Welcome to a weekly feature on my blog – Ben’s Zone. Written by husband… Ben. A foodie, coffee obsessed, ex-smoking, ex-drinking and Ridgeback loving Dad. Who is also seriously into his fitness. You can find him on the blog (mostly) on Sundays. Enjoy!
How to Repair a Wetsuit
When I have reviewed an item I like to come back after a period of time and share my feelings after prolonged use. Often shiny kit that can be the best thing since sliced bread will show faults as you get to know them. My initial review of my Gul Response 3:2 was that it was a well made budget wetsuit which balanced quality and features while staying in the price bracket I could reach. I’m happy to report that very little has changed on that front. Four years on the Gul is still in great shape. All the seams are still well taped, the stitching is fine and the neoprene itself has not started to bag at all. Yes, arguably I could get a better fit however not without paying a ton more money.
I’ve been careful with the suit, making sure to give it a good wash down in fresh water after sessions (salt water kills zips and seams) but even still it’s in great condition given the age and the use I have put it to.
Unfortunately, this year while surfing I did damage the suit. I was out at my favourite beach, Rhosilli in Wales, and the tide was high so and it was a bit heavy and shore dumping. As I was coming out I got knocked onto some larger rocks near the top of the beach which clouted me. I was disappointed in the first instance because I really hurt my kidney and there was no bruise to show for it and even more the next day when I found the gash in the neoprene of my suit.
As I’ve grown older (and more broke) I’ve developed a big interest in fixing up my gear rather than replacing it, so I thought this was a great opportunity to cut my teeth on wetsuit repairs.
I was lucky as the tear had not gone all the way through the suit, so the repair was pretty simple.
The real key is to get the right glue. The repair needs to be flexible and so superglue or epoxy are a really bad idea. Luckily the right stuff (Black Witch) is easy to obtain and relatively cheap.
On returning home from my last trip, I washed the suit through as normal and then brought it inside to fully dry. Once this was done I used a blunted cocktail stick to work the adhesive into the tear as you can see in the photos. I blunted the stick so that it would not do any further damage to the suit while applying the glue. I figured I would be pretty generous when banging the glue in there. When applying the adhesive I spread the tear so that I could get all the way in with the glue as I want it to seal through the thickness of the tear, not just near the top.
I kept a damp cloth to wipe off what I could but in all honesty I’m not super bothered if a bit of adhesive bleeds out.
To stabilise the repair while the glue cures I used a G clamp to pinch it shut from the other side. I suspect that an old school wooden clothes peg would have probably done the job but ours are the plastic kind and I did not think they’d impart enough force. What I do not want is the repair moving as the glue cures.
As the final picture shows, a day later the repair is nicely healed and I have a functional wetsuit again. Here’s to many more years of happy surfing in my Gul!