How to choose your wetsuit for surfing and bodyboarding (the 5 point checklist)

Choosing a wetsuit for surfing or bodyboardingis not an easy task, but it is very important, to ensure you are comfortable in the water, that you don’t get cold and that you can surf for longer. In this guide, we are going to explain to you, step by step, the 5 criteria that you must take into account in order to choose a wetsuit that is suitable for your needs.

1. Choose the type and thickness of your wetsuit

Based on the temperature of the water where you are going to surf, you can choose from a full wetsuit with long sleeves and legs; a short-sleeved wetsuit; or a shorty wetsuit, with either short sleeves and legs, or long sleeves and short legs.

Steamer wetsuits (long sleeves and legs) are usually made in 5/4mm, 4/3mm and 3/2mm thickness. In Spain, the 5/4mm thickness is rarely used; 4/3mm is usually used for winter, and 3/2mm for autumn and spring, or throughout the year in the south of the peninsula and for those less sensitive to cold.

elegir traje de neopreno

Wetsuits with short sleeves and long legs are ideal for surfers looking for maximum comfort in temperate waters. They are usually 2mm thick, to offer maximum flexibility while giving sufficient thermal protection for waters above 20 degrees. These wetsuits are very often used by good-level surfers, due to the flexibility/comfort balance they offer, and due to the climate of the whole north coast of Spain in summer.

Shorty wetsuits are ideal for summer and for the Canary and Balearic islands. With short legs and either long or short sleeves, they are very comfortable and flexible. They are usually made from neoprene 2mm thick.

Based on the area in which you live, the time of year when you surf and the frequency that you surf, choose one or two models of wetsuit.

2. The type of fastening

Wetsuits for surfing and bodyboarding are now made with three types of fastening:

– Back Zip: the zip runs the length of your back; the suit is very easy to put on.

– Front Zip or Chest Zip: the zip is located on the chest, to prevent water from entering and to allow for greater flexibility.

– Zip Free: advances in neoprene materials, which are increasingly flexible, have enabled zip-free wetsuits to be designed to allow maximum flexibility. These are usually top-of-the-range wetsuits, which require the use of very flexible neoprene.

wetsuits chest zip

Chest Zip VS Back Zip

The choice of the type of fastening will very much depend on your budget. It is undeniable that the front zip provides more comfort than the back zip, but it is also more expensive.

3. The materials used

In surfing and bodyboarding, the suit must be flexible and provide warmth; if it is also strong – even better.

The comfort of a wetsuit primarily depends on the quality of the neoprene used to make it. Whether it is for surfing or bodyboarding, we are looking for the best possible flexibility, to feel as if we are in a swimsuit, and to have the best possible freedom of movement. Check if the wetsuit uses super-stretch neoprene, and the percentage of this type of neoprene the wetsuit contains.

We are also looking for a wetsuit that keeps us warm, to prolong surfing days in winter. Manufacturers have made great progress in recent years, with technical textiles that reflect the heat generated by your body. Check the characteristics of the neoprene with regard to thermal protection.

Unfortunately, the most flexible neoprene is often also the most fragile. A top-of-the-range wetsuit with 100% super-stretch neoprene will be much more comfortable and warmer than a middle-of-the-range wetsuit, but will not last as long, according to how you look after it.

4. The construction

The construction of a wetsuit is also a very important factor.

It affects the flexibility of the wetsuit, according to the number of panels used and how they are designed. The trend is to reduce the number of pieces of neoprene used to make the wetsuit.

Another important aspect is the sealing. Sealing the seams prevents water from entering through them and also strengthens them. Sealant is used in top-of-the-range wetsuits, or in middle-of-the-range suits but not on all seams.

Seams Sealed

The sealing can be carried out using liquid neoprene or by gluing on strips of neoprene. This can be done on the outside or inside of the wetsuit.

5. The size

It is essential that you choose the correct size; the best wetsuit on the market will be no use to you if it is too big. The wetsuit must fit your body perfectly, without air pockets or creases. Unless you are an uncommon size, you can usually trust the size guides provided by the manufacturers.

We hope that with these tips, it will be easier for you to choose your wetsuit, but since a video is worth more than 1,000 words, here is a video in which we explain these concepts using pictures. If you find it useful, like it on YouTube and share it on social media!

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