Winter Wetsuit Guide
Last two years more brave surfers tried winter surfing than ever before. Due to the pandemic most people could not go on a trip and also sports have been cancelled. Thankfully, you could still enjoy a fresh and cold plunge in the North Sea to stay active. The rising request for neoprene on one hand together with production and shipment problems on the other hand made it difficult to always have the right stock levels. Luckily we are now back on track with the right neoprene gear. That means you don’t need to freeze in the cold water. Here we provide you with our annual guide with our latest collection of wetsuits, and neoprene accessories. And most of all a guide to help you to choose the right gear. There is a lot coming extra in winter when you think about the accessories; boots, hoods and gloves. From our own personal experience, we describe and show you how to wear it for the most optimal experience and the less cold water flushing in.
How to choose the right wetsuit in thickness - lining - sealing?
Is there a difference between kitesurfing wetsuits and surfing wetsuits?
What neoprene accessories do I need: boots, hoods and gloves?
How do I take care of my wetsuit?
Let’s start with the basics
How does a wetsuit work?
Winter wetsuits come mostly in 5 mm and 6 mm. On and under the arms the neoprene is often thinner; the thickness of this neoprene is found after the slash (/). Example: 5/4 mm means 5 mm of neoprene around the torso and 4 mm on the arms. The thicker the neoprene, the more warmth but also the less flexibility.
It is not only important what is on the outside. It is also about what is on the inside, what makes a wetsuit warm. A wetsuit with a lining costs you more, but in winter time it is nice to have at least lining on the core parts of your body, to keep you warm. Besides, it also dries quicker. And you do not want to put on a wet wetsuit in winter. Every brand has their own type of lining. Rip Curl has its flash lining, Vissla has its thermal fiber lining, Manera its magma fleece etc.
Seams are necessary to make your wetsuit fit well. But seams are also tricky because this is the first place where cold water will flush into when the sealing of the seams isn't done properly. Proper sealing results in less waste of energy to keep the thin layer of water warm.
There are many ways to seal a wetsuit, we're going to explain to you the most common ones:
- Glued and Blind Stitched: At first, the neoprene panels are being glued to each other. Afterwards the seams are getting stitched "blind" to each other. "Blind" means that the stitching is only halfway through the neoprene which results in a 95% waterproof seam. This way of sealing is also known as GBS. "Normal" stitching would result in many holes in your wetsuit. (we don't want this in winter)
- Glued Blind Stitched and fully taped: In addition to the GBS the seams are equipped with a flexible taping on the inside of all the seams. This improves the sealing, makes the seams more durable, and it also improves the insulation.
- "Liquid seams and taped": After blind stitching the neoprene panels to each other. A very strong "liquid seam" is used on the outside in combination with taping on the inside to make the wetsuit 100% waterproof. This is the most high-end way to seal a wetsuit.
Surf minded wetsuit brands:
Rip Curl | Quiksilver | C-Skins | Vissla
Surf minded wetsuits
C-skins ReWired 5/4 Chest zip Hooded
RIP CURL DAWN PATROL HOODED 5/4 CHEST ZIP BLACK
Kitesurf minded wetsuits
MANERA MAGMA METEOR 5/4/3 HOODED WETSUIT
VOLTT HOODED FULLSUIT 6/4/3MM
A great wetsuit will definitely keep you warm during the colder surf days but to maintain the warmth or when it is really cold you will need boots, hood and at the end gloves. We advise; to start adding the accessories in the exact order above, until it comes to the point you have to wear it all. You first start to get cold feet. Then you will lose the most warmth through your head. Gloves at the end. Just because we believe that is the most annoying accessory to wear;)Same with wetsuits you have boots, hoods, gloves in different kinds of thickness and lining. Also, there is a difference between kitesurf/windsurf accessories and surf-oriented accessories. Your preference is all that matters considering neoprene. Warmth always comes with less flexibility. We show you the differences, explain the thickness and give suggestions on what works best when putting on your neoprene accessories.
Types and differences? The difference between kitesurf and surf boots, mostly is about the sole. Kitesurf boots have a more stiffer and harder sole, that makes sure your feet don’t move so much while pushing into your strap. Surfing shoes have a bit softer sole for optimal board feeling.
Some shoes come with a round toe, where all your toes are free and able to touch one another therefore generates more heat. Then you've got a split toe, in this boot your big toe is separated from the rest, which gives you a little more stability since your feet won't be able to slip as much.
Thickness? Neoprene boots come in 5 mm or sometimes 7 mm for winter. The fleece lining the brands are using for the wetsuits you mostly find back in their boots as well. When you use a 5 mm with lining, you keep your flexibility and warmth and you usually don’t need to reach out to the 7 mm.
How to put on?
Everyone knows this feeling when your boot is full of water. Some boots have a strap on the top. The strap prevents water entering from the top of the boot. To get as little water in as possible, we put our boots under the wetsuit. So when your wetsuit is on, you pull up the legs over the boots. No matter whether it's surfing or kitesurfing.
A kitesurf wetsuit usually comes with extra straps attached to the wetsuit. Close the straps around your ankle. With an aqua flush the water flushes out anyway, without an aqua flush at least the water does not go straight into your boots.
Types and differences? There is a big difference between surfing and kitesurfing gloves. Surfing gloves can be a bit thicker, because you do not need to squeeze in anything. Kitesurfing gloves we prefer less MM as possible. Kitesurfing gloves can be pre-curved. So when you're holding the bar you don't have to work as much to keep your finger in that bar position. Less cramp.
Thickness? When you do choose surfing gloves and you go kiting, try to choose gloves which are thinner in MM. We suggest not more than 3mm for Dutch winter conditions.
How to put on? There is no difference in putting on the gloves whether surfing or kitesurfing. Same like with the boots, we put them under the wetsuit. If you have your wetsuit on, roll up your arms a bit, put your gloves on, and put the wetsuit arms over the gloves. When water comes in at the top, it will not go straight into your gloves.
Click on any glove below to see the full description or click here to see our stock in gloves.
Check the wetsuit features you like in thickness, lining, sealing and pick the right size.
Hopefully this article has cleared up some questions you might have had in buying a wetsuit which fits your needs. If not, you could always send us a mail with what you're looking for through this link and we'll get back to you with some fitting options.
✔ ALRIGHT NOW I'M READY TO BUY A FITTING WETSUIT AND NEOPRENE ACCESSORIES
How do I take care of my wetsuit?
It’s not nice but true; neoprene is not nature-friendly or sustainable at all (not yet). That is why we find it important to take care of our rubber in a way that extends the life-span of your wetsuit. This is better for our planet + for your wallet (win-win). Below you’ll find some tips & tricks to take care of your suit and to let it dry in a durable way.
- Always flush your wetsuit with fresh water after use. Why? Salt is in your neoprene after use and always holds moisture. With salt inside, your wetsuit will never dry and it also affects the glue in your wetsuit, which is not good for your seams. Be careful, don’t use hot water, the seams don’t like this either.
- After flushing it’s important to not hang your wetsuit on a classic clothing-hanger, but on a hanger that has a horizontal section to hang it “over the middle” of your wetsuit. (see pictures below to see what we're talking about). Hanging the wetsuit on its shoulders will result in overstretching the shoulder part of your suit which would be a pity.
- Don’t dry your wetsuit in direct sun-light. The Uv-light will dry-out the rubber of your suit, it will lose its warmth earlier and the flex will decrease as well. With the tips above your wetsuit will last much longer.
How to dry my wetsuit fast?
There is nothing worse than putting on a wet wetsuit in winter. Your wetsuit will obviously dry faster in a warm and dry place. If you don’t have a place like this (or your partner doesn't allow you to hang your wetsuit inside because of the smell). You might consider investing in the Surflogic Wetsuit Pro Dryer. This electric dryer blows warm air into your suit constantly. Thanks to heated air you will be able to dry your wetsuit in about one hour (depending on the thickness of your wetsuit). It’s also a great gadget when you're travelling with your campervan.