As the air temp drops in winter the water begins to cool down and a well fitted wetsuit will make the difference between an awesome lengthy surf to a shivering quick paddle that leaves you feeling frosty all over! So how do you know which wetsuit is right for you, and if it will fit?
The answer to this depends on where you surf, how often you surf and what your budget is. The water changes temperature all year round, but typically gets colder around May, with the lowest temps lasting through to September and October. It starts to warm up around November, but doesn’t reach spring suit temperature until December. For waters around Gerringong, a 3/2mm wetsuit will be the best option for 90% of the year. Water temp varies on each coast, so check the average sea temp near you and compare with the wetsuit recommendations to find the best option for you.
How often you surf is another important factor in buying and using wetsuits, if you’re an avid surfer and go out 3+ times a week all year round, you’ll want to invest in a suit that will be durable and be suited to the temperatures near you for most of the year, like the Vissla Seven Seas.
The more you wear your wettie the more it will stretch, so for regular surfer 1 - 2 years, is the typical lifespan of a wetsuit before holes appear, elastic stretches and the wear and tear of use gradually deteriorates the material. If you surf a bit less than this and look after your wetsuit properly (rinse after use, dry in shade), you’ll get a bit more wear out of them.
Now let’s talk about fit, which is super important with wetties as an ill-fitting wetsuit won’t keep you warm. With wetsuits, the tighter the better. You don’t want any gaps or gaping sections, as these will hold water and stretch the suit faster than normal. Gaps are usually found on the lower back and crotch, and require going a size down to fix. Check the size guides and measure your chest and waist to save the time and hassle of trying on multiple wetsuits.
If you’re taller or shorter than average, lots of brands like Vissla, O’Neill and Billabong
will have an extra size for this – MS is Medium short, which means you fit into the shorter bracket on the size guide, but have the same chest and waist dimensions. Another column you’ll find on size guides, is a weight column. This column factors in the muscle and fat distribution at certain heights and sizes will vary, so check this if there’s an option of Shorter or Taller wetsuits in the size range too.
Now there are heaps of features you may want to consider when buying a wetsuit too, for instance whether to go back zip or chest zip will come down to dexterity and personal preference, chest zip wetsuits are becoming increasingly popular, however if you have trouble pulling the tab up and over your head, you may prefer a back zip option. Thickness of a wettie relates directly to how cold the water is, with the thicker material (3mm) around the torso and thinner material (2mm) on the arms and legs.
So what kind of money do you need to spend for a decent wetsuit? Every brand has differing technologies that go into the fabric and make of a wetsuit, so it’s good to know the basics and look past the marketing to the core benefits of a wetsuit, like the fabric, seams and other benefits.
$200 - $300 Range
The lowest price point is the $200 - $300 range, which will get you a good wetsuit that covers the basics, they usually have flatlock seams, which means they are more vulnerable to cold at the seams. These are good options if you don’t surf heaps but need the wettie to get into the water.
The next price point includes $330 - $450, and is often considered the best value for money, allowing for a reasonably good wetsuit, but not at the cost of a high end wettie. This price range holds some of the popular choices with our regular surfers, who don’t want to spend heaps on new wetsuits every year, but want something durable with extra features the lower price point won’t have, such as Glued and Blind Stitched seams, which is more efficient at blocking water from coming in your wetsuit than a flatlock seam. Some of these may also have small amounts of taping, which completely seals the seam = more warmth, less cold water!
The higher end wetsuits start at around $500 - $700, and are smack full of special tech like extra stretchy rubber, lightweight materials, liquid tape and heaps more. These wetsuits provide the most warmth and are good for anyone that really feels the cold, or needs a higher performance wetsuit. Some of the higher end wetsuits may have slightly less flex in them, but this a trade off for the extra warmth they provide with taping and materials.
Check out our full range of wetsuits here, and reach out by email or phone if you have more questions. Or, if you live locally to Gerringong, come in store and let one of trained staff members assist you in finding the best fit and wetsuit for you!
We also have heaps of accessories for surfing, check them out below!