As much as we are fed images of surfers in board shorts enjoying tropical perfection this is not our reality. We live in Northern Europe. On a latitude that without the warming influence of the Gulf Stream would be ruddy freezing.
So surfing in boardies at home is an elusive pipe dream, rarely achieved unless it’s been a blistering summer; for younger readers we did use to get summers where it would actually be sunny and hot for months on end. So it has been possible.
In the main we have to rely on the humble creation known as the wetsuit. The technological marvel of finest japanese neoprene protects us from the elements and means we can surf for hours. Even in the depths of winter.
‘Yeah, yeah!’ We hear you scoff. ‘It’s September, the water is still balmy and my three mil is all I need’. Indeed this is so young Padawan. But as they oft say in Game Of Thrones: winter is coming. The three mil will only be of use for another month or two (depending on what madness the global climate system throws our way) and then we are into thick winter suit territory. A good winter suit is essential. If not the most essential bit of your wetsuit quiver.
So don’t stint. Buy the best you can and make sure you try before you buy. Fit is essential. ‘It looked okay on the Interweb’ is not something we want you to be crying.
As for the conundrum of built in hood versus not it depends on how often you are going to surf through the winter. A good 5mm with no hood will see you through shorter sessions. A hooded 6mm will arm you against the worst excesses of our cold season. You’ll be amazed how warm you can be with a top notch 6mm and well thought out boots and gloves.
Accessories are personal preference. Some people swear by mitts, others prefer gloves, split toe boots may make you look like a ninja turtle but they can also make your toes cold. It depends on you and your body as to what works best for you.
However it works out just make sure you look after your winter friend. Rinse and hang the beast as they take a lot longer to dry properly than your summer skin.