Buying a new wetsuit.
Buying a new surfing wetsuit is a major decision: a new wetsuit is not cheap, and most surfers expect their new wetsuit to last them a long time. Moreover, a good wetsuit will be a pleasure to use when surfing; a bad wetsuit will significantly hamper your surfing abilities in the water.
As such, it’s important that you do your research before buying a new surfing wetsuit. Here are some things you should know before you select your new wetsuit.
Fitting a Wetsuit
There is a common misconception that a loose surfing wetsuit will allow for more flexibility in the water, but this is simply not the case. When buying a new surfing wetsuit, you want a wetsuit that fits snug to your body with the least amount of air and space between your body and the material of the wetsuit.
If you buy a wetsuit that is loose, this is going to allow for pockets of air and water to build up along your body. This prevents your body from regulating your temperature. Instead, buying a snug surfing wetsuit will allow your body to regulate your temperature, and help you warm up and cool down as necessary.
There are a range of types of thicknesses available when buying a surfing wetsuit, ranging between 2 millimeters, a good choice for warmer waters, and 6 millimeters, which is better for colder waters.
The colder the water in which you plan to go surfing, the thicker you will want your surfing wetsuit to be.
When buying a new surfing wetsuit, you might read descriptions like “4/3” or “3/2”. These numbers refer to the thickness of the wetsuit on different parts of your body.
The first number describes the thickness on your torso, where you would normally want your surfing wetsuit to be thicker so as to keep your core warm. The second number refers to your extremities, like your arms and legs. A thinner wetsuit material on your arms and legs will leave them a little colder, but allow for full mobility when you’re in the water surfing.
You may have noticed that not all surfing wetsuits look the same. There are a range of length options, from full wetsuits to “shorty” wetsuits. A full surfing wetsuit will cover your arms and legs, while a shorty will have shorter sleeves and less material on the legs.
You can also buy any combination of these lengths, such as full legs but short sleeve, or full sleeves and no legs. The latter is called a spring suit [link to future article], and is more popular among female surfers.
For surfing in really cold water, you might like to purchase a wetsuit hood or gloves. You can also buy booties to cover your feet. For most surfers, a wetsuit hood that ties under the full wetsuit combined with a pair of wetsuit gloves is the most common combination for cold waters.
Buying a new surfing wetsuit is a major decision, and shouldn’t be one that you make lightly. Be sure to have a good grasp of what temperature the water is that you will be surfing in, and whether any additional wetsuit accessories will be necessary.