Or you can always talk to the turf company, and beg them to cut you a small mat-sized piece for cheap 🙂

  2. Get a strip of velcro so you can roll up your grass mat.
    You can find a small roll of velcro at Michael’s or Joann’s or probably any home improvement store, for about $5. Roll up your grass mat and wrap the velcro around it. Trim to desired length.

Wetsuit changing mat

That’s all there is to it! Like I said, the hardest part is getting the small amount of turf without paying too much.

Simply stow the mat in your trunk and unroll it when changing in and out of your wetsuit.

When you’re not using it for surfing, try one of these alternate uses:

  • Dog mat – dogs absolutely love laying on these!
  • Door mat – put it outside your tent while camping or on the porch at your house. Put shoes on one side, and let people brush off their dirty feet on the other side.
  • Picnic mat – Lay some grass at the beach or other favorite picnic spot. Put your food or boardgame on it, and get romantic!
  • Camera mat – Treat your buddy to a photo sesh for his birthday. Lay your unused gear on the mat and let your inner paparazzi take over.


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