A guide to choosing the best wetsuit for you

Unless you are surfing in Hawaii all year round, you definitely need a wetsuit! Wetsuits are possibly one of the best inventions ever for surfers but picking the right one can be difficult. Here’s your guide to picking the best wetsuit for you and all your surfing needs!

Wetsuits come in a variety of options depending on where you are surfing and what season you are surfing in.

I’m sure you have heard of spring suits, full suits, and even half suits but there is much more that goes into picking your perfect wetsuit. Aside from the actual wetsuit, other warmth accessories come into play such as booties, hoods, and gloves.

Surfer riding a wave

The way the thickness of a wetsuit is conveyed is tricky but once you understand why there can be multiple numbers and a range of thickness, you will be able to choose a good wetsuit for you!

 

Figuring out wetsuit thickness can be difficult for a new surfer so don’t stress if you don’t fully understand what the different numbers mean. Some wetsuit manufacturers do it differently so that can also be confusing. The most common way to represent thickness is with two numbers with the first one usually being higher than the second. For example, in San Diego, I wear a 3/2 mm. This means that the majority of my suit is 3 mm thick with the arms and lower legs being 2 mm thick. The purpose of this is to keep your torso warm while providing mobility in your arms which is important for paddling. 

 

The thickness of your wetsuit depends mostly on where you live and the temperature of the water. The thicker your wetsuit is, the warmer you will be.

 

Like I mentioned before, here in San Diego, I typically wear a 3/2 mm wetsuit throughout the year. While I do get a little chilly in the winter if I’m out in the water for a long period of time, it is pretty perfect for the remaining months. I make the sacrifice of being a little bit cold so that I only have to have one wetsuit rather than buying multiple and storing them. If you are surfing somewhere like Northern California where the water stays around 50 – 60 degrees, you will want to opt for a 4/3 mm or even a 5/4. Anything lower than 50 degrees and you should be looking for anything that has a 6 in it such as 6/5 or 6/4/3 mm.

Surfers on the beach

If you are a cold water surfer, you are going to need more than just a thick wetsuit. Most wetsuits that are on the thicker side come with a hood. Aside from hoods, many surfers invest in gloves and booties.


Keeping your hands and feet warm is just as important as keeping your torso warm. You aren’t going to be able to stand up or paddle with numb fingers and toes! Booties are not only great for warmth but they also protect your feet from sharp rocks. Hoods are especially important in keeping your head and the rest of your body warm throughout your surf sessions.


If you’re on the luckier side and surfing in warm water, some seasons don’t require a full suit. When the water is around 68 degrees and over, you can opt for a spring suit!

Spring wetsuits come in a few forms. There are long sleeves with shorts, short sleeves with shorts, short sleeved with full pants, and for girls a long sleeve one piece bathing suit (made out of neoprene). Choosing a spring suit can really be based on your preferences.


While most wetsuits are going to be made out of neoprene, HOKALI’s new shop features eco-design wetsuits which are made from limestone-based neoprene, recycled tires, and Aquaglue. This makes your wetsuit sustainable! 

HOKALI’s shop offers a variety of 4/3 mm wetsuits for both women and men. Hand-me-down wetsuits are also a wonderful way to stay sustainable and cost-friendly while surfing. If you grow out of your wetsuit, give it to a younger grom!

Choosing the best wetsuit for you and your circumstances can be stressful but hopefully this guide will help you out and steer you in the right direction! The main goal is to stay warm while maintaining mobility.

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