Gear Guide: What to Look for in a Wetsuit

With the endless options of wetsuits out there, it can be an arduous process to find the right one for wherever you may be swimming or surfing. From warmer water temperatures to cooler and windier conditions, there is a different wetsuit to fit any and all occasions. In this gear guide, Salt + Snow Co-Founders Sara Zilkha and Kathy Thomas put together a list of considerations and advice for the varied water situations out there. 

Fit 

You will want the suit to literally feel like a second skin. Though putting it on may make you burn 500 calories, you want it as tight as you can get it. They do tend to stretch, and if you are swimming in cold water (which presumably you would be), the most unpleasant sensation is that rush of ice water that can come creeping in if your suit is too loose.

Length

Wetsuits come in all size options. For this, you’ll need to determine your tolerance to cool water. Keeping your core warm is key in staying warm in any environment, so having a variety of exposure (spring suit, sleeveless, full suit and even hooded full suit) is up to you and your water temperature tolerance. If you want more flexibility for your paddling and pop-up, you may want to consider a sleeveless suit as long as you can handle the water temperature. Here is a great option from Cynthia Rowley: 

Byron Wetsuit Cynthia Rowley
CYNTHIA ROWLEY
Women's

Thickness and Temperature

When it comes to wetsuits, selecting the proper thickness is key. They typically range from .5MM to 6MM, and you should move up in thickness as the water gets colder. Salt + Snow offers a wide range of wetsuits that will keep you comfortable in warm and cold water alike. 

WETSUITS FOR WARM WATER (65°F+)

These wetsuits are ideal for warm-water surfing and for those who can withstand moderate water temperatures or windy conditions. They offer your upper body ample protection from the sun and provide good coverage. 

Cynthia Rowley
Women's
La Luna 2MM Not So Long Jane
KASSIA+SURF
Women's 
Matuse Chapter 1 Jacket
MATUSE 
Men's
Matuse Neptune Pro Board Short
MATUSE
Men's

 

WETSUITS FOR COOL WATER (58°F - 68°F)

Matuse makes wetsuits that are built to last. They are designed to keep you warm in the water while remaining flexible. For the eco-conscious (as we all should be), the technology behind these wetsuits are environmentally-friendly and fair trade certified.

MATUSE
Women's
D'Arc W/ Hydrasilk 4/3MM V.3
MATUSE
Women's
Dojo Triathlon Suit
MATUSE
Men's

 

WETSUITS FOR COLD WATER (BELOW 60°F)

This hooded wetsuit from KASSIA+SURF is perfect for spring and autumn on the East Coast and for the cold water yet moderate temperatures on the West Coast. 

KASSIA+SURF
Women's

Conclusion

The bottom line is that buying a wetsuit is a process in which research and advice are key in finding the right fit. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Salt+Snow for help. We’ve been there and have spent many hours in surf shops wrestling in (and once even really stuck) and out of a variety of wetsuits - it’s not fun, but for those of us who seem to be cold-blooded, it’s the essential tool to enjoying the water.

The Adventure Continues! Read On...