Choosing the right surfing wetsuit can make a huge difference in your over all enjoyment when you hit the waves. There are some key criteria to consider in choosing the right wetsuit gear. In this article I will take you through the wetsuit styles, sizes, thickness, and accessories for a comfortable surfing experience.
There are many types of wetsuit and some style variations.
For winter surfing in colder water the thickness of the full wetsuit is key to comfort along with adding gloves, booties and even a hood or hat. Average water temperatures for the location where you surf in the winter will give you a base line for the neoprene thickness. In temperatures 60 degrees and above a 3/2 (3mm in the majority of the wetsuit and 2mm at the arms) wetsuit should be adequate, although each individual will need to decide if that is warm enough for them. If a 3/2 is not always quite warm enough you can add a 2mm wetsuit tee shirt that you wear under your 3/2 wetsuit. Booties are optional above 60 degree water temperatures, many surfers don't wear them because they want the grip that bare feet offers. I choose to wear booties because I like the extra warmth and protection from rocks and coral on the ocean floor.
Alway try on wetsuits if possible to get the right size. If ordering online then do the best you can to match up your size to the specific brand size charts.
For water temperatures from low 50's up to 60 degrees a 4/3 or 5/4 wetsuit works for me and if I want just a little more warmth I add a 2mm wetsuit vest or tee shirt underneath. In water temperatures in the 50's booties may be a must as your feet are generally always in the water. Also in water temperatures under 60 you may find a hood or wetsuit hat works, especially for rolling under waves, when the water is really cold you can get a headache with out a wetsuit hood or hat. Wetsuit gloves may be another good choice, although many surfers don't like gloves because they can hamper grip in handling the surf board.
Wetsuit Gloves and Booties
There are some different styles of wetsuit gloves available. You can try the five finger full wetsuit gloves, fingerless wetsuit gloves, webbed wetsuit gloves and mitten style wetsuit gloves. I have found that the full fingered wetsuit glove with non slip on the front works best in really cold water. For water temperatures over 60 degrees I tend to like the fingerless for the extra grip. The webbed gloves can add some benefits for better paddling performance.
Wetsuit booties are available in styles that are like thick socks without the tread on the bottom and booties that are more like wetsuit shoes. I prefer the booties that have a treaded bottom with a velcro strap that cinches the top of the booties and prevents water from filling. The heavier booties are also better for wading out through tide pool areas at reef breaks where there may be lots of sharp rocks or other hazards under the water.
Summer or Warmer Water Wetsuit Gear.
For some people warmer waters don't require any wetsuit. For temperatures over like 70 degrees there are some good choices for adding just a little extra warmth. You can try 1mm to 3mm wetsuit vests, zip up jackets, tee shirts, pants and wetsuit shorts. There are also short john wetsuits, which cover from above the knees to the neck, Short johns can be short sleeve or no sleeve. There are also whats know as a farmer john full wetsuit that has no sleeves. I have often worn a wetsuit tee shirt or vest for wind protection while sitting out waiting for waves and for the chafing on the chest from the waxed surfboard. The warm water wetsuit parts can also be used in the winter for extra warmth under your full winter wetsuit.