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HOME arrow GEAR INSIGHTS arrow Surfing Wetsuits 101 - How To Pick The Best Wetsuits For Surfing
Surfing Wetsuits 101 - How To Pick The Best Wetsuits For Surfing PDF Print E-mail
By: Hayley Gordon   
Monday, 22 October 2007
Winter is a fact of life for many people who enjoy the sport of surfing. However, cold air and water temperatures don't have to stop your sessions! Enter the wetsuit, probably the single biggest invention in surfing since the surfboard itself.

Wetsuits are tight fitting bodysuits made of flexible neoprene rubber. They work by trapping a thin layer of water between the neoprene and the skin. The body heats up this water, thus keeping the surfer warm.

When picking out a suit, you're going to want to get one that is specifically designed for surfing. That means seeking out your local surf shop. Don't go to a dive shop or swimming store. Surfing wetsuits are specially made to endure the specific repetitive motions that surfers make when they're out in the ocean. For example, non-surfing suits can have seams in bad places that will cause major rashes when you've been paddling for a few hours.

Wetsuits come in different cuts, from short-sleeve spring suits (or shorties) to fullsuits with hoods. When it gets very cold, booties and gloves are also available. Caps and hoods are also available for suits that don't have them already attached.

Surfers often have a quiver of wetsuits to accompany their quiver of different boards, especially in areas where the seasons change dramatically.

There are a variety of thicknesses from which to choose. From thin 2 mm spring suits, to 2/3 mm fullsuits, 4/3's, 5/4/3's, and 6/5/4's. These numbers reference how thick the neoprene is in millimeters for different areas of the suit. Often the thickest neoprene will be in the torso and thighs, while the thinner areas will be on the arms and calves.

When getting a wetsuit, it's important to set aside a block of time in order to try them on. Each company uses different models and they all have a slightly different fit.

The fit should be snug. Don't buy them too loose or water will be able to freely enter the suit and the insulating effect will be lost. This means you shouldn't buy a kid's suit a few sizes too big so they can grow into it. They might as well not wear a suit at all. The neck is an important area to pay attention to. The collar should be snug so that water doesn't freely enter and exit.

When looking at the pricetag, you do tend to get what you pay for. There are several different makes and models from each company, from budget to luxury. Often the higher priced wetsuits will have all sorts of cool things like sealed seams and improved zippers and entry/exit schemes.

Hayley Gordon is an avid surfer. For more information on wetsuits, go to

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