Choosing a wetsuit

Full suit



Full suit

Introduction : -
A wetsuit is a must if you want to surf all year round. Technology today provides wetsuits that are super light, super stretch, some don´t even have zips! Wetsuits are made from neoprene, a stretchy synthetic rubber material, and are made out of several pieces of neoprene stitched together to cover the desired body parts.

Wetsuits come as shorties, full suits, and some have detachable arms and legs. Neoprene comes in different thickness´, from 2 to 6 mm. The thicker the neoprene the warmer the suit. The average Wetsuit will have a zip to make it possible to get in and out of it.

Zips are situated in different places on suits, traditionally down the back. But it can be found across the shoulders or high up on the chest. Latest Wetsuits are made out of neoprene so stretchy that you can get in through the neck.

How it works : -
A Wetsuit works by trapping a thin layer of water between the Wetsuit and the skin. The body temperature of the surfer heats this water giving a warm water blanket. This is why a Wetsuit that fits well is a must. The Wetsuit should be a tight fit (not so tight that you can´t move freely) and there should be no baggy areas where the suit comes away from your body. If it is for cold water, make sure that there is also a tight fitting neck.

Buying a Wetsuit : -
There are two things to keep in mind
First, what size do you need to buy, Second, what type of wetsuit do you need to buy.
If you surf in cold water, a good wetsuit is required, and you should be prepared to pay for it.

Wetsuit size : -
Check out the size charts of the various manufactures to find the suit you need. Below is an example size chart for Quiksilver mens wetsuits.


Which Wetsuit To Buy : -
Good wetsuits are not cheap, on cold days they are worth the investment. Which type of wetsuit you need depends on the water temperature that you surf in. If you are only going to be surfing during the summer months then a spring suit will be fine. If you surf down the bottom of the South Island of New Zealand in the depths of winter you are going to need a 5/3. (5/3 refers to the thickness of the neoprene in millimeters). If the water is going to be very cold you will also need booties, gloves and a wetsuit hood - and for those extra cold days an extra rash vest to help keep the heat in.


Protection From The Elements
Water temperature Style of suit
80+F None needed
72-80F Shortie or three-quarter
65-72F Full
60-65F Full wetsuit or drysuit
50-60F Full drysuit
Under 50 Full drysuit-gloves, hood and booties

´Shortie´ Wetsuit : -
A shortie is for water temperatures above 70F and is made of 2mm neoprene. If boardshorts are a little bit cold then a shortie is just right.

Three Quarter Length / Springsuit : -
Used when the water temperature is between 65-75F and made of 3/2mm neoprene. Great for windy days when it would be too cold in a shortie. The three quarter length refers to the wetsuit having short arms or legs.

Full Suit : -
A full suit is needed for water temperatures below 65F. Depending on how cold the water will be you will either need a 4/3mm or a 5/3mm wetsuit. A 5/3mm suit will be needed if the temperatures get below 60F.

When It Gets Too Cold : -
A titanium rashvest can help with the cold, as will booties, gloves, wetsuit socks and a wetsuit hood. The temperatures quoted are only guidelines as some people feel the cold more than others. If you like comfort go for a thicker suit - but keep in mind that thicker the suit the less flexible it is.


Recommended Thickness
Water temperature Thickness recommended
75-85F 1/16" (1.6mm) neoprene, lycra, polartec
70-85F 1/8" (3mm) neoprene
65-75F 3/16" (5mm) neoprene
50-75F ¼" (6.5mm) neoprene
35-65F 3/8" (9.5mm) neoprene, drysuit

If you surf in extremely cold conditions then you will need a semi-dry suit, and that is a whole other type of suit. Surfersvillage partners provide more info on Surfing-Waves

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