Surf wetsuit first impression

-- Last Updated: May-05-07 7:16 AM EST --

For a while sing has been saying good things about modern surf wetsuits. I had been thinking about replacing my old one -- which has mysteriously gotten tighter over the last 15 years -- so I ordered a 3/2 full for $120 from Sierra Trading Post.

It's worlds more comfortable than my old one(also a Body Glove). The material is much more flexible than the older neoprene, which allows a snugger fit without feeling restrictive. There are some neat design features to minimize leakage at the neck and zipper which should also make it warmer for a prolonged swim. It's comfortable enough that I'm thinking of using it for early-season swimming and snorkling as well as paddling.

It's got full sleeves, but they don't feel too restrictive. My first impression is that I probably wouldn't want to paddle all day in it, but that it should be fine for a couple of hours. I'll be interested to see how it goes on the water.

I know that a 3/2 isn't thick enough for seriously cold water, but this new neoprene is so much more flexible that even the heavier weights should be a big improvement over the old style. Sing has said that he paddles comfortably in a 4/3.

The only downside so far has been the Spider-Man jokes...;-)

All in all, I agree with sing -- if you've been avoiding wetsuits because you think they feel like wearing a soft body cast, a modern surf wetsuit is worth a try.


– Last Updated: May-05-07 7:17 AM EST –

I just ordered 3 shorties this AM. One each for my two sons and one for me (to replace my old neo 2mm shortie which is not as flexible). I been trying to get them to go surfing with me. They agreed to try (bodyboarding) but I don't want to take 'em until the summer, when the water is warmer and they can just wear the much lighter shorties.


PS. With a roll, you should be able to paddle with it all day. Just like a drysuit, if you get hot, do roto-cooling.

What do you suggest wearing underneath? I’m used to wearing lycra shorts and a polypro shirt under the old FJ, but was thinking I might want a different top since this has the full sleeves.


– Last Updated: May-05-07 7:36 AM EST –

I wear nothing underneath. In fact, I can't fit anything under my winter suit. It's that snug. With the 3/2, I have worn 1 mm neo top underneath to extend the warmth (and a drytop over for even more warmth). This was before I picked the 4/3 and 6/5/4. A drytop extends the 4/3. I haven't needed anything yet over the 6/5/4 and this is with air temps in high teens to twenties and water temp in the upper 30's. I do need nylon pogies over the mitts though in the winter. Wind chill gets to my hands since the mitts are only 3/2 (3 on top and 2 mm palms).


Abrasion resistance?
Is this the same kind of neoprene that is used in triathlete wetsuits? They seem to be stretchier than the cloth-faced neoprene, but possibly more prone to abrasion damage.

Or am I looking at yet another kind of neoprene?

Some Suits…

– Last Updated: May-06-07 7:25 AM EST –

will have smooth face chest and/or back area. The smooth face minimizes evaporative cooling but is not as abrasion resistant as the nylon face. A tear can easily be patched with a dab of aquaseal. Just about all the newer wetsuits by known brand names are using a stretchier, lighter, more flexible neo.

Different companies seem to offer cuts that favor some body types over others. However, the more size range offered, the better the chance of finding a suit that is a good fit. Just S, M, L, XL do not cut it with wetsuit fit and the reputable brands have three times more than the the mentioned size differentials.