Winter Wetsuits and Winter Swimming Guide
Whether you're into winter surfing or cold water swimming, you are probably here because you want to hit the beach during the off-season when the water is cold. Winter is the perfect time to go surfing because the surf spots are less crowded. At the same time, the very act of cold water immersion can give you a perfect adrenaline rush. This guide is meant for those of you who want to make the most of the winter by embracing the colder water.
We offer a substantial selection of surfing winter wetsuits and other fantastic neoprene gear. Go directly to our full selection of Wetsuits & Neoprene Accessories, or draw inspiration from this guide.
We will start out with the guide to winter wetsuits, but feel free to jump straight to the section about winter swimming.
Winter Wetsuit Buying Guide – What is the Best Winter Wetsuit for Surfing?
A thick winter wetsuit is your best friend when the temperatures drop and the water turns cold. Winter wetsuits provide the right amount of insulation to keep you comfortable while engaging in your favorite water sports. If you have a proper wetsuit for winter surfing and the waves are good, why miss the opportunity to do what you love the most?
Choosing the best winter wetsuit is crucial if you want to stay comfortable and safe in the cold water, and we are here to guide you! Whether you are up for winter surfing, winter kitesurfing, paddleboarding, or wakeboarding, just follow our simple advice to make the surfing season a little longer.
Continue reading for more in-depth advice, or head straight to see our picks of winter wetsuits.
WINTER WETSUIT THICKNESS AND DESIGN
When choosing a wetsuit for winter, there are a few attributes that play a vital role. It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that the thickness of the neoprene material is key: The thicker the wetsuit, the better the insulation.
Typically, the thickness of a wetsuit is denoted by two numbers: the first number denotes how thick the neoprene is in the torso area, and the second number denotes the neoprene thickness in arms and legs. The optimal thickness of a winter wetsuit is determined by the temperature. Here's a quick reference table for neoprene thickness and water temperature:
|Water temperature °C||Water Temperature °F||Neoprene Thickness|
|19°C - 25 °C||66°F - 77 °F||1-2 mm|
|14°C - 18 °C||57°F - 64 °F||3 mm|
|10°C - 14 °C||50°F - 57 °F||4 mm|
|5°C - 10 °C||41°F - 50 °F||5 mm|
|< 5 °C||< 77 °F||6 mm|
We have a few more advices for choosing winter wetsuits. When you are looking at different models of wetsuits for winter usage, it is a good idea to consider the following:
- Material: Many manufacturers use specific technologies to enhance the heating properties of their wetsuits. One way to do this is by adding a foam core to the neoprene. When you have found a model with the proper thickness, refer to the product specifications to see whether it is designed with special insulation properties that might enhance your winter surfing experience further.
- Stitching: Neoprene materials are commonly stitched together with either flatlock, glued stitches, or Glued Blind Stitches (GBS). Known for being waterproof and extremely flexible, GBS is the superior solution for winter wetsuits.
- Sealing: Some winter wetsuits feature taped or sealed seams for increased water resistance and durability.
- Zipper: Chest zips are great on winter wetsuits because they tend to offer minimal water ingress and because chest zips are great for flexibility. Back zip wetsuits are easier to get in and out of, but on the other hand, more water tends to get in and out of this type of zipper.
- Wetsuit Hood: You will need a wetsuit hood when it gets cold, so consider whether a hooded wetsuit is ideal for you. With a hooded wetsuit, you minimize the likelihood of cold water flushing down your back through the neck opening. On the other hand, you may want to be able to take the hood off - if so, a neoprene hood is what you need.
- Neoprene Gloves: Wetsuit gloves will keep your hands warm and protected when you are surfing. Ultimately, it is easier to handle your equipment with warm hands than frozen hands. Find a pair that fits tightly and has a proper thickness for your needs. In terms of their shape, the general rule is that 5-finger gloves offer better dexterity but less insulation and warmth compared to mittens. Lobster-style gloves are often a great middle ground option, combining flexibility with strong insulation properties.
- Surf Boots: When winter paddleboarding, surfing etc., there is no doubt that your feet will freeze. Neoprene shoes are indispensable for these purposes! Go for a pair of neoprene boots that has a nice grippy rubber sole and offers optimal warmth for the temperatures you will surf in.
- Thermal Rash Vest: When autumn is nearing, it is nice to be able to make a smooth transition from summer to winter wetsuit. A thermal neoprene vest can be worn underneath your summer wetsuit to add an extra layer of insulation. This method allows you to achieve the warmth equivalent to a 4/3 mm wetsuit for temperatures ranging from 10-14 °C.
Take a look at our comprehensive Wetsuit Buying Guide to get in-depth knowledge about how to choose the right wetsuit.
Cold water swimming, also known as winter swimming or ice swimming, is another fantastic way to enjoy the beach during winter. Just immerse yourself in the cold water and shake off all your worries! Winter swimming is known to have numerous health benefits for mind and body – and the best part is that you don’t need to invest a fortune in expensive gear to get started. A simple towel is all you need if you strip it down to the basics!
Cold water swimming gear focuses on improving your comfort and safety. Consider the following accessories to improve your winter swimming experience:
- Neoprene Boots: Opt for a pair with a rubber sole that grips firmly on the surface of the bathing jetty and ladder. They will protect your feet from rocks as well. Neoprene boots double your comfort and reduce the risk of injury – a win/win for winter swimmers!
- Towel Ponchos: Also known as a changing poncho, the poncho towel is great to have throughout the year. When you get out of the water, a hooded towelling poncho offers wind protection while absorbing the moisture on your skin, further reducing the wind chill. You can even take off your wet swimwear underneath it, using it as a changing poncho!
- Neoprene Gloves: Wetsuit gloves protect your hands from the cold, and they help you to get a firm grip of the ladder when you are getting in and out of the water.
- Thermal Swim Caps: If you want to prevent loss of heat, or if you want to protect your ears while immersing yourself in the cold water, a neoprene hood can prove to be a valuable piece of equipment.
- Dry Bags: Dry bags are another all-year item, that comes in handy for winter swimming. Gather your wet towel and swimming clothes in a dry bag, so you don’t have to worry about getting car seats or bus seats wet. If you browse our surf bags category, you will find many different dry bags to choose from.
- Other accessories: If you are the type of person to get straight into the car after a dip, you may want to get your hands on a waterproof seat cover – and as it turns out, we also have other items among our surf-accessories that are great for winter swimmers. Fancy a hot cup of coffee or tea after the cold chock? We recommend mugs: Always bring a mug when you visit the beach during winter!
Cold water swimming is gaining popularity for many good reasons. People often mention the many possible health benefits that are associated with cold water immersion. Boosted immunity, improved mental health, and enhanced circulation are just a few of them.
The risks of winter swimming are also something you need to consider before diving in. Talk to your doctor before winter swimming if you have a heart condition or respiratory issues. The novice winter swimmer should join a group or community to learn all the best practices before diving in!
Make sure to be prepared by following the advice that we have just given, and you're good to go!