Monday, September 17, 2018
Your guide to buying a wetsuit
The South-West is synonymous with surfing. Home to more than 50 surf breaks in the cape-to-cape Margaret River region alone, its famed reefs and consistent swell can bring out the surfer in all of us.
But before you head out chasing waves you’ll need a good wetsuit, and in this part of the world there’s no shortage of options.
The basics: what you need to know
- Size and style: Make sure you try on a number of wetsuits to find one that fits best; it should feel like a second skin. Decide whether you want a steamer (full-length arm and leg), spring suit (long sleeves and short legs) or a combination of these. Get advice from experts at the local surf shops. Also, allow for your wetsuit to stretch a little.
- Thickness: Wetsuits come in different thicknesses to suit different climates. The thickness determines how warm you are but also affects flexibility. Most surfers in the region go for a 3/2mm thickness (the 3 is the torso area and 2 for arms and other flex areas) but you might want to opt for a 4/3mm wetsuit in the colder months.
- Chest zip or back zip: Traditionally, wetsuits have had a back zipper to make it more comfortable when lying on your surfboard, but new technology has seen a growing trend in wetsuits with chest zippers, which are said to offer more flexibility through the back and be more watertight. The latter, though, is much more expensive.
- Price: An entry-level steamer from leading brands such as Rip Curl and O’Neill starts at around $200 and can go as high as $700, depending on the quality, and type of seal used on the seams. If you’re a casual surfer or first-timer, somewhere in the middle will serve you well.
Where to shop
As a surfing haven, the South-West is home to plenty of quality surf shops stocking everything you need for your optimal surfing experience. To help you get started, we’ve picked out a few of the best.
- Hillzeez Down South Surf Shops is a South-West institution. The locally owned and run business operates five shops between Bunbury and Albany where you’ll find a range of wetsuits for all surfing conditions and seasons. It was named WA Retailer of the Year by the Australian Surf and Boardsports Industry Association in 2016 and 2017, so you you’re in good hands here. hillzeez.com.au
- Evolution Surf in Dunsborough has its ethos in promoting the down south surfing lifestyle, with a focus on stocking a range of products to suit all ages and budgets. evolutionsurf.com.au
- At Fresh Tracks Margaret River, you’ll find wetsuits to buy and hire along with a ton of local knowledge in owners Troy and Heidi. Focusing on eco-tourism, their Gnarabup Bay store, located a stone’s throw from the ocean, is a base for their guided surf tours for beginners through to advanced surfers. freshtracksmargs.com
- The Board Store in Vasse, near Busselton, is run by a team of West Australian surfers. Their online shop also has an extensive range of wetsuits and with a “click and collect” option, you can select what you need and pick it up on your way to Margaret River. surfboardstore.com.au
- Yahoo Surfboards in Dunsborough is run by a family of surfboard shapers. With eight decades of experience between them, it’s fair to say they know what you’ll need out on the water. Drop in for a chat and get their advice. yahoosurfboards.com.au
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