Wetsuits, Booties, Gloves and Hood
Halifax Surf School webstore link: http://halifaxsurfschool.com/shop/
Please carefully read this surf gear buyer’s guide.
“What thickness wetsuit do I need to surf in Nova Scotia?…”
These are some of the most important pieces of surfing gear that you will purchase. Being cold while surfing is the quickest way to be miserable in the ocean. In recent years, wetsuit technology has improved a lot and staying warm in Nova Scotia’s ocean is possible year round! With the proper gear, being cold won’t be a major issue.
Wetsuits are measured in mm (millimeters) of thickness. For example, the most popular summer wetsuit for Nova Scotia is a 4/3mm. This means that the wetsuit is 4 mm thick in the chest, back and upper thighs and 3 mm thick in the legs and arms. Adding booties, gloves and a hood can extend the season of a 4/3mm wetsuit. During the colder months, 5/4mm and 6/5mm wetsuits usually have attached hoods for hard-core winter surfing.
In wetsuits, you get what you pay for. Cheaper suits have weaker seams that will allow more water inside the suit. Cheaper suits also have less flexibility. The model that Halifax Surf School recommends as a starter 4/3mm wetsuit is the O’Neill Epic, as seen below.
The following table is a general guide for suitable wetsuit combinations in Nova Scotia. Keep in mind that water temperature can change from day-to-day. If you’re like most surfers and want to surf in the warmer months, your best bet is a 4/3mm wetsuit, 5mm booties, 5mm gloves/mitts and a detached hood. This gear is suitable from late May through the end of September.
January: 6/5 or 5/4 hooded wetsuit with 7 mm booties, 5 mm mitts.
February: 6/5 or 5/4 hooded wetsuit with 7 mm booties, 5 mm mitts.
March: 6/5 or 5/4 hooded wetsuit with 7 mm booties, 5 mm mitts.
April: 6/5 or 5/4 hooded wetsuit with 7 mm booties, 5 mm mitts.
Early May: 5/4 hooded wetsuit with 7 mm booties, 5 mm mitts.
Late May: 5/4 or 4/3 hooded wetsuit with 5 mm booties, 5 mm mitts.
Early June: 4/3 hooded wetsuit with 5 mm booties, 3 mm mitts.
Late June: 4/3 wetsuit with 5 mm booties.
July: 4/3 wetsuit
August: 4/3 wetsuit
September: 4/3 wetsuit with 5 mm booties, 3 mm mitts.
October 5/4 or 4/3 wetsuit with 5 mm booties, 3 mm mitts.
November: 5/4 or 4/3 hooded wetsuit with 5 mm booties, 5 mm mitts.
December: 6/5 or 5/4 hooded wetsuit with 5 mm booties, 5 mm mitts.
A wetsuit sizing guide is available here: https://hyperflexusa.com/size-chart/
*** All prices include HST ***
Hyperflex VYRL men’s 4/3mm wetsuit: $275
Hyperflex VooDoo men’s 5/4/3 mm hooded wetsuit: $425
Hyperflex VooDoo men’s 6/5/4 mm hooded wetsuit: $450
Hyperflex VYRL women’s 4/3mm wetsuit: $275
Hyperflex VooDoo women’s 5/4 mm hooded wetsuit: $350
Hyperflex Detachable Hood: $60
Hyperflex 3mm / 5mm Amp Gloves: $50
Hyperflex 6mm Mittens: $75
Hyperflex 3mm / 5mm / 7mm Booties: $80
Halifax Surf School webstore link: http://halifaxsurfschool.com/shop/
Buying a suitable surfboard is a critical decision. Far too many newer surfers end up buying small boards that make it nearly impossible for them to learn on. Length, width, thickness and volume are important dimensions to consider when choosing your first board.
Boards that are 8’0” and longer are generally called “longboards”. Boards between 6’8” and 8’0” in length with rounded noses are generally called “funboards”. Boards with pointy noses and measuring under 6’8” are typically called “shortboards”.
Shortboards are very difficult to learn on. They require a larger, steeper wave and a rider with a high level of surfing fitness.
Don’t think of longboards as something that you will outgrow as you progress as a surfer. Most lifetime surfers own a longboard, as they’re prefect for small wave days. On small days, riding a shortboard isn’t possible. It is wise for your first board to be a longboard. If you progress, you can consider a smaller board later on. You’ll always have a need for a longboard. During the summer, the waves are often small and a longboard is the most common board in Nova Scotia.
The length of your longboard depends on a few factors such as your height, weight, age, gender and overall fitness level. As a point of reference, most smaller women buy 7’6” – 8’0” boards. The typical man will ride anything from 8’0” to 9’0”.
There are two general types of longboards: soft tops and hard tops. Soft tops are used by most surf schools. They’re softer if they hit you and they are even easier to use than hard tops because they float higher on the water. Although some new surfers buy soft tops as their first board, most people buy hard top surfboards.
In addition to a surfboard, you’ll need fins, a leash, and some surfing wax for grip on the deck of your surfboard. Usually, the fins are included when you purchase a board. Most boards have removable fins for transportation and travel purposes. Some boards include a leash, while others don’t. A leash will cost roughly $35. A bar of wax is $2. You’ll need 1-2 bars of wax when you wax a new board for the first time, and then a bar of wax will last for 7-8 separate applications.
A second hand longboard in good condition will often range from $450-$650. A new longboard will often range from $700-$1000. Longboards are usually easy to resell as they’re highly sought after.
When is the best time to surf?
Surf forecasting is a true science. It takes many years of experience to grasp the complexities of the ocean and surf. Like anything in life, the more time that you spend researching and surfing, the more that you will understand it. The ocean is never the same two days in a row. Storms that generate swell come and go, and the subsequent swell rises and falls accordingly.
As a general rule, the surf is smaller during the summer months, than the winter. A typical summer day will have waves in the 1-3 foot range, with approximately 1 larger day per week and 1-2 days per week without waves. This varies heavily from week to week depending upon storms out in the ocean. The wind is an important factor in wave quality. Generally, the surf is “cleaner” or better when the wind is opposing the waves. This is called an “offshore” wind. Martinique faces south, so an offshore wind at this beach is a northwest, north or northeast wind. No wind days are called “glassy” days and are excellent. When the wind is blowing towards the beach- “onshore”, the waves get sloppier and messier.
Don’t get too picky on conditions when you’re learning! Just go and have fun – there is almost always a surfable wave at Martinique Beach. You have lots to learn.
These days, there are a lot of surf forecasts online that can be used as a rough guide. These models are often computer generated and do not consider local weather factors such as fog, seabreeze wind, etc. As we say in surfing, “you don’t know unless you go…”.
The most popular surf, wind and tide forecasting sites in Nova Scotia:
Magicseaweed Surf Forecast
Windguru Halifax Wind Forecast
Environment Canada – Halifax Harbour Wind Forecast
Martinique Beach Live Wind and Weather
Surfing Association of Nova Scotia Facebook Group