An Article By: Chris Hough, CEO: The Surfboard Warehouse
Choosing a Wetsuit for surfing is easy, make sure it fits and you're good to go, right? WRONG. If you go that route, you're certainly choosing a Wetsuit, but I can almost guarantee you it's not going to be the correct Wetsuit. The correct Surf Wetsuit will keep you warm, won't wear you out and will allow you to surf as long as possible given the elements that you're going to be facing. Hence, the first question you should be asking yourself is, "What elements is mother nature most likely to throw at me where I typically surf?"
Lets start in a place we all want to be, surfing in an environment with relatively warm water, say mid 70's. Maybe the water and air are relatively consistent all year round, maybe for you we're talking about a scenario that only exists in the early fall or late spring, either way there are some things to consider with regards to a Surf Wetsuit. Is it typically breezy where you are? (hopefully offshore and not onshore) Do you get cold easy? If the answer to either is yes, the first thing you might want to consider is a topper. Maybe all you need is a Surf Wetsuit top, to keep your chest and top half warm when there's a cool breeze. Simple, effective and you'll be able to surf longer and more comfortably. For me personally, (surfing in FL) when the water hits the mid 70's it's time for a top and possibly a spring suit.
Next, lets discuss water in the low 70's, which is not a bad place to be. Typically the low 70's means you'll need to be in a full Surf Wetsuit of some type. The air temperature may determine if your Surf Wetsuit is a 2/2 or 3/2. Here's where material gets into play. We have some high end Surf Wetsuits that use a thermal lining. While more expensive, I've found in some cases this means you can get away with a 2/2 at lower water temperatures, meaning you're retaining flexibility while staying warm, so a 2/2 here is definitely something to consider. If you get cold easy, or want a suit that will give you a bit more range, should the water fluctuate from the low 70's to high 60's you probably want to stick with a 3/2. If you go with a 3/2, you'll still have a good amount of flexibility in even the mid and low price points. It's just like anything else if you want maximum flexibility, you'll need to increase the budget for your Surf Wetsuit.
Now, where most of us don't want to be, water in the Mid 60's and below, but hey, when the surf is firing who cares! When looking at a Surf Wetsuit for this water temperature range, material of the suit becomes increasingly important. If you want to cut costs here, it WILL be at the expense of the length of your surf sessions. You might be able to get away with a 3/2 Surf Wetsuit that has a thermal lining for the higher end of this water temperature range. However, once you hit the low 60's it's time for a 4/3 and at some point you'll be looking for Wetsuit booties as well.
If you're surfing anything colder than 60, you're a beast and you probably know more about Surf Wetsuits than the average surfer, as you've been forced to learn or risk freezing to death. :) For you, the obvious 5/4 Wetsuit, 5/4 Hooded Wetsuit or possibly even a 6/5 Hooded Wetsuit is a must. If you're surfing some of the coldest water on the planet, it's likely you'll need booties and gloves depending on exactly how cold we're talking. Again, I can't stress this enough that material here makes a huge difference when it comes to warmth and flexibility, do your research, the dividends returned in waves will be well worth it.
At The Surfboard Warehouse, we have sold Wetsuits specific to the surf industry over the internet for over 10 years for every water temperature you can think of. We use that experience when deciding which Surf Wetsuits to carry and when we carry a line of Surf Wetsuits, we carry every Wetsuit the manufacturer sells, so you know you're not missing anything. Whether we're talking about industry veterans like Excel or Body Glove, trending companies like Billabong, or smaller companies like Matuse, we physically get our hands on their suits, so that we know they're producing the kinds of Wetsuits we can stand by and that you can trust to be the best. Make sure to stay tuned, as Wetsuits from O'neil and Rip Curl are on the way! Not sure which Surf Wetsuit you need? Call us, we're here and we'll help. Thank you for considering The Surfboard Warehouse.
The Surfboard Warehouse, Inc.