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How to Buy a Surfing Wetsuit

   January 27th, 2016   Posted In: How-To   Tags:

How to Buy a Surfing Wetsuit

How to buy a surfing wetsuit can be difficult or sometimes confusing. But a wetsuit for surfing with a good fit and the right mix of features will allow you to enjoy the waves year round (or at least comfortably extend your season.)

Whether you’re an advanced surfer or brand new to surfing, it always helps to know exactly what goes into and what you should be looking for when buying a wetsuit for surfing.

Wetsuits will not keep you completely dry. The idea is to allow a small amount of water inside, your body heat will take care of the rest.

Okay, back to how to buy a surfing wetsuit! We put together a guide of the four factors to look for in a surfing wetsuit. These four factors include wetsuit thickness, type of neoprene, wetsuit seam construction, and extras. Have any suggestions? Let us know in the comments what you look for in a surfing wetsuit!

#1: Wetsuit Thickness

You’ll see 2mm, 3/2mm, 4/3mm, etc. in front of a product name on our website. That mm is the wetsuit thickness measured in millimeters and it impacts the warmth of the wetsuit. Less neoprene is used in the extremities to increase flexibility. Basically, thickness increases warmth and decreases flexibility.

Check out this Water Temperature Guide:

Switch to Celsius

40°+ 48°+ 52°+ 58°+ 60°+ 65°+ 72°+ 80°+
General Watersports
(Surf, Wake, Kite, Etc.)
6/5/4mm
Sealed
5/4/3mm
Sealed
4/3mm
Sealed
& Taped
4/3mm
Sealed
3/2mm
Sealed
3/2mm
Flatlock
Springsuit
Neoprene Top
Poly Top
Rash Guard
SCUBA
8/7mm Full
7mm John
& Jacket
7mm Full
7mm John
& Jacket
7mm Full
5mm John
& Jacket
5mm Full
3mm John
& Jacket
3mm Full
3mm John &
Jacket
3mm Full
Springsuit
Springsuit
Lycra
Bodysuit
Triathlon &
Lap Swimming
5/3mm Full 5/3mm John Neoprene Vest
Kayak &
Paddle
5/4/3mm
Sealed
4/3mm
Sealed
3/2mm
Sealed
3/2mm
Flatlock
Neoprene
Top
Neoprene
Vest
Rash
Guard
General
Watersports
(Surf, Wake, Kite, Etc.)
SCUBA Triathlon &
Lap Swimming
Kayak &
Paddle
40°+ 6/5/4mm
Sealed
8/7mm Full
7mm John
& Jacket
5/3mm
Full
5/4/3mm
Sealed
48°+ 5/4/3mm
Sealed
4/3mm
Sealed
52°+ 4/3mm
Sealed
& Taped
7mm Full
7mm John
& Jacket
3/2mm
Sealed
58°+ 4/3mm
Sealed
7mm Full
5mm John
& Jacket
5/3mm
John
3/2mm
Flatlock
60°+ 3/2mm
Sealed
5mm Full
3mm John
& Jacket
Neoprene
Top
65°+ 3/2mm
Flatlock
3mm Full
3mm John &
Jacket
72°+
Springsuit
Neoprene Top
3mm Full
Springsuit
Neoprene
Vest
80°+
Poly Top
Rash Guard
Springsuit
Lycra
Bodysuit
Neoprene
Vest
Rash
Guard

Want to know more about wetsuit thickness? Check out this video:

#2: Neoprene Type

Neoprene types impact flexibility and there are two types for surfing wetsuits: Standard and Super stretch.

Manufacturers use varying degrees of these neoprene types, so for surfing, you need at least 30% super stretch neoprene in your wetsuit. Seasoned surfers prefer wetsuits with 60% to 100% super stretch neoprene for the ultimate in flexibility and fit.

30% stretch: the back, shoulders, and arms have 30% super stretch neoprene while the other 70% of the suit is made with standard neoprene.

100% stretch: entire suit is made with super stretch neoprene for the ultimate in fit and flexibility.

The video below talks more about neoprene types:

#3: Seam Construction

What holds the suit together? Seams! Seam construction impacts the warmth and comfort of the wetsuit and can be broken down into three types.

Flatlock: Great for warmer water temps (62F & up), flatlock seams look like railroad tracks and the interior and exterior look the same. The interior is flat and is comfortable against the skin. Some water seeps in through this type of seam.

Sealed (Glued & Blindstitched): This type of seam works well in cold water (55F & up). The seam is constructed by being glued first and then stitched. The exterior is similar to flatlock seams, but the interior is glued. Very little water will seep through this type.

Sealed & Taped (Glued Blindstitched & 100% Taped): These seams work well for really cold water (55F & below). It has the same construction as Sealed, but has taping on the interior and exterior. This tape reinforces seams for added durability and prevents any water from seeping in.

Watch the video below for more information on seam types!

#4: Extras

Extra internal and external features will enhance the performance of your wetsuit.

Poly Fleece

Poly fleece and quick dry poly fleece are internal linings that provide a quick drying time and keep you warmer, longer. There’s even quick dry poly fleece for an even faster drying time! See the video below on poly fleece linings:

Zippers

Surfing wetsuits can come in a variety of zipper types and are offered as a back zip, front zip (or chest zip), or zip free.

Full-Zipper provides your standard entry. Short-Zipper increases flexibility and limits water entry though the zipper. A chest zipper increases your flexibility and is becoming more popular and prominent in the surfing wetsuit industry. Zipper barriers are great for flushing water out of the zipper area!

Learn more about zippers with the videos below:

 

Smoothskin/Wind Resistant Neoprene

Smoothskin neoprene a.k.a smoothy is a rubberized coating applied to the outside of neoprene that helps block wind, and resists water absorbtion into the wetsuit. Smoothy is typically found on the chest of a wetsuit. Specialized windsports wetsuits feature more smoothy for better windblock.

Pros: wind resistance, better “cling” to a surfboard, blocks some water from entering the suit. Cons: adds a little extra weight to the suit, smoothy is delicate and shows nicks/cuts easily. Below is a quick video on smoothskin:

Key Pockets

Key pockets or key loops are added as a convenience to most wetsuits. See the brief video below to learn more!

 

Ready to shop for your surfing wetsuit? Shop our entire selection of surfing wetsuits.

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Lauren Belt

Merchandiser at Wetsuit Wearhouse
Lauren (LoLo) has been picking out the latest and greatest wetsuits and being the social media queen for Wetsuit Wearhouse since 2014. She learned to surf for the first time ever in Costa Rica but she gravitates more towards SUP. When she's not scouring the web for travel deals, you can find her either hiking, running, practicing yoga, studying holistic nutrition or reading a good book outside on a beautiful day.
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23 Comments

  • Avatar Goffredo Chippa says:

    Hi! I’m 6′ 4″, 200 and and live in Hermosa Beach…don’t get cold too easily. Large shoulders. Please let me know what is best for wet suit thanks! Also are there other options for much warmer days?

  • Avatar Jenny Choo says:

    Hi Lauren,

    I am new to surfing and am looking to get my first wetsuit (full) 3/2 or 4/3. I am having trouble with sizing and with COVID-19, not necessarily rushing to stores to try things on. I have been reading up on the Xcel Infiniti, but not sure what size I should look to purchase. Would love some advice! I am 5’3″, 133 lbs, have broad shoulders and an athletic build. My legs are super short (27″ inseam) and torso is long. I am also open to other recommended brands for my build. Not opposed to a men’s suit either if that is a better fit. Thank you!

    • Avatar Lauren Belt says:

      Hey Jenny,

      What’s your chest measurement? The most important measurement when figuring out your wetsuit size is the chest. Also, how cold are the water temps you’ll be surfing in? Once I get that information I can further help you find what wetsuit to get and what size to get it in. Thanks!

  • Avatar Susan says:

    Hello! For someone 5’3″ and growing , and 125 pounds, would a I sized up to an Adult Small?

  • Avatar Duane Marshall says:

    HELP !!!!!
    Size seems to be my issue. I’m 6’3″, weigh 220, have a 47″ chest. I’m looking for a full suit for SoCal water surfing. 2XL, XLT…??????

  • Avatar Jake says:

    Hi I want to ride my jet ski earlier this year and the water temps in Lake Erie will be in the mid 30’s when the ice is gone. What thickness would you recommend? Also at what water temp would you go to something lighter?

  • Avatar Derek says:

    can you tell me if anyone makes a sealed seam 2/2 full suit?

  • Avatar Jason Almerico says:

    Hi,
    I’m interested in getting a full hooded wetsuit for surfing off the Oregon Coast. Could you send me some ideas of a good suit for this purpose?

    • Avatar Lauren Belt says:

      Hey Jason,

      We have a good selection of full hooded wetsuits for surfing! Check out this link which has our men’s hooded fullsuit selection: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/wetsuits/category/mens-fullsuits-hooded.html. We have no complaints about any of these brands, so it’s up to you which one you decide to go with. They all have great tech features to keep you warm while performing on the water. It also depends on your price range. Feel free to contact our customer service team either via live chat, email (service@wetsuitwearhouse.com) or call 866-906-7848 if you have any more questions. Thank you!

  • Avatar Ben mccracken says:

    Hi, I need another wetsuit.i believe I bought one from you 3-4 tears ago , it was stolen.could you please look it up?
    It was a 4/3 ripcurl. Thanks Ben mccracken

  • Avatar Mike says:

    Lauren,
    In Pensacola, FL area. Looking for a versatile wet-suit (both SCUBA and surfing) for 17 year old son who seems to have near zero body fat (gets cold quick in water). Sure options can never be perfect when looking for versatility, but open to recommendations. I haven’t reviewed all your web page tutorials just yet, but thought I’d ask sooner then later.
    I’m thinking the coldest temps he will be in the water will be above 66 F…….

    R/ Mike

    • Avatar Lauren Belt says:

      Hi Mike,

      Sadly, there is no one wetsuit that will work for both SCUBA and surfing. You will need a much thicker wetsuit for SCUBA. If you don’t do well with cold water, you should try a 7mm fullsuit for diving: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/wetsuits/category/mens-scuba-7mm.html. As far as a wetsuit for surfing goes, try a 3/2mm sealed fullsuit (here’s the selection for our 3/2mm fullsuits, but filter to the sealed seams): https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/wetsuits/category/mens-fullsuits-32.html. Again though, it is not possible to buy one wetsuit for SCUBA and surfing, they have to be separate. Thank you!

    • Avatar Bryan Woods says:

      I’m 5″9′ and 205 lbs. I have a muscular chest and shoulders, I’m having a hard time finding a wetsuit that will fit. My height never matches the weight or chest size in the size charts. Any suggestions?

      • Avatar Lauren Belt says:

        Hey Bryan,

        Was there a particular wetsuit you were looking to get? The two most important measurements when deciding on a wetsuit size is your chest measurement and your height. Based off of your height also, maybe you should consider looking into a wetsuit that offers a Short size? Feel free to get back in touch here, or, you can always contact our customer service team via live chat, email (service@wetsuitwearhouse.com) or call 866-906-7848. Thank you!

  • Avatar Jim Haviland says:

    Do you have a sleeveless vest?

  • 1 2

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