With winter just around the corner, it’s time to start looking for a good quality wetsuit that will make getting into the ocean on those chilly winter days a little more manageable.

With so many options out there, it’s important to understand what features you should be looking for in your winter wetsuit.

Thick or Thin?

The thickness of a wetsuit is measured in millimetres, with differing thicknesses often being categorised into winter, spring or summer wetsuits. For example:

  • Winter wetsuit: 3mm – 5mm
  • Spring wetsuit: 3mm – 4mm
  • Summer wetsuit: 2mm – 3mm

To decide on which thickness is right for you, think about:

  • How cold you usually get in the surf
  • What water temperature you will be surfing
  • How flexible you want your wetsuit to be

Many surfers look for a wetsuit that offers thicker neoprene covering the core and thinner neoprene covering the arms. This is because surfing in a wetsuit increases the resistance when paddling. By having the thinner neoprene on the arms, the resistance is reduced. However, don’t go out and purchase a thinner winter wetsuit just for this reason. Make sure you pick a winter wetsuit that will keep you adequately warm in the water. There is nothing less appealing than being out in the surf and freezing your butt off!

Size

Think of a wetsuit as a second skin on your body. For it to work, it needs to be tight to keep the heat in. It is a good idea to try a wetsuit one size smaller than the size you would usually buy. This will ensure a nice, tight fit.

Keep in mind that there may be sizing differences between brands so make sure to try on the wetsuit before purchasing. If a wetsuit feels like it is too big in any areas, don’t buy it. You need to find one that fits your whole body well.

Zipper

The options are either a back zip or a front zip. Back zips are generally more common in wetsuits. They are easy to get into and the velcro neck fastening means it is always tight.

The front zip offers more flexibility but will take in more water unless it fits perfectly around the neck. Some front zip options can also be quite uncomfortable when lying on the surfboard.

Either way, both do the job. So front or back zip, this is totally up to you and your personal preference.

Length

If you are looking for a winter wetsuit, stick to something long. Shorties are only for the brave hearted or people who handle the cold particularly well. Some surfers opt for longer wetsuits with the shorter sleeves to avoid the resistance when they paddle. However, most stick with the full length legs and arms.

Where to buy?

Head into any surf shop and you will find an array of wetsuits to choose from. You can take a browse at some of these major brands and retailers to get a good idea of what is available.

O’Neill
Billabong
Ripcurl
Patagonia
Roxy (females)

And that’s it. Happy surfing!