Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Surf Clothing


Boardshorts are a style of men's and, recently, women's summerwear. They were originally developed for aquatic sports, specifically for surfing, but in more recent years they have grown in popularity outside of these sports, and have become a popular form of general beach and summerwear.

The name of "boardshorts" originates from their affiliation with aquatic sports that use a board, such as surfing. They are sometimes called "boardies" in slang, especially in Australia, and "baggies" in South Africa.

Boardshorts are especially popular in North America and spread beyond surfing especially as the skater punk fashion trend got underway. They are also typically worn in men's beach volleyball. They are less popular in other parts of the world, where other suit styles are preferred.

Use & Design

Boardshorts are designed to be quick-drying, and are generally made from smooth polyester or nylon material. They are durable and hold up to wear from contact with a surfboard, yet are comfortable and light-weight. They are well-adapted to their use in various active watersports.

Boardshorts do not have an elastic waist like many swim shorts do; instead they have a more rigid waistband which opens at the front, often with a velcro fly. The waistband is also held together at the front with a lace-up tie. This double fail-safe system is in order to ensure that the shorts cannot be pulled off the body by the force of the wave when a surfer is tumbled under water during a wipeout. Another common feature of authentic surfing boardshort design is a very small pocket sealed with velcro and vented with a grommet. This is designed to be a secure place to carry a car key or house key while in the water.

Boardshorts are normally longer than many shorts or form-fitting speedo styles of swimwear, and sometimes they have a baggy appearance. Boardshorts are longer than normal shorts for one major reason: surfboards are covered with a layer of sticky wax, which allows the surfer to stand on the board without slipping off. However, this wax can rip leg hair off the surfer when he is sitting on the board waiting for waves. Long boardshorts cover the back of the leg when sitting on the board, preventing the wax from ripping at the leg hair. The length of boardshorts is also affected according to fashion trends; ranging from mid-thigh (old school) to below the knee, covering the entire knee. In the 2000s, boardshorts often are worn low in the back, exposing the top of the buttocks. Many designs of board shorts use vibrant color, Hawaiian floral images and highlighted stitching; however not all boardshorts have these features.

Although the basic design for boardshorts remains largely the same, some manufacturers have taken advantage of new technology. Because surfers and other water-sports enthusiasts commonly wear boardshorts without underwear, one of the major complaints has been about the use of velcro for the fly closure which tends to entangle pubic hair. A solution that some manufactures have come up with is to use a neoprene fly, which does not allow the fly to completely open, but provides enough stretch so that the shorts can be easily pulled on and off. Pubic hair does not get caught on the neoprene fly. To remedy another common complaint, about boardshorts stitching in the inseam area which would rub directly against the wearer's skin, many manufacturers switched to a seamless design, or use welding or glue, rather than stitches. Although it is very common for boardshorts to be worn as is, some male wearers prefer to wear compression shorts, boxers, a jockstrap or briefs under them. Some female wearers wear a swimsuit or bikini bottom under them.

Some style of Mixed Martial Arts shorts were developed from boardshorts.

Rash Guard:

A rash guard, also known as rash vest or rashie, is a type of water wear, an athletic shirt made of spandex and nylon or polyester. The name rash guard reflects the fact that the shirt protects the wearer against rashes caused by abrasion. These shirts can be worn by themselves, or under a wetsuit. A rash guard by itself is used for light coverage in warm to extreme summer temperatures for several watersports including surfing, scuba diving, snorkelling, freediving, wakeboarding, body surfing, body boarding, windsurfing, kitesurfing, kayaking, or simply for stand up paddle surfing or swimming. There are also lower body rash guards, which are similar to compression shorts to be worn under the surfers' boardshorts, but more specialized for surfers.

Rash guards are most often worn in surfing when the weather is too warm for a wetsuit, and to prevent wax-based chafing from sliding on and off of the surf board, on either the torso, or the legs. A surfboard's wax holds sand from the beach that could rub against a surfer's torso while paddling out to the break, or legs while sitting atop one's board. Rash guards also offer some protection from the sun (measured by its Ultraviolet Protection Factor) and slight protection against jelly fish stings and are sometimes worn under wetsuits to prevent chafing. A rash guard helps to prevent irritation caused by rapid impact with surface water and waves as well.

Rash guards are thought to have originated in Australia, where they are commonly referred to as "rashies" or "rashys." Variations of the rash guard have made their way into many other sports including baseball, American football, water polo, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and Mixed Martial Arts.

Other important components of a rash guard include flatlock stitching, and six panel construction. Flatlock stitching creates a seam where the seam allowances lies flat to the garment instead of hanging loose from it. It is made by adjusting the overlock or the thread overedge stitch. Flatlock stitching increases the strength of the garment for intense exercise or recreational activities. Six panel construction versus the conventional 4 panel tee shirt construction allows the user increased mobility wet or dry.

The combination of products used to construct a rash guard differ slightly depending on the designer. The use of nylon and spandex create a garment that is lightweight, quick drying, flexible, durable, naturally antibacterial and water wicking.


A wetsuit is a garment, usually made of foamed neoprene, which is worn by surfers, divers, windsurfers, canoeists, and others engaged in water sports, providing thermal insulation, abrasion resistance and buoyancy. The insulation properties depend on bubbles of gas enclosed within the material, which reduce its ability to conduct heat. The bubbles also give the wetsuit a low density, providing buoyancy in water.

The layer of warm water normally trapped between the suit and the skin provides very little thermal insulation, contrary to popular beliefs regarding wetsuits.

Hugh Bradner, a University of California, Berkeley physicist invented the modern wetsuit in 1951. Wetsuits became available in the mid-1950s and evolved as the relatively fragile foamed neoprene was first backed, and later sandwiched, with thin sheets of tougher material such as nylon or later Lycra/Spandex. Improvements in the way joints in the wetsuit were made by gluing, taping and blind stitching, helped the suit to remain waterproof and reduce flushing, the replacement of water trapped between suit and body by cold water from the outside. Further improvements in the seals at the neck, wrists and ankles produced a suit known as a "semi-dry".

Different types of wetsuit are made for different uses and for different temperatures. Suits range from a thin (2 mm or less) "shortie", covering just the torso, to a full 8 mm semi-dry, usually complemented by neoprene boots, gloves and hood.

Types of Wetsuit

Wetsuits come in different thicknesses depending on the conditions for which it is intended. The thicker the suit, the warmer it will keep the wearer. Because wetsuits offer significant protection from jellyfish, coral, sunburn and other hazards, many divers opt to wear a thin suit which provides minimal insulation (often called a "bodysuit") even when the water is warm enough to comfortably forego insulating garments. A thick suit is stiff, so mobility is restricted; at a certain thickness the suit would become impractical, which is why drysuits must be worn in particularly cold environments. A wetsuit is normally described in terms of its thickness. For instance, a wetsuit with a torso thickness of 5 mm and a limb thickness of 3 mm will be described as a "5/3". With new technologies the neoprene is getting more flexible. Modern 4/3 wetsuits, for instance, may feel as flexible as a 3/2 of only a few years ago. Some suits have extra layers added for key areas such as the lower back.

Different shapes of wetsuit are available, in order of coverage:

A sleeveless vest, covering only the torso, provides minimal coverage. Some include an attached hood. These are not intended to be worn alone, but rather as an extra layer over or under a longer wetsuit.

A jacket covers the torso and arms, with little to no coverage for the legs. Some jackets have short leg sleeves like a shorty, others feature leg holes similar to a woman's swimsuit. A third style, the beavertail or bodysuit, which was quite popular until the 1980s, had a flap which closed over the crotch and attached at the front with a fastener. It was worn with (over) or without a long john.
A shorty or spring suit covers the torso and has short sleeves and long or short legs.
A long john, johnny, johnny suit, or farmer john/jane (depending on the gender the suit is designed for) covers the torso and legs only; it resembles a bib overall, hence the nickname.
A full suit or steamer covers the torso and the full length of the arms and legs.

Some suits are arranged in two parts; the jacket and long johns can be worn separately in mild conditions or worn together to provide two layers of insulation around the torso in cold conditions. Typically, two-piece cold water wetsuits have 10 to 14 mm of material around the torso and 5 to 7 mm for the extremities.

Wetsuits that fit too tightly can cause difficulty breathing or even acute cardiac failure so a proper fit is important.

A specialized kind of wetsuit, with a very smooth (and somewhat delicate) outer surface is used for long distance swimming and triathlon. These are designed to maximize the mobility of the limbs while providing both warmth and buoyancy.

Heated wetsuits are also being tested and will soon be available on the market. These suits have special heating panels integrated in the back of the wetsuit. The power for heating comes from batteries also integrated into the wetsuit.

Smaller wetsuits are even made for children in many sizes, types, and thicknesses.


Accessories to the basic suit include gloves, boots and hoods, for additional insulation and environmental protection, pockets for holding small items and equipment, and knee-pads, to protect the knee area from abrasion and tearing, usually used by working divers.

Usually a wetsuit has no covering for the feet or head, and the diver must wear separate neoprene booties and hood.

Using Hoods: in the thermal balance of the human body, the heat loss over the head is at least 20% of the whole balance. Thus, for the sake of thermal protection of the diver, wearing a well-fitting hood is good practice, even at fairly moderate water temperatures. Hoods have been reported to cause claustrophobia in a minority of users, sometimes due to poor fit.

Surfing Equipment:

Surfing can be done on various equipment, including surfboards, longboards, Stand Up Paddle boards (SUP's), bodyboards, wave skis, skimboards, kneeboards, surf mats and macca's trays.

Surfboards were originally made of solid wood and were large and heavy (often up to 12 ft or 3.7 m long and 150 lb or 68 kg). Lighter balsa wood surfboards (first made in the late 1940s and early 1950s) were a significant improvement, not only in portability, but also in increasing maneuverability.

Most modern surfboards are made of polyurethane foam (PU), with one or more wooden strips or "stringers", fiberglass cloth, and polyester resin (PE). An emerging board material is epoxy resin and Expanded Polystyrene foam (EPS) which is stronger and lighter than traditional PU/PE construction. Even newer designs incorporate materials such as carbon fiber and variable-flex composites in conjunction with fiberglass and epoxy or polyester resins.

Since epoxy/EPS surfboards are generally lighter, they will float better than a traditional PU/PE board of similar size, shape and thickness. This makes them easier to paddle and faster in the water. However, a common complaint of EPS boards is that they do not provide as much feedback as a traditional PU/PE board. For this reason, many advanced surfers prefer that their surfboards be made from traditional materials.

Other equipment includes a leash (to stop the board from drifting away after a wipeout, and to prevent it from hitting other surfers), surf wax, traction pads (to keep a surfer's feet from slipping off the deck of the board), and fins (also known as skegs) which can either be permanently attached (glassed-on) or interchangeable.

Sportswear designed or particularly suitable for surfing may be sold as boardwear (the term is also used in snowboarding). In warmer climates, swimsuits, surf trunks or boardshorts are worn, and occasionally rash guards; in cold water surfers can opt to wear wetsuits, boots, hoods, and gloves to protect them against lower water temperatures. A newer introduction is a rash vest with a thin layer of titanium to provide maximum warmth without compromising mobility.

There are many different surfboard sizes, shapes, and designs in use today. Modern longboards, generally 9 to 10 feet (3.0 m) in length, are reminiscent of the earliest surfboards, but now benefit from modern innovations in surfboard shaping and fin design. Competitive longboard surfers need to be competent at traditional walking maneuvers, as well as the short-radius turns normally associated with shortboard surfing.

The modern shortboard began life in the late 1960s and has evolved into today's common thruster style, defined by its three fins, usually around 6 to 7 feet (1.8 to 2.1 m) in length. The thruster was invented by Australian shaper Simon Anderson.

Midsize boards, often called funboards, provide more maneuverability than a longboard, with more floation than a shortboard. While many surfers find that funboards live up to their name, providing the best of both surfing modes, others are critical.

"It is the happy medium of mediocrity," writes Steven Kotler. "Funboard riders either have nothing left to prove or lack the skills to prove anything.

There are also various niche styles, such as the Egg, a longboard-style short board targeted for people who want to ride a shortboard but need more paddle power. The Fish, a board which is typically shorter, flatter, and wider than a normal shortboard, often with a split tail (known as a swallow tail). The Fish often has two or four fins and is specifically designed for surfing smaller waves. For big waves there is the Gun, a long, thick board with a pointed nose and tail (known as a pin tail) specifically designed for big waves.

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