Dion’s Picks: Wetsuit Quivers for Women and Men

The answer to the question, “What wetsuit do I need to buy to surf in New York?” is always, “Any and all of them.” With water temps that vary from 35 degrees in the freezing heart of winter to 75 degrees in the searing center of summer (which is kind of right now), New York is the wetsuit industry’s wet dream. It’s not like Northern California where you basically always wear a 4/3mm fullsuit because the water temps there hover in the 50-58 degree range all year long. On any given day from June-October in New York you'll see a variety of combos out in the water. Some people will be in fullsuits, while others are in trunks, springsuits of varying sleeve and leg lengths, short johns, long johns, vests, and jackets.

If you have to pin it on a number of suits to own in New York, I’d say you’re pretty covered at four. Below I’ve come up with two ideal four-wetsuit quivers—the first for women; the second for men. I’ve listed them in order from warmest water to coldest.

***I have no brand loyalty or affiliation. These suggestions are solely based on personal taste. I buy all my suits online and go off of sizing charts. If I have a question about sizing I call the company or go to a surfshop to try them on.

Star student Miranda in her stylish new Cynthia Rowley.

Star student Miranda in her stylish new Cynthia Rowley.


1. Kassia Meador 2mm cross-back shortjohn. Kassia’s whole collection for Roxy is fashion-
forward, fun, and functional. It’s designed by one of the world’s best longboarders and women surfers, so what else would you expect? This suit is designed for the warmest times of the year.

2. Cynthia Rowley 2mm L/S Springsuit. I didn’t know about these until a student of mine picked up a really cool one at Saturdays NYC. She thought these long sleeve, short leg spring suits were a fun and classy option for avoiding terrible tan lines and still staying warm and stylish in temperate water (July-Sept). They also have a really cool key pocket for storing car keys, zipcard, or beach pass.

3. Ripcurl Dawn Patrol 3/2 Fullsuit. Stoked that Ripcurl resurrected their original logo. A great suit for fall and late spring. The blue colorway is super rad.

4. Xcel Xfinity Hooded 5/4 Fullsuit. For the hardcore who plans to surf year round. Xcel leads the way in cold water surfgear and this plain jane full suit will take you warmly through December, January, February, March, and on into April--by which time you’ll be praying for the water to warm up again!


1. Nineplus 2/1mm retro jacket with backzip. The 2mil jacket is the ultimate summer ‘suit’. It keeps your upper body warm and protects you from sun while allowing free movement in trunks. I love the Yamamoto Rubber the Nineplus folks use on these.

2. Billabong Tyler Warren 2mm S/S Fullsuit. Ok, I’m a nut for retro styling. I think it’s the deep-seated anti-jock nerd in me that prefers suits with a simple design and minimal logos that don’t scream, “Hey I’m a gear-head!” I understand that it might proclaim, “Hey I’m a hipster!” instead, but there you have it—my cards are on the table—I have an unapologetic love for retro inspired suits like this one Billabong put together with Tyler Warren, surfer/shaper/artist/longboard-and-shortboard-ripper. Oh and if you’ve never worn a short-sleeve fullsuit you’re in for a treat. My friend Sam says it’s like surfing naked.

3. Ripcurl Flashbomb ZipFree 3/2 Fullsuit. Echoing what I said for the women’s Ripcurl suit—long live Ripcurl’s original logo! Totally digging the mesh of high performance modern technology with throwback styling. This suit will get you through October and November and will be ready to go again May-July. And heck, some people (the wimpy variety) wear 3/2 fullsuits June-October, i.e., the whole summer.

4. Xcel Drylock Hooded 5/4 Fullsuit. Here’s where I move to the middle ground. This is a nuts-and-bolts winter suit that will please jock and hipster alike. No fringes, no frills, all black, all warm, and a SIMA winner year after year. You won't stand out in this suit, except for the fact that you may be able to stay out in the water longer than everyone else.

Buying Your First Surfboard in New York--Part II

Like a great vintage suit, finding a used/secondhand board takes a little digging, a lot of patience. But there are great finds out there if you're willing to spend some time trawling the internet and keeping your eyes open. Here are a few places to start your search:

Board swaps: These are great places to pick up a new-to-you stick for a really decent price. You also get to speak to the person who's been riding it for the past however long and get a few inside tips on how the board handles. There's a swap coming up June 7-8 at Sundown Surf and Ski. See their website for details.

NY/NJ Craigslist: In my experience, it's hard to find longboards on here--mostly there are lots of people trying to sell subpar boards for way more than they’re worth. Still, CL is usually the first or second stop in the search for a board on a budget and you may just find what you're after.

Ebay: look for boards sold in the NY/NJ area. Shipping is expensive on surfboards, so you’ll want to save yourself a headache by buying locally or trying to see if they’ll ship via Amtrak. Same quality/price issues as Craigslist, but deals can be found.

San Diego/LA Craigslist: Longboards galore, usually under $300. You can either take a trip to CA or communicate with the seller and ask them to put the board on an Amtrak to be picked up at Penn Station for a mere $50 (takes a little while to get there, but worth it for the great price).

Surfshops: East Coast shops don’t have used board racks to the extent the shops on the West Coast do, but they do exist. Longboards go like hotcakes. Pilgrim Surf + Supply, Sundown Surf and Ski, Maritime Surf, and Unsound Surf Shop all have used board racks. I’d call ahead to see about the stock before making a trip.

Swaylocks: At this online surfboard shop and forum you can search for boards by length and even post for surfboards wanted. Like Ebay and CL, you’ll want to look for boards being sold in the NY/NJ area or else figure out a way to get them shipped out here for as little as you can.

Buying Your First Surfboard in New York--Part I

The season is upon us! The weather is warming up, the water is warming up, and the collective unconscious drives us into the sea. This is often the time of year when people start to consider buying their first surfboard. If you’re on the fence, I recommend that you take a leap and join the ranks. There are many factors to consider in making that purchase, especially for New Yorkers, who often have particular storage and transportation concerns.


Buying a surfboard is not unlike buying a car. You have to shell out a bit at the beginning (it’s probably going to be hard to find something in the NYC area for less than $400), but if you don’t like it or grow out of it you can always sell it. The good news is that unlike cars, surfboards don’t depreciate much. Also, surfboards, especially long and mid-length surfboards, will pretty much last a lifetime—you don’t have to worry about their engines breaking down or parts needing replacement. You will get dings, but these are fixable and in larger boards rarely affect performance.


I always recommend that people buy a longboard. This means 3-5 feet above one’s head (8’-12’). I recommend these because you need to paddle quickly in order to catch waves, and you also need the stability that the bigger board provides to make standing up easier. Besides, all surfers should have a longboard in their quiver. They’re always great for small days—and let’s face it, barring hurricane swells, the NY summer is made up of mostly small days. Furthermore, you can use your longboard to get in shape and increase your paddling capacity at our paddling boot camps!

If you’re going to go the mid-length route (which is fine--you’ll just have to work harder to catch waves), I recommend a board in the 8’0”-8’6” range with a full outline—these are often called eggs or hybrids. What you don’t get in length you should make up for in width and thickness. As for the fin set-up on your first board, there’s no need to be too picky. I always prefer a single fin or a 3+1 (one big single fin and two small side fins) for stability, but anything will really do.

Storage and Transport

For those with NY apartment storage issues and no car the longboard presents a number of problems. This is definitely one of the factors that make surfing and learning to surf in New York unique. In this case I have two suggestions: 1. Get the longest board that will fit in your apartment and is relatively easy to maneuver onto the train; 2. Buy a longboard and figure out a storage situation at the beach. This can be at a friend’s pad, at a timeshare, or at one of the surf lockers (check out Locknsurf, or Boarders). I also recommend making friends with people who have cars or looking into Zipcar. Investing in a pair of soft racks (a pair of single soft racks is a good investment generally, especially for travel) will certainly make car-sharing a lot easier.

Board line up at Sundown Surf and Ski. Pic: Dion Mattison.

Board line up at Sundown Surf and Ski. Pic: Dion Mattison.