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Wetsuit Basics

 

WHY WEAR A WETSUIT?
A wetsuit's main advantage is warmth. It allows you to remain in the water longer and more comfortably by keeping your core body temperature warm. A wetsuit is not only for surfing. Surface sports such as kayaking and stand up paddleboarding can also be more fully enjoyed wearing a wetsuit since the suit also adds protection against wind and splashes of cold water. Neoprene Wetsuits give slight buoyancy making swimming and treading water a little less tiring. However, a wetsuit is by no means a life jacket or flotation device. The suit also provides a layer of protection from sharp rocks and equipment.




HOW DOES A WETSUIT WORK?
Made from a flexible soft material called neoprene, wetsuits allow a very thin layer of water between your skin and the suit. This water warms up from your body heat. The insulation provided by the neoprene in the suit keeps you warmer. Wearing one that is too large for you will cause a flow of consistently cold water to be flushed through the suit rendering it useless as protection from the cold water.




 
WHAT TYPE OF WETSUIT SHOULD I BUY?
This decision is primarily based on how cold the water is in the area you are planning on surfing. When making your decision, take into account how well the wetsuit fits,  its thickness and quality.

Jackets or Thin Skins
Available in 1/2mm to 2mm thickness, these are often used on cool days when the water temperature is in the low to mid 70's.

Springsuits or Shorties
Usually available in 2:1, which is 2mm thick in the body and 1mm thick in the arms and legs. This wetsuit normally features short sleeves and a leg length that is just above the knee. Springsuits are most often used in water temperatures of 65 degrees or more.

Full Wetsuits
Usually available in a 3:2, which is 3mm thick in the body and 2mm thick in the arms and legs. This wetsuit features long sleeves and legs and is most often used in water temperatures as cold as 60 degrees. A 4:2 wetsuit is primarily used in water temperatures as cold as 55 degrees.


HOW SHOULD A WETSUIT FIT?
Your wetsuit should be tight but not restrictive. Think of it as
a second skin. It should be free from bunching in the arm or leg area. Remember, the suit will stretch out slightly when wet. The neck of the suit has to be reasonably tight to prevent excess water from entering the suit. Extra material has been built into the suit under the arms to allow for movement and lifting of the arms when paddling. When trying on a wetsuit, lift your arms overhead. If you feel that you have to use too much energy or force to lift them then the suit is probably too small for you. You should be able to squat and move your arms. Slight feelings of discomfort are normal when wearing a wetsuit for the first time but soon go unnoticed as you use and enjoy the suit in water.




HOW SHOULD I PUT A WETSUIT ON?
If properly sized, a wetsuit should make contact with your skin over the majority of the area it covers. A helpful tip when putting on a wetsuit is to wear socks or plastic bags on your feet prior to putting one on. This will make it much easier to get into. (Don't forget to remove the socks/bags once the legs are in.) If the wetsuit rubs against your skin around the arms or neckline, we recommend wearing a rashguard to help avoid this.

Starting with the feet, pull the legs of the suit up to your thighs. Remove any folds by pulling on the shins then move the ankle into position. Pull on the knee area to move the shin into position then pull on the thigh to put the knee pads into position. While pulling over your thighs, make sure it is pulled snugly into the crotch. 

For the top half of the wetsuit, pull the sleeves over the wrists and onto your lower arms, remove folds and pull into position. Pull the rest of the way up your arms making sure the armpit area is pulled up snug, similar to the crotch area. Finally pull up the zipper and secure any Velcro fastenings. Your suit should now feel snug but not restrictive, and you are now ready to head out into the water.

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