MSW Wetsuit Guide: 3mm, 4mm or 5mm?

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If you live and surf in the UK or Ireland and you’re worried about being too warm in the water please don’t fret – our magical isles have a way of ensuring it’s rarely an issue. None the less choosing which suit to buy and which to wear on any given day takes a bit of thought. Bear in mind this table is designed for average seasonal conditions and water temperatures but the air temperature and especially wind chill on any given day make a huge difference. You could be comfortable in a 4mm on one winters day with calm weather, a little sunshine and average air temperatures and freezing cold the next day if the wind gets up, the temperature drops and the cloud covers the sun. Continue reading

MSW Wetsuit Guide: Stretch is Good

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Neoprene is naturally stretchy, which is good. It means that an off the peg suit will give a perfect skin tight fit for all but a few of us. It also means that the body can move, shoulders can paddle, legs can turn and surfing is easy and fluid. Some things increase stretch, the first is the quality of the neoprene. Different neoprene stretches in different amounts. The best ‘super stretch’ fabrics will increase by at least 100% when stretched, a less expensive neoprene perhaps by only 50%. This does make a difference to the feel of a suit and how tiring paddling and surfing in it can be. Some manufacturers ensure their mid priced suits offer both value and performance by placing this super stretch neoprene in the shoulders… Continue reading

MSW Wetsuit Guide: Front Zip or Back Zip?

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In the good old days you zipped your wetsuit up on your back. There were three disadvantages: Firstly and most importantly zips don’t stretch, by placing the zip across the back you create a big stretchless zone right between the shoulders, the bit that move sthe most as you paddle. Secondly to seal the suit at your neck you relied on a velcro enclosure, the same velcro snagged and pulled the nylon coating on the neoprene every time you opened and closed the suit limiting it’s lifespan and irritated your neck if tight, letting in water if not. Thirdly it’s a pain to do up or undo a zip on your back in a car park on your own with cold hands! Continue reading

MSW Wetsuit Guide: Fit Is Everything

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Your wetsuit keeps you warm by trapping water against your skin, if this water can flush in and out you don’t stay warm, you get cold. A few tips to getting it right: Firstly check the size chart. Every manufacturer uses a slightly different standard, just because you buy a medium tee shirt doesn’t mean you’re a medium wetsuit. We’re all different shapes and sizes and the better wetsuit manufacturers have responded to this with a variety of sizes to ensure the perfect fit. We’ve long been advocates of the Xcel brand and one of the reasons is the range of sizes offered, you might be a medium build but if you’re a little shorter than average the ‘MS’ suit (Medium Short) will be your best bet. Continue reading

MSW Wetsuit Guide: Price is Your Guide

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You don’t always get what you pay for in life, but the wetsuit market is very competitive and price is generally a good guide to performance. If you’re thinking about surfing in winter in most of Europe forget anything that claims to be a winter suit below about £130. Between £130 and £250 your suit just gets warmer and warmer and also more flexible and more comfortable to wear (in fact they’re directly related, the more stretch in the neoprene the better the fit = more performance and more warmth). Above £250 you start to move into luxury territory. Continue reading

MSW Wetsuit Guide: The Boots & Gloves Myth

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“My hands and feet get really cold, I’ll save a few quid on my suit and spend it on some decent gloves” – It makes sense at a glance, but it’s left far too many surfers suffering. The science is simple, your body prioritises keeping your brain and vital organs warm. If it detects that you’re losing this ‘core’ heat it’s first response is to shut off circulation to your hands and feet. So buy the best suit you can afford, keep your core warm and you’ll be doing your hands and feet a favour even if your accessories aren’t great. Of course a great suit and top of the range boots and gloves together is the ultimate solution if you really want to be warm. Continue reading

MSW Wetsuit Guide: I Really Feel the Cold

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You won’t be surprised how often we hear this, but guess what – we ALL really feel the cold! Paddle out in boardies mid winter and see how long you last. Sure different builds and body weights respond slightly differently, but the reason you’re wearing gloves in summer and other surfers aren’t wearing them mid winter isn’t because you’re some sort of biological anomaly, it’s because they’re wearing a better quality and better fitting wetsuit. Most often than not we hear this from women surfing for the first time, almost always in a hand me down suit from their boyfriend or husband, you’re not unique or biologically different – if you spent as much money on a suit that fitted you right as he did you’d be as warm as the rest of us! Continue reading