With a great subtitle

As surfers we throw a lot of words around and assume that everyone knows what we're talking about. Next time you get lost, this glossary will come in handy.


Thickness: Refers to the thickness (in millimeters) of the neoprene used on a wetsuit. Common wetsuit thickness include 2mm, 3/2mm, 4/3mm, and 5/4mm. For the thickness with two numbers, the first typically indicated the thickness in the core (chest and back), while the lower number typically refers to thickness in the extremities (legs and arms).

Neoprene: A petroleum based product that most wetsuits are made from. Neoprene is extremely stretchy and comfortable, but is not the most eco friendly material for use in wetsuits. Recent developments in wetsuit construction is moving towards greener technologies.

Jersey: The lining on the outside and inside of the wetsuit covering up the raw neoprene. Jersey linings usually vary from brand to brand.

Sizing: Proper sizing is very important with wetsuits, as a better fit will keep the user more comfortable in the water. With kids, parents typically go up a bit in size so the child can grow into it.

Seam - Flatlock: Refers to a seam that is stitched all the way through the neoprene to bring the seams together. Very common in thin wetsuits, but not as much in thicker wetsuits as they holes used for stitching allow water to pass through.

Seam - Glued & Blind Stitched, or GBS: A seam that is glued on the interior and blind stitched on the exterior without being stitched all the way through. The result is a watertight and flexible seam - great for colder water.

Seam - Taped: A seam that combines the process of GBS seams with a added taping along the seam. This “tape” is typically a thin strip of neoprene on the inside of a wetsuit. The result is a very strong seam with added warmth - a must in winter wetsuits.

Welded seam: Similar construction as a taped seam, a welded seam features a liquid neoprene “weld” along the outside of the wetsuit to reinforce the seam.

Back zip: Refers to a wetsuit with a zipper on the back that zips up from the lower back towards the neck.

Chest zip: Refers to a wetsuit with a smaller zipper going along the chest. These suits are harder to get into, but are usually warmer and more flexible.

Zip free: Refers to wetsuit that does not have a zipper in the back or the chest. It is a similar entry to the chest zip, having to climb into the suit through the neck area (once you fold the top next layer over).

Ankle zipper: Usually seen on youth wetsuits, the ankle zipper helps with getting the suit on by extending the ankle portion of the wetsuit, helping the foot slip through easier.

Boots: Neoprene boots are a must when surfing in colder water or rocky/reef filled areas. They keep the feet warm and prevent cuts and bruises on the feet.

Boots - Round Toe: Neoprene boots that feature a round toe box - keeping all of the toes together for ultimate warmth.

Boots - Split toe: Boots that separate the “Big” toe from the rest of the toes giving additional grib to the surfboard. These are not quite as warm as the round toe - so are typically only seen in thinner boots.

Gloves: Neoprene gloves used for surfing in cold water.

Gloves - 5-finger: Exactly what it sounds like - a traditional style glove giving ultimate dexterity. Not the warmest glove design for extremely cold conditions, as the fingers are separated and more likely to get cold.

Gloves - Lobster claw: A glove with 3-fingers: one for the thumb, one for the index finger, and one for the middle, ring, and pinky. A bit warmer than the 5-finger glove, but not quite as flexible.

Gloves - Mitten: The warmest glove for surfing in extremely cold conditions. All the fingers are together (with the exception of the thumb) to provide the ultimate warmth with limited dexterity.

Hoods: A neoprene hood that is designed to keep your head and ears toasty during a winter or coldwater session. Great for keeping the cold out and helps prevent “surfers ear”.

Wetsuit Care: To ensure that your wetsuit is effective in cold water and lasts as long as you want it too, it is important follow these simple steps: Always rinse with fresh water after use, always keep it hung, and keep it our of direct sunlight.

Spring suit: A wetsuit with short arms and short legs - ideal for spring and summer time surfing, or surfing in warm or tropical water.

Winter suit: A must have for surfers that live or are traveling to areas where water temperature dips below 45 degrees. These wetsuits typically have a hood attached and range in thickness from around 5/4 mm to 6/5 mm.

Smoothskin: A type of neoprene material that is often found on the exterior chest and back (core region) of a wetsuit to prevent wind from cutting through.