Surfing Guide - The Ultimate Wetsuit Guide

Wetsuits are essential for serious surfers

Wetsuits are essential for serious surfers
Wetsuits are essential for serious surfers
What it is all about..
What it is all about..

Wetsuit Guide

Wetsuits are crucial to a serious surfer. Water removes body heat 25 times more efficiently than air, meaning that an unprotected person might suffer from hypothermia (less than normal body temperature, causing mild to strong shivering and loss of muscle coordination) even in warm water on a warm day. As surfers are normally out for two-three hours, they are prime hypothermia candidates.

The wetsuits are normally made of foam neoprene, a type of synthetic rubber which contains small bubbles of nitrogen gas. Their main function is preserving body heat; this is done by trapping a layer of water between the suit and the skin. This water is then naturally warmed up by body heat, and thus acts as an insulator, minimizing loss of temperature. The suit must be a tight fit to work properly, if the suit is too loose it will allow excessive water loss, thus exchanging the warm water with colder water. Wetsuits also work by improving the wearer's buoyancy and hydrodynamic curve.

When a suit is described as being 5/4/3mm thick, this means that the neoprene is 5mm thick at the chest, 4mm at the back and 3mm at arms and legs. The reason why this thickness is varied is to allow a more flexible and larger spectrum of movement. The two most popular wetsuit thicknesses are 5/4mm and 3/2mm. 5/4mm are generally considered winter wetsuits, whereas 3/2mm are summer wetsuits.

It is difficult to name one main founder of the wetsuit. However, credit should be given to the man who is considered the original inventor and "father of the modern wetsuit": Hugh Bradner. In 1951, he had the insight that a thin layer of trapped water could act as an insulator. Bradner started working with an oceanographic engineer, Willard Bascom, who suggested neoprene as a material that could be used for Bradner's invention. They tried selling their invention to the US Navy, for supplying their swimmers and frogmen, but the navy turned it down, based on thoughts that it would make it easier to detect them on enemy sonar. The first documentation of Bradner/Bascom's invention was in a letter dated 21.june, 1951.

Traditionally though, most say that it was Jack O'Neill and his brother Robert who first started experimenting with neoprene and invented the wetsuit. It was said that the O'Neill brothers found the neoprene lining the floor of an airliner. However, this has been disputed by some aviation experts as neoprene is not a fire retardant material, and thus has never been used in any passenger aircrafts. The O'Neill family started their first successful wetsuit factory in 1952. They later moved the factory to Pleasure Point, Santa Cruz, California in 1959. Their sales motto: "It's Always Summer on the Inside"

Hope you have found this article informative. If you have any questions, please use the comments field. Thank you. ...·¨¯(_....

More by this Author

Comments 7 comments

tantrum profile image

tantrum 7 years ago from Tropic of Capricorn

As u said, very informative! Well written. Thanks!

Resolver2009 profile image

Resolver2009 7 years ago from Bournemouth, UK / Oslo, Norway Author

Thanks Tantrum! Glad you liked it.

michaelchester profile image

michaelchester 7 years ago from Jersey Shore

Living in the northeast and being an avid surf angler, I have discovered wetsuit tops to be invaluable when chasing the big fish in the surf come late fall. Thanks for the informative piece on how they are classified.

Resolver2009 profile image

Resolver2009 7 years ago from Bournemouth, UK / Oslo, Norway Author

Thanks for your comment michaelchester. Glad you found it educational. Northeast.. you surf in the Jersey area then? How thick does your wetsuit have to be in wintertime?

sophwall97 7 years ago

Im gonna buy a wetsuit 4 when I go to cornwall, I may take up surfing lessons because your hubs have convinced me :)

Resolver2009 profile image

Resolver2009 7 years ago from Bournemouth, UK / Oslo, Norway Author

Glad to hear you found my hubs inspirational Sophie ;) See you around in the blue stuff then!

Phoenix Business profile image

Phoenix Business 6 years ago from Charlotte, NC

So, any tips on finding a wetsuit that won't make me look fat? Somehow, they have a way of pushing my curves in all of the wrong directions!

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article