Choosing the right wetsuit thickness
Choosing the right wetsuit thickness
Of course most of us prefer surfing in boardshorts, but unless you live in the tropics you’ll probably need to wear a wetsuit most of the time because of cold water and winds. Choosing the right wetsuit thickness for your local conditions is easy with our Thickness Calculator. The most important things to take into account when choosing the right wetsuit thickness, are the season and the corresponding ocean surface and air temperatures you are planning to surf in. Wind speed at the water surface level is an important factor too. Windchill can cool you down quickly. Secondly, after some years of surfing experience, you probably know if you often feel colder or warmer than your buddies after a session.
Don’t underestimate wind chill. A strong (hopefully offshore) wind drastically cools down the surface of your wetsuit, especially the double lined parts. That’s why we have added a smoothskin panel on the chest and back. These parts sit above the water surface most of your surf session. These smoothskin or mesh neoprene panels don’t absorb water and thereby reduce wind chill. To increase your session time on extra cold sub-zero days, you can dress yourself up with accessories like boots, gloves and a hood. As a rule of thumb, high quality neoprene and better techniques allow you to wear a thinner wetsuit. Let’s be honest, we’d do anything to get to that boardshort feeling. We design our wetsuits with this in mind and aim to create the warmest wetsuit possible without sacrificing flexibility. So what makes a wetsuit warmer?
The thicker the neoprene, the warmer your wetsuit. Neoprene thickness ranges from 2mm for summer wetsuits to 7mm for extreme winter conditions f below 5 degrees Celsius.
The better your wetsuit fits your body, the less water intake you will experience at the neck, ankles and wrists. Read more about choosing the right wetsuit size here.
Your seams are one of most vulnerable parts of the wetsuit and when not engineered properly you will notice water slowly entering the wetsuit. The warmest wetsuits feature glued and blind stitched seams (GBS). The needle only penetrates the outside half of the neoprene preventing water from coming in. The even warmer wetsuits feature GBS seams which are also taped with heat welded neoprene tape on the inside and top it off with a liquid rubber seal on the outside of the wetsuit. Flatlock seams are not what you are looking for in a warm suit. Flatlock seams penetrate the neoprene and make the seams vulnerable for water entering your wetsuit.
Design and details
Different design details define how long you can stay out there. A front zip wetsuit is more watertight than a back zip and therefore warmer. It also makes the wetsuit more flexible. The zip is the only part in the wetsuit that doesn’t stretch, so placement of the zip is very important. Plush lining on the inside of your wetsuit makes a 3mm wetsuit as warm as a 4mm. Seals on the inside of your wrist, ankles and neck make sure no water enters the wetsuit and the openings stay in place during a wipe-out.
You’ve probably heard of a 5/3 wetsuit, a 4/3 wetsuit or a 3/2 wetsuit. These numbers represent the different neoprene thicknesses used in the wetsuit. However, these numbers usually don’t tell the whole story. Typically, a 5/4 winter wetsuit uses neoprene in thicknesses from 2mm up to 5mm in different areas of the wetsuit. We like to keep things simple and call our wetsuit by their main thickness (5mm, 4mm or 3mm), but we also use different thicknesses for every style. Thicker where you want to stay warm (torso and upper legs), thinner where you need flexibility (shoulders, arms, knee area).
To cut a long story short, to stay warm when you surf you want a wetsuit that keeps the water where it belongs: in the ocean. All this information combined brings us to our Thickness Calculator. Add a millimeter when you feel cold quickly or when it’s very windy out there. Reversely you can go a bit thinner when the ocean surface conditions are a bit more favourable. When the water temperature drops below 10 degrees Celsius, we advise to wear a hood.