Image of a Buell Wetsuit

3 Things I Wish I Knew Getting Started with a Wetsuit

Lately, we have been taking more trips to go surfing. We recently visited Monterey, California for a surf trip to report back to our readers on one of the top surf spots in California for beginners. Stay tuned for an upcoming article on all the best Central California surf spots for beginners.

This was one of our first trips, and my brother and I rented our wetsuits and surfboards so we could learn a little more about both before we decided on what wetsuit or board we would want to buy. We learned a lot from On The Beach Surf Shop in Monterey, where we rented our wetsuits and boards. We also heard that Del Monte Beach is one of the best places in Monterey for beginner surfers.

On The Beach Surf Shop was founded by Kelly Sorensen. Kelly loves both surfing and the lifestyle that goes along with it. The goal of On The Beach is to bring the equipment and accessories of the surfing lifestyle, and they were SUPER helpful to us as beginners. They took the time to recommend the right boards and wetsuits and make sure the wetsuits fit perfectly. If you’re looking for a fun day surfing, be sure to stop in at On The Beach to get your supplies. They are great. (Tell them Rowan and Grant at Trailnetizen sent you!)

Here are the top three lessons we learned.

Belly Jelly!

Image of Belly Jelly, useful for presenting a neck rash in a swimsuit
Belly Jelly for preventing chafing

This is our top tip! If you are not just surfing but bodysurfing or boogie boarding, or if you’re going to be out a long time wearing a wetsuit, your neck will probably start to hurt from chafing (rubbing against the wetsuit).

A way to solve this is using Belly Jelly. Apply it on basically your whole neck, wherever your neck touches the wetsuit. Kelly told us that this is what the pros like him use. We used it the second day and it made a HUGE difference.

Get Your Belly Jelly ($11 at Amazon)

Commando, Underwear or Swimsuit?

Preparing to surf in Monterey at Del Monte Beach

What you have under your wetsuit is up to personal taste, but we would recommend going commando, tight underwear, or a pair of board shorts or swim trunks. Commando or underwear can be more comfortable but you can’t take it off in public. Swim trunks are nice because then you can still get them wet and go in public afterward. Something like these Billabong boardshorts are a good choice because they are a bit shorter on the leg, and won’t bunch up so much under your wetsuit. If bunching bothers you, then consider the Salent boardshort. It’s a much tighter fit.

Important note: If you’re a guy, and you have sensitive parts, you’ll want to cut out any mesh lining in your swimsuit, or well, the rubbing of the mesh can become quite uncomfortable.

Get your Billabong Classic Boardshorts ($36 at Amazon)
Get your Salent Board Short ($15 at Amazon)

Taking Off Your Wetsuit

We learned that you really want to get a heavy-duty bin, 14-20 gallons, like this Brute Storage Container. First, get a platform under you so that your wetsuit doesn’t get sandy. If you’re using a bin, put the lid down on the ground. Then get a water bottle and rinse off your feet. They, when the sand is off, step into the bin and take off your wetsuit, and leave it in the bin as you step into your flip flops.

Get a Brute Storage Bin

Wetsuit Choice

This awesome Buell wetsuit, turned inside out in this photo, was our favorite, but we couldn’t afford it. 🙁

We rented a Buell RBZ wetsuit and an O’Neill wetsuit from On The Beach Surf Shop for this visit. They were good, and we liked the Buell one the best. However, these suits are more than we can afford.

After this trip, we ended up getting inexpensive Lemorecn wetsuits, which are totally fine wetsuits (they’ve held up for about 4 months so far), and pretty inexpensive ($59). If you’re surfing during the summer in California in SoCal or on the Central Coast (San Luis/Pismo area), you want a 3mm wetsuit. If you get cold easily, or your surfing during the winter, get a 4 or 5mm wetsuit. The higher the mm, the warmer it keeps you.

Thinking back, it probably cost more to rent the Buell and O’Neill wetsuits than the Lemorecn wetsuits actually cost. But we didn’t know that, or what thickness (3mm or 4mm) to get.

Get your Lemorecn wetsuit ($59 on Amazon)
Get your O’Neill Reactor wetsuit ($125 on Amazon)
Splurge! and get your Buell wetsuit ($254 on Buell Surf)

Surf Smart, Live Better.

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