Buying A Wetsuit

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With so many wetsuit brands and styles it can be daunting buying a suit. Here is a little breakdown of what to look for.

  • Thickness and length

The thickness of your suit will depend mainly on where you’re surfing and the time of year. You may need a couple of suits if you’re surfing year round. 

When looking at wetsuits there will be multiple numbers (e.g. 5/4/3). The first number is the key one, this will be the thickness of the body in millimetres. The others will be relating to the arms and legs, it can get really technical with different panel thickness but let’s not get into that.

An english summer you’d typically want a full length 3/2 or a 4/3 if you get a bit chillier or want to surf in the border months. A winter suit (5/4) is essential for the colder months (November-April) with other accessories – which I’ll get into later. If you’re really brave or are going on a more tropical holiday then you can delve into the realm of 1/2mm or short suits. 


@Monicalewiss suited up for a summers surf

  • Zip style

There are 3 types when looking at zips; back, chest and zipperless. 

A suit with a back suit is typically the standard suit as they are the cheapest and are easiest to get into. A chest zip is arguably going to be a bit warmer as there is less area for water to enter the suit. I rate these if you surf a lot, don’t mind the extra effort to get in and don’t always have a friend handy to help you zip your suit up. A zipperless suit comes with a bigger price tag, you may feel it as slightly warmer but is it really worth the effort to get in to? 

  • Make and size

Unless you’re going for a high end suit you won’t find much difference in suits – note that I’m not talking about your bargain rubbish supermarket suit, think reputable surf brand. The main thing is that the suit will fit you well, different suits will be better depending on your body shape. Unfortunately you will just have to try lots of suits on to work out what is best for you. If you want to get technical, another aspect you can find in some suits is the way they are stitched. If you’re not constantly in and out of your suit you’ll be fine with a standard stitching, but some brands are now taping over the stitching to provide a stronger seam. 

Local Cornish brand: Finisterre Nieuwland 4MM hooded womans wetsuit

  • Where to buy

You have two options, online is great if you know exactly what make, size and style you want – if not, the likelihood is that you’ll be sending a lot of suits back. The best option here is to go in store and try lots on. The best deals will come round after the season, so plan ahead and buy your winter suit as you head into summer. It’s always good to support your local surf shop! They’ll also be able to give you lots of advice on suits, boards and the surf so get chatting whilst trying on, 2-4-1 suit and advice, bargain! 

  • Accessories

This is section if only really necessary if you’re planning to brave the English winter and spring, surf in colder climates or just get colder than most. Boots are top of the list if you want to stay warmer, buy a pair without zips to keep your feet snug, split toe v normal is an argument you have to decide for yourself. A hood is essential to avoid brain freeze in the ice weather. You can get them attached to a thermal, with a chin strap or as a beanie style hat. Gloves don’t really vary but find a pair that fit so your hands aren’t flapping around when you’re paddling. 

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