Many surfers will tell you that their first wetsuit was ill-fitting and victim to baggy underarms and exposed ankles, which hindered rather than helped them progress in surfing.
Getting a wetsuit that fits and does everything you need it to is essential for surfers of all abilities.
Luckily, the knowledge and technology surrounding wetsuits is advancing; however, it can still be confusing for a first-timer to know precisely what they should be looking out for when buying their first wetsuit. Wetsuit Centre can help you understand exactly what you need.
Know Your Surf Location
The primary function of a wetsuit is to keep you warm for an extended period of time while you catch some waves. When deciding which wetsuit to purchase, one crucial factor is the location at which you will be surfing the most.
The sea can be cold all year round in the UK, and if you don't have the cash to splash on multiple wetsuits, the wisest choice is to purchase one quality wetsuit that can be worn for the majority of the year.
How Thick Should My Wetsuit Be?
When you know where you'll be surfing, you can research the temperature of the water you'll be spending extended amounts of time in; chances are you won't regularly be on the beaches of Hawaii or point breaks in Iceland.
Therefore a midrange suit is probably your best bet. You can follow our wetsuit thickness guide to determine the thickness you realistically require.
A 3/2 summer wetsuit has a thickness of 3mm on the core body parts (back, chest, stomach, kidneys) for warmth and 2mm on the arms and legs to ensure good flexibility for paddling and, crucially, for popping up quickly.
A 4/3mm winter wetsuit will serve you well for surfing in cold water throughout November to April. With thicker 4mm neoprene around the middle body to keep warmth locked in and 3mm neoprene on the arms and legs for greater flexibility you can be sure to stay warm while catching enter waves.
Be Realistic About Your Commitment To Surfing
For many surfers just starting out, the freezing waters of the coldest months in the UK can put you off grabbing your board and heading out in the swell. So when purchasing a wetsuit, be realistic with yourself. Are you really going to be surfing throughout the winter?
If the honest answer is no, then investing in a thick winter wetsuit isn't a necessary expense; investing in one quality suit no thicker than 5mm but no thinner than 3mm should have you covered for the vast majority of the year.
Plus, you can always warm yourself up with a thermal rash vest for extra protection from that freezing winter water if you can't ignore the calling of the waves.
How Should My Wetsuit Fit?
Surfing in an improper wetsuit is highly counterproductive. A wetsuit that is too loose will allow water to pour through and whip out the warmth from your body, which completely defeats the purpose of a wetsuit.
One that is too tight will be incredibly uncomfortable and will only restrict your movements, making paddling, popping up and riding the wave that much harder.
So it's time to get your tape measure out and take your measurements. The key measurements you require are:
- Chest Circumference
- Waist Circumference
For women, this is even more important as the curves of your body mean that finding the right wetsuit can prove even more of a challenge. Our Women's Wetsuit Sizing Guide should help you out if you need some further guidance.
We also have a Men's Wetsuit Sizing Guide so you can be sure to make the right purchace.
The stitching is the most obvious giveaway of a lousy quality wetsuit, so when shopping for your new wetsuit, be sure to inspect the seams closely.
The seams also determine how well the suit performs when retaining water and preserving heat; this means seams are even more important to consider for the winter months.
Invest In A Reputable Brand Of Wetsuit
We've all witnessed the kooky summer holiday tourist in their ill-fitting, supermarket-bought, shorty wetsuit. While those type of wetsuits function great for a one-off summertime sea dip, they are not what you want when you hit the water for longer sessions, even in summer.
Investing in a good quality wetsuit will make learning and progressing at surfing that much easier. The design and technology have been created to optimise your time in the water and help you catch as many waves as possible while staying warm.
Although you don't have to spend your life's savings on a wetsuit, we do suggest you consider it an investment and treat yourself to a reliable branded wetsuit, to which Wetsuit Centre stocks a multitude of reputable, high-quality branded wetsuits.
Treat Yourself to A Brand New Wetsuit
You will see countless second-hand wetsuits for sale on sites like eBay and Marketplace; for someone with a tight budget, this may seem like an attractive option to save a quick buck. However, we advise against this. Wetsuits are incredibly personal and need to fit you like a second skin.
Buying a second-hand wetsuit is like purchasing a second-hand pair of boots; yes, you can fit into them, but they never feel quite right, as they are moulded to someone else’s foot – like a wetsuit is for someone’s body
After a few surf sessions, a new wetsuit will mould to the user's body, creating a unique and bespoke fit. So for a wetsuit to perform correctly and keep you warm throughout your surf session, we strongly suggest you get a brand new wetsuit.
Hopefully, we have provided you with some guidance when it comes to buying your first wetsuit for surfing. If you want further information or have any unanswered questions, don't hesitate to contact us.