BIRD'S SURF SCOOP: Assessing wetsuit needs, cost factors
Published - 08/20/14 - 12:26 PM | 6265 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
August is upon us already, and with the water temperature being in the low 70s, it may seem like an odd time to talk about full winter wetsuits. My reasons are pretty simple: supply, demand and cost.

In past seasons when the water has been warm for this long, it has a tendency to continue to stay that way all through October and possibly into November.

I like warm water as much as anyone, but it can wreak havoc for both the wetsuit manufacturers and the retailers who sell them.

Neither of these groups of business people want to overproduce or stock just to have the latest and greatest cold-water gear hanging around warehouses and retail stores. The end result usually means less suits built, so a decent supply will be limited.

This also means that with a lower inventory level, deals on wetsuits will be unlikely. My advice is to shop early and be prepared for when the water temperature does drop down, which always happens. Wait too long and you run the risk of having to wear your old suit throughout the season. Color and style options will be limited as well.

Speaking of wetsuits, seriously consider what you really need before you plunk down big bucks for a suit with a limited lifespan. Is all that super-stretch, triple-stitched technology really going to be needed or used? With decent suits ranging in price from around $150 to $550, serious consideration is in order.

All suits will keep you warm; some longer than others. The same is true for flexibility. Most often, the higher-end suits can be a bit warmer with more stretch, but don’t expect to get much more than a season out of them if you surf on a regular basis.

For my money, I stick to the mid-price suits in the $195 to $300 range. This means plenty of warmth and stretch for me with at least twice as long of a lifespan.

Do not buy a top-branded suit, as all are not created equal.

A bit of common sense and a rinse out on a regular basis will help to protect a suit, which in turn protects you from that cold winter water.

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