What Do You Wear to Surf in California?

June 15, 2022 3 min read

What do you wear for surfing in California? There are different types of clothes for surfers. Wetsuits, Neoprene vests, and spring suits. The best options for surfing in California are based on the season and the water temperature. Here are some tips to choose the right surf clothes:


Wetsuits first became popular in California in the 1950's. The brothers were lifeguards in the county's beaches, but they were also avid surfers. In fact, they were so into the ocean, they even invested in a wetsuit business owned by a mysterious man named Bev Morgan. This business eventually became known as Dive N' Surf, and wetsuits were born.

Surfers wear bodysuits to keep warm in cold water. When buying a wetsuit, keep the seasons in mind. The South Swells start in June and can go all the way until October. Two south swells can push water temperatures to the point where a full suit is no longer needed. It's common for surfers to graduate from a full suit to a light summer suit once the water temperature reaches 65 degrees or higher. It is not uncommon for people to choose a sleeveless suit in the spring and summer months, and even wear it in the winter. In most cases, the wetsuits are of black color.

Wetsuits for surfing in California have a rich history. They came into use as early as 1956 when three friends decided to sell them in local surf shops. The first attempts were a total flop, but local surfers saw their potential and decided to market them. Eventually, the idea took hold and the business became a billion-dollar industry. Today, some companies even produce wetsuits made from recycled plastic.

Neoprene Vests

The neoprene vest is a versatile piece of surf clothing that offers superior mobility and protects your torso from cold water and rashes. These vests are inexpensive and versatile, and can be worn under a wetsuit or over stylish rash guards. Neoprene is becoming an increasingly popular choice for surfers around the world, and neoprene vests are a great way to get started.

When Jack O'Neill first started developing the wetsuit, the material was made from polyvinyl chloride, which absorbed water. The vests had a dreary look, reminiscent of lead suits. Even before O'Neill invented the wetsuit, surfers had limited options in cold water. His short-sleeved neoprene vest made surfing possible in freezing waters, and sparked teasing from fellow surfers.

While it's possible to find lightweight wetsuits in California, you might need to buy a wetsuit with hoods. A hood protects your head and torso from the cold, and the extra protection provided by neoprene gloves and booties can make a big difference. While style can be a consideration, it is likely to take a backseat to protection when you're tackling big waves in frigid temperatures.

Spring Suits

A 3/2mm fullsuit should be fine from mid-summer into August. The water temperature remains around sixty degrees, but the winds can cause upwelling and the water to drop as much as ten degrees in a day. It is recommended to keep a 2/3 suit in your car and use it for snorkeling or fishing. Then, you can remove the fullsuit and wear a short arm fullsuit and a pair of boots.

A spring suit is a thin layer of neoprene that offers protection from underwater objects. Although the water temperature in California is not tropical, it's still warm enough to surf. A full wetsuit would be like wearing a down parka to brunch. Plus, the long-sleeved style provides added warmth and protection from the sun. Buying a spring suit is an excellent investment in your surfing wardrobe.

Besides a bikini, you should also consider a full-length suit. These suits will cover your torso, arms, and legs. A spring suit should cover your torso and legs so that your core stays warmer. It is advisable to purchase a rashguard that covers your arms and will prevent your arms from getting slippery when applying sunscreen. This way, you will stay protected no matter how long you surf in the Californian waters.

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