Selecting the right wetsuit is a challenging thing to do. I often hear stories of people getting the wrong size or wasting money on cheap wetsuits. That's why I thought it was super important that I put together a quick guide on selecting a wetsuit.
To start with, here are a couple of quick and easy pointers to remember when buying your first wetsuit. Trust me some of these things I have written down, I have personally made these before so learn from my mistakes!
- Every brand will have a different shape of a wetsuit. So just because you are one size in one brand doesn’t mean you are the same in the next.
- The reason that your wetsuit has to fit tight is that it will take in water and balloon out if it's too big. This will make it hard to move around because of the added weight. This then becomes a safety issue.
- Wetsuits stretch like crazy, so a comfortable fit and easy to get on in the change rooms means the fit is probably too big. It needs to be super tight on your first couple of wears and then over time the suit will slowly stretch and mould to your body. If it is too big on your first wear your suit will give no warmth and cause rashes.
- One myth that needs to be debunked is that a wetsuit should keep you dry. This is incorrect as wetsuits work by trapping a thin layer of water between your body and the suit. This layer of water is warmed by your body which prevents you from losing too much heat while in the water.
- The best way to dry out your wetsuit is to hang it up inside out and across the stomach. This helps dry out the internals such as the stitching and thermal layering. If the wetsuit is hung by the shoulders this will cause stretching and ruin the shape of your wetsuit.
What zipper system is right for you?
As you probably already know there is a couple of different zipper systems you can buy.
Here is a brief explanation of what is available on the market and what you should be looking for.
This zipper system is a great system to use if you lack mobility in the shoulders or hate a tight seal around your neck. That is because no headpiece is required to be pulled over and the tightness can be adjusted around the neck by loosening the velcro.
A downside is that if this suit is not done up correctly it can come undone very easy while out in the surf and is a real hassle to try and zip back up.
This is by far the most common selection. There is a bit of an art to putting it on but once you have it mastered it will become your best friend.
A downside is that you may find the Zipper uncomfortable whilst laying prone on your board or get tangled up while trying to pull the headpiece over.
Perfect if you find the zipper on the front uncomfortable or find it gets in the way. It can be a bit of a maze to get into and potentially might not get a tight seal where you enter the suit.
Different in thicknesses of rubber.
Wetsuits come in various thicknesses and with different internal layerings. The thicker the suit and the better the thermal layering, the colder the water you will be able to surf in. There is usually a numbering system on your wetsuit that lets you know the thickness of the rubber.
The first number is the amount of rubber that will be across the torso and the second number refers to the thickness of the arms and legs. An example would be 3-2 which would mean 3mm on the chest and 2mm on the arms.
Thermal layering is an absolute game changer when it comes to warmth while surfing. Having this may allow you to potentially wear a thinner suit which will make it easier to move around in the water and make your life easier when it comes to putting it on and taking it off.
On the NSW South Coast, a 3-2 with thermal layering will be your choice of wetsuit most of the year round. But this also depends on how much you feel the cold or how hard the wind is blowing.
The difference in pricing.
What is the difference between a cheap suit and a very expensive one?
This usually comes down to the stitching. This is very easy to see when looking for a wetsuit. Just grab one of the arms and turn it inside out and have a look yourself.
-Flatlock sticking. This is just standard stitching that water can travel in and out of very easily which means that they are not overly warm. The lifetime of the suit will be short as the seams tend to blow out. You will find this style of stitching in the cheaper suits.
-Sealed Wetsuit Seams. These are found in the middle-priced wetsuits. Having the seams glued and blindstitched helps prolong the life of the wetsuit and takes the edge off the water temperature.
-Sealed and Taped Wetsuit Seams (Glued, Blindstitched and 100% Taped). The warmest and also the most expensive. This style of stitching is worth every penny if you are in the colder water for long periods. If treated with care your wetsuit should have the best chance of lasting a long time.
After trying a whole range of different wetsuits from the expensive to the cheapest, there were a couple of brands that I liked the most. I definitely will not be buying any of the major brands anymore as these wetsuits performed just as good for a fraction of the price.
My favourites were Sharkeye’s, Need essentials and Project Blank.
Here is a summary of these wetsuits.
Sharkeye's wetsuits are great if you like to go spearfishing as well as surfing. They are designed as a kinda hybrid suit, so you can use them for both. They have a built-in sharkdeterant system so if you are the slightest bit jumpy in the water this one is for you. Click the link here to read my full review of one of their suits.
Need Essentials are an amazing company that saw a gap in the market for high quality cheaper wetsuits that perform in all conditions. I purchased a premium 3-2 wetsuit that quickly became my first choice when surfing in the colder waters. I was lucky enough to interview the owner Ryan on my podcast and hear his amazing story. Click this link here to listen.
Project Blank made me realise that you don't have to blow the budget to get an amazing performing suit. They weren't the warmest but were the best value for money. If you are starting your surfing journey I highly recommend wearing one of these wetsuits. Click here to read my detailed review of their wetsuits.
The legends are also giving 10% off to my community. Just use promo code Kook10 at checkout for 10% off.
If you need a new wetsuit reach out to me for any advice I am more than happy to help.