Everything you need to know before buying a wetsuit plus care tips
Surfing is not just a sport; it's a way of life. The thrill of catching the perfect wave and gliding through the ocean is a feeling like no other. It does not discriminate and captures people of all ages and walks of life.
But to make the most of your surfing experience, a high-quality wetsuit is an absolute necessity to keep you warm and comfortable. Choosing a wetsuit can seem like a minefield with so many different options available; as seasoned experts with over 50 years of experience making wetsuits, our mission is to be your trusted guide through the exciting world of wetsuits.
We are dedicated to equipping you with the knowledge and confidence needed to make informed decisions and conquer the waves with the prowess of a seasoned pro!
What is a wetsuit?
A wetsuit is a specialist garment worn in the water to help keep you warm. As one of the most vital pieces of gear a wetsuit is often crafted from stretchy and insulating neoprene material. The neoprene's structure effectively traps air, creating an insulated barrier. While the thermal linings within the wetsuit further amplify the insulation by creating additional layers of trapped air close to your skin.
Equipped with a decent wetsuit, you can fully immerse yourself in water activities, enjoying the thrill of the experience!
How do I find the right wetsuit size?
Achieving the perfect wetsuit size is essential for a comfortable and enjoyable water sports experience. Nobody wants an ill-fitting wetsuit with a baggy crotch or ankle basher legs! To ensure the ideal fit, follow these steps and find your perfect wetsuit:
- Measure Yourself: Start with your clothing size as the initial indicator. Then, use a flexible measuring tape to take precise measurements of your chest, waist, hips, and inseam. Consult the brand's size chart and identify the size that closely corresponds to your measurements.
- Consider Body Type: Keep in mind that different brands may have diverse size ranges, and some cater to specific body types like tall, short, or petite individuals. Pay attention to any sizing recommendations that align with your body shape.
- Try It On: Whenever possible, it's best to try on the wetsuit in person. Focus on the fit around the shoulders, chest, crotch, and knees. The wetsuit should feel snug, but not overly tight, ensuring a full range of motion. After all, paddling out can be challenging enough without adding unnecessary resistance from an ill-fitting wetsuit.
- Seal and Closure: Ensure the wetsuit forms a secure seal around the neck, wrists, and ankles. If these areas are loose-fitted, cold water might rush in... not cool! Additionally, check that zips and closures are easy to use and do not cause any discomfort. A well-sealed and comfortable wetsuit will keep you warm and focused on enjoying the water without any unwanted surprises!
- Size Chart: If you find yourself between two sizes or at the upper end of the size range, we recommend seeking advice with our wetsuit team. Wetsuits are designed to offer a snug fit without restricting your range of movement.
Remember, a well-fitted wetsuit will enhance your performance and keep you warm during your water adventures. If you're placing an online order, feel free to get in touch with our knowledgeable wetsuit team. They're here to assist you with fitting and sizing recommendations, ensuring you get the perfect fit for your new gear.
What thickness of wetsuit do I need for different water temperatures?
The thickness of the wetsuit you need depends on the temperature of the water you will be surfing in, your tolerance levels and the wind on the day... don’t be fooled by a sunny but windy autumn day! So, what is with the wetsuit numbering system, sounds a bit complicated right? Wrong, once explained it’ll make far more sense:
- The numbers refer to the thickness of the neoprene measured in millimeters
- The first number refers to the thickness of the neoprene around your core. The bit keeping your organs warm... the important bit where you’ll need the most insulation.
- The second and/or third numbers refer to the thickness of the neoprene on your arms and legs, this is where you’ll need more flexibility and less insulation.
- The higher the number the thicker and warmer the neoprene.
- The lower the number the more flexible the neoprene.
Simple right? The diagram above will help you choose the right thickness for the conditions you’ll be surfing in.
Always consider your personal tolerance to cold and the duration of your water activities when choosing the appropriate wetsuit thickness, having to cut your session short when the conditions are awesome is a bit of a bummer!
How do I properly care for and clean my wetsuit?
- Rinse with Fresh Water: The bare minimum of wetsuit care, rinse inside and out with fresh water. This will help remove salt and sand that can lead to corroding of your wetsuit.
- Shampoo: Let’s not pretend you get out of the sea to pee; an occasional wetsuit shampoo will help rid any bad smells and remove all traces.
- Dry Thoroughly: Allow your wetsuit to dry completely before storing it, not forgetting to turn it inside out and then back again.
- Do Not Use Heat: Just to clarify we don’t recommend that you use a machine wash, tumble dry or iron your wetsuit... not unless you want to purchase a new one very quickly!
- Avoid damage: When changing at the beach, avoid standing on gravel in car parks by using a change mat or find soft ground areas such as grass to help prevent ripping and scuffing your wetsuit. Also take care around the chest and back soft single lined panels to avoid puncturing or tearing these when climbing in or out, or adjusting the wetsuit. Single lined areas help to cut down the wind chill when out in the lineup and fingernails etc. can tear these delicate panels.
How should I store my wetsuit?
Storing your wetsuit properly is essential for maintaining its longevity, preventing the fabric breaking down, ensuring the fit remains the same and keeps it functioning optimally. Here are some tips to help you store your wetsuit correctly:
Avoid Folding when drying or storing your wetsuit as it can create creases that may become permanent over time. Instead, gently drape the wetsuit over a hanger or drying rack to maintain its shape. If you prefer, use a wide hanger with padded shoulders or a specialised wetsuit hanger to prevent indentations and excessive stretching overtime.
Our top pick for a wetsuit hanger is the C-Monsta Wetsuit Hanger CV2
Store it in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. We know how tiring it is after a grueling day being battered by the waves... but never leave your wetsuit in a bag or container as this could lead to potential damage. If your wetsuit has a zip, leave it open whilst drying to help ventilate your suit.
Is there specific wetsuits for men, women, and children?
Yes, there are wetsuits designed specifically for men, women, and children. The differences lie in the fit, shape, and design to accommodate the unique body proportions as we’re all different shapes and sizes after all. Some brands may offer unisex wetsuits that can be worn by anyone, while others have specific collections for each group.
Apart from the fit and design, wetsuits for men, women, and kids may also differ in style and colour preferences too. When choosing a wetsuit, it's essential to consider not only the size but also the body shape to ensure a comfortable and effective fit.
How long does a wetsuit typically last, and when should I consider replacing it?
Wetsuit lifespan varies based on usage, care, and the quality of the wetsuit. On average, a well-maintained wetsuit can last anywhere from 2 to 5 years of regular use. However, factors like exposure to sunlight, frequent use in harsh conditions, or improper storage can affect its durability. If you notice signs of wear such as thinning neoprene, loose seams, or a decrease in thermal insulation, it might be time to consider replacing your wetsuit. Upgrading to a new one ensures you continue to enjoy optimal comfort and protection during your water adventures. Remember, investing in a high-quality wetsuit and practicing proper care will extend its life, keeping you confidently riding the waves for years to come!
Sadly, as with all things, nothing lasts forever. While diligently following these tips will undoubtedly extend the life of your cherished wetsuit, there will eventually come a time when it has weathered one too many swells. When that bittersweet day arrives, rest assured that we'll be here to wipe away your tears and assist you in finding the perfect replacement. We can save your wetsuit from landfill by recycling your old suit for you, with our partner Circular Flow.
Why not take advantage of our special offer: trade in your old suit and receive a 10% discount on any Tiki Wetsuit. Upgrade your gear while saving... it's a win-win!
Can I wear anything under my wetsuit for added warmth?
If chosen correctly using our Wetsuit Temperature Guide above, you shouldn’t need any extra layers underneath your wetsuit for added warmth. In fact, adding extra layers underneath can do the opposite and hinder the wetsuit's insulating performance. That doesn’t mean you need to bare all and opt for your birthday suit, but some board shorts or swimsuit will suffice.
Should you choose to wear a rash vest for extra comfort check out our favourites here.
Surfing holds an inexplicable allure that draws surfers back to the sea time and time again. Offering lessons in patience, resilience, and respect for the ocean's power.
Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned pro, surfing provides an escape from the mundane whilst immersing yourself in the beauty of the sea.
Our Wetsuit Team provides free fitting advice, helping reduce returns and minimise our environmental impact as we aim to protect our planet.
If you’re unsure on sizing, brand, thickness etc… please consider contacting one of our pro wetsuit team, with over 1000+ wetsuit fittings under their belt, they'll ensure you get it right the first time, eliminating the need for returns.