Chief dictator Jim at SB recently gave me something to test and review that has changed the way I look at coat hangers. Yes, you do read correctly, a coat hanger… or to be more precise, a wetsuit hanger! It turns out you can reinvent the wheel, sort of!
I’ll be honest, when I was first introduced to the Northcore SlideHanger in question, I wasn’t really convinced. The words like ‘really!?’ and ‘why on earth would I need one of those!?’ and ‘hmmm, seems like a waste of money!’ rushed through my head.
Then my interest might have risen by a couple of notches when I was shown the nifty magnet with a screw in hook, this is admittedly sold separately, but they pair super well together. I spend a lot of time living and travelling in my camper van. It’s always cool to find little gadgets or accessories to improve one's time on the road and this actually is a very good addition.
So firstly, let me introduce to those of you that don’t know them already...
These guys have been around for some time now and produce a lot of well thought out accessories for surf and travel. Its founder, Matt Strathern, hails from the North of England. You can read more on where his journey has taken him in a previous article here.
The first product I came across from these guys was the protective seat covers. They’ve come a long way since then and Jim recently tested their Beach Basha ... this thing is wicked awesome!
OK, so for a hanger this thing is actually kind of cool and has been well thought out. The first thing you’ll notice is that when you haven’t got anything hanging on it, it’ll hang wonky or lopsided. You might even wonder if the accessory you have before you is drunk or maybe you’re just standing on uneven ground, not so! It’s weighted in that fashion so when you do effortlessly slip your wetsuit onto the hanger, it then balances out evenly and hangs horizontal to the ground! Magic and a little bit smart for a hanger!
I say, ‘effortlessly slip on your wetsuit’ and I mean just that. You’ll see that this gadget has an opening to one side which means you can just hook your wetty over in one go. Seriously, once you have a try, you’ll ask yourself why this hasn’t been done sooner! I’ll share an example where this feature stands out.
Jim and I went for a surf recently. We returned home and unloaded the gear from the van. We then went to hang our wetsuits and I had my usual wooden hanger (which has been with me for many years now and I’ve grown fairly attached to it), Jim had the fancy Northcore SlideHanger. I must highlight something, we weren’t setting out to make this point, but Jim had already got his wetsuit on, hung it and walked off to get dinner ready whilst I was still trying to feed the legs of my wetty through the usual gap you have in a coat hanger! Yup, he’d gone and saved himself valuable seconds whereas I’d lost precious moments of my life, wasted by trying to hang my suit!! On the plus side, dinner was almost ready now...
You might already know this, but hanging a heavy wet wetsuit from the shoulders will overstretch the neoprene and damage it, also making it baggy. The design of this accessory eliminates this problem, allowing your suit to drape in a fashion that doesn’t cause the usual wear and tear.
The hangar is solidly built and the main beam (technical term: I beam, which is like the beams used in construction) is strong, has extra girth and has a smooth finish. It’s been made like this for a couple of reasons. It needs to be strong to hold a suit, which, when wet, is heavy. The extra girth in the beam is to create a gap between the hanging of the wetsuit to promote airflow, which means your gear will dry quicker. The smoothness of the accessory is designed so it doesn’t snag or damage your neoprene friend.
Extra - Magnet Hook Up
Ok, this is sold separately and yes, it’s a magnet with a hook screwed in, no, it's not rocket science, yes, it’s very simple… but that doesn’t make it any less awesome!
I’m loving this thing and have used it heaps in and out of my van. It’s a strong magnet, like really strong! It has to be to hold up a wet wetsuit and Jim tested it by hanging 3 wet wetsuits off one hook. The result was that the magnet held up the weight no problem, but the hydraulics on his boot (trunk) didn’t!!! The cost of road testing things to the max.
This is a good highlight about this concept, it’s made from 100% recycled ABS plastic… so that’s a plus right!
• Reduces stress and damage to your wetsuits
• Quick and easy to use
• The airflow helps your wetsuit dry quicker
• Although not sold together and very simple, the magnet is a neat add on extra that I’m loving in the van
• Solid bit of kit, could come in handy as a protective baton of sorts, if ever you get attacked by big scary unwelcome animals!
Cons• I feel it’s a bit hefty on the price for what is essentially moulded plastic. The full kit, SlideHanger 21 Euros, Magnet Hook Up 15 Euros and the hanger strap at 8.50 Euros = 44.50 Euros to hang one wetsuit!
• Ok, so it’s 100% recycled ABS plastic, which initially is great. That said, it comes from California, so the cost of having that sent to Europe kind of feels like the bad outweighs the good here.
• The hook part of the hanger itself is very thick, so for just hanging it off my van edges(the little guttering that goes around the van), it isn’t possible, I have to use the magnet and hook.
• It’s a solid bit of kit and has some weight. It’s also on the large side. So for travels where you need to lug your gear through various airports and countries, cutting down weight is essential. If I was travelling out of my board bag, this might not be at the top of my priority list.
I would have struggled to persuade myself to buy such a thing, but now having owned one, I’d be kind of lost without it. Would I buy one, let’s put it this way… I’m not going to lose the one I have and would be gutted if I did lose it. But, to be honest, I would be hard pushed to part with 21 Euros for a hanger, but then again, I’m a tight wallet surfer who lives out of a camper van for most of the year, so you do the maths.
To the uneducated like myself, I’d be interested to know if it could be sold or made any cheaper. Of course, these things take time and experience to design and make such a thing, but I feel that once the design and mould are done, it’s not such a complicated accessory, very cool yes, but difficult to make, not so sure. I wonder if the recycled ABS plastic could be sourced locally to where the product is being sold, and would that make it cheaper.
Before being introduced to the SlideHanger, I would have told you to jog on and stop wasting my time with such an unnecessary accessory. Now I sing a different tune on this subject and when I go to hang my wetsuit, I go straight for the fancy version! It is very cool and it’s a great campervan addition, along with the magnet and hook.
Product: SlideHanger (magnet and hook up sold separately at 14.99 Euros)
Cost: 21 Euros
Personal Score: 6.5/10
Tricky one to score, I’m actually a fan of this kit and had originally scored it higher. Having now used it and focused on cost, I’m not a fan of the price or the plastic having to travel so much, so it brought the score down.
Editors Note: One of the niggles we had was reported to the Northcore team and they have already answered with an update. Above is pictured the magnet hook with a carabiner clip. Now you can use the magnet and hook together. A testament to R&D from Northcore.