Beginner Surf Gear

What to consider when buying a wetsuit

Choosing the right wetsuit as a beginner surfer can be daunting.

You may have thought the task of buying a surfboard was the hardest decision when purchasing your surfing gear.

Although it seems like it should be simple to select a wetsuit, there are a lot of considerations that should be taken into account when buying a wetsuit.

We have broken down the five key components of what to consider when buying a wetsuit to make your shopping experience stress-free.

what to consider when buying a wetsuit
Photo by Keegan Houser on Unsplash

Wetsuit Thickness

The most important of all of the components of what to consider when buying a wetsuit is thickness. The material, made out of neoprene, is measured in millimeters. 

The first component of thickness you must understand is that manufacturers define wetsuit thickness with two or three numbers.

  • The first number is the thickness along the body portion of the wetsuit
  • The second number is the thickness along the arms and legs
  • If there is a third number, the second number is the thickness of the arms, while the third number is the thickness of the legs

 A 4/3 wetsuit, for example, would be 4 millimeters along the body and 3 millimeters along the limbs.

The different thickness measurements keep the body warm around your core while allowing flexibility in the limbs. 

As a rule of thumb, the colder the climate, the thicker the wetsuit you need.

A 3/2 wetsuit is generally suitable for most winter climates. However, as you get further from the equator, a thicker wetsuit such as 4/3mm, 5/4/3mm, and 6/5/4mm.

wetsuit cold climate
Photo by Keegan Houser on Unsplash

Wetsuit Zippers

Not many think of the zipper as an integral component of what to consider when buying a wetsuit.

However, the wetsuit zipper makes it easier to get a wetsuit on and off and keep the water out.

The zipper’s length affects how easy it is to get in and out of the wetsuit and how easily water gets into it.

The longer the length, the easier it is to get the wetsuit on and off. The trade-off is the zipper is more flush to the wearer, and more water may get into the wetsuit.

Wetsuits made for winters, which are also thicker than usual wetsuits, have special short zippers.

We recommend finding a wetsuit with the shortest zipper that allows easy access.

Most wetsuit makers place the zippers on the back for easy entry.

The zipper being on the back also means that it won’t be uncomfortable for surfers when laid on their stomachs while surfing.

The newer wetsuit designs with chest zippers allow for back flexibility and are more water-tight.

The new neoprene material has allowed more and more wetsuits to have the option of the chest zipper. The main drawback is that it is harder to get into.

Wetsuit Material

Most wetsuits are made of a material called neoprene.

This water-resistance material is one of the most light-weight options that allow for surfers to stay warm in the water without being weighed down.

The higher the grade of neoprene, the warmer it will keep your body.

The goal with neoprene wetsuits is to have the thinnest wetsuit possible while staying warm.

Many other materials have been phased out because they are either too heavy, or they do not keep surfers dry.

Find the wetsuit that feels the best for your skin.

Comfortability should be a high priority of what to consider when buying a wetsuit, because you will be spending a lit of time wearing it, and the more comfortable you are the better you will surf!

Sealed vs Unsealed Wetsuits

When the original surf shops first sold wetsuits, generally, the wetsuit makers sewed the seams without any additional sealing, which allowed in a lot of water.

Today, generally speaking, only the low-cost wetsuits are unsealed.

The wetsuit is stitched together and then glued at the seams to decrease the amount of water entering the suit to make it sealed.

In higher-end wetsuits, the wetsuit makers seal the inside seal with tape for added protection from the water.

We recommend you buy sealed wetsuits because it keeps your body less exposed to the cold water, allowing your core body temperature to stay higher for a longer time in the water.

Style/Type

While researching what to consider when buying a wetsuit, you probably saw various wetsuit types with various lengths.

They made to adapt to various needs of a surfer and wide-ranging water temperatures.

Most are broken down into three main types, shorty, full-suit, also known as a steamer, and spring suit.

Shorty

The shorty wetsuit is exactly what it sounds like.

The neoprene covers less of the body – only the torso and upper parts of the limbs.

Full Length Wetsuit (Steamer)

The full length wetsuit (steamer) extends the neoprene material to the wrists and ankles. For some wetsuits, the head is also covered when a hood is already attached.

Spring Suit

Spring suits have the biggest variation.

They can have longer legs with shorter arm coverage and vice versa.

The spring wetsuits are great for people that may get colder in one area over another, or want more flexibility in one area.

This is a decision that we leave up to you.

Select the best option for you to have successful surfing experiences.

Summary

These 5 key components of what to consider when buying a wetsuit allow for you to make the best decision when selecting a wetsuit. Above all, make sure you are comfortable with your wetsuit, after all you are the one who is wearing it. Hope to see you riding a wave in your new wetsuit soon.

By: Jordan Johnson

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