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Guide to buying the right surf wetsuit for your needs

One of the first things we must do to start surfing is to choose the wetsuit we will use. Here is a complete guide with everything you need to consider.

If you have any doubts, in our surfcamp in Lanzarote we will personally advise you to choose your wetsuit.

Choosing the right wetsuit is vital for surfing

How to choose the right wetsuit for surfing?

The first thing to know is that it was a Californian invention. Although it is still not clear who made it, it is thought to have been Jack O’Neill or Bob Meistrell of Body Glove, but it began to be marketed between 1950 and 1960. It was one of the elements that made it possible to promote the practice of surfing, since thanks to it, surfing ceased to be a seasonal and geographically limited sport, and could be practiced in any season of the year, as well as at any latitude of the planet.

It is in this sense that you should know that the wetsuit is made of a synthetic rubber filled with micro-bubbles of nitrogen. We are talking about a gas that has a great capacity to preserve temperature, keeping your body at the same conditions constantly.

Do you want to learn how to surf? Check out our surf school in Lanzarote, we have been teaching surfing to people from all over the world for more than 20 years.

You must learn how to choose a wetsuit for surfing.

In other words, thanks to these micro-bubbles, it is a light and very elastic equipment. It will not only preserve the temperature, but also makes it comfortable for surfing, swimming, etc. Recently, there are wetsuits without neoprene, such as these created by Patagonia.

At the same time, we know that you can find wetsuits with different combinations of sleeves and legs. However, we know that the most common is with long arms and legs, which is called integral. However, there are also those with short arms and legs (short suit), with long arms and short legs and with long legs and short arms. Another option is to use a jacket with or without sleeves and jumpsuits, so you will have a wide range of possibilities until you find your ideal outfit.

Choosing the ideal wetsuit for surfing: what to look for?

When choosing a wetsuit, there will be several features to consider:

Neoprene thickness

One of the most important characteristics of a wetsuit is the thickness of the neoprene sheets that make up the suit itself. This is a measurement that is usually between 1 and 6 millimeters, all according to the suit. A difference of 1 millimeter in the thickness of a neoprene means a different experience in the water, since the more millimeters the better it will protect from the cold, although it will also make movement more difficult and decrease comfort.

It should be noted that most suits are usually manufactured by combining neoprene sheets of different thicknesses. For example, we see that they can be seen on the chest, back and legs, using a 3 mm neoprene. Moreover, on the shoulders and arms a 2 mm neoprene, so that the suit can be more comfortable for paddling, and warm in the areas of the body that need it most.

Wetsuit sizes

Generally, the thickest area is in the chest area, which will be useful to increase the heat of the central core of the body. In the extremities, the thickness is reduced in order to increase flexibility and range of motion when rowing.

Depending on the water temperature, you could opt for the following options:

  • 23ºC or more – Swimsuit and T-shirt or lycra.
  • 21ºC to 23ºC – 1mm or more neoprene wetsuit and bib.
  • 18ºC to 21ºC – 2 mm shorty suit.
  • 17ºC to 18ºC – 2 mm wetsuit with short sleeves or legs.
  • 14ºC to 17ºC – 3/2 mm long suit.
  • 12ºC to 14ºC – 3/2 mm or 4/3 mm wetsuit with booties.
  • 10ºC to 12ºC – 4/3 mm wetsuit, with booties and neoprene gloves.
  • 8ºC to 10ºC – 5/4/3 mm wetsuit, with booties, gloves and neoprene cap.
  • 8ºC or less – 6/5/4 mm wetsuit, with booties, gloves and neoprene cap.

At the same time, thicknesses can be segmented into seasons:

  • 6/5 mm (winter)
  • 5/4 mm (winter)
  • 4/3 mm (autumn – winter)
  • 3/2 mm (spring – summer)
  • 2/2 mm (summer)

Neoprene seams

At the same time, the suit should have good seams. This is the section that will determine whether more or less water enters the interior.. What you need to know is that basic wetsuits are usually made with flat seams, which means that a lot of water is allowed to pass through the suit. On the other hand, you will find that mid-high range wetsuits are manufactured with a gluing system and blind stitching.

This involves first gluing the edges of the neoprene sheets together and then sewing them together on one side without the seams going through the neoprene sheet. This prevents water from entering through the seams. At the same time, we see that the high-end suits have the seams sealed with a special rubber, which makes them even more watertight.

Neoprene sizes

As for the size of the neoprene, ideally it should fit snugly to the body, as this will be more effective. This implies that there should be no wrinkles or creases, but it should also be comfortable and easy to put on and take off. Before you buy it, you should try it on several sizes until you can find one that you feel comfortable with and fits you really well.

There is a wide variety of surf wetsuit sizes.

It is important for you to know that there are special suitsfor boys and girls, with the characteristics that best adapt to the body of men and women. Girls’ suits are usually wider in the hips and chest, to adapt to the shape of each person.

The sizes in which the wetsuits are generally manufactured are:

  • XS – Extra small size.
  • S – Small size.
  • MS – Size medium in width and small in height.
  • M – Medium size.
  • MT – Size medium in width and large in height.
  • LS – Size large in width and medium in height.
  • L – Large size.
  • LT – Large in width and extra large in height.
  • XLS – Extra large in width and medium in height.
  • XL – Extra large size.
  • XXL – Super oversized size.

Suit with or without zipper

At the same time, the possibilities of customization are related to the tastes of each individual. One of the main choices is the two systems for putting on and taking off the wetsuit. The back zipper system (which is the most common) and the “collar” or zipperless system.

When we refer to the latter, we will notice that the suit is put on by putting the body through the neck of the neoprene, which is made of a very flexible equipment that stretches enough to allow it to pass without difficulty. At the same time, the advantage of not having a zipper on the back is that less water gets in. However, the main problem is that it is more cumbersome to put on and take off.

Suit complements

We are not only talking about the wetsuit, but also about the neoprene accessories. In other words, everything that will be useful to protect our feet, hands, head and chest from the cold. Booties, for example, are neoprene boots that, in addition to protecting us from low temperatures, are very useful for walking on rocky or volcanic bottoms. There are also neoprene gloves and hats that will serve to take care of areas of your body in intense cold. At the same time, bibs appear, which are like neoprene shirts that protect from the cold when the water is not cold enough to wear a wetsuit.

Ecological wetsuits

It is also worth noting that, at the same time that awareness of the planet is growing, different options for caring for the environment are emerging. Hence the emergence of eco-friendly neoprene, made with new equipmentthat allow the use of less petroleum-derived composition, as well as new eco-friendly adhesives, which make them less polluting. In fact, more than one brand has already embraced these new forms of manufacturing.

That is to say, these wetsuits are used thanks to special glues or rubbers, which in the case of the ecological ones are eco-friendly, being water-based without chemical ingredients or solvents. In other words, harmful components are eliminated from the suit. In this way, not only the environment is respected and protected, but also the health of the workers.

Ecological neoprene wetsuits

In addition, above the seams we will come across the equipment that represent the neoprene wetsuits of a lifetime. These are those used since the early 1950s. It should be noted that neoprene is the same as polyloroprene, a petrochemical product refined from crude oil, which is not good for water health. For this reason, environmentally friendly neoprene made from natural rubber, which are compounds that come from a equipment derived from sap, are used.

How to choose a wetsuit

At this point, you will have to ask yourself a few questions. Among them, what time of the year you will use it, also depending on the temperature of the water where you will surf. For example, here is a possible combination in addition to the previous ones:

  • Less than 3ºC – 7 mm long neoprene, complemented with booties, gloves and neoprene cap.
  • Between 4ºC and 7ºC – 6/5 mm long wetsuit, complemented with booties, gloves and neoprene cap.
  • Between 8ºC and 11ºC – 5/4/3 mm long wetsuit, complemented with booties, gloves and neoprene cap.
  • Between 12ºC and 17ºC – 4/3 mm long wetsuit, complemented with neoprene socks and gloves.
  • Between 12ºC and 17ºC – 3/2 mm long neoprene – 3/2 mm long neoprene
  • Between 18ºC and 20ºC – 2 mm neoprene with sleeves and short legs.
  • Between 21ºC and 25ºC – Swimsuit and neoprene lycra of 1mm or more.
  • Above 26ºC – Swimsuit and T-shirt or lycra.

Let’s suppose that you surf in summer on the Cantabrian coast, where the water temperature usually varies between 17 and 19 degrees. Depending on how cold you feel you will choose, although, at first, you could opt for a model in its 2mm short sleeve version or a 3/2mm.

Another point is to see how often you will use it. If you will only use it on weekends or vacations, there is no need to invest a lot of money. Or, on the other hand, since you will be looking for durability, you may want to make the investment, to ensure you have a quality suit for a long time to come.

If you want to learn to surf in Lanzarote, we encourage you to sign up at our surf school in Playa de Famara.

Size guide by brand and gender

Below is a size guide by brand and gender to help you choose:

Hurley Men’s Size Guide

SIZE HEIGHT(CM) WEIGHT(KG) CHEST(CM) WAIST(CM)

  • XS 163-168 52-61 86-92 71-76
  • S 170-173 61-68 86-92 74-79
  • MS 168-173 66-75 97-102 76-81
  • M 173-178 68-77 97-102 76-81
  • MT 183-191 78-82 97-102 76-81
  • LS 183-191 75-84 102-107 81-86
  • L 178-183 79-86 102-107 81-86
  • LT 188-193 84-91 102-107 81-86
  • XL 176-188 86-98 107-112 86-96

Hurley Women’s Size Guide

SIZE HEIGHT(CM) WEIGHT(KG) CHEST(CM) WAIST(CM)

  • 4 163-168 45-54 80-85 61-66
  • 6 165-170 48-57 83-88 64-69
  • 8 168-173 50-59 86-92 64-72
  • 10 170-175 56-64 90-95 71-76

Hurley child size guide

SIZE HEIGHT(CM) WEIGHT(KG) CHEST(CM) WAIST(CM)

  • 8 132-140 27-34 66-71 56-61
  • 10 140-147 34-41 71-76 61-66
  • 12 147-155 41-48 74-79 64-69
  • 14 155-166 48-54 79-84 66-71
  • 16 163-170 54-61 84-89 69-71

O’Neill Men’s Size Guide

SIZE HEIGHT(CM) WEIGHT(KG) CHEST(CM) WAIST(CM)

  • XS 168-173 52-59 90-93 70-72
  • SS 166-171 59-68 95-99 75-79
  • S 173-178 61-70 95-99 75-79
  • ST 183-188 66-75 95-99 75-79
  • MS 169-174 66-75 99-104 79-84
  • M 175-180 70-77 99-104 79-84
  • MT 185-191 73-82 99-104 79-84
  • LS 171-177 73-82 104-110 84-89
  • L 178-183 77-86 104-110 84-89
  • LT 188-193 82-91 104-110 84-89
  • XL 180-185 86-95 110-117 88-93

O’Neill women’s size guide

SIZE HEIGHT(CM) WEIGHT(KG) CHEST(CM) WAIST(CM)

  • 2 155-160 41-48 76-81 62-67
  • 4 160-165 45-52 77-83 64-69
  • 6 163-168 50-57 80-85 66-71
  • 8 165-170 54-61 83-88 64-74

O’Neill child size guide

SIZE HEIGHT(CM) WEIGHT(KG) CHEST(CM) WAIST(CM)

  • 1 88-98 11-13.5 48-53 45.5-51
  • 2 98-108 13.5-16 51-56 48-53
  • 3 108-118 16-18 53-58 51-56
  • 4 118-126 18-25 58-64 51-56
  • 6 126-133 22.5-29.5 62-67 55-60
  • 8 133-141 27-34 66-71 58-64
  • 10 141-147 34-41 71-76 58-64
  • 12 147-155 41-48 74-79 64-69
  • 14 155-163 48-54.5 79-84 69-74
  • 16 163-170 54-61 84-89 71-76

Premium Wetsuit Men’s Size Guide

SIZE HEIGHT(CM) WEIGHT(KG) CHEST(CM) WAIST(CM)

  • XS 170-175 5’7″-5’9″ 57-64 125-140 88-93 34.5-36.5
  • S 173-178 5’8″-5’20” 61-70 135-155 93-98 36.5-38.5
  • MS 169-174 5’6.5″-5’8.5″ 64-73 140-160 98-103 38.5-40.5
  • M 175-180 5’9″-5’11” 68-77 150-170 98-103 38.5-40.5
  • MT 185-191 6’1″-6’3″ 73-82 160-180 98-103 38.5-40.5
  • L 178-183 5’10”-6’0″ 77-86 170-180 103-108 40.5-42.5
  • XL 180-185 5’11”-6’1″ 86-95 190-210 108-113 42.5-44.5

Wetsuit women’s premium size guide

SIZE HEIGHT(CM) WEIGHT(KG) CHEST(CM) WAIST(CM)

  • 4 160-165 5’3″-5’5″ 46-52 100-115 75-82 30.5-32.5
  • 6 163-168 5’4″-5’6″ 50-57 110-125 80-85 31.5-33.5
  • 8 165-170 5’5″-5’7″ 55-61 120-135 83-88 32.5-34.5
  • 10 168-173 5’6″-5’8″ 59-68 130-150 86-91 34-36
  • 12 170-175 5’7″-5’9″ 64-73 140-160 90-95 35.5-37.5

Size guide premium Wetsuit child

SIZE HEIGHT(CM) WEIGHT(KG) CHEST(CM) WAIST(CM)

  • 10 140-147 4’7″-4’10” 34-41 75-90 71-75 28-30
  • 12 147-155 4’10”-5’1″ 41-48 90-105 75-79 29-31
  • 14 155-163 5’1″-5’4″ 48-54 105-120 79-84 31-33
  • 16 163-170 5’4″-5’7″ 54-61 120-135 84-88 33-35

Rip Curl Men’s Size Guide

SIZE HEIGHT(CM) WEIGHT(KG) CHEST(CM) WAIST(CM)

  • XS 167-172 54-63 85-85 71-76
  • S 170-172 61-70 85-95 73-78
  • MS 170-175 68-77 95-100 76-81
  • M 175-180 68-77 95-100 76-81
  • MT 180-185 72-81 95-100 76-81
  • LS 175-180 77-86 100-105 81-86
  • L 180-185 77-86 100-105 81-86
  • XL 185-190 86-95 105-110 86-91
  • XXL 188-193 95-104 110-115 91-96

Rip Curl Women’s Size Guide

SIZE HEIGHT(CM) WEIGHT(KG) CHEST(CM) WAIST(CM)

  • 4 152-160 45-54 76-81 58-63
  • 6 157-165 47-56 78-84 61-66
  • 8 162-167 50-59 81-86 63-68
  • 10 165-170 56-63 86-91 66-71
  • 12 170-175 59-68 91-96 71-76
  • 14 175-180 63-72 96-101 73-78

Rip Curl Kids Size Guide

SIZE HEIGHT(CM) WEIGHT(KG) CHEST(CM) WAIST(CM)

  • 2 91 11-13 56 53.5
  • 4 104 15-17 60.5 56
  • 6 118 20-25 65 58.5
  • 8 130 25-30 69.5 61
  • 10 142 30-35 74 63.5
  • 12 152 30-40 78.5 66
  • 14 162 40-50 83 68.5
  • 16 172 50-60 87.5 71

Visla men’s size guide

SIZE HEIGHT(CM) WEIGHT(KG) CHEST(CM) WAIST(CM)

  • XS 162-168 57-61 90 72-75
  • S 168-173 61-68 95 76
  • MS 170-175 70-77 100 80
  • M 173-178 70-77 100 80
  • MT 180-185 75-82 100 80
  • LS 170-175 75-82 105 85
  • L 178-183 77-86 105 85
  • LT 185-191 82-91 105 83-88
  • XL 178-188 86-93 110 88-93

Visla child size guide

SIZE HEIGHT(CM) WEIGHT(KG) CHEST(CM) WAIST(CM)

  • 4 117-125 16-23 56-60 48-53
  • 6 125-132 20-27 60-65 52-57
  • 8 132-140 25-32 66-70 56-62
  • 10 140-147 32-39 70-75 62-67
  • 12 147-155 39-45 75-80 67-71
  • 14 155-163 45-52 80-85 70-75
  • 16 163-173 52-61 85-90 74-79

Since 1996, in Lanzarote we enjoy teaching the true art of surfing. We are located in the Natural Reserve of Famara, an idyllic landscape designed by nature and made for surfing lovers.

Take a look at our wide range of training programs. And if you still want more, what better way to complete your surf training than with SUP, Kitesurf, Yoga or Diving courses?

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