Do You Need a Wetsuit to Surf? Uncover the Truth Now!

Do you need a wetsuit to surf? No, a wetsuit is not necessary for all water temperatures but if you don’t have tolerance for any kind of chill, you have to use a wetsuit in all kinds of water temperatures when surfing.

But there is more to wetsuits than meets the eye. Wetsuits do not offer only warmth but also protection. They protect you from the sun’s harsh rays, stings and even extra buoyancy. Wetsuits make it easier to catch waves while also maintaining balance.

So, should you ditch wetsuits or embrace them when surfing? This guide will empower you to decide about your surfing gear. Whether you are a surfing enthusiast or a curious newcomer, let’s find out together, the answer to “Do you need a wetsuit to surf?”

Do You Need A Wetsuit To Surf

The answer is no, you don’t necessarily need a wetsuit when surfing.  But a lot of factors come into play when it comes to wetsuits. Wetsuits are good but, in the summer, when the water temperature is high, you may not need to wear a wetsuit for surfing.

Also, there are different other options to wear aside from the wetsuit. From board shorts to dry suits, jammers, swimsuits and rashguards, you have a lot of choice for protection when surfing. However, the temperature of the water where you are surfing will determine if a wetsuit is essential.

The most important thing when surfing is to stay warm, avoiding hypothermia. If you are surfing in cold water where the temperatures fall below 70 degrees Fahrenheit, you will definitely need a wetsuit to stay warm. If the water temperature is 70 degrees Fahrenheit or above, a wetsuit is not necessary.

full wetsuit fullsuit for men and women
shorty wetsuit for men and women

Why Do Surfers Wear Wetsuits?

Surfers wear wetsuits for many reasons and one of the main reasons they wear them is that they provide warmth and safety. Wetsuits are made of neoprene which contains closed cells of nitrogen bubbles that help keep the water in between the body and the neoprene material warm.

Here are the main reasons surfers wear wetsuits:

1. Insulation From Cold

The most important reason why people wear wetsuits for surfing is to get warmth. Wetsuits insulate you from cold water and wind as you surf. Even in hot temperatures, not all of us can tolerate cold in or on water. So, wetsuits are the go-to for balancing the temperature and keeping us warm as we surf.

2. Protection

Not only does a wetsuit protect you from elements such as jellyfish stings, shark attacks, reefs or sea urchins, but it also offers protection from UV rays. It protects the parts of your body it covers from UV rays. So, you might want to use sunscreen on the part of your body that is not covered.

3. Extended Comfort In Chilly Conditions

Wetsuits let you surf for an extended time in the water without feeling cold. Even if the climate is cold or it is the winter months when water temperatures drop, you can surf for an extended time if you wear a wetsuit.

4. Buoyancy

Since neoprene, the material used to make wetsuits has small air bubbles in between them, the wetsuits offer buoyancy. It allows you to stay afloat waters, which makes it easier for you to recover quickly after being wiped out by waves. Also, the buoyancy helps you conserve energy when you are in open water.

5. Flexibility And Range Of Motion

Modern wetsuit designs take flexibility and range of motion into consideration. So, they allow surfers to ride the waves comfortably and freely. The neoprene elasticity lets you paddle efficiently, maneuver on the board and execute maneuvers with ease.

6. Enhanced Performance

When you wear a snugly fitted wetsuit for surfing, you get enhanced performance. The suit reduces drag in the water, improving hydrodynamics that leads to faster paddling speed, more responsive board control, and better maneuverability.

Also, the thermal insulation and protection the wetsuits offer allow you to focus on techniques and enjoy your surfing experience to the fullest.

Do You Need A Wetsuit To Surf Tips On How To Properly Wear A Wetsuit For Surfing

Tips On How To Properly Wear A Wetsuit For Surfing

When you are wearing your wetsuit, prepare for a little workout because if you can wear it without any hassle, it may mean that you got the wrong size. It should fit snugly and not too tight or too loose. So, here is how to properly wear a wetsuit for surfing:

Depending on your choice or water condition, you might want to wear a thermal or bathing suit under the wetsuit. Here is how to properly wear a wetsuit:

Step 1: Get Your Legs Through

Try to get your feet through the legs of the suit first and let the feet get outside the wetsuit fully. It means you should enter from the bottom.

Step 2: Pull Up Your Waist

Once you put in your feet, pull the wetsuit to your waist. Be careful if your wetsuit is made of smooth skin neoprene to avoid puncturing it with your fingernails. Start by grabbing the wetsuit beside each leg and ensure the knee pa is at the knee. Pull it up, letting the ankle and knee pads line up properly.

Step 3: Pull Up To The Chest

Don’t go for the arms directly from the waist. Pull it up to the chest by grabbing it and pulling it up. Pull up both groin and torso to the chest and then put in your arms one after the other.

Step 4: Secure The Closure

Your closure may be located in front or at the back, after pulling up and putting your arms in the suit, secure the closure. If it is the front closure, you can secure it yourself; if it is the back closure, you can ask someone for help.

Do You Need A Wetsuit To Surf In The Ocean

No, you don’t, but the water temperature will determine whether you need it. In the summer, you may not need it if you have a tolerance for a little cold water. But in the winter, you should wear a wetsuit to avoid getting too cold in water.

If the temperature is not extreme, you can wear a rashguard instead of a wetsuit. Boardshort and any other type of suit are also good if the temperature is not extreme.

Why Do Surfers Wear Wetsuits In Warm Water?

Wetsuits do not only provide warmth but also other functions like protection from sunburn and saltwater friction. Surfers also wear wetsuits to protect them from sea creatures, sharp objects and spiky surfaces.

Additionally, they wear wetsuits for buoyancy and optimal comfort. Some surfers are so comfortable in it that they cannot do without wearing it when surfing.

Do You Need A Wetsuit To Surf In Florida

In North and Central Florida, water can be very cold during the winter months, so you will need a wetsuit to surf in Florida. However, you do not necessarily need a wetsuit during the summer. You may opt for boardshorts and a rashguard if you like.

One thing you should understand is that wetsuits offer more than insulation when surfing. They also offer UV protection, protection from sea creatures and much more.

Do You Need A Wetsuit To Surf In California

Yes, you need a wetsuit to surf in California water. Don’t get caught off-guard just like some people. If you are off to California to surf, take along your wetsuit because California waters are always cold even in the summer. So, do not forget your wetsuit when surfing in California.

Do Wetsuits Keep You Dry

Wetsuits will not keep you dry. If you want to remain dry, go for a drysuit rather than a wetsuit. What wetsuits do for you is to keep you warm. The suits use water that sips in to maintain your body temperature, meaning you will get wet but enjoy warmth.

Alternatives To Wetsuits

Though it all depends on the water temperatures, there are a few alternatives to wetsuit you can use for surfing. Here are a few alternatives to wetsuits but if you are surfing in cold water, a wetsuit is great.

1. Heated Vests

Designed to provide warmth to the core parts of the body, the heated vests are excellent for keeping you warm as you surf.

The vests are powered by batteries and they feature heating elements that distribute warmth evenly through the vest. Even if you wear a wetsuit, you can wear a heated vest underneath or wear the vest over a rashguard without making yourself uncomfortable.

2. Drysuits

Unlike wetsuits that get you wet, drysuits keep you completely dry. They are made from waterproof materials with tight seals at the wrists, neck and ankles. When the temperature is extremely cold, a dry suit is perfect for extended surfing. The suit offers both warmth and protection from the elements.

thermal suit Do You Need A Wetsuit To Surf
thermal suit Do You Need A Wetsuit To Surf

3. Rashguard

Rashguard is another alternative. Although it does not provide enough warmth, it is perfect for summer surfing and especially for those who can tolerate cold. It also offers protection from UPF and helps reduce the risk of chafing from wax or surfboard contact.

You can also layer a rashguard underneath wetsuit tops or pair it with boardshorts. They are comfortable and non-restrictive when surfing.

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The Bottom Line On Do You Need A Wetsuit to Surf

I have answered the question “Do you need a wetsuit to surf?” The answer is no but it depends. If the water temperature is low, like we used to have in California, you will need a wetsuit. Still, if it is the summer when the temperatures are usually high, you don’t necessarily need one.

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