How does a wetsuit work? By keeping you wet! When the suit gets wet, it traps a thin layer of water between you and your suit. Your body heat actually warms that water and the suit traps in the heat to keep you warm. Pretty neat!
OK, so now that we know how it works, the question is, do I need to wear a wetsuit to surf? The short answer is no, you don't. There are lots of options to wear while surfing like board shorts, swim suits, jammers, dry suits, wetsuits and more. The most important things are that you are comfortable, confident, and appropriately dressed for the temperature of the water.
All that being said, wetsuits are an excellent choice for surfers of all ages and ability levels. Here are the pros and cons of surfing in a wetsuit:
- keep you warm in cold water
- stay on even if you fall off your board
- absorb some impact when you hit the water
- can help you float
- look great on many body types
- they are flexible
- come in many styles for different coverage
- some people are susceptible to rashes when wearing wetsuits
- can be expensive
- have special care instructions - no washing machines!
- not ideal for swimming
- not easy to take on and off in a hurry
So, do you think a wetsuit is right for you? Here are a few tips for buying your first wetsuit.
Tip 1 - pay attention to the stitching. Overlock/flatstitch/flatlock = warm water. Bindstitch/seam taping/fluid seal = cold water
Tip 2 - consider the thickness. Wetsuit material varies in thickness. Thicker suits are better for colder water. Easy!
Tip 3 - this is not like buying regular clothes! It might feel weird at first. A wetsuit should feel snug but not constricting. Take measurements of your body and ask people at the store for help.