If you are new to the wonderful world of surfing, then it might currently seem like there is a whole new dictionary to get your head around so that you can hang with the rest of your boardies and not show yourself up to be a total novice to this ever increasingly popular water sport. In fact, we could probably do an entire wetsuit glossary so that you don’t have to keep watching Point Break on repeat to clue yourself in!
Of course, you can wear a wetsuit for far more than just surfing and diving. One of the principal terms you’re going to want to understand is what is wetsuit flushing? Sounds a bit ominous and frankly a bit nasty but really it’s pretty standard stuff.
When Cold Water Flushes with Warm Water
In a nutshell, wetsuit flushing refers merely to the process of cold water entering into your wetsuit, generally from the exposed neck area. That in turn flushes (by that we mean inter-mingles) with the warm water that’s built up inside your wetsuit and has been keeping your body temperature nicely regulated while you’re in the water.
It’s not exactly unpleasant, but it’s definitely best avoided as you don’t want to get the chills inside your suit when you’re far away from dry land and a cozy towel. That’s where the importance of really having the right fit and type of wetsuit for your environment and activity is going to be of the utmost importance. There are all kinds of different wetsuits available and what is right for one person won’t necessarily be suitable for another.
How can you avoid wetsuit flushing?
One way that you can minimize unwanted cold water entering into your suit and causing that flushing effect is to invest in a wetsuit hood. This makes a convenient addition to your main wetsuit and acts as a barrier around the neck to prevent that unwanted cold water from entering.
A wetsuit hood will typically consist of a neoprene head cover; think of it almost like a balaclava, but instead of for snowboarding, it’s for surfing. It goes all the way over the head and also the vital neck area, just leaving your face exposed.
Not only will it very nicely provide an extra layer of much-needed insulation which might be useful if you are doing deep diving for example, but it is generally going to help regulate your internal body temperature by trapping more air in and helping keep that cold water out. If you are wind or kite surfing, a wetsuit hood is also going to help protect from any wind chill factor if you are out at open sea.
Will A Wetsuit Hood Prevent Flushing?
As we all know, one of the key areas of our body to lose heat is the head. If you are skiing, you’ll wear a helmet with an insulating layer underneath, and in the winter you probably pop a woolly hat on your head the minute the temperature drops. Depending upon where in the world you are wearing your wetsuit, chances are that you are going to get cold at some point.
A hood is of vital importance in keeping you warm and dry and minimizing that flushing we’ve been talking about particularly if you are diving, surfing or taking part in any water-based activities in cold water conditions. We’re not all lucky enough to be able to do all our water-based activities in the warmth of the Caribbean Sea although wouldn’t that be just wonderful if we could!
It’s Not Just About Preventing Flushing
The very act of entering into the cold water can also lead to sudden and unexpected head pains when you are actively submerged into the much colder water. So, by wearing a hood you are also going to prevent this from happening.
Might seem like a bit of an odd one to mention but hoods are also great if you have long hair which can get physically in your way when diving and surfing. Having your hair contained within a wetsuit hood is also going to benefit you and will ensure that it’s kept firmly away from your eyes and mouth.
What’s the Best Way to Wear A Wetsuit Hood to Prevent Flushing?
We recommend that the best way to prevent flushing is to tuck your wetsuit hood directly into the neck of your wetsuit as this is the most common place where that cold water can enter. That way you will increase and help to maintain a more regulated and comfortable temperature inside your wetsuit.
The main thing to be aware of and to try and prevent is any water getting into the hood and being directed down internally into your wetsuit as this will increase the chances of flushing taking place. That very act of the cold water mixing with the warmer water is unpleasant and can very quickly decrease the heat insulation that you have built up. So make sure that you have fully tucked your hood into your suit as tightly and securely as you can to avoid that flushing effect from actually occurring in the first place.
Of course, all of this is only really of concern if you are in cold water conditions. However, let’s face it, for the vast majority of us, that’s likely to be the most common scenario in which we are wearing our wetsuit. Therefore, it is definitely worth being vigilant and ensuring the neck area is adequately protected at all times.
The Secret Is in Staying Warm Rather Than Dry
It might sound a little bit counter-intuitive, but a wetsuit isn’t actually even designed to keep you dry; instead, it’s been designed to keep you warm and safe while you are in the water. So it’s best to use your own common sense regarding the type and style of wetsuit you invest in to ensure that it is entirely fit for purpose. If you are entering cold water where flushing is likely to happen, do your very best to keep that neck entry point protected and minimize the impact of cold water coming into your suit.