The Complete Guide to Choosing a Wetsuit: Everything to Know


Approximately 1.73 million people go surfing each year in the United States. It’s a unique sport that offers tons of health benefits, and it allows you to spend your days on the water and out in nature.

Before you can go surfing, though, you need to consider choosing a wetsuit. This is the suit you’ll wear out on the waves, protecting your body as you surf.

You can’t go out and buy a wetsuit as you would a swimsuit. There are specific things you need to look for, which, luckily, this guide has covered.

Read on to learn more.

Chest Zip vs. Back Zip

Back zip wetsuits are the most common type you’ll find. They are the kind that most everyone wears on television shows and in movies.

Yet, they may not be the most efficient kind of wet suit.

Back zip wetsuits have a zipper that runs down the middle of the back and can be pulled up with a lanyard that is attached. They are generally cheaper than chest zip wet suits but have a significant design flaw.

Because of the zipper running along the middle of the back, water can get flushed in anytime you go underwater. If you’re swimming in cold water, this can cause an icy sensation to occur every time you dive under the surface.

Chest zip wetsuits do not have this problem.

They have a different design, with a flap and a horizontal zipper that runs across the chest. You must put the flap over your head and then connect it to the zipper, which can make it harder to do with just one person.

However, because of this design, less water will get flushed into your suit when you go underwater.

It is also more comfortable because there isn’t a zipper running down your entire back. This can make arching your back and putting your head up uncomfortable.

When comparing wetsuit prices, chest zip wet suits are more expensive, but if you are planning on surfing in cold water, they are definitely worth the money.

Consider the Thickness

When deciding what thickness you should get, you must consider your location.

You want to find a thickness that will work for you throughout the year to keep you warm.

The hotter your weather, the thinner the wetsuit needs to be. You may want to invest in two different wetsuits if you plan on surfing in various locations or in both the summer and wintertime.

Choose the Proper Material

There are many different wetsuit materials, and finding the proper material is just as important as finding the correct thickness.

All wetsuits are made of neoprene, but not all neoprene is created equal. If you buy a cheaper wetsuit, there’s a good chance it’s made from a cheaper source of neoprene.

Some materials, such as Hyperflex neoprene, are also easier to take off than others. Consider the features that are most important to you, and make sure the material you choose fits that.

Adjust Your Expectations

While you may think it’s possible to surf even in the coldest weather, you may end up only surfing when it’s considered in season.

Adjust your expectations to decide how many wetsuits you buy and how much you spend on them.

For instance, you may want to buy two wetsuits, so they work for all seasons. Yet, instead, you could buy just one that is more expensive and will work for nine or ten months out of the year.

If you end up actually going surfing when it is quite cold, you can invest in a second wetsuit later on. If you are new to surfing, it is often recommended not to go surfing when it is cold, as this can lead to other complications.

Pick Your Features

Now it’s time to decide what common wetsuit features you’d like to add to your wetsuit. These are considered extras since you don’t need them, but they are often highly worth it.

You can get seals for your neck, arm, and ankles, preventing the flood of water from coming into your suit. You can add these to back zip suits to make them more effective.

There are also glued seams, reducing the amount of water that seeps into your suit.

You can look for zippered ankles, which make it easier for you to put on and take off your suit and makes it easier for you to put on your shoes.

Some wetsuits come with a thicker core, allowing your core to stay warmer. There’s also a “skin in” feature, which is a coating on the inside of the wetsuit that makes putting it on and taking it off easier and provides extra warmth.

Measure Up

There are various sizes for wetsuits, so to find the one that will fit you best, it is highly recommended that you measure all of the relevant parts of your body first.

You’ll need to know your height, weight, chest, and waist measurements. This will help you find the most accurate size, as wearing a wetsuit that is too little or too big can be extremely uncomfortable.

Make Choosing a Wetsuit Easy With This Guide

Choosing a wetsuit can seem a little tricky at first, especially if you are new to surfing. This guide can help get you started, so you can find the perfect wetsuit for you and get out on the waves in no time.

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