A wetsuit is a second neoprene skin that allows a person to stay longer in cold water. They differ in the thickness of the material, cut, and all sorts of “tricks”. From today’s article, you will learn everything about surfing and steamer wetsuits that a common man in the street needs and even a little more.
New wetsuit for surfing
Let’s start with a brief excursion into history. The first prototypes of a wetsuit appeared in the early 1950s: first, Hugh Bradner, a physicist at the University of San Diego, guessed that foam material could insulate the body well, then Willard Bascom from the University of California Oceanography suggested using neoprene for this. As usual, a sound idea is not enough, it still needs to be “sold”. Both scientists tried to find support from the US Navy and scientific institutions, but a loyal audience was found in a completely different place.
In 70 years of existence, surfing wetsuits have not changed much. Yes, the cut has become more comfortable, plus some features have appeared, but the general meaning has remained the same. All surfing wetsuits fall into two broad categories: dry and wet. Dry ones are needed for the most severe conditions – they reliably protect the body from contact with ice water, and in addition to them, neoprene boots, gloves, and a hood collar usually come. Wet surfing wetsuits are suitable for less extreme conditions, the principle of their operation is that water seeps under the neoprene layer and heats up to body temperature, creating a comfortable microclimate inside.
Neoprene for steamer wetsuits comes in different thicknesses, from 0.5 to 6 mm, the thicker – the warmer, but also the less flexibility and mobility of the fabric. For this reason, modern models are most often made from flaps that differ in thickness: thicker neoprene is used on the torso, where it is more important to keep warm than on the arms and legs, where mobility is important. In the name of such surfing wetsuits, the numbers are indicated in the following order: the first is the thickness of the neoprene on the torso, the second is on the legs, and the third is on the arms. If the sleeves and legs are the same, then the third digit is not written.
How to choose a surfing or steamer wetsuit?
The main task of a surfing wetsuit is to make sure that the surfer is not cold to ride. Accordingly, the thickness and cut of the hydra should be selected primarily according to the temperature of the water. General recommendations are as follows:
In addition, it is important to take into account factors such as air temperature, wind, and individual freezing of a person. If, for example, the air is cold, and the surfer’s hands are especially sensitive to cold, you can take a model with long sleeves, but short shorts. And vice versa, in the case when there is no wind and the sun is warm, and the water is cold, there are models with long pants, but without sleeves. You can not get around such a factor as the activity of the surfer. Someone who takes a lot of waves and swims constantly can get by with a thinner surfing wetsuit than someone who prefers to sit still and wait for the right waves.
Also, you should take into account the features of the cut. Surfing wetsuits come with back zippers, neck zippers, and no zippers at all. The first ones are the most convenient for putting on / taking off, as they open wide, but water seeps through the zipper more, and if it is very cold, discomfort cannot be avoided. Surfing wetsuits that don’t have or have a zipper on the collar are a little harder to get into, but they will be much warmer to swim in since water circulation is minimal.
Seams in steamer wetsuits are flat and internal. In flat bones, the thread passes through, and the flaps are joined to each other without overlap, they let in more water, but they sit more comfortably, this is a great option for thin steamer wetsuits, the main purpose of which is to protect from the cold wind. If the main goal is to minimize the penetration of water, the seams are made internally, often taped inside, they are more rigid, but reliable. Also, warm steamer wetsuits inside are “combed”, that is, with a fabric lining, which is much more pleasant to the body and retains heat.
Choosing the right wetsuit size is important. If you are adult, you must explore adult surfing suits to ensure you wear the right size according to your body size. Too tight will squeeze the wrists and ankles, impairing blood circulation, that is, in small steamer wetsuits, it will be even colder. If the model is too big, the layer of water near the body will not have time to warm up, as new cold water will constantly flow. Sleeves and legs should not be too long, if the edge of the steamer wetsuit gets on a moving place, it will stretch and also let water through. In other words, sleeves and legs should end above the wrists and ankles. At the same time, the steamer wetsuits should not be narrow in the shoulders, it is necessary that you can freely raise your arms, otherwise it will be difficult to surf.
Care and maintenance
A steamer wetsuit is a delicate thing and requires proper care since stretched, wrinkled and worn places become a weak link that nullifies all useful action. In order for the steamer and surfing wetsuits to last longer, you should remember the rules of operation:
- After each ride, rinse your steamer wetsuits in fresh water at room temperature.
- Periodically it is worth washing the surfing wetsuit in warm water with natural soap, hands, and very carefully.
- Neoprene can be squeezed out only slightly and in no case without twisting, only a slight compression.
- Dry your steamer wetsuits in a suspended state, in the fresh air and not in direct sunlight, ideally in the shade and in the wind.
- The zipper can sometimes be lubricated, beeswax, stearin, and synthetic silicone are suitable for this.
- Periodically check the hydraulic for damage and, if you find a cut or tear, repair it with special glue and a patch.
If your steamer or surfing wetsuit is not an everyday item for you but is needed only in certain seasons or when traveling, you need to take care that it does not deteriorate during storage. You should not throw it on the far shelf of the closet, instead, hang it on a coat hanger, because with a long stay in the folded state, the neoprene can stretch or stick together, and creases will appear on it. It is better to carry a wetsuit in a suitcase, laying it on thin paper and rolling it up with a roller.