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Why Do Surfers Wear Black Wetsuits?

   May 6th, 2020   Posted In: Articles   Tags:

Why Do Surfers Wear Black Wetsuits?

Whether a surfer is new to chasing swell or a seasoned pro, a wetsuit is the second skin that’s taken pretty seriously for most surfers. It’s the first layer of protection from the elements. Whether keeping your body warm or shielding skin from the harsh sun. When picking out a wetsuit, first understand what you’re using it for. There are virtually endless options for diving, surfing, and more, ranging in material, paneling, thickness, and compression, depending on water conditions. Those surfing in cooler waters will opt for thicker suits than those surfing in hotter temperatures.

why do surfers wear black wetsuitsA great place to start is by seeking advice from the people who use them the most. Styles and thickness may vary, but if you ask around, most surfers will tell you that their wetsuit is black. While many of the reasons might stem from personal preference, a black wetsuit does have its advantages. Whichever color you choose, you’ll still get the protection and comfort you’re looking for, but here are five reasons why some surfers say black is best.

It Can Boost Your Performance

It’s been proven that there is a connection between uniforms and performance. It’s like the saying goes, “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” This is because the clothes you wear not only affect how others perceive you but also your mental state when working toward a goal. Research from Rice University looked at doctors to study the theory of “enclothed cognition,” or how clothing shapes a person’s psychological process. They found that the doctors who wore white coats—a powerful symbol for every M.D.—performed better than those who didn’t.

This concept is also applicable to sports and, in particular, surfing. Although it may seem like a completely different breed of uniform, a black wetsuit is part of a surfer’s arsenal. And, once that garment is on, enclothed cognition can kick in, putting you in a better mindset to rip.

It May Be Better for Regulating Body Temperature

When surfing in colder temperatures, you need to regulate your body heat to avoid quitting early, and water conducts heat away from the body much faster than air. Wetsuits are effective because, with the right material and a snug fit, they limit water circulation as you’re moving in the water. Thus keeping your body warm. Darker colors are especially effective since they absorb more heat and light than brighter colors. Black—which actually isn’t a color, but the absence of color—absorbs the most light, reflects very little, and therefore traps in the most heat for the wearer.

Black Provides Ultimate UV Protection

why do surfers wear black wetsuitsOn the other hand, while spending hours under the sun, your skin takes a beating. To avoid any long-term consequences, the right wetsuit protects surfers from harmful UV rays. And, it starts with the material. Neoprene, the type of rubber your wetsuit is likely made from, starts off as a milky white color. Carbon black is a key ingredient added, turning the rubber black to increase strength. It also provides heightened UV resistance for the same reason as heat absorption. Black is the best option to absorb light versus reflecting it, meaning that sunlight is less likely to reach your skin. And, since the material lacks reflective properties, the skin on your face, hands, and feet will also benefit.

It Will Likely Last Longer

Most wetsuits are made from neoprene because, with prolonged sun exposure, varying water temperatures, salt, and other elements, the material is incredibly durable. The carbon black added into the material also helps to reduce rubber degradation that often happens to the polymer is exposed to sun, water, and other elements.

Novice Surfers May Not Want to Attract Attention

Every surfer has to start somewhere. It can be intimidating to head out on the water with experienced surfers on either side. We get it. You might not want to be the neon-clad newbie struggling to drop in. Or, maybe you’re traveling and eager to try a local surf spot hidden from the usual tourists. Even while practicing your best surf etiquette—letting locals catch the first few waves of the set and keeping your distance—it’s best to blend in.

Technology has brought today’s wetsuits into a new era, so even if you’re inclined to explore beyond black, reputable wetsuits will still do their job to protect your body. But, when you’re talking tried-and-true methods, black wetsuits have always been preferred surf gear.

As a proud born-and-bred Miamian, Paige can’t imagine a life away from the ocean. She’s a travel, food and lifestyle writer hell-bent on uncovering new, under-the-radar destinations, sights, sips, and bites. When she's not busy writing, Paige can most likely be found throwing together a new recipe, running around Downtown Miami, trying out a new restaurant (most likely sushi), or heading to the beach with her black lab, Remi.

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