Why Do I Need to Wear a Wetsuit for Surfing?
Mar 01, 2023
Surfers wear wetsuits to protect themselves from cold temperatures, sunlight, sea life, and board rash. Wetsuits are made of neoprene, which allows swimmers, scuba divers, and others involved in water sports and sea-based jobs to stay longer in the water.
Why do Surfers Wear Wetsuits?
Composed of synthetic rubber, neoprene contains tiny bubbles that get filled up with water once you get wet. The water stays inside these bubbles of nitrogen gas and becomes warm as a result of your body heat. Nitrogen has low thermal conductivity or heat transfer away from the body.
This process brings about the following benefits:
Neoprene's insulating properties can keep you warm and stay warm in cold water for an extended time, preventing hypothermia. Brands offer different types of wetsuit thicknesses to suit your local water temperature and type of activity.
You can get a sunburn from the rays of the sun or its reflection on the water's surface. Neoprene can prevent UV rays from reaching your skin.
The small air bubbles that make up neoprene make the material buoyant. In turn, your wetsuit will help you stay afloat, something that is extremely helpful after being wiped out by waves. This helps you conserve energy when treading in open water.
Skin protection from sea life
Wetsuits can prevent you from getting cuts or scrapes from corals or other sea creatures, particularly when waves break directly on shallow reefs or low-lying rocks. They may not be tough enough to shield you from a shark attack, but they can protect you from jellyfish and bluebottle stings.
Why do Surfers Wear Black Wetsuits?
You might be wondering "Why are wetsuits black?"—especially those worn by surfers. Neoprene arrives at processing plants in a colorless liquid form. Manufacturers later add carbon black to the material to:
Increase UV resistance and heat absorption
Black tends to absorb light than reflect it. Thus, most surfers go for black wetsuits to enjoy these properties, which means greater safety from the elements.
Carbon black also reduces rubber degradation, making the surfing attire more durable than colored wetsuits.
Black makes you less conspicuous than when you wear a bright-colored wetsuit. Whether you'd like to play down the fact that you're a novice surfer or be less noticeable to predators like sharks, which see in monochrome, a black wetsuit would help you blend in better with the surfing crowd or marine life. Sharks are particularly attracted to the color yellow and other bright colors.
At the same time, wearing a black wetsuit can inspire your surfing performance for the day. Your clothing can affect your mindset and ultimately your actions, based on the theory of "enclothed cognition." Thus, you can psyche yourself into reaching your best surfing form by wearing a black suit, which is the most common choice among beginners and pros alike.
Is it Necessary to Wear a Wetsuit When Surfing?
A wetsuit may not be necessary if the water temperature at your surfing location is around 65°F (18°C) or above. But many surfers prefer to wear a wetsuit or black suit—even in warm water—as the body can still feel chilly after a while, especially during technical or deep scuba diving. Scuba diving suits that are 3mm thick are recommended in warm temperatures. However, the thickness will also depend on your personal cold sensitivity.
Also, wetsuits can delay the softening of your skin due to saltwater exposure. Over time, salts rubbing against your body may lead to inflammation and wounds or surfer's rashes. But if the weather in your area is warm to hot, a rash guard may be enough.
When wearing a wetsuit in warmer weather, stay in the water or take off the top half of your suit when out of the water to avoid overheating.
Meanwhile, if there's high water visibility at your surfing spot and no sign of danger from rocks, corals, or other sea life, then you can surf without a wetsuit on. Otherwise, it would be better to wear a wetsuit for protection.
Why are Black Wetsuits so Popular?
Among all wetsuit colors, black is the most common as this color is most wetsuits are dyed black.
When the first wetsuits were commercially produced in the 1950s, their color was black because they were made of rigid natural rubber with no material covering them. Nylon was used as backing to help wearers slip them on more easily.
As wetsuit makers developed and perfected the structure of this surf gear, attempts were made to sell pieces with colored panels. Dunlop Sports Co. of the U.K. produced the fluorescent yellow Aquafort wetsuit in the late 1950s as part of its scuba equipment line. The brightly colored suit was meant to improve diver safety. Unfortunately, it didn't take off and the brand later stopped offering the product.
Neon-colored scuba diving suits became popular in the 1980s, but it was a passing fad.
In modern wetsuits, the synthetic neoprene sheet is sandwiched between an external layer made of silicone rubber and a soft synthetic inner lining. They come in a variety of colors and styles but most of them are predominantly black with bright colored patterns.
As mentioned, black is still the most preferred wetsuit color today, as it keeps surfers warm and protected from UV rays. Many surfers also go for black due to its slimming effect and higher resistance to wear and fading.
Does the Color of the Wetsuit Really Matter?
The right wetsuit should primarily have a snug fit that doesn't cause restricted movement and the proper thickness that will match your area's water and air conditions. But color also plays a significant role in regulating body temperature.
When surfing in cooler climates, it's not enough to pick thicker wetsuits. Choosing a black neoprene wetsuit would be your best choice to keep your body warm longer.
While you may not need as much insulation while surfing in warm climates, a black wetsuit helps reduce sunburn and friction from saltwater, as well as sharp or spiky surfaces and creatures.
Black Wetsuits Aren't Boring
Buell Surf's black wetsuits are far from bland. Plain black pieces come in sharp designs with lightly colored piping. Others feature bright colors on the upper chest, arms, and legs for full wetsuits. View our various options for men, women, youth and kids today.