Honestly, as much as I want to support my local surf shop, I have a lot of trouble finding a wetsuit that suits my needs and fits well. Even though I’m a woman, I know men have this same problem just as much.
Options are limited a lot of times to one or two brands, and here in Florida, you are given the choice of a spring suit, and possibly a 3/2 mm full suit. This year, I wanted a 4/3 mm full suit since I get cold easier, and the neoprene’s much stretchier anyway than in the past. When I called around to several shops up and down the East coast, I was not helped, but actually insulted by the staff, asking why I would even consider such a suit here in Florida, and did I know ANYTHING about wetsuits?!? Why, yes, I do. And I know I surf for more than 15 minutes at a stretch, so I get chilled easy. So kiss my frosty ass.
I’m so touchy.
Anywho, that’s when I turned to the internets for my future suit. I had an O’Neill suit last year, but I need to consider some things this year:
1. If I upgrade to a substantial design overhaul especially from a completely different brand, the fit may be different. Rip Curl obviously has done this with the E-Bomb, so the fit of the new design may feel different.
2. If the neoprene quality listed has been upgraded to “super-duper ultra stretch”, this may also affect the fit, and even the warmth and durability considerations. Neoprene tech has gone wild, but this can REALLY alter a fit, necessitating a size change from previous seasons.
3. Even if you plan to order online, take a gander at the selection offered at your local surf shops just to get your hand on the neoprene. Kick the tires, so to speak. Give it a stretch, see where the seams are, how they are finished and taped (or not), and look at features up close- even if the suits offered aren’t in your size, or even in your model. Companies tend to keep wetsuit construction pretty consistent over the line- it’s the neoprene quality that improves as well as the taping and lining.
Some helpful hints to ordering a suit online:
- Only order from an online shop that has a clear return policy, preferably with free returns, of course.
- CHECK THE DAMN SIZE GUIDE. Nobody freakin’ does that, especially men. For your convenience, I’ve procured a list of direct links to Size Guides of the most popular brands of wetsuits. Here’s your happy links to all the Size Guides:
- RIPCURL Men’s and Women’s: http://shop.ripcurl.com/us/overlay/fit-guide/
- O’NEILL Men’s (from the Asia/Pacific Site): http://www.oneill.com/#/men/asiapacific/collection/men/wetsuits/size_chart/mens_size_chart/size_chart/abyss_grey/
- QUIKSILVER Men’s: http://www.quiksilver.com/wetsuit-size
- ROXY Women’s (Size Guide is a Link on Image): http://www.roxy.com/wetsuits
- HYPERFLEX Men’s and Women’s: http://hyperflexusa.com/size-chart/
- WEST Men’s and Women’s: http://westsurfing.com/size-chart/
All in all, we live in a lucky time. The early surfers had he pleasure of surfing in wool bathing suits, and when it got cold, switched into army issued stiff SCUBA suits that chafed your tattoos clean off. But don’t let that old complaint keep replaying. I keep hearing kids parroting the elders on this, and this is not sage wisdom being passed down, only unchecked bravado of times past. There is little difference in movement these days for the average surfer in a neoprene suit versus not wearing one. Temperature difference, however, I will concede, will make a performance difference.
Men always complain that women don’t understand shrinkage, so this gentleman has diverted all attention from that area:
HEY! My face is up here you pervert!!!