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Spring Wetsuit - 3 Things To Know Before Surfing
Posted Sep 13, 2016
Spring and summer seasons are a tricky time of year for surfers to choose between styles of spring suits. Have you ever stood in the beach parking lot and looked around to see what other surfers were wearing to help decide what you were going to wear? Don't worry, we've all been there, let's look at the facts and help you make a better decision with these 3 easy rules.
Before you even decide what spring suit to get, it is imperative to know your region and surf break for a clear understanding of the type of conditions you will be surfing in. NOAA (https://www.nodc.noaa.gov/dsdt/cwtg/spac.html) is a great resource that provides regional average water temperatures, it even breaks it down month by month. One surf break can differ from another in water temperatures and by being prepared, will help you make your session a lot more enjoyable. Take some time and study your local water temps.
Many surfers study water temps, air temps, and swell size before hitting the beach but also look at wind reports to get a more accurate understanding of local wind conditions. Here is another credible source that will give you accurate wind reports. (https://www.windfinder.com/). During the summer, most beaches in California get hit by tradewinds from late mornings to late afternoons. The wind will cool down your body and if you're surfing mostly at beach breaks a spring suit with longer sleeves could be ideal for you. We get more specific about springsuit wetsuit styles in rule #3.
Rules #2 (Time of year)
Early spring conditions can be very different than mid-summer conditions. In California, we experience a cold water movement called upwelling. Upwelling is when winds blow in a particular direction causing cold water down below to circulate upwards towards the surface. Upwelling causes water temperatures to remain low, and some areas can even dip down lower than winter temperatures. In early March to May, we can experience 80 degrees and up sunny days, but our water temperatures can stay in the 50's. Resources like NOAA will give you a better idea of what average water temps are but do a little more research and see if upwelling happens at your break. A popular style for surfers during this time would be the fullsuit short arm spring wetsuit also known as the shorty wetsuit. This style has the benefits of a fullsuit but also the benefits of a spring wetsuit. The short sleeves keep you mobile and cooler up top while the extended legs will keep your body warm as you sit in cooler temps.
During summer, there are more warmer days than cooler days, but keep in mind that the tradewinds pick up during the summer and beaches can get windy from late mornings up until the evenings. Having some insulation up top will keep you comfortable and warm during those mid-afternoon surfs. A traditional springsuit wetsuit is the ideal wetsuit for this time of year. The short sleeves and bottom will keep you cool but also give you some insulation support around your core and back to battle those tricky winds.
June Gloom is also a weather factor to consider when marine layers tend to stick around early summer days. It's not surprising to see surfers suited in a fullsuit during this time when the air temp can drop due to the thick marine layer. A longsleeved spring wetsuit is also a great companion for June Gloom season. The longer sleeves provide a little more insulation up top, and the shorter legs keep you mobile and free. This style has been getting more popular because it can be used during warmer days when winds are up and also on cooler days when temps drop down.
Now you're as good as a pro in reading conditions for your surf break but you want to get more specific with the styles os springsuits. Let's dive into some of the styles of spring wetsuits and highlight the benefits for each one.
Sometimes referred to as the shorty wetsuit this style is a very popular springsuit wetsuit surfers have because of its multi-use capabilities. The shortsleeve full is the perfect transition spring wetsuit for early spring and early fall. Typically fullsuit short sleeve spring wetsuits come in 2mm thickness. Many surfers prefer this wetsuit because it's like wearing a fullsuit with increased range of motion and the thin 2mm material still provides insulation if temperatures dip down a bit. You have protective neoprene from head to toe and benefit from having increased mobility and stretch because of the thinner materials and short sleeves. This wetsuit will be best for early morning surf sessions when the sun isn't directly over your head or early spring or late fall days when water temps are still cold or dropping.
Highlights for the Short Sleeve Fullsuit Spring Wetsuit or Shorty wetsuit -Ideal temps 62-69 degrees F or 16.66 - 20.55 degree C -Champion during early morning spring and fall days that have warm air temps but cooler water temps -Best for unusual upwelling days when water temps suddenly drop -Can be used during transitionary times between Winter to Spring and Fall to Winter -Protective neoprene covering you from head to toe creating that nice cushion between you and the board.
Wearing a great wetsuit that's keeping you warm translates into better vibes and better surfing. On beautiful summer days, you don't want to be worrying about staying warm, you should be hanging out with friends and catching waves. When you're miserable in the water due too cold, it starts to affect your performance. A safe bet is to go with a long arm spring wetsuit. The extended neoprene down to the wrist creates great protection for your upper body and also keep in mind that this style won't leave you with a funny farmer tan line. The flexibility in the lower half of your body allows you to pump down the line with ease but also provide enough warmth in case of cooler days. The long arm spring wetsuit is also recommended with 2mm neoprene. This style is usually offered in a backzip, but we offer this in both chestzip and backzip. If you get easily cold on summer days, this is the right choice for you.
Highlights for Long Sleeve spring wetsuits -Ideal temps 66F-75F and 18.88c - 23.88c -Added sun protection to the upper body with extended arms -2mm thickness keeps you warm but also cool. Perfect midrange spring wetsuit -Just enough coverage throughout the body to add a layer of protection -Can be used throughout the day during warm summer months but also, give enough insulation during cooler days.
The traditional spring wetsuit is the most common spring wetsuit you see around. This is the perfect summer suit that has the right amount of insulation for windy days but also exposes your arms and legs to keep you nice and cool in the water on the hottest days. Kelly Slater is often seen wearing spring suits at Pipeline because even the king of surfing gets cold when the winds pick up. That layer of 2mm neoprene keeps you protected and provides a nice cushion for your body when paddling on the board. There are backzip and chestzip configurations with this wetsuit. To understand the difference between these entry systems you can check out our article covering entry systems. Both styles typically come in 2mm, the great flexibility and warmth make this the ideal spring and summer wetsuit.
Highlights for the wetsuits made to your measurements to achieve maximum performance in the water. Share this article with fellow surfers and friends and be warm out there.