A comprehensive guide to buying your first wetsuit

My boyfriend likened getting me into a wetsuit to putting on a condom. Sorry mom for the overshare but, all things considered, that’s a pretty accurate comparison. It was sweaty and uncomfortable and squishy. Anyway let’s stop talking about condoms and get to the real exciting stuff – wetsuits!

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The epitome of graceful, really.

Since my visit to the Seychelles last year, I’ve been wanting to spend more time immersed in the ocean. No more quick lil dips in and out like I usually do in Cape Town because hello have you felt the temperature of the Atlantic (it’s f**k off cold in case you were wondering). No. This gal wants to spend some quality time in the big blue. I’m talking free diving. I’m talking surfing. I’m talking paddle boarding.

But, for this I needed a wetsuit. And a wetsuit (now that I’m a working gal with some expendable income) I did buy.

As with most things, I approached the whole “buying a wetsuit” thing as an experience i.e. with much the same enthusiasm and just the right amount of drama as I would expend on a new pizza restaurant. This, of course, renders me fully equipped to advise you on buying your first wetsuit (jokes, please take the following with a pinch of sea salt).

1. Do your research first

I had not a single clue that a surfing wetsuit is a so different to a diving one, but now I do so I settled on the surfing variety owing to it’s all-round versatility. I haven’t yet tested this versatility having only put it on once for a dip in the sea but I fully intend to (promise).

2. Take someone with you to try it on

If there’s one thing no one tells you about buying a wetsuit, it’s this: Trying on a wetsuit is a two man job. Even though it feels like you can barely fit one whole human in there.

The sales assistant will help you if need be, but he’s probs not gonna like it. Dan and I stared at him in horror as he recounted the time he had to stick his arm down a big sweaty guy’s suit and hoist him out and really that does not sound like a vibe. Your choice of shopping buddy should be able and willing to do all of the above.

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Excellent wetsuit assistant over here.

3. 35 degree summer days were not made for trying on wetsuits

After trying on two of them, I looked like I’d done as many back-to-back Sweat 1000 classes so unless this is a good look for you, ten outta ten would not recommend buying your wetsuit on the hottest day of the year.

4. If it feels like you’re going to lose a limb from suffocation, you’re doing something right

I was honestly convinced that the first size that I tried on was the right one. I proudly strutted out there like a smug little penguin showing off her perfectly tailored attire…only for the sale assistant to advise I try on a smaller one. My heart sank faster than a heavy object in a body of water.

Anyway the moral of the story is this: If it feels like you’ll never ever ever get yourself into the suit, you probably will. And you’ll feel like you’re gonna peg from suffocation. But, a tight wetsuit means no water in your wetsuit. And that means a snugly warm you. And, best believe, the first time you get into the water you’ll feel like the graceful little water baby you were meant to be. Trust.

Okay that’s all! Summer in Cape Town is coming in HOT and I’m SO excited for all the beachy tings. And also to go hang out in Plett in a couple of weeks.

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Swimming in the Atlantic in just a bikini? Only for the brave and/or insane.
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