A few of your friends have invited you to accompany them to a surfing lesson this weekend. You tell them yes without thinking about the gear that you’re going to need. Without the right wetsuit, you’ll be setting yourself up for failure.
Choosing wetsuits is a little more complicated than simply finding one that will fit you. You have to pick the best design for the weather. You also have to worry about thickness, seams, and zippers.
Yeah, there’s a lot that you have to keep in mind. Let us help you narrow down your choices a bit. Check out this guide to learn how to pick out the best wetsuits for surfing.
Options for Wetsuits
The first thing that you have to consider is the design of the wetsuit. Shorties, full suits, hooded suits, and long janes are the main ones you’ll find when you go shopping for these kids wetsuits.
Shorty wetsuits are also known as spring suits. They have cut-off legs and arms. Sometimes they come with long sleeves as well. The material is often thin, making it an ideal choice for surfing in warm waters.
Since they fit like a glove, they’re often the most comfortable choice. You’ll have an almost complete range of movement as well.
When you see people surfing in movies, they’re most likely wearing a full suit. It covers the arms and legs all the way, from ankles to wrists.
They come in a wide range of fabric thicknesses. Like with the shorty style, if you go with thinner fabric, it will be easier for you to move around. Unless you live in the tropics, this is a great first suit choice for newbies to try.
Hooded Full Suit
Hooded full suits are used in cases of extreme cold. They cover everything the full suit does, plus your head. Some of them go the extra mile by including some inner lining for even more warmth.
As you can imagine, this is best used when you’re surfing in the winter. If you take it on a tropical vacation, it might be a little too hot for comfort.
If you’re looking for something that will provide some middle ground as far as temperature goes, long janes has you covered. The legs of the suit extend down to the ankles.
The sleeves are cut off. This will allow you to have a full range of movement while you’re surfing and send some warmth to your lower body.
The next thing you need to consider when you’re trying on those popular wetsuit brands is the fit. The point of the suit is to let in a small layer of water that is then warmed via your body heat. So, it needs to be tight enough to accomplish that task.
It doesn’t need to be so tight that you can’t move your arms around without experiencing some discomfort. Once you put the suit on, try paddling with your arms to test it out.
It should be snug around the neck area. If you’re worried about chafing, you can buy a rash guard to protect yourself. This being said, you should still be able to fit at least two fingers under the neck part of the outfit.
If there’s too much room around your back, knees, crotch, and shoulders, switch up to a different wetsuit. Any spaces will allow for cold pockets of water, and you don’t want that.
One thing to note before we move on: wetsuit fabric is meant to stretch once it gets wet. So if it seems a little too tight when you try it on in the store, this isn’t a bad thing. Again, make sure it isn’t so tight that you can’t move around.
Thickness varies from wetsuit to wetsuit. One thing is always true, however. It’s always measured using three numbers.
The first number is the thickness of the torso area. The second number is the legs, and the third one is the arms. When choosing the thickness of the suit, consider the water temperature.
If you’re going into the chilly water, the thicker the suit, the better. You won’t be able to move around too much, but you’ll be nice and warm. If you’re surfing at a tropical beach, you can get by with a thinner material.
When it comes to changing into and getting out of your suit, there are different zipper options for you to pick from. The two most common are back zip and front zip.
Back zips start at the back and zip down to your waist. They’re pretty easy to get in and out of. The only problem is that they tend to stretch a bit at the shoulders.
Your suit might let in some pockets of cold water if you aren’t careful.
If you have a spring suit, chances are that it’s a front zip. It’s easy to change into. It’s also comfortable to wear and can be pretty stylish.
Your neck seal won’t be too strong, however. Like with the back zip model, it might let in too much water.
The last item on the agenda is seams. If the stitching is top-notch, your suit will be comfortable and won’t let in too much water. Cheap overlock stitching will have the opposite effect.
If you’re surfing in warm water, your best option is a flexible flatlock stitch. Blind stitching is the strongest you can get. It’s better saved for cold temperatures, though.
Choosing Wetsuits for Your Beach Trip
Before you hit the beach and go surfing, you’re going to need to invest in the proper gear. Choosing wetsuits for your trip isn’t as straightforward as you may think.
If you pick the wrong suit, it may let in cold pockets of water that will have you shivering. If you put on one that’s too tight, it will be hard for you to paddle. We hope that you’re able to use this guide to find some nice middle ground.
Now that you have your gear in order, it’s time to choose a place to surf. Check out the Travel section of our blog to learn about some of your options.