A wetsuit is a must-have for any surfer if you are not riding in warm waters, where you can limit yourself to surfing shorts. First used by surfers in the early 50s, the wetsuit has come a long way.
Wetsuit materials and structure
Wetsuits are made of neoprene, a synthetic material similar to rubber. Several parts made from this substance are joined together in order to keep the desired parts of the body from water. Suits are available in many shapes: shorts, full-length wetsuits, and detachable sleeves are also available.
The thickness can also vary significantly – from 2 to 6 mm. The thicker, the warmer. Fans of swimming in cold water choose semi-dry, which is not made of neoprene. Today there are even wetsuits with heating elements.
How thick do you need a wetsuit? This is a fairly popular question that novice surfers often ask themselves. Below is an example of choosing a wetsuit depending on the water temperature, this will help you navigate the choice. But if you are cold in the water with the chosen thickness and type of wetsuit, then you should think about a “thicker” wetsuit.
The effectiveness of a wetsuit to keep warm depends on several factors: the type of wetsuit, the type and location of the zipper, fit, and the thickness of the wetsuit. It is very important to consider all of these variables before choosing a wetsuit. We’ll try to figure it out next.
Description of wetsuits using O’Neill products as an example.
Heat 6/5 / 4mm HoodedFullWetsuit
This wetsuit is designed for use in very cold water. It is 6mm thick on the body. 5 – the thickness on the arms. On the legs, the neoprene layer is 4 mm. If the entire suit were made of 6 mm neoprene, it would be of little use for active movement, and it would be difficult to row and surf in it.
Epic 2 Ct5 / 3 Wetsuit
Cold water option. It comes in handy in winter when surfing in cold water. The thickness of the layer of thermal insulation material on the torso is 5 mm, on the arms and legs – 3 mm each.
Heat 3q 302FullBackWetsuit
Here is an example of a marking with a “0” separator. This does not mean there is a hole in the wetsuit. It’s just that this model is intended for use in spring or summer. It is much thinner than winter.
Epic2mm S / S FullBackWetsuit
The description shows only 2 mm. That is, along the entire length of the wetsuit, the thickness of the neoprene is 2 millimeters.
There are many ways to sew wetsuits: blind stitch, glue, overlock and seal. In any case, the type of wetsuit is determined by the weather conditions. In England, for example, the thickness must be at least 5/3 mm, and the suit must also be waterproof, blind-stitched / glued with a strip of tape. You can use shoes, gloves and a hood along with it – if you surf in the winter, and possibly a titanium-plated rushwest for long sessions in the icy winter water.
Types of wetsuits
A neoprene vest covers the body slightly, providing protection from the wind. Such a hydro vest will provide comfort in warm water. The picture shows that it looks the same as a regular vest or T-shirt. Waistcoats are usually supplied with a thickness of 2 to 3 mm.
A small step forward in terms of heat retention compared to a vest. These jackets have full sleeves to provide extra warmth to the upper body. Jackets are usually made of 2mm / 1mm thick material. There is a possibility that models with long zippers on the chest can be quite uncomfortable when raking in.
And again a sleeveless suit. The body is now covered in neoprene up to the thighs, providing most of the warmth. Ideal for protection from the cold during dawnpatrol (surfing at dawn), and will not get too hot when the sun rises higher.
LongJohn covers the entire body except for the arms. Great for rowing, no neoprene resistance felt. LongJohn is ideal when the air temperature is good but the water is a little cool.
Springsuit covers the arms and legs at least partially. It comes with short legs and can be either short or long sleeves.
ShortArmSteamer is usually made with a combination of 3mm and 2mm neoprene and covers the entire torso and legs. This wetsuit also covers the shoulders, leaving the arms open, but this does not affect rowing efficiency.
Completes the Fullsuit family. Designed for cold water, this wetsuit comes in a wide range of thicknesses, depending on the level of warmth required. For colder temperatures a 3mm / 2mm wetsuit should be used. For very cold weather you will need 6mm / 5mm / 4mm neoprene to stay in the water longer. Some of them even come with hoods included. 6mm fullsuit hood, boots, gloves and heated rashguard will keep you in the water longer. Fullsuit is the most expensive wetsuit out of all existing (proper care of the wetsuit, the guarantee of preserving your investment).
The choice of wetsuit will depend on the temperature of the water you’re surfing in. Major wetsuit brands produce a full range of shapes and styles to suit every need.