1. What brand of surfing wetsuit should I choose?
Choosing a top brand surfing wetsuit can help you make sure you get a quality suit that is going to last for a long time. Even if you surf a lot your wetsuit should last a few seasons if looked after properly. Cheap neoprene wetsuit are not very durable and can rip and tear easily. This means you could end up buying a new wetsuit every year. It makes much more sense to get one good quality wetsuit that fits you well and has a long working life then to keep on buying new wetsuits all the time.
Buying a good quality brand name wetsuit does not have to be expensive, you can get some great deals especially if you buy online and off season.
2. How can I tell the thickness of a surfing wetsuit?
When you are shopping for a surfing wetsuit you need to look at the two or three numbers shown in the product description. These numbers will be separated by a ‘/’ symbol, such as ‘2/3mm’. The first number will tell you the thickness in ‘mm’ for the torso section of the wetsuit. The second number will tell you the thickness of the limb areas of the wetsuit. In some cases the wetsuit will be the same thickness all over and then the two numbers will be the same (such as ‘2/2mm’). If three numbers are provided then the second number will refer to the thickness of the arm section and the last number to the leg section (such as 2/4/3mm). Wetsuit thickness is also measured in millimetres (mm).
3. Which type of wetsuit do I need for surfing?
The primary job of a wetsuit is to keep you warm whilst you are in the water. When you are choosing a wetsuit for surfing you to think about where you will be surfing and at what time of year. These two factors are essential to working out water temperature and this in turn will help you decide what thickness of wetsuit you need.
When you are surfing you do need plenty of flexibility in the arms and legs sections for when you are paddling and riding waves. This means that you should try and choose the thinnest wetsuit you can for the water conditions. For example if you are surfing in tropical conditions then you could go down as low as a 2/2mm wetsuit. However if you are surfing in the UK in the summer that water conditions can still be quite cold, so you may need a 5/3mm+ suit to keep you warm.
4. Do I need a full body wetsuit for surfing?
This will depend on the water conditions. If the water temperatures are cool then you will need a full body suit to keep warm. If you are surfing in warm waters then you could opt for a ‘shorty’ suit which has short sleeves and short length legs (finishing just above the knees). You can also buy variations such as short sleeves but full length legs (known as a SS full length).
5. What is a steamer wetsuit?
If you are going to be surfing in cold waters then a steamer wetsuit would be an appropriate choice. This type of wetsuit covers your full body just leaving your head, feet and hands free. This is one of the most common types of wetsuit available for surfing. You can increase the insulation of the steamer wetsuit by wearing hoods, gloves and boots. Some steamer suits have removable arm sections and these are known as ‘convertibles’.
6. Do surfers ever use drysuits?
Drysuits are designed mainly for use in underwater environments as they are much more effective at insulating the body against cold water temperatures. These thicker suits are much less flexible than wetsuits and so are not typically used by surfers.
7. What is a Farmer John suit?
Before modern one piece wetsuits were widely introduced most divers and surfers used two piece wetsuits that were known as ‘Farmer John’ suits. These comprised of a full wet suit with shoulder straps instead of arm sections and an outer jacket to be worn over the top, but they are largely outdated now.
8. What is the best way to put on a wetsuit without damaging it?
Firstly you need to be dry to put on your wetsuit. Damp skin creates a friction which makes it harder to pull the neoprene suit on. This could lead to you digging your fingernails in to hard as you pull and causing minor damage. Some surfers rub on a little talcum powder to help ease suits on but don’t use too much otherwise when the water enters the suit it will feel a bit slimy. Always put your suit on when you are in a dry environment. It helps if you have someone else around to zip up the back of the suit for you. If not then the zipper should have a tag which makes it easier to grip and pull. If you do struggle with zips then there are ‘zipperless’ options available.
9. How do I choose the right fit for a wetsuit?
Once you have decided which surfing wetsuit you want you can check the size charts to find the right fit. Always try a new wetsuit on in a dry, indoors environment before you use it so that you can send it back in ‘as new’ condition if it does not fit.
Surfing wetsuits should be close fitting but not so tight that you cannot breathe deeply. Check the neck and cuff areas as these need to remain tight so that the insulating layer of water is retained. The wetsuit should be form fitting without any loose or baggy areas.
10. Do I need wetsuit hoods for surfing?
You would only really need a hood if you are surfing in cold water conditions. However many people that surf regularly can get ‘surfers ear’. This can be an uncomfortable condition caused by overexposure to cold seawater. Wearing a hood can help to protect the ears and prevent this condition in all water conditions.