The days are getting colder here in Australia and so does the water temperature. Most people think that it´s always summer in Australia. Well, that´s not 100% true. While the winters here, at least in Queensland are quite mild, it can get pretty cold in other regions further south.
Nevertheless, even in Queensland you will need a wetsuit in winter if you want to surf. Of course you can still go without one but it won´t be fun. Why I can say this? I once surfed a whole winter here with nothing but a board shorts and a rash shirt. Stupid Tourist! :)
Anyway, about two weeks ago, the weather suddenly changed and the temperature dropped a few degrees. On one day I was still surfing in board shorts and on the next morning I was freezing my ass off. So I decided to give it another try and go wetsuit shopping. I did this before without success, simply because I hate wetsuits.
Since I knew there is a chance that I won´t wear it I went to an outlet shop to buy one in sale, maybe from the previous season. I ended up with a pretty good deal and bought a springsuit, also called shorty. It´s a 2mm thick wetsuit but without arms and legs which cost me only 130 Dollars as it was half price.
As I tried it on I remembered why I don't like these things...I could not fit in. I struggled really hard and almost dislocated my shoulder :)
But since it has to be that tight and it was a good price I bought it.
On the next morning I´ve put that thing on and went to the beach. While I was paddeling out I could not believe it...this thing sucks!!! That led me to do a pro and con back at home.
well, the most obvious advantage of a wetsuit is that it keeps you warm. And mine did that as well. A 2mm wetsuit can keep you relatively warm until water temperature around 20 degree or even 18 depending how quick you are freezing. There are 6mm wetsuits, that keeps you warm in water temperatures less than 10 degree
another big pro, I never considered before, is that it can protect you from getting hurt. When the waves are getting bigger the chances that you get wiped out rise and water can be pretty hard. Imagine, falling of a 6 foot wave and bang onto the surface of the water. A 2mm layer of neoprene can protect you from getting painful bruises.
a wetsuit does not only protect you from falls it also protects you from the sun. The suits do not let uv radiation through and thus protect against sunburn. In my case I still have to protect my arms and legs from the sun.
you can surf longer than without a wetsuit. With a 2mm wetsuit in 20 degree cold water, your body temperature does not change much during a 1 hour surf session, which means you can easily make 2 out of it.
unfortunately there are also some cons and one of it is that these suits must sit really tight to keep you warm. Otherwise water would be coming in and you would be freezing again. Getting into a brand new wetsuit can be pretty frustrating without a helping hand. I don't like to wear one and I feel very constricted in mine.
the biggest disadvantage for me, which I noticed while paddling out for the first time, is the fact that my movement is limited. Therefore paddling and catching waves is way more exhausting than without wetsuit.
they are a bit more expensive than other surf clothing like board shorts, rash shirts or Bikinis for women. One might be not enough if you live in a region where temperatures are slowly dropping you might need a 2mm and a thicker one as well.
they take ages to get dry. My boardshorts only needs 30min in the sun and is dry again. But you can´t hang a wetsuit in the sun as the material gets damaged. So chances are high that you might have to jump into a cold wet wetsuit on the next morning
some people are even allergic to rubber what makes it impossible for them to wear a wetsuit
last but not least they can start to smell after a while as you should not wash them in the washing machine and without soap
5 Things you should not do with your wetsuit
- put it in the washing machine...don´t do that!
- do any other sports in it. If you need one for triathlon, buy another one
- often swim in chlorinated water...damages the material
- put it in the sun to dry...makes the material porous
- don't let it hang on the hanger for too long as it stretches the material
As you can see, wearing a wetsuit has it´s pros and cons. I guess surfers and all other people who do water activities like diving, snorkeling or spearfishing can be happy that these suits exist.
I will never be a big fan of it and can´t wait that the winter, that hasn´t even started will end again or Indonesia is opening its borders again.