There is a phase in every surfer’s life – where they realize the importance of the right gear. Preparation is something that teaches us, the surfers to be patient, punctual and dedicated in order to make the most of what’s out there. Everyone has a story – where they get off work early, rush to the empty point break to see the glassy ocean pumping, no wind and as soon as you are about to grab your board and paddle in…you notice that you left your wax, your sunscreen, your boots – or the worst of them all, your wetsuit at home.
Related Article: Wetsuit Boots, Hoods and Gloves
We all know how much can the feeling of cold demise our performance in the surf. And this guide here is made so that you could make the most of your surfing habits by picking the right gear.
What is a wetsuit?
Wetsuit is a technical garment to keep the body warm in the water.
What are wetsuit made of?
Wetsuit, as a technical clothing item, is generally made of neoprene.
Neoprene is a synthetic rubber.
A neoprene creates a layer between the skin and the outside environment, in surfing surfing terms, that would be the water. Neoprene is a synthetic rubber that contains small bubbles of nitrogen gas when made for use as a wetsuit material.
The surf brand Patagonia on the other designed and uses their own – neoprene free rubber Yulex. Yulex is a natural rubber, and patagonia wetsuit are made out of 85% neoprene free material.
What are wetsuit good for?
Wetsuits are designed to insulate the body warmth in the cold water. Most used wetsuits are designed for diving and surfing. There are also wetsuits for swimming and snorkelling.
Well designed and a good brand wetsuit is warm, flexible and stretchy to keep your body warm for hours.
Difference between the cheap and a good brand wetsuit
Beginner surfers might not be as experienced on the technical gear and tend to choose the wetsuit by the price tag. In reality, cheap wetsuits are cheap. A tehnical surfing gear, that’s the number one garment on your body to help you stay in the water for a long time comfortably. Make sure to get a proper branded wetsuit – if you want to maximize your time in the surf. Especially in climates, where you´ll need a thicker wetsuit than 2mm.
How should a wetsuit fit?
As each body is unique, It is recommended to try the brand and model that fits you the most. Many surfers are keen to a specific model for years to tens of years. A wetsuit should fit snug, not too tight or not too loose. Wetsuits are often rather stretchy to have a fair amount of give in them. Different types of zipper-system will allow you to find the best possible model.
Why are wetsuits black?
As there’s a wide array of colors that what material wetsuits are made of, black seems to be the color you can not go wrong with. Mass-producing different types of wetsuits colors do not have a high rate of sales success in recent trends. Note, that sharks see in black and white so a color preferance is not helping you getting unseen by the men in grey suits. Black colors also has a slimming effect and it matches with everything!
1. Wetsuit THICKNESS Temperature Guide Chart
Choosing the right thickness is crucial. As the season’s change – so should your wetsuit. You want to feel warm in the winter and cool in the summer. So make sure you find the most suitable wetsuit in the suitable range, as both overheating and freezing are stopping you from having the best time on the surf. Not to mention the dangers.
Do wetsuits keep you warm?
Properly chosen wetsuit (size+type+accessories) will keep your body warm.
- Sealed (COLDWATER surf) – The seams are not only stitched but also glued or sealed with liquid tape. This makes the material stronger and nearly 100% waterproof between the sheets.
- Taped (COLDWATER surf) – The Stitches have been taped inside our outside.
- Flatlock (WARMWATER surf) – Two pieces of neoprene are simply stitched together.
Surfing wetsuit temperature guide chart
Check out the chart to know which wetsuit for which temperature to choose for your needs:
Chapter 2. Wetsuit SIZE Guide Chart
What are the wetsuit sizes?
There’s no silver bullet for wetsuit sizes, but the most known sizes are: XXS, XS, ST (small, tall), M, MS, MT, L, LS, LT, XL, XLS, XLT, 2XL, 3XL etc.
Wetsuit Size Chart
S – Waist 29.5in – 31in / Chest 37.5in – 39in
- XS – 5’7″ – 5’9″ / 125 – 140
- S – 5’8″ – 5’10” 135 – 155
- ST – 6′ – 6’2″ 145 – 165
M – Waist 31in – 33in / Chest 39in – 41in
- M – 5’9″ – 5’11” 155 – 170
- MS – 5’6.5″ – 5’8.5″ 145 – 165
- MT – 6’1″ – 6’3″ 160 – 180
L – Waist 33in – 35in / Chest 41in – 43.5in
- L – 5’10” – 6′ 5’10” – 6′
- LS – 5’7.5″ – 5’9.5″ 160 – 180
- LT – 6’2″ – 6’4″ 180 – 200
- XL – Height 5’11” – 6’1″ Weight 190 – 210 Waist 35 – 37 Chest 43.5 – 46
- XLS – Height 5’8/5″ – 5’10/5″ Weight 180 – 200 Waist 35 – 37 Chest 43.5 – 46
- XLT – Height 6’3″ – 6’5″ Weight 200 – 220 Waist 35 – 37 Chest 43.5 – 46
- 2XL – Height 6′ – 6’2 Weight 210 – 230 Waist 37 – 39 / Chest 46 – 48.5
- 3XL – Height 6′ – 6’3″ Weight 230 – 250 Waist 39 – 44 / Chest 48.5 – 51
- 4XL – Height 6’1″ – 6’4″ Weight 250 – 270 Waist 44 – 48 / Chest 51 – 53.5
PS: As each brand has their own type of sizing chart – make sure to re-check the sizes on each brand in order to pick the right one. It’s quite obvious that when a wetsuit is one size too small – it will limit your movement and one size too large will not be as watertight around your body.
Also, it matters which material wetsuits are made of.
Chapter 3. WETSUIT TYPE Guide
STEAMER – Full-length wetsuit for cold water
SPRINGER – Springsuit, good for warm waters. Short leg and hand wetsuit
LONG JOHN – Sleeveless, long leg wetsuit
SHORT JOHN – Sleeveless, short leg suit
There are two main types of wetsuits zippers: Back-Zip and the Chest-Zip
It is all up to the user to choose which kind of wetsuit they fit better.
- A back-zip wetsuit has the zipper right in the middle of your back. Generally, people prefer back-zip wetsuits due to the ease of use, but dislike them since they were not used to be as waterproof on cold weather and the water kind of slipped in on constant duck-dives. This is not always the case since most back-zip wetsuits have an extra attachment on the neck nowadays.
+ Larger entrance
+ Adjustable velcro strap
– Chance of the water flush from the neck or zipper area
– Possible neck rash
A wetsuit where the entrance is through small hole in the chest area. A chest-Zip wetsuit, or sometimes called the Front-Zip wetsuit is commonly used on cold water surf due to the design that allows minimal water to slip inside the wetsuit. The only drawback might be an unusual way of entering. I think if you are already like a monkey-man and love to surf – you are a stretchy enough so that you would not find that as a problem.
+ Flexible, and oneness of the wetsuit due to fewer panels
+ Less flushing
– Small entrance area
– Can be a loose fit around the neck if not tight enough
Full-Wetsuit with a hood
HyperFlex Men’s Voodoo 6/5/4 cold water neoprene wetsuit. It’s the warmest in this surfing wetsuits list and the most “one-piece” you could get due to the attached hood. You probably still need to get a pair of gloves and hoods to survive the temperatures this wetsuit is designed for. This model also offers a great variety of sizes from Extra Small to Extra Large Small and Tall.
The Hyperflex wetsuit designed by Voodoo Wet features:
- Cocoon Entry Point & Closure System to maintain easy entry and exit. Keeps water out the suit with an anti-flush head gusset panel.
AQ6 Thermal Fabric is a soft, thin fibrous fabric which internal lines make the suit increasing warm, comfortable and quick dry properties.
- GBS Seams are double-glued & blind-stitched using a single-needle which does not puncture a hole all the way through the neoprene limiting water exchange. All critical seam intersections are strengthened with heat-applied reinforcement tabs.
- Fusion Weld Sealed Seams is a liquid sealant which forms a molecular bond preventing water exchange while increasing seam strength and durability.
- Atomic Foam – Super Stretch Neoprene infused with a higher count of air cells achieving a warmer insulation rating for the same thickness and weight.
PRICE range $$$$
See this product on AMAZON
Full-Wetsuit Back-Zip Steamer
Quiksilver Syncro 4/3 Back Zip GBS is a model widely used by surfers. As most old-school surfers know that the back-zip has not been as waterproof, here is the Syncro to prove you wrong. It is a wetsuit for cold conditions. This model comes in all sorts of sizes so pretty sure you will find a good fit there.
The Syncro by Quiksilver features:
- F’N Lite neoprene designed with air cell-rich limestone for lightweight warmth
- Thermal Smoothie – Wind and water repellent to keep your body warmer
- WarmFlight® Far-Infrared thermal lining – transforming body heat into infrared energy to generate warmth. That’s 2018 right there!
- Triple glued & blindstitched (GBS) seams reduce sew throughs & water entry. It’s something that the Syncro is known in the back zip wetsuits game.
PRICE range $$
See this product on AMAZON
Rip Curl Dawn Patrol 5/3 is the way to go if you are after high-performance results, comfort and take no exceptions. I have used the Dawn Patrol LT size version myself, and couldn’t be happier. It’s easy to crawl in and exit the suit and it has a super smooth fit.
The mighty dawn patrol steamer features all the great factors to take the maximum out of your surfing habits. It is also great for spearfishing, freediving and anywhere else where you need the comfort, flexibility, and warmth all at the same time.
PRICE range $$$
See this product on AMAZON
Springsuit / Springer
Quiksilver Syncro 3/2 Springer is a warm wetsuit for those in-between temperatures. Whenever I get too warm with it I usually let some water inside the suit to cool down the hot body, but in the perfect range, it works rather well.
F’N Lite neoprene.
This neoprene is packed with air cells for the lightest of lightweight warmth.
Thermal Smoothie Neoprene at chest and back panels is wind and water repellent whilst remaining more flexible than ever.
Super-resistant flatlock seams stitched close together for a flexible, soft and durable fit.
PRICE range $ – $$
See this product on AMAZON
TYR SPORTS Men’s Hurricane Sleeveless Long John
Great choice for the warm-blooded fellas with arms that big that they won’t even fit in the wetsuit. The Sleeveless long leg wetsuit type of model is also widely used amongst tri-athletes, where you will be swimming long distances and need the ultimate arm movement. I have seen many SUP-Surfers use those wetsuits in moderate climates, where the sun is shining but the water is cold.
Made out of Neoprene.
Price Range $
Check the Hurricane on AMAZON
This is the O’Neill Men’s Reactor. Good for those warm days where you want to surf for hours. Oftentimes when the weather is not as warm to wear shorts all day, it’s better to jump into one of those. O’Neill Reactor keeps the body core in moderate temperatures so you don’t have to start shaking after the first hour when the waves are coming in. Also, don’t forget to use sunscreen on your hands and bag of the legs.
Flatloc Construction, Single Superseal Neck, 2mm thick.
PRICE range $
See this product on AMAZON
Chapter 4. Wetsuit CARE
A wetsuit is a piece of performance clothing that needs proper care in order to maint is quality. Body oils, salt water, surfboard wax, and many more factors all soaked together in a waterproof material – does not sound very self-cleansing. Take a look at the recommendations below:
After the surf
- Be gentle when getting in and out of the wetsuit. It is reasonable to take extra time on the process if you don’t want to mess up your zippers or stretch out the seams.
- Once you are done surfing, come out of the wetsuit and leave it inside out.
- Always wash the wetsuit thoughtfully after each session. It is best to leave the wetsuit soaked inside a bucket full of fresh water.
- After the wetsuit has soaked in the water for 10-20mins, take it out of the bucket and rinse it with a hose.
- Try not to use hot water when rinsing, and by hot I mean the one that burns your own skin.
- Leave the wetsuit hanging somewhere with enough air ventilation (Out of the sun).
- Also check how do you store your wetsuit, the best one I’ve found is made by thehangpro.
- Once the wetsuit has dried for a good amount of time, turn the wetsuit the right way around so that the outer layers facing outwards. That way the wetsuit dries completely and is ready for the next session!
Shampooing the wetsuit
It’s not a bad idea to wash the wetsuit, boots, gloves, and hoods with the proper shampoo and conditioner. Simply add 2 cups cleaning liquid and mix it with 1 gallon of water. Leave it there for half an hour, then rinse off the shampoo with clean water. That’s the best you could do to your wetsuit every now and then. Probably after every 5-10 times is enough.
Neoprene, a synthetic rubber – that what wetsuits are made of – needs to be taken care of in order to maximize your wetsuits lifespan.
Check out the cleaning product on AMAZON
Thank you and take care!