A wetsuit is essential for anyone who wants to enjoy surfing or steaming and not living near the equator. Wearing a neoprene surfing wetsuit is essential for most outings throughout the year, except for a few sunny summer days. The concept is simple: a wetsuit can keep your body warm, preventing it from losing heat, so that you can use all your energy to surf. At the same time, a good surfing wetsuit doesn’t have to impede movement, acting a bit like a second skin.
So let’s see which surfing wetsuit to buy and the most important aspects to take into consideration to choose the perfectsurfing or steamer wetsuit.
Surf, steamer, or scuba wetsuits: they are not all the same
First, if you want to use a wetsuit for surfing or steaming, you need to buy a surfing or steamer wetsuit. Did you find a beautiful diving suit for a few tens of euros at the decathlon? Well, forget it: it’s a waste of money because a diving suit is not what you need. You may say: but if a wetsuit is made to keep a diver warm while diving in the water, why shouldn’t it keep me warm while surfing? The point is not really just the warmth, but also the freedom of movement. The movements of a diver are quite limited when compared to those of a steamer or surfer. Choose a wetsuit and you’ll find yourself stuck worse than in a straitjacket!
Much less evident are the differences between surf wetsuits, steamer wetsuits, and windsurf wetsuits. In general, surfing wetsuits offer better wind protection, while steamer wetsuits tend to be more elastic and therefore offer better freedom of movement.
Neoprene thickness and type
Speaking of neoprene wetsuits, a fundamental element is the thickness of the neoprene that makes up the surfing or steamer wetsuit. The thickness of the neoprene is indicated in mm and is expressed with numbers that are typically 5/3, 4/3, 3/2, etc. A 4/3 wetsuit for example is a wetsuit made of 4mm neoprene panels on the trunk and 3mm on the arms and legs. The thicker the neoprene, the more it keeps you warm, the lighter it is, the less it bothers you … a bit like a coat.
Types of surfing wetsuits: one wetsuit for each season
In an ideal situation, a surfer or steamer who lives in our latitudes and goes out in the Mediterranean Sea should have 3 wetsuits: a summer wetsuit, and a mid-season wetsuit (spring and autumn), a winter wetsuit, plus possibly some lycra and shorts for summer.
Lycra Rash surfing wetsuits do not contain neoprene and do not serve to prevent your body from losing heat but serve to protect your skin from the sun and paraffin in case you surf or from the harness if you are a surfer. Of course, you can avoid wearing neoprene only if you are in the tropics or on the hottest summer days in our latitudes. Generally, they are recommended when the water temperature exceeds 23 °.
Shorty summer wetsuit
The summer wetsuit, also called shorty, is a short-sleeved, short-leg wetsuit typically around 2mm thick to be used in the summer months. If you want, you can opt for a neoprene top instead of a real surfing wetsuit. Depending on your taste and your sensitivity to the cold, you can choose a version with long sleeves or with neoprene panels even as small as 1mm. A summer surfing wetsuit is generally used in the Mediterranean Sea from June to mid-September, with water temperatures between 19 ° and 23 °.
The mid-season wetsuit is the most used surfing wetsuit in our latitudes as it is used both in spring and autumn when the water temperature remains between 17 ° and 22 °. In addition, in case of a holiday in the USA, Canary Islands, Morocco, France or Spain, it is your surfing wetsuit to take with you almost always.
When winter arrives and water temperatures drop below 15 °, just any wetsuit is no longer enough. It is important to note that a high-quality surfing wetsuit will keep you warm without trapping you in a straitjacket. For those who go out to the Mediterranean in our latitudes, the best choice is to buy a good 4/3 plus various accessories: gloves, shoes, hood.
Linings and other layers
A surfing wetsuit isn’t just made from a layer of neoprene, or at least it shouldn’t be. Especially in winter surfing wetsuits, there is at least one outer layer that has the task of protecting from the wind and freezing air and an inner layer in contact with the skin that has the task of maintaining heat. Many innovations of recent years have been concentrated on these layers. Fleece liners and the like, for example, are essential for determining the warmth of a surfing wetsuit and really make a difference, more than 1 mm more or less of neoprene, keeping the surfing wetsuit elastic, flexible and comfortable.
Type of zipping
The type of zipping is not a minor detail in a surfing wetsuit because it is the opening that allows you to enter the wetsuit, but also to the water. The zip is generally less waterproof than neoprene and is a gateway to water. The longer the zip, the easier it is to put on the surfing wetsuit, but it is also easier for water to enter. A small amount of water always enters the surfing wetsuit, but one thing is a few drops that filter little by little and immediately warm up in contact with your skin, quite another matter is a bucket of cold water that flows on your back at the first duck dive of the day!
The zip on the back is the most common type of surfing wetsuit for beginners and for temperatures that are not too rigid. It can be a great choice as a summer wetsuit but not for winter.
The zip on the chest makes the surfing wetsuit a little more uncomfortable to wear, but also warmer as it is more difficult for water to enter.
Surfing wetsuits without a zip are ideal in terms of water resistance but are also more difficult to put on. The absence of zip is generally made possible by the excellent quality of the neoprene used which must be very flexible and elastic to allow you to slip the suit from the neck. Generally, it is a system used for surfing wetsuits up to 3/2.