We live in one of the wettest parts of Europe, here in north west Wales in the UK, we even have rainforests nearby, which isn’t surprising at all. This summer, especially earlier on has been testament to that, when it has rained it has poured. Add to that our love of the ocean, wild swimming and diving, we seem to always be drying clothes, wet gear and cleaning it ready for the next adventure. The last thing you want to do is chuck some wet wetsuits or other wet gear in to your boot, so we have created this post to help advise you with some options.
We’re constantly packing diving gear, whether thats for scuba or freediving and snorkelling, surfing gear comes out every so often and we like to hike around Snowdonia and the rest of the UK. With all of these activities, we usually return back to the car wet and have to pack it all away without getting salt water everywhere and ruining our car. Every now and then we get lucky and the water is warm and the only wet items we have on us are our swimming trunks and cozy, that makes things much simpler.
Our Routine When We Go Diving
We dive and snorkel more than anything else, so our routine has become really well drilled and we believe we have the best set up now when it comes to carting wet wetsuit and other outdoor gear around in your car. In this post we will go through some of the options that might work for you and your car and how to make your gear last longer and not ruin your car at the same time.
Walking to Surf or Dive Spot
When we pack our gear, if we know we will be hiking to a spot and then diving we will pack it all inside a dry bag which then goes in to a large backpack. We have an old 60L Gelert backpack/kit bag combo which is really simply designed but perfect for carrying diving, snorkelling, surfing gear etc to a location. The backpack has no external pockets, it’s just a really tough, simple and comfortable backpack that you can carry a hell of a lot of gear in. We have had it over 6 years now and with its reinforced bottom, even with all the lead weight we have put in to it, it is still going strong. It is the same design and size as this Mountain Warehouse kitbag which also has shoulder and waist straps, so if you are walking a km or more, you should be ok.
Inside that we have a large Lomo 60L dry bag which keeps most of the water and moisture in for our return walk to the car. We use this set up as the backpack is much comfier than carrying a large dry bag with shoulder strap, especially when the gear is wet and heavier. The dry bag fits in side easily and we just place our gear inside this, zip the bag up at the top and walk back.
If we’re going surfing or bodyboarding, we have actual surf bags for the boards but the best we have used by far is the Gul board bag. I have had this since I was 17, now 12 years later myself and my partner use it at least once a month and it’s still going strong, other than a stiff top zip its near perfect. With a backpack and surf bag we can each carry something quite easily on our backs to the shoreline and have everything we need, including food and drink too.
Returning from Snorkelling or Surfing
Once we’ve had our fun in the sea, we usually walk back to the car in our wetstuits with bags on our back. This is where we immediately get out of our wetsuits or wet gear, usually the weather is poor so we’ll be getting cold rather quickly, its best to get straight out and in to your warm clothes.
Everything is dumped on the floor behind the car and we get our change mats out, these things really make a difference. Just place them behind your car, you can sit on your cars boot lip and drop your wetsuit right on to it as you remove them. It also keeps your feet from getting extra mud on as you are changing. Once you have got dressed you can wrap these mats up and it keeps your wet stuff inside ready to pack away in your car.
As soon as we have removed our top half of our wetsuit or wet gear we put on our towel, we have a Decathlon change towel and a Frostfire one each, if its really windy and wet outside the Frostfire is much better as its a thicker material and keeps you warm as you get changed in cold conditions. These dry robes let you get everything off, get you dry, keep you warm as you start to put your own clothes and warm layers back on.
Packing The Car
Here is the important bit, packing the car after an adventure out. You have three options, putting it back in to the dry bag and rucksack combo we used to walk to our surf or dive spot. Putting all of the wet gear in to a big rubber gorilla bucket or closing it all off inside a plastic box with a lid.
Depending on how far we have to travel and what the weather is like we will mix it up, for instance, if it is lovely and warm out, then we dont mind just chucking all of our wet gear either back in to the dry bag and rucksack and zipping up or putting in to something similar to a gorilla bucket. The gorilla bucket is very light, can get different sizes to fit any boot sie and will 100% hold any extra water in it. The reasoning for this is because we will probably drive with the windows down and condensation will not become a problem.
If though, the weather is cold and wet, we will put it in to the dry bag and seal that up or in to a storage box with a lid on it that we can close to hold the moisture inside the box. This way, when we are driving, we don’t get any condensation problems in our car, especially if its a longer drive back home.
Just to make sure everything is as dry as it can be, we use a little microfibre towel or the ones we used on ourselves to wipe down the bodyboards, fins and any other hard gear before packing it in to the car.
Different Activities Will Require Packing Differently
Whether you’re swimming at your local pool, scuba diving in a drysuit or wetsuit at your local shore dive, canoeing at your local river or complex, freediving & spearfishing in a thick open cell wetsuit, surfing, or you’ve returned from a hike in the pouring rain. Different activities will require you to pack them away. Some will require rinsing and cleaning and others will require drying off before being put in to the car, especially if you are driving a long way home after a day out. The last thing you want is for your favourite gear to be ruined because of salt or mud.
Rinsing and Drying Off
One of the most important things you can do after a day outdoors getting wet, is to rinse and semi-dry off your equipment and gear as soon as you can. We have gone through and reviewed some pressure washers which you can take with you which will really help or you can take a large 5L bottle of warm fresh tap water which should suffice. The last thing you want is for the sea and salt water to dry out and the salt to be left on things like your zips or other moving parts.
DIY Pop Up Car Boot Awning and Shelter
Recently we had the idea of making a little shelter for the back of our car, I’m surprised we hadn’t thought of this years ago as it is a great idea and that is to combine a small tarp with a couple of universal awning poles from a tent. It has literally revolutionised our set up and packing away tasks now and if we are taking a while to get our gear off, packing it away and it’s cold and wet, you’ll really love this idea!
You simply lift your boot up, we have a small Fiat Panda so it already acts like a mini shelter, place the tarp over a little bit of your boot and fix two corners to your car using bungee ropes. The other two corners of the tarp stretch out away from your car or vehicle and in the corners you place your two awning poles.
Then add two guide ropes from your pole tops to the ground, pointing away from your car and you will end up with a 24square foot canopy and shelter which will keep some of the wind and most importantly, the rain away from you whilst you are packing everything away. One of the best diy car boot shelters up and covering you in a matter of minutes.