When it comes to enjoying your time out on the waves, having a reliable and comfortable surf wetsuit is essential. But, as a dedicated surfer or even just an occasional wave rider, you may wonder how long your wetsuit will last and when you might need to replace it.
Typically, a high-performance stretchy surfing wetsuit can last up to one year if you surf at least three times a week. However, if you are just a weekend warrior, it may last a year or two. Surf wetsuits tend to have a much shorter lifespan than other wetsuits because they take plenty of abuse while surfing.
To maximize the life of your wetsuit, taking good care of it is crucial. Rinsing it with fresh water and hanging it to dry after each use can extend its lifespan significantly. The better you treat your wetsuit, the longer it will serve you as you catch those epic waves. In this article, you will learn how to do that.
Factors Influencing the Lifespan of a Surf Wetsuit
There are several factors that can impact the lifespan of your surf wetsuit, such as material quality, fit and size, frequency of use, and maintenance and care. In this section, we will discuss these factors in more detail.
The material of your wetsuit plays a significant role in its overall durability. Most wetsuits are made from neoprene, which is a synthetic rubber that provides excellent insulation and flexibility. The quality of the neoprene and the stitching or bonding of the seams can affect your wetsuit’s longevity. Higher-quality neoprene and well-constructed seams are more resistant to stretching, tearing, and general wear and tear.
Fit and Size
Getting the right fit and size for your wetsuit is crucial for both comfort and durability. A well-fitting wetsuit should feel snug but not overly tight, allowing for a good range of motion without causing excessive stretching or strain on the material. If your wetsuit is too tight, the constant stretching may weaken the neoprene, resulting in a reduced lifespan.
Frequency of Use
The frequency with which you use your wetsuit influences how long it lasts. Regular exposure to saltwater, sunlight, and physical activity can contribute to the breakdown of the neoprene and other components, such as zippers. For surfers, add rubbing against the surfboard to the list.
How to Extend the Life of Your Surf Wetsuit
Proper maintenance and care of your wetsuit can significantly extend its life, regardless of how frequently you use it. Some essential care tips include:
- Rinsing: Always rinse your wetsuit thoroughly with fresh water after each use to remove salt residue, which can damage the neoprene.
- Washing: Periodically wash your wetsuit with a mild detergent specially formulated for wetsuits to help remove any dirt, grime, or lingering odors. Avoid harsh chemicals such as bleach.
- Drying: Hang your wetsuit to dry on a wide hanger in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Avoid using heat sources like radiators or blow dryers, as they may damage the neoprene.
- Storage: Store your wetsuit flat or on a wide hanger, avoiding any creasing or folding that may cause damage over time.
We go into each point in-depth below.
In-Depth Maintenance Guide
Proper care and maintenance are essential for extending the life of your surf wetsuit. One important step you should take after each use is to give your wetsuit a thorough rinse. This will remove any salt residue and prevent it from damaging the neoprene. Be sure to use fresh water to rinse both the inside and the outside of the wetsuit.
Another factor to consider is washing your wetsuit periodically with a specialized wetsuit shampoo. This helps to keep the neoprene flexible and maintain its overall longevity. Always avoid using any harsh chemicals or detergent, as these can damage the wetsuit’s material.
To ensure your wetsuit is dried properly, follow these simple steps:
- Gently squeeze out excess water (do not wring).
- Hang your wetsuit inside-out in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
- Once the inside is dry, turn it right-side-out and hang it again to let the outside dry.
Remember to avoid using a machine dryer and never fold your wetsuit for storage, as it can cause creases that reduce the wetsuit’s performance and durability.
Instead, store your wetsuit lying flat or on a well-ventilated hanger. Do not place other equipment on the wetsuit and do not fold it either. Keep it away from direct sunlight, and make sure the storage area is cool and dry. You may even need a dehumidifier for basement storage because it can get quite damp.
Inspect your wetsuit regularly for any signs of damage, such as tears or seam separations. If you notice any issues, it’s essential to address them as soon as possible. Small tears can often be repaired using a wetsuit repair kit, which typically includes neoprene cement or glue.
For more significant damage or seam issues, consider taking your wetsuit to a professional repair service to keep it in optimal condition. Alternatively, it may be worth it to just save that money to buy a new wetsuit instead.
How you use your wetsuit also plays an important role in extending its life. When putting on your wetsuit, take extra care not to stretch or strain the material unnecessarily. Ensure your nails are trimmed to avoid causing punctures or tears while handling the wetsuit.
Also, keep in mind that using your wetsuit in harsher environments, such as chlorinated pool water or during diving, might result in a shortened lifespan. If possible, opt for a wetsuit specifically designed for these activities or a budget-friendly option that you won’t mind replacing more frequently.
Average Lifespan of Surf Wetsuits
When it comes to surf wetsuits, their lifespan is sadly very short compared to wetsuits used in other sports. On average, a good-quality wetsuit can last anywhere between one to two seasons, or about a year at most, even with proper care.
For reference, scuba diving wetsuits have been known to last upwards of 4-10 years. The difference is in how the wetsuits are used; scuba divers try to conserve their energy by not moving as much as possible so that their air supply can last longer. Surfers, on the other hand, get much more action, and therefore their wetsuits suffer more wear and tear and break down faster.
If you do not take proper care of your surf wetsuit by following the tips outlined in the sections above, then you can expect your wetsuit to last just that one season. If you do take good care of your wetsuit, you can use it for another season, effectively doubling its lifespan (and saving you money), so it’s quite literally worth it to learn how to treat your wetsuit right!
Signs Your Wetsuit Might Need Replacing
As a water sport enthusiast, you know the importance of a wetsuit in your surfing, kayaking, or other water activities. But like any gear, wetsuits can wear out and eventually need replacement. Here are some signs that you might need a new wetsuit.
Firstly, keep an eye on the overall condition of your wetsuit. If you notice significant holes, cuts, or tears that cannot be repaired, it’s time for a new one. While small damages can be fixed using a wetsuit repair kit, excessive tearing will affect its performance and the warmth it provides in the water.
Another indication that your wetsuit needs replacing is if the seams are broken or cracked. Seams are crucial for holding the wetsuit together and ensuring that water doesn’t seep in. Broken or cracked seams will heavily compromise the effectiveness of your wetsuit, so it’s best to replace it in this case.
Wetsuit materials such as neoprene can lose their elasticity and flexibility over time, especially when exposed to chlorinated pool water or used frequently in watersports. Pay attention to whether your wetsuit feels overly stretched or if the thickness of the neoprene has become much thinner than it used to be. This can also affect your wetsuit’s performance, leaving you feeling colder in the water.
Finally, be mindful of how your wetsuit fits you. If it has become too tight or too loose, it might not be providing the optimal amount of insulation and could be affecting your ability to move freely. Make sure your wetsuit continues to fit properly for maximum comfort and effectiveness.