Feeling those first chilly drops of ocean water hitting your skin and questioning if you’re truly prepared to brave the waves? Don’t let cold temperatures be a surf stopper. 

Get to know the wetsuits that will equip you with everything needed to suit up for toasty surf sessions. From unravelling the thermal mysteries of neoprene to selecting the perfect thickness, fit, and features, we cover it all. 

Get ready to charge into the lineup with the confidence that comes from being armed with wetsuit wisdom to keep you warm, flexible, and utterly stoked in the surf.

Surfing Gear for Beginners: Key Takeaways

The Essentials of Wetsuit Design

Wetsuits act as your second skin in the ocean, designed to keep you warm in cold water and protect you from environmental elements. But what goes into making high-quality wetsuits?

Enter neoprene, the heart of every wetsuit.

Neoprene is known for its insulating properties. It works by trapping a thin layer of water against your body, creating a thermal barrier.

Neoprene’s thickness is crucial in wetsuit design, generally ranging from 2mm to 6mm. As you may have guessed, the thicker the neoprene, the more warmth the wetsuit provides.

Surf accessories like gloves and wetsuit boots also utilise neoprene to shield you from the cold.

However, it’s not all about staying warm. Neoprene’s flexibility is also vital for giving the wearer a good range of motion, which is crucial for surfing.

Wetsuits with thinner neoprene layers tend to offer higher flexibility, enabling swift movements and powerful strokes.

The bottom line: Remember to consider both warmth and flexibility when shopping for a wetsuit.

An image of a surfer in a shorty wetsuit

Selecting the Perfect Wetsuit Thickness

The thickness of your wetsuit should be based on:

When it comes to warm water surfing, less is more. You want a wetsuit that offers minimal insulation while providing protection from the sun, wind, and abrasions. For water temperatures of 20+ degrees Celsius, a wetsuit thickness of less than 2mm is recommended.

In contrast, surfing in cold water is an entirely different ball game, and this is where thicker winter wetsuits come in. A thicker wetsuit of at least 5 mm is recommended to counteract the risks of hypothermia in cold water.

Usually, such wetsuits also have the following features:

Seam Sensibilities

Although seams might seem minor, they significantly impact a wetsuit’s comfort, durability, and water resistance.

Flatlock seams, for instance, are known for comfort but offer less durability, making them suitable for milder water temperatures.

Conversely, glued and blind-stitched (GBS) seams provide excellent water resistance and are perfect for chillier waters.

In contrast, taped seams offer additional reinforcement for bracing harsher, colder conditions. At the same time, liquid-taped seams provide maximum protection against water entry, enhancing water resistance and durability.

That said, be sure to factor in ‘seam sensibility’ to help you pick the right wetsuit for your surfing conditions.

Zip It Right

Getting into your wetsuit shouldn’t feel like a workout, right? That’s where your wetsuit entry system comes in, with options such as a back zip, chest zip, and zipperless.

Back zip wetsuits are a breeze to put on and take off and can be secured with the help of a friend or a zipper puller tool.

In contrast, chest zip wetsuits feature a horizontal zipper across the chest, ensuring a snug seal while allowing a wide range of motion. However, you might feel a slight discomfort when lying on your board.

Lastly, zipperless wetsuits allow for unparalleled freedom of movement. However, without the structural support of a zipper, these suits are trickier to get into – especially if they’re wet.

An image of a man stretching in a wetsuit

Decoding Wetsuit Styles and Fits

Like clothes in your regular wardrobe, wetsuits come in various styles and accessories to help you battle different weather conditions. Be it:

All that to say, there’s a wetsuit for all surfers.

Some surfing wetsuits even boast special features like UV protection, knee pads, and specific material blends, making them more flexible, lightweight, and quick-drying.

That said, it doesn’t matter what type of wetsuit you’re shopping for; a wetsuit with a perfect fit should:

Now, with the basics covered, let’s take a closer look at the different types of wetsuits out there:

Fullsuit Fundamentals

Picture this: you’re knee-deep in chilly waters, ready to ride the waves.

In this scenario, you need a full wetsuit to cover you from the neck to your ankles, providing complete insulation and protecting your arms and legs against cold waters.

Quality full-suit wetsuits combine a snug fit with super-stretch neoprene material to ensure a full range of motion in the water.

Moreover, some full-suit wetsuits come with integrated hoods, offering extra warmth for the head, a common site of heat loss during cold water surfing.

Fullsuit wetsuits are available in varying thicknesses. Of course, the right thickness for your wetsuit will differ depending on the season and water temperature.

Shorty Wetsuit and Springsuit Solutions

When the water’s warm and the sun’s out during the summer months, you don’t want to swelter in a full wetsuit that covers your entire body.

Cue, springsuits.

These are a condensed version of the full suit with short arms. This suit exposes your arms and lower legs, making them perfect for those summer surf sessions.

They also strike the ideal balance between core warmth and the flexibility needed to perform maneuvers requiring a fair amount of limb mobility.

Wetsuit Accessories: Boosting Warmth and Protection

As previously mentioned, surfing accessories are also vital for maintaining warmth in cold water environments – for example:

By wearing a combination of wetsuit boots, gloves, and hoods, you can enjoy longer sessions in chillier waters with added safety and comfort.

Rash guards, worn under a wetsuit, can also improve comfort. They help prevent skin from chafing during surfing activities.

An image of a surfboard and a wetsuit

The Art of Donning Your Wetsuit

Putting on a wetsuit can feel like a challenge, especially for beginners. But fear not! With some practice, you’ll be in your wetsuit and ready to hit the waves in no time.

Begin by ensuring your body is clean and dry. It’s also a good idea to warm up your body to increase flexibility, making it easier to wear the wetsuit.

It’s also wise to heed the following advice:

To put your wetsuit on, follow the steps below:

  1. Put plastic bags on your feet (this will make getting your legs through the leg holes of your wetsuit much easier!).
  2. Wet your hands to get a better grip on the wetsuit material. This also makes it easier to pull out any wrinkles, allowing the wetsuit to sit better on your body.
  3. Slip your legs into the wetsuit one at a time. Ensure each foot is positioned correctly before pulling the wetsuit to your knees. Use your hands to distribute the neoprene over your legs evenly, folding out any folds or creases to ensure the wetsuit fits snugly and comfortably.
  4. Once the wetsuit is fitted over your legs, perform a series of mobility checks, such as squats or lunges, to ensure there is no restriction in movement before pulling the wetsuit over the waist and upper body.
  5. Reach inside and pull it over your shoulders.
  6. Secure the zippers and adjust the cuffs.

Ensure the wetsuit fits snugly without impeding blood flow and you have a full range of motion without feeling restricted. Do a final check to ensure your suit is free of folds or wrinkles. Now, you’re ready to surf!

Maintaining Your Wetsuit for Longevity

A good wetsuit is an investment; like any investment, it needs proper care.

After each use, rinse your wetsuit with fresh water to remove salt and other materials that can degrade neoprene over time.

Occasionally wash your wetsuit with a mild wetsuit-specific cleaner for a deeper clean. This will eliminate accumulated dirt and odours without affecting the neoprene’s properties.

When drying your wetsuit, air drying it inside-out and away from direct sunlight is key. Sunlight can break down the neoprene’s elasticity, making it brittle.

Lastly, when storing your wetsuit, keep it flat or hang it on a broad hanger to avoid creases and deformation.

Are You Ready to Pick a Wetsuit That Keeps You Warm and Flexible in the Waves?

Whether you’re a seasoned surfer or a beginner dipping your toes in the water for the first time, understanding different wetsuit properties is key to a comfortable and enjoyable surfing experience.

Wetsuits are a marvel of design, from insulating neoprene to protective seams, snug full suits, and versatile spring suits. We hope that reading this guide has given you a better idea of what to look for in a wetsuit to support you in your next surfing adventure!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the primary purpose of a wetsuit?

A wetsuit’s primary purpose is to keep you warm and protect you from environmental elements while you participate in water-based sports, especially cold-water activities.

What are the critical factors in wetsuit design?

Neoprene material, thickness, seams, and the entry system are critical factors in wetsuit design, and they all determine performance and comfort.

What is the role of neoprene in wetsuits?

Thanks to its synthetic rubber composition, neoprene is crucial for providing wetsuits with insulation and buoyancy.

How does a wetsuit’s thickness affect its function?

The thickness of a wetsuit affects its insulation and flexibility. Thicker neoprene provides more warmth, while thinner neoprene allows more freedom of movement.

How should a wetsuit fit?

Your wetsuit should fit like a second skin, giving you a full range of motion without feeling too tight.

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