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How to choose the right wetsuit thickness

When surfing in colder waters you need to be a bit better prepared in terms of equipment. It’s important to know what type of wetsuit to choose when it comes to cold water conditions. This will give you the best balance between flexibility and the ability to stay warm. The thicker a wetsuit gets, the warmer it will be, but at the same time you also lose a bit of flexibility for every mm of wetsuit thickness. In warmer waters, you might only need a spring suit, but in colder waters you will need a fullsuit.


Know the water temperature

As surfers, we usually define water temperatures below 17° to be cold. However surfing in the south of Europe in cold water, can mean temperatures around 12-15°, and surfing in the north of Europe or even in the arctic region can be anywhere between 12° to below 6°. 

You can use the water temperature to determine what thickness of wetsuit to pick. To make the process easy for you we have made the table below to illustrate what type of wetsuit and thickness, you will need for the different water temperatures. 

 

Water temperature ThicknessType
above 22°noneBoardshorts
19°2mmSpring suit
15°3mmFullsuit/Spring suit
12°4mmFullsuit
5mmFullsuit
below 6°6mmFullsuit


Extra equipment to consider

When you are surfing in waters with a temperature below 12°, there is some extra equipment you need to consider in terms of staying warm.

The first thing is a pair of surfing boots. These are made in the same material as your wetsuit. Your feet can quickly cool down your body temperature, a pair of surf boots therefore becomes a necessity when water temperatures go below 10°.

The next accessory you want to add is a pair of surf gloves, these come in handy when the water temperature goes below 9° and the wind is strong and cold.

Last but not least, you need to gear up if you are surfing in waters with a temperature below 6 °. This means wearing a full suit hooded or adding a surf hood. Gloves and boots are a must in these temperatures as well.

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