We saw earlier how to choose your first surfboard for this summer, you found your new friend who will accompany you throughout your sessions. However, you are missing a key element! The Must-Have of any surfer, your favourite outfit, the one that puts you in the best position, and the one that allows you to do long sessions in the water without turning into an ice cube: your swimsuit!
However, just like your surfboard, it's important to buy a combination that fits you perfectly, a second skin that will keep you warm and will not bother you. The type of combination according your needs is relatively similar for both man and woman. If you have a doubt between several types of suits, you can go to surf shops offering equipment rental to try several models in the water regarding the temperature. This will also help you find a nice quality/price ratio.
It is important to know your needs before choosing your gear. How long do your sessions last on average? Do you plan to surf all year or only occasionally? We will go through all this together.
The choice of a suitable combination is mainly made in relation to the water temperature. So we have several possibilities in several different types.
The 2/2, shorty or integral.
Ideal for the aquatic environment in summer conditions, the 2/2 is 2 mm thick on the torso, and 2 mm thick on the arms and legs. This combination helps to maintain a correct temperature while maintaining lightness and freedom of movement. If you are starting out in the middle of summer, the 2/2 short or integral combinations will adapt to your needs and your portfolio.
Regarding on your resistance to cold, it may be interesting to start on a full or short wetsuits, called «shorty». These suits are ideal for all casual surfers who will only surf on sunny days in warm waters. This wetsuit is easy to put on and maintains good buoyancy. We will advise the shorty in waters above 20 degrees, however the cold resistance of each rider is different, and some people will be satisfied with an integral 2/2 combination with an extra lycra even at the end of the season with slightly colder waters. There are also sleeveless suits for maximum freedom of movement, but a lycra can do the tricks just as well coupled with a swimsuit.
The 3/2, synonym of polyvalence
The 3/2 websuit is 3 mm thick on the torso and 2 mm thick on the arms and legs. Similar to a 2/2 full body suit, the extra 1 mm on the torso will allow you to surf in colder waters up to 16 degrees. The thickness of 2 mm on the arms and legs allows you to keep a good freedom of movement and ease on paddling.
The big strength of this websuit is versatility. It is the basic suit for regular practice throughout the year. Indeed, it is possible to use it in any season if you know how to adapt. You can perfectly add a lycra under the suit, accompanied by gloves, slippers and hood to surf even in cold waters for the bravest. During high heat, it is always possible to use only winter lycra and swim shorts to keep surfing.
On the other hand, it may be difficult for you to surf the winter in 3/2 if you are cold sensitive, so we will move towards a heavier suit.
The 4/3, cold protector!
I think you understand the system, this websuit is 4 mm thick on the torso and 3 mm on the arms and legs. Designed for cold water, above about 12 degrees, the 4/3 will be your best friend to keep surfing in the winter.
In waters of this temperature, it is very important to protect yourself properly: gloves and slippers will allow you to do longer sessions. But it is essential in cold waters to protect the inside of your ears with a hood or ear plugs. Indeed, the unprotected contact of your ear with cold water can eventually lead to an exostosis, an outgrowth of the bone that would clog the auditory canal. Operable today, this is no less difficult and can be prevented by the wearing of simple ear plugs.
The 4/3 wetsuit sacrifice a slight mobility due to the thickness of the combination but there is a perfect heat conservation. For a better seal, it is advisable to use a "front zip" closure.
On the other hand, it becomes complicated to use this combination in warmer waters, so we recommend having another solution for summer conditions, such as the jersey/lycra or an additional shorty combination.
The 5/4, Ocean's Jacket
This neoprene suit is intended for very cold waters and experienced surfers for whom the temperature is not a fear. 5 mm on the torso, 4 mm on the arms and legs, the suit is equipped with a removable hood (present on most 5/4 because totally indispensable in very cold waters).
It is much longer to put on the wetsuit, but it will accompany you in waters of 7 degrees and more. It is important to have a waterproof aspect on these suits, so be sure to choose a combination that fits your size and morphology and quality gloves/slippers. These combinations are generally more expensive, and it is better to climb in prices because these combinations require to be more waterproof than others to retain body heat for your own safety.
Of course, we only saw the overall shape of these combinations. For your sliding sessions, several options are possible and extremely useful. We've already seen gloves, slippers, hoods and ear plugs to protect from the cold. If you are a bodyboard practitioner, do not hesitate to buy thick neoprene slippers, not to keep warm but to avoid the irritations of the fins that can be painful.
Don’t forget the protections for dangerous or more violent sports like kitesurf or wakeboarding.
It can be very convenient to select wetsuits with a knot inside or a pocket to attach its car keys. There are code locks where you can put your keys inside, and you can attach them to your car, but be aware that these security measures can be misunderstood by insurance in case of theft.
Do not hesitate to invest in a good poncho. It is very useful to change on the beach, and protects you from the wind after the session. During winter sessions, it is essential to cover yourself directly after removing your suit.
Cleaning the wetsuit
You finally manage to find the wetsuit of your dreams, however you will have to take great care of it. Although robust, suits must be maintained between sessions.
First, get rid of the salt. Rinsing with fresh water outside and inside your suit will be enough. From time to time, you can switch it to soapy water for a little more tough cleaning. Rinse well, and spread it out. Let’s go to drying.
Warning! A suit should not be stretched out like a cloak to a girdle! Once soaked in water, a suit weighs a lot. If you hang it by the shoulders, the wetsuit may relax and damage the seams, and you may change from a size M to L in a short time. So all you need to do is hang it folded in half, wrap it around the basin, and put it to dry in a little sunny corner, the sun can damage your suit over the long term, so that it remains supple. Exposure of the salt from the suit to the sun can make it stiff, discolored and you don’t want your first suit to rub you because of a simple mop.
If you're searching for a new wetsuit, try and have a look at our different partnership on Spotyride.