It’s getting a bit chillier. You can still get away with a spring suit but I’m a bit of a wuss and I’ve already been in my long arm long let wetsuit for a couple of weeks…If you want to surf throughout winter in Australia (and who wouldn’t? Better waves, less people), you’ll need a wetsuit with long arms and long legs (or steamers as they call them here). Sydney and surrounds, you usually get away with buying a 3:2. The first number (3 in the case of a 3:2) refers to the thickness of the wetsuit around the upper body and 2 is the thickness of the wettie on arms and legs. If you get cold easily, you could even get a 4:3. I’ve got a 4:3 and I absolutely love it on those cold winter days with strong westerly winds coming from the Snowy mountains. Admittedly, it’s not my main wetsuit and I have 3:2 for spring and autum when it’s too hot to wear a 4:3. But if you are a superkeen gidget and dedicated to surf all winter (and you have the spare cash), you won’t regret that purchase. Everyone in the surfshop will tell you, you are crazy to get a 4:3 for Sydney but as long as you can move comfortably in it, by all means go for it.
No matter if you are getting a 3:2 or 4:3, the single most important thing when it comes to buying a wetsuit is fit. You don’t have to buy the most expensive wetsuit either as long as you get one that fits nicely, it will keep you warm. If it does not sit right, you’ll have water coming in left right and center, making you look like Michelin man. It’s also not very nice if you can’t move comfortably in your new wetsuit and you get a rash under your arms.
So when trying wetsuits, don’t buy unless they are a snug fit:
- Watch out for creases and folds – usually means a rash or too much water.
- Try air paddling – make sure it’s comfortable on your shoulders and does not restrict your movements.
- Make sure you’ve pulled it up properly everywhere. No gaps in the crotch or under your armpits.
- Another tell-tale sign of poor fit is if you have an air pocket in between your lower back and the suit. You can try to get the air out by crouching and stretching forward. If there is still an air-pocket, forget it.
- Also, if you are between two sizes, take the smaller one. The suits tend to get bigger after a while and they mould themselves to your body shape.
Buying a wetsuit is definitely not as much fun as buying a surfboard. Getting in and out of wetties in a small change-room is no easy task. However, make sure you’ll try a number of brands. You’ll be surprised how different they can be. Different brands tend to suit different shapes. E.g. one brand might work really well for tall ladies whereas another one works better for gidgets with bigger busts.
And don’t let anyone talk you into a guy’s wetsuit. Some surf shops are not as well stocked when it comes to women’s steamers. When they run out of girl’s options, they sometimes try to flog men’s suits to women. I would not even bother trying it – they will never fit as well as one designed for girls.
Stay warm gidgets
PS this is a chapter out of our ebook Whitewash Warriors. You can download the full e-book in our Gidget boutique.