Last Updated on 27/08/2023
The Best Surf Changing Mats to Make Getting in And out Of Wetsuits Easier
Getting in and out of your wetsuit at the beach or in a car park poses a number of challenges which is why we recommend using one of the best surf changing mats. There are hundreds of different beach-changing mats that all look the same and like they have been imported from China. Instead, we found the most well-made and useful mats for changing to share only the best with you.
The main risk of not using a changing mat is that you will damage your wetsuit or your feet on sharp objects or rough tarmac. The annoying thing about getting in and out of your wetsuit is getting sand in there that will rub when in use. To avoid getting sand inside your wetsuit and damaging it on rocks or rough tarmac, these top-rated wetsuit changing mats will make your life so much easier.
With most surfers opting to change to car parks as opposed to on the beach, that still doesn’t stop sand from getting everywhere. The other benefit of changing at your car is that you can get straight into your hooded surf poncho to warm up and have a tea/coffee.
By using one of the best surf changing mats, you can keep your feet and wetsuit safe from damage as well as keep above any sand. A changing mat for surfers will also help you keep your balance as you dance around, trying to get your legs in and out of your wetsuit.
7 Best Beach Changing Mats
Here are our recommendations for mats for changing at the beach for swimmers, surfers, and anyone else who needs to get changed at the beach and doesn’t like getting sand everywhere.
Ocean & Earth Compact Black Wetty Bucket
- DIMENSIONS: 46 cm diameter x 38 cm height
- PROS: You can add water and carry it to wash your feet by the car, portable, durable, comfy base, can store wetsuit in it after
- CONS: Bulky, be careful carrying too much water as the handles won’t support a full bucket
The Ocean & Earth Compact Black Wetty Bucket takes surf changing mats to the next level by making high-walled water retaining bucket so that you can add water to wash the sand off your feet. While it is collapsible and easily portable, it is not as compact as other options, but that is the trade-off you make for having a sturdier changing mat.
The Ocean & Earth collapsable bucket is more durable than we thought it would be and is actually made of a super tough waterproof material with a removable foam base insert. The tough waterproof changing mat has welded seams for extra strength when full of water and is thick enough not to worry about puncturing it. The 55mm thick closed-cell foam insert sits at the bottom of the bucket and feels great on your feet as well as helping with drainage when you are drying off.
VERDICT: With a diameter of 46 cm and a height of 38 cm, the surf changing bucket is big enough to get in and out of your wetsuit with ease and can be used in a number of different ways. The adjustable shoulder straps and foldable construction make this a great choice for changing on the beach or at the car/van. The benefit of your changing mat being able to hold water is that you can álso store a wet wetsuit in your car without leakage until you get home.
Surf Grass Mat
- DIMENSIONS: 25 x 20 x 0.01 in
- PROS: Comfy, works anywhere, brushes sand off feet, looks cool, portable
- CONS: Hard to clean
The Surf Grass Mat looks like a bit of a gimmick, but it is actually one of the best surf changing mats we have tested and easily our favorite. The handy little artificial grass pad rolls up like a camping mat and unfolds into the perfect changing area for getting into and changing out of wetsuits when outdoors. The synthetic grass turf mat is soft on the foot and will protect your wetsuit from rough ground, but it is also great for rubbing sand from your feet.
VERDICT: If you are surfing in a hot climate, then the last thing you want is a hot black surface that will burn your feet off. Instead, you want something that stays cool and comfortable to give you a break from the hot sand.
Available in two sizes, we recommend the larger one. This fake grass mat is ideal for keeping in the boot of your car or as a doormat for your van. It can be rinsed off and dries easily, but the reason it is our favorite is that it gets sand out from between your toes and off your feet, as well as looking the coolest.
Ho Stevie! Durable Wetsuit Changing Mat
- DIMENSIONS: 29 in
- PROS: Compact, store your wetsuit in it
- CONS: Thin carry string
The Ho Stevie! Durable Wetsuit Changing Mat is very similar to the FCS changing mat as well as many others that look almost identical. The only differences are material and that the Ho Stevie version has a shoulder strap, so you aren’t forced to grab it by thin cords when carrying. Made from waterproof Oxford cloth, this product isn’t designed to hold water, but it does an ok job of keeping wet gear contained in your car.
VERDICT: The bag opens into a wide surf changing mat with an 85 cm diameter which is plenty of space to maneuver out of a tight wetsuit. There is a drawstring closure as well as the shoulder strap, which makes it easy to transport a dry towel and things to the beach as well as wet gear back. A small internal pocket is perfect for storing your phone or keys while you’re out in the ocean.
FCS Change Mat/Wet Bag
- DIMENSIONS: 20 in
- PROS: Compact, perfect for storing and carrying a wet wetsuit, easy to carry
- CONS: Fairly small size only big enough for one wetsuit and booties
The FCS Change Mat/Wet Bag is very highly rated in the surfing community because FCS already has a reputation for making quality fins and other surfing accessories. Made from PU-backed 150 dernier ripstop nylon base with soft 210 dernier polyester sidewalls, this surf changing unit is very durable. Barrell lock drawstring adjusters will secure your gear inside and are fast to open out when getting changed.
VERDICT: The bag itself is fairly compact and will fit one wetsuit comfortably or two at a push but it is plenty wide enough to get changed in. This surfer changing mat doubles as a bag to carry your gear, but it doesn’t have any proper handles. If it wasn’t for this, we would rate the FCS Change Mat much higher because we do like the quality and way it feels, just a shame it’s not the easiest to carry soaking wetsuits in.
SUGA Recycled Wetsuit Surf Change Mat
- DIMENSIONS: 26 x 20 in (3mm thick)
- PROS: Recycled materials, protective, waterproof, soft
- CONS: Material is not the most stable
The SUGA Recycled Wetsuit Surf Change Mat is, as you might have guessed, made from recycled neoprene wetsuits so you can kind of imagine how soft it feels. This is perhaps the most eco-friendly surf change mat out there, and while it doesn’t work as a bag or anything like that, it will protect your feet and wetsuit from sand and sharp ground.
VERDICT: With specifications of 25 x 20 inches and 3mm thick, the mat weighs 2 lbs. The mat is not very portable and instead works best as something you leave in the boot of your car. If supporting green movements is important to you, then this product is actually really good and not too expensive. Worth a go if you just want a mat to get changed on by the car, and if you donate an old wetsuit SUGA will give you 10% off your next order.
Tubtrugs 9 Gallon Tub
- DIMENSIONS: 23 x 23 x 6.5 in
- PROS: Rugged , sturdy, self-supporting, can be left outside
- CONS: large, hard to pack
Most surfers will have a used or at least seen a couple of Tubtrugs at the beach as they are so handy for storing your wet surf gear in. Unlike most surf changing mat/bags, Tubtrugs are 1005 waterproof and incredibly durable. The Tubtrugs 9 Gallon Tub is an extra large and specifically wide and shallow tub that is amazing for changing in and out of wetsuits. You can fill it with water to give your feet a wash before tipping it out and storing your wetsuit in it.
VERDICT: While there are lots of different-sized Tubtrugs available, we really liked this size specifically for the task of using it as a changing mat. Made from 100% low-density polyethylene, these buckets are useful for so many things and available in a range of colors. They are cheap and last a long time which makes them ideal for surfers who are notoriously hard on their gear.
Envelor Home and Garden Rubber Drainage Floor Mat
- DIMENSIONS: multiple sizes available
- PROS: Cheap, durable, effective
- CONS: only available in multipacks, not as effective on sand as on hard ground
The Envelor Home and Garden Rubber Drainage Floor Mat is the kind of thing you see at shop entrances or in swimming pools as it comes in small to large lengths and can be used almost anywhere. Made from long-lasting recycled rubber, these mats are about as durable as they come and provide some of the best grip and drainage of any kind of flooring.
The strong weather-resistant material is soft and cushioned underfoot and doesn’t risk being damaged by any kind of rough or jagged surface. The hollow cutout pattern allows any sand and water to fall through the holes so that you don’t get it on your wetsuit or dry clothes. Because it is intended more as a protective floor surface as opposed to a beach changing mat, it is very heavy duty and fairly heavy. This means it isn’t the most portable of mats, but if you have a van, it doubles up as a door/shower mat.
VERDICT: If you were going to use some kind of basin to wash your feet or even shower back at the car, then this rubber matting can be bought in large sizes and cut down to fit inside to basin for drainage.
What Is a Surf Changing Mat?
Changing mats for surfers are normally pieces of fabric or rubber that are designed to prevent sand from getting into unwanted places when getting in and out of wetsuits. They can be used on sand or in the car, and some of the best surf-changing mats also double as storage bags or buckets. If all you have is a spare towel or surf poncho, then that will provide a makeshift changing pad, but the products in this list will do the job far better.
What Are Surf Changing Mats Used For?
Surf-changing mats are used by surfers, wild swimmers, snorkelers, fishermen, and anyone else who needs to get changed while out in the field. They provide a barrier between you and the dirt, sand, or sharp surfaces under your feet. If you have a look through our guide, you will see that some beach changing mats will also hold water which is great for washing the sand off your feet and body before you get totally dry and dressed.
What to Consider Before Buying a Surf Changing Mat?
There are a few things to consider when looking for a good surf-changing mat. Being able to wash my feet is important but I use Tubtrugs for my wetsuit so I am not so bothered about being able to store a wetsuit in it. There are times when I need to change on the beach, in which case a lightweight wet bag/changing mat is ideal.
Do you need the changing mat to hold water so that you can wash your feet or even store wet gear in it without leakage? If so, you are going to want some kind of bucket-style changing mat that is wide enough to stand in but not so big you can’t carry it around easily. The more lightweight the material, the easier the bag is to take to the beach, but the more likely it is less waterproof. You can always use a waterproof dry bag to keep your wetsuit in if you are worried about getting your car wet.
Getting the right balance between having enough of an area to get changed on and having a changing mat that you can carry easily is tricky. Some surfing changing pads are also easier to store than others, so you just have to decide whether this is something you will keep in the van/car or something you want to leave at the water’s edge for when you get out.
The benefit of having a fully waterproof surf changing mat is that it can either be used to wash your feet in a shallow bath of water or can be used to transport wet clothes. We think that this is definitely one thing you should think about before making your decision.
Some beach changing mats for wet suits are designed using a special material or construction that either totally blocks fine sand from coming through. Others are designed with similarly impressive material that allows sand to pass through them from one direction but not the other. Either way, both allow you to get changed without getting sand in your underpants because it is all over your feet when getting dressed.
Are Surf Changing Mats Worth It?
If you are going on holiday or for a rare trip to the beach, then a simple towel is sufficient for getting changed. If you are a surfer or open-water swimmer who is constantly faced with the problem of sandy or dirty feet when changing, then a mat is probably a great idea. You don’t need a special type of mat to get changed on, though. Anything will do. A tile of carpet, an old duffel bag, a doormat, a foam sleeping pad section, or any other number of things you can stand on to get changed.
Thanks for reading this guide to the best changing mats for surfers and wild swimmers. Like our Facebook page for more outdoor gear content.