There's nothing like surfing year-round, the bigger waves roll in during the winter months and the waves you catch in the cold are a little sweeter since you've had to suffer to catch them. When you pick the right wetsuit for the right conditions, you won't have to suffer as much. Pick one that's too thick and you'll feel like you're about to pass out in the water from heat exhaustion. Then again, pick one that's too thin and you're going to be shivering and miserable all day. Follow this wetsuit buyer's guide for surfers to learn about the different types of wetsuits there are and when you should wear each one.
Think of this as a thick neoprene shirt with long sleeves. These are generally worn during the summer when you get a cold upwelling and the water temperature dips into the low 70's. You just need to keep your core warm without overdoing it because the air temperature's probably still in the 80's or 90's.
Springsuits and Three Quarter Wetsuits
When the seasons start turning, warmer and colder, you're going to want a thicker wetsuit, but if you go with a full length wetsuit, you're probably going to overheat. A very popular option is the springsuit which is a one-piece wetsuit with short sleeves and short legs. Occasionally a springsuit will have long sleeves and short legs.
The alternative is a three quarter wetsuit. Again, it's a one-piece wetsuit and this style combines long legs with short sleeves.
These wetsuits are usually 3mm thick in the core and the extremities range anywhere from 1mm to 2mm thick. You can get away with these wetsuits until the water dips into the low 60's and until the air temperature dips below 60.
Fullsuits or Winter Wetsuits
As the seasons progress into winter, the springsuits and three quarter suits just aren't going to do the trick. You're going to need a wetsuit that covers your extremities and is even thicker.
Fullsuits (winter wetsuits) usually start at 3/2 (3mm thick in the core and 2mm thick in the extremities. A 3/2 can only do so much and if the water and air start getting consistently into the 40's and below, you're going to want a thicker wetsuit, possibly even with a hood.
Wetsuits for cold water surfers, like the crazy ones that surf in the snow and ice in New Jersey and New York throughout the winter months need something like a 6/5/4. That means the core thickness is 6mm, 5mm for the extremities, and the hood's 4mm. On top of that you might also want to invest in a good pair of gloves and booties.
Stick with this wetsuit guide and you're sure to stay comfy cozy, without overheating, in the chilly water while you're surfing.
Do you have more questions about picking the perfect wetsuit? Visit our full wetsuit buying guide.
Wetsuit Buyer's Guide for Surfers
By Justin Fricke
March 20, 2015
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