It’s finally starting to feel a little bit more like fall over here in Venice Beach. It’s getting darker sooner, the air is a bit nippy and so is the water. We thought now would be the time to help you decide what wetsuit you should be wearing when you’re out bodysurfing as the water gets chilly. You’ll be dashing out to the break, warm and content, while everyone else is tentatively dipping toes in!
Now a little background on what makes wetsuits so wondrous: Neoprene. This is the stuff that is used to make wetsuits, and it’s really quite the magical material. Wetsuits are meant to allow a bit of water to seep into the suit at first. Then, your body heats up that water, which helps to insulate you while you’re out shredding. The neoprene prevents more cold seawater from washing out the warm water that you have already heated yourself.
There are generally four types of wetsuits that are out there for you to choose from.
The Full Suit – This suit is the whole shebang. It reaches from your ankles to your wrists and is typically for colder water and air temperatures. If you’re in water between 55 and 58 degrees, this is the suit for you.
The Short Suit – The legs on this suit cut off just above the knee and can have either short-sleeved or full-sleeved arms. If you’re bodysurfing somewhere where the water temp isn’t so bad, this is probably the suit for you. Short suits are also typically made of thinner neoprene panels than the full suits. This suit will keep you comfortable in water temperatures between 66 and 73 degrees.
The Farmer John – This is a sleeveless suit with full legs, and designed for a rash guard when the water and air temperatures are favorable. The farmer john will help you out if you’re in water anywhere from 60 degrees and above.
Thickness: How thick a wetsuit is determines the surfer’s and bodysurfer's general warmth and happiness. Neoprene panels can be as thin as 1 millimeter, or can be as thick as 6 millimeters. The chest and back panels are usually thicker than the arm and leg panels. This is why some wetsuit sizes are labeled with two numbers, like 4/3mm. The chest and back panels are 4mm in this example, while the arm and leg panels are 3mm.
Fit: It is important to find the wetsuit that has the proper amount of extra space between your body and the suit. If the suit is too big, the amount of water that is initially let in will be too large for your body to heat up. On the other hand, if it is too tight, there won’t be enough water to heat up. Make sure you have a wide range of motion when you’re wearing your wetsuit. You should be comfortable walking, sitting, paddling and swimming in your suit. If it’s too tight around your shoulders and/or knees, you might want to go up a size.
Now that you have a good idea of what wetsuit works best in each condition, suit up and get out there! The waves are waiting!