How to Choose the Right Winter Wetsuit
With the right wetsuit, cold temperatures are simply a ticket to less crowded lineups. The key ingredient here is the right wetsuit. A number of factors go into making a good wetsuit, thickness is only one of them. Here is the rundown for what to consider when choosing the ideal winter wetsuit.
Lining: Some wetsuits have an extra layer of lining on the inside that provide extra protection and comfort against neoprene and rubber. Having a good piece of liner on the inside of the suit will keep the skin from chafing, as well as add an extra degree of warmth. At Xcel, we use the following technologies in our lining for premium warmth and flexibility: Thermolite IR, Infared IR, TDC, Radiant Rebound, and Celliant Black.
Seams: Seams give the wetsuit its shape by fastening all the pieces together. Seams are generally stitched or glued, or a combination of both. Generally speaking, more seams mean less flexibility and more opportunities for water to get in. Xcel wetsuits use Fusion X seam tape to ensure that a tight seal doesn’t sacrifice comfort.
Thickness: Most people understand that the thicker the wetsuit, the more it protects you from the water outside. But there are drawbacks to a thick wetsuit, most notably being mobility: a thicker wetsuit means more mass to maneuver. The other downside to a thick wetsuit is that there is such a thing as being too warm. Overheating will cut a day short if not careful.
Temperature guide: Use this guide as a baseline to help determine the right thickness for you.
Water Temperature: The colder the water, the thicker the wetsuit needed. But since there are different levels of quality within wetsuits, it’s impossible to make a blanket statement that xx degrees will require x wetsuit. However, it’s the single best point to begin the process. Think of the water temperature as the trailhead of the journey into determining the perfect suit.
Wind: Since we’re talking about winter it’s safe to say that any wind will bring an extra chill with it. Even lower latitudes get some wind chill from certain directions. So if you’re in a windy spot, it’s smart to add some extra thickness to help offset the chill factor..
- Many suits also have extra rubber on the outside for this reason and it makes a huge difference. So if there is any element of wind chill, look for more than neoprene to stay warmer while sitting in the lineup. Otherwise time out of the water might even feel colder than time in the water.
Time of Day: Those on dawn patrol don’t have the luxury of the sun helping to warm their suit. But if you’re the type to only go out midday in the sunshine, the top layer of water receives some solar warming. It's usually a few degrees warmer than in the report, which might allow you to use a lighter wetsuit for that day.
The Right Xcel Wetsuit
Xcel wetsuits are built with each of the above factors in mind well before we ever begin production. Our design team has carefully thought out every piece to ensure that no matter the conditions, there will be an ideal suit that will ensure the most time possible for warmth, comfort, and mobility. Here’s what you can expect in each of our suits:
Drylock X: When you absolutely positively need the best of the best. Drylock X has all the features of the Drylock with a few added amenities:
- 100% Waterproof Zipper system: Magnetic locking allows for a water-resistant zipper enclosure.
- Expanded Celliant Black lining - even more of the midsection includes Celliant Black tech to give even further comfort.
- Stitch-free power seam technology gives more of a seal where needed the most.
Drylock: The Drylock is the absolute highest standard of comfort and warmth. Everything about this suit is engineered to allow for maximum time in the water.
Infiniti: Infiniti is the ideal all-around wetsuit that offers great stretch and warmth. It’s for those who surf in a variety of conditions yet not any extremes. The Radiant Rebound core allows for heat to be trapped in, while the limbs can enjoy a large range of motion.
Phoenix: The Phoenix has maximum stretch and mobility on the outside, while lined on the inside with ThermoLite IR to provide extra warmth and comfort. This is one of our most versatile suits to allow for multiple conditions without sacrificing performance.
Comp: The comp is the lightest and stretchiest wetsuit we have. This is the one to use if you need maximum mobility in the suit without sacrificing warmth.
Axis: The Axis offers an easy-entry back zip design, allowing for a solid chest plate that will allow for flawless pop-ups. It’s one of the best value suits on the market at a welcoming introductory price point.
At the end of the day, the best wetsuit is the one that keeps you in the water as long as your energy allows. If the water feels too cold or you feel too tired surfing in it, then you'll want to find a better match. But there's one out there for you. We've been doing this a long time, and have tested all kinds of designs and innovations over the years. There's definitely a wetsuit that will keep you surfing all winter, and hopefully many more winters to come.