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Do You Need A Wetsuit To Bodyboard?

Many people seem to be intimidated about getting a wetsuit for bodyboarding. Are you searching for answers as to whether you need a wetsuit or not?

When bodyboarding, one of the most important rules is to have complete equipment. So you need a wetsuit. Choose your wetsuit based on the warmth of the water. For example, if you are boarding on cold waters, full-length suits are great because they are warmer, while shortie wetsuits are cooler and easier to put on.

Bodyboarding: Why Do You Need A Wetsuit?

Bodyboarders who enjoy year-round adventures endure colder water temperatures for at least a portion of the year. Therefore, they need the right bodyboarding gear to keep themselves safe, warm, and comfortable in the water. 

Additionally, a wetsuit increases your aerodynamic properties while bodyboarding, reducing drag and providing better movement while wet. A quality product will offer ample thermal protection without sacrificing flexibility or range of motion and will keep you in the water longer. 

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How To Choose Your Wetsuit? 

Here are the factors you need to take into consideration when buying your wetsuit.

Choosing The Right Fit For Your Wetsuit

When choosing a wetsuit, your top priority must be to find one that gives you a snug fit. The correct fit will allow you to maintain your range of motion while also giving you freedom of movement. When finding a wetsuit that fits you properly, here are some critical points to consider:

  • For a wetsuit to function correctly, it has to offer a snug fit.
  • The wetsuit should not restrict your movement. 
  • The proper fit of a wetsuit should not be roomy in the crotch area.
  • Any creases or air pockets in the fit will allow water to enter, which reduces the wetsuit’s ability to keep you warm.
  • When wetsuits are with use over time and get wet, they may stretch.
  • A common mistake to make when buying is a wetsuit that doesn’t fit correctly around the small part of the back. Plenty of space will allow the suit to billow out, which will fill it with water.
  • Most brands offer a detailed sizing chart for their suits based on these criteria: weight, height, waist, chest, neck, body length, and leg length.

Types Of Wetsuits

The water temperatures and weather conditions where you’ll be bodyboarding will be essential to determine the best wetsuit type to match your circumstances. Here are the types of wetsuits to consider:

  • Full suit: It comes with long legs with short or long arms.
  • Long John: It is not commonly used, but it comes with a sleeveless upper with long legs.
  • Spring suit: It comes with short legs with short or long arms.
  • Short john: It comes with short legs with a sleeveless upper.
  • Vest and Jacket: This type covers your upper body only.

Determining the waters’ temperature you plan to be bodyboarding in will help you make the best choice. It will also depend on how much range of motion and flexibility you wish for your suit and how coverage you feel you will require.

Design 

For entry placement and closures, wetsuits usually come in three different design styles. Here are some basic options to consider:

  • Zipperless
  • Front Zipper
  • Back Zipper

Material

When looking for the ideal wetsuit for bodyboarding, remember the material used to make the wetsuit plays an important role. The following are aspects to consider during your search:

  • A wetsuit for bodyboarding needs to have a durable design and construction while being flexible and provide enough warmth.
  • The wetsuit’s material quality will significantly impact the comfort of the suit.
  • The purpose of a wetsuit is to provide warmth from environmental influences. Therefore, you should research the wetsuit’s thermal insulation to help you determine how effectively the suit will reflect heat to your body.

A Favorite Material For Wetsuits: Neoprene

Often used to make wetsuits, neoprene is a petroleum-based product. Neoprene is a perfect material for wetsuits as it maintains flexibility, even when put through to different temperatures. In cold water, it also provides great thermal insulation.

You can find Super-stretch neoprene in the best wetsuits. Always check to determine what percentage of this material was used in making the wetsuit. It will impact your suit to ensure the most warmth, comfort, and flexibility. If your wetsuit has a higher percentage of super-stretch neoprene, this could mean that your suit will not be as durable.

Innovators are just recently introducing alternative materials in the making of wetsuits. However, neoprene is still leading the industry.

Thermal Protection

Three factors determine how warm a wetsuit is:

Thickness

Wetsuits come in different thicknesses, which are measured in millimeters (mm). The following are the different measurement options:

  • The majority of wetsuit jackets come in 1-1.5mm.  
  • Spring suits: typically come in 2mm. 
  • Full suits come in different thickness combinations where the torso and legs are thicker than the arms (therefore, paddling is much easier).  
  • The most common combinations are 3/2mm, 4/3mm, 5/4mm, and even thicker ones.  

Seams/Stitching 

  • Flatlock or overlock seams. They aren’t the best choice for a cold water wetsuit because they are not water-tight. These types of seam come in the cheapest wetsuits. 
  • Blindstitched seams. They are generally sealed/liquid taped, offering a mostly water-tight seal, providing exceptional warmth.

User Tolerance

Different people have different tolerances to cold. Some people can handle colder water easily, so obviously, they’ll be able to get away with a thinner wetsuit or less coverage. 

To what degree can a person withstand cold? Each individual has different tolerance levels. For example, a thicker wetsuit with quality stitching and seams covering more of the body is probably the best option for easily becoming cold.

Thinner wetsuits are used by people who opt for less coverage, and they manage colder water and conditions more comfortably.

Water leaks reduce the effectiveness of wetsuits. To ensure a water-tight seal, people tape and/or glue the seams in the higher quality suits.

Here’s a generalized chart for the “average” adult for which type/thickness of wetsuit to get based on water temperature.

Water Temperature (F)Type Of Wetsuit Thickness
Below 52Full suit5/4mm with hood, gloves, and booties
52-58Full suit4/3mm with gloves and booties
59-63Full suit3/2mm
64-67Long sleeve spring suit2mm
68-71Short John or short sleeve spring suit2mm
72 +Jacket or vest1-1.5mm

Additional Considerations

As mentioned before, your bodyboarding wetsuit must give you a snug fit. The wetsuit you choose should not have gaps, creases, or pockets of space when you are wearing the suit. In addition, the ankle and wrist cuffs and the neck should be comfortable but also has to fit tight enough to make sure there is no water flush. 

Besides having a wetsuit that fits properly, you should consider additional factors in your search for the best bodyboarding wetsuit for you and your needs.

Body heat is lost 25 times faster when an individual is immersed in water than in air. This factor highlights the importance of using a quality wetsuit with a tight, snug, still comfortable fit. 

Choosing the best size and fit for your wetsuit will significantly improve the overall thermal protection your choice will have on keeping you warm. To guide your search, use the manufacturer’s size chart and compare it to your physical measurements. 

How To Maintain Your Wetsuit To Last Longer?

1. After Each Use, Rinse Your Suit With Fresh Water, Always. 

Saltwater is very corrosive, and wetsuits are not the exception. Also, if you tend to empty your bladder inside your wetsuit, be advised that urine is as corrosive as salty water. 

2. Dry Your Wetsuit In The Shade

Similar to urine and saltwater, the UV rays of the sun will break down your suit ahead of time. So, hang the wetsuit in the shade, and do NOT hang it by the shoulders, the middle part of it.

3. Be Careful When Putting Your Wetsuit On And Taking It Off. 

Newer high-end wetsuits all have super-stretch neoprene. But, especially in chest-zip suits, some require stressing and stretching certain parts of the suit to get on and off. If you tweak something too much or do it in a hurry, you can expect a seam to pop, which will ruin your day. So, take it easy and slow when getting ready. 

Conclusion

People who enjoy year-round bodyboarding, or any other cold-water sport, will need the correct gear to ensure their comfort and safety. The benefit of wearing a quality wetsuit is great thermal protection in cold temperatures without sacrificing mobility. In addition to this, it increases your aerodynamics in the water, which helps you move easily and reduce drag. 

When choosing the best wetsuit for you, consider the following aspects:

  • Wetsuit Fit
  • Type of Wetsuit
  • Wetsuit Design
  • Wetsuit Materials
  • Thermal Protection

Finally, always use the correct wetsuit for the given water temperature.

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Written by Water Diversions

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