Surf Wetsuit For The Beginner
Is this thing on right?
“Surf wetsuit” it is important to know this term because you don’t want to wind up with a dive wetsuit or a drysuit.
If you rock up to any surf shop its pretty unlikely they will have dry or dive suits, and if you are buying a used one from someone make sure you specify surf wetsuit just to make sure.
Okay so you have checked out the wetsuit guide and you kind of understand thickness and seams etc. If not then check out this page about wetsuits.
But there are things a beginner needs to know, stuff I didn’t know when I was just learning to surf and still didn’t know after I had been surfing for a number of years.
In the Beginning
My first surf wetsuit experiences could be called comical if it weren’t so kooky. But I was a kid and didn’t know any better or at least that’s what I tell my self.
I remember putting on my wetsuit at home-had to have my buddy help me into it- then I got a ride to the beach from mom, dropped me off in the morning and picked me up in the afternoon. ALL DAY in the suit, it was pretty agonizing after the 5th or 6th hour. The sad part was I did this a number of times never bothering to change at the beach just hung out in my suit all the time.
The rashes I get would hurt so bad- the neck, arm pit and the taint (perineum) area all rashed up. Absolute torture, but for whatever reason I kept coming back for more, I mean I could barely catch a wave.
I had borrowed a wetsuit for the first few times, then I made another mistake when I bought my first surf wetsuit. I bought it form a older kid who was a good surfer (which meant he could actually do a turn or two) It was a piece of crap. Old, crusty, stiff and worst of all it was an ugly rust or orange color. I paid too much for it and basically got ripped off.
I wish I knew how to buy a wetsuit then I’m sure I would have saved myself lots of grief.
Sometimes I would be able to sneak my older brothers wetsuit but he was 180 lbs and I was 140 so the suit didn’t fit that well, ha I was clueless. But my idiot moves are your gain.
So my advice to you is buy a new suit, it will help you stay in the water longer, more water time means more time learning how to surf.
How to Buy a Wetsuit
Surf Wetsuit Brands All Fit Differently
A large Billabong wetsuit won’t be the same as a large Hotline.
If you buy a wetsuit off the internet then check the return policy just in case it doesn’t fit right. There are some deals to be had on the internet so it does pay to shop around especially cause suits aren’t cheap. The Rip Curl H-bomb cost over a grand, for a fricking wetsuit its unreal.
At the surf shop
So you are at the shop and getting ready to try on some suits. Make sure you put the wetsuit on the right way, you do not want to put it on backwards and then cruise out of the dressing room. You will never live that down.
For wetsuits with a zipper they are usually on the back, so that is one clue, you should also be able to tell front from back by checking the knee area.
For the suits without a zipper or wetsuits with front zippers, just ASK which is which.
Once you got it on do some knee bends and some arm swings just to get a feel for it, you don’t want it to big or small, it should fit snugly in all areas. Remember the wetsuit will be a bit more flexible once it is wet.
One last thing if you buy it….ask for some free wax or a shirt.
Surf Wetsuit Care
I will be the first to admit I never took good care of my wetsuits-I surf warm water now so its not a problem anymore.
Its not hard to take care of them.
After every session wash out with fresh water (not salt) and make sure the water is cold, not hot, it ruins the neoprene. So no hot showers in your wetsuit.
- Don’t let it dry in the direct sun.
- Hang it up to dry.
- Don’t wash it in the washing machine. Wash by hand. (if you want to wash it use baby shampoo, or better yet surfshops have shampoo made specifically for this purpose.)
Don’t piss in your wetsuit (easier said then done) its a guilty pleasure(pissing on yourself) that I think only surfers get to experience. If you do happen to warm yourself up while surfing, Try not to leave the wetsuit in your car all day it makes your car smell like piss.
Follow those tips and your surf wetsuit should hopefully last for more then a season or two.
Putting your suit on at the beach
This is not as easy as it sounds, but basically guys wrap a towel around the waist and gals around the chest and waist, or you can just wear a bathing suit or underwear.
Having a big enough towel is key, this is a great towel as its big and drys quickly.
Getting your feet through the legs of a wet wetsuit can be a struggle sometimes, so a tip would be to put plastic baggies on your feet and they will slide right through or if putting on a completely dry wetsuit leaving your socks on seems to help.
Be Careful when taking off your suit, this handy change bag from FCS that will help keep your suit off the gravel/cement/rocks etc…..
One thing you might want to consider getting is a rashguard — a Lycra shirt that prevents rashes in the armpit and neck areas. These are pretty good investments as you will get rashes. If you are looking to buy a rashguard check this out.