Wetsuit Types2 comments
If you are looking to buy a new wetsuit, the terminology, and huge range of choice, can be a little confusing. Here we'll look at a number of different wetsuit shapes, from a simple vest to a fullsuit. This is a general starters guide, and will contain links to more in-depth wetsuit information.
The vest provides a little bit of neoprene coverage, giving protection from wind chill. The wetsuit vest is ideal to keep you more comfortable on a summers day surf. The image on the left shows it looks just like (depending where you come from) a vest, tank top, or singlet. The vest is normally either 2mm or 3mm thick. Wearing something on your bottom half is optional (but advised).
Pros: Shows off your tattoos, muscles, underarm hair. Does not impede paddling. No more surf wax matting your chest hair.
Cons: Shows off your anchor tattoo, lack of muscles, underarm hair.
A slight step up in the warmth stakes when compared to the vest. Jackets have full length arms and offer additional warmth for the top half of the body. You'll be more protected against the elements, and your unsightly underarm hair can remain hidden. Jackets are normally constructed from 2mm/1mm thick material. Beware a full length chest zip at the front, these can be quite uncomfortable for a surfer while paddling.
Pros: Warm arms, no shaving of underarm stubble required in order to look good in the lineup.
Cons: Your ripped arms, new quiksilver watch, and your prison tattoos will be covered.
Short John Wetsuit
We're back to the exposed arms with the Short John wetsuit. Your torso down to your thighs are now covered, giving you core warmth. Ideal for taking the chill off during a dawn patrol surf, while not becoming too hot as the sun gets higher. (Authors opinion: I think the short and long john wetsuits look a little silly).
Pros: Your arms are back on show again, and with the additional neoprene between stomach and knees, you can dispense with board shorts. No more impromptu inner thigh waxing.
Cons: No more impromptu inner thigh waxing. (no pain no gain and all that!)
Long John Wetsuit
The Long John gives you full body coverage, while leaving your arms uncovered. Great for easy paddling, you can flail your arms around with no neoprene resistance. The Long John is ideal in conditions where the air temperature is warm but the water temperature is a little chilly.
Pros: Your knees are now covered, no more chafing while working out how to pop-up properly.
Cons: People will think you are just too cheap to buy a wettie with sleeves.
The springsuit has arm and leg coverage, at least in part. It comes with short legs, and can have both short and long arms. (Not at the same time, or with one short and one long arm, obviously)
Pros: Ideal for summer surfing, long arms and full body keeps the sun off your skin, and your body core temperature increased.
Cons: If everyone else is in boardies, you'll look like a lightweight.
The Short Arm Steamer
This design looks like it's built for warmth, and that's the point. The Short Arm Steamer is normally made with a mix of 3mm and 2mm neoprene, and covers the trunk and legs. It also covers the upper arms, while leaving the forearms exposed. Your paddling should not be affected, unless you choose a suit that's a couple of sized too small, or you've overindulged over the weekend.
Pros: Much warmer, still easy to paddle, no waxy thighs or chaffed knees.
Cons: Your skinny little forearms are still exposed. Your comical knobbly knees no longer make you the life and soul of your local break.
The range is complete with the Fullsuit, or Long Arm Steamer. This wetsuit if for the cold water surfer, and comes in a range of wetsuit thicknesses, depending on the level of warmth required. For cooler temperatures, you would choose a 3mm/2mm wetsuit. For very cold weather you would need a 6mm/5mm/4mm wetsuit to allow you to stay in the water for longer. Some even come with hoods attached. A 6mm fullsuit with attached hood, wetsuit booties, wetsuit gloves, and heated rash guard, will see you stay in the water longer than all your mates!
Pros: Warmth, what more of a "Pro" do you need.( see how wetsuits work for more info)
Cons: A thicker suit is harder to paddle. The fullsuit is the most expensive type of wetsuit available (learn about wetsuit care to protect your investment).
Your choice of wetsuit will depend on the temperature of the water you will be surfing in. The main wetsuit brands all produce a range of shapes and types to suit every need. It it's something to keep you warm, or just to look good, there's plenty of choice.
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on Jul 26, 2011
|Interesting, I've never seen anyone out surfing in a longjohn in the last 20 years.|
on Feb 23, 2012
|Informative and the author makes me chuckle :-)|