How to choose swimming and water sports gear?
Australian summer is all about the swimming pool, the beach and water sports, but the sun burns skin frighteningly fast and can do permanent damage, so proper sun protection is essential. Whether you're swimming, snorkelling, surfing, bodyboarding, stand up paddleboarding, kayaking, canoeing, waterskiing, wakeboarding, jetskiiing, sailing, windsurfing or just building sandcastles with the kids, you'll need to wear something made for the water, UV protection and comfort. This buying guide outlines the key things to consider when weighing up what to buy for yourself and loved ones.
What's the best swimwear and surfwear?
- Who'll be using it (kids or adults? How big are they?)
- Where you'll be hitting the water (in warm or cold water/weather?)
- What you'll be doing (swimming, surfing, skiing, boarding, sailing or paddling?)
- How often you'll be in the water and for how long (rarely or every week for years?)
- How long you want the gear to last (a few summer days or for many years?)
Choosing what to wear in the water is easier when you break it down into these five steps:
Depending on what you're doing in the water, you may want:
- Women's and men's speedos (budgie smugglers) are great for swimming.
- Some swimwear:
- Is made with chlorine-resistance technology so it won't fade as fast and lasts longer.
- Has stretch technology for softness so it's comfortable to wear and swim in.
- For women and girls is a one piece with long sleeves for extra sun protection.
- Can be worn underneath a wetsuit, boardshorts or a rash vest for comfort.
Also known as boardies:
- Are usually made from quick-drying material so they dry fast when you're out of the water.
- Can be worn from the water to wherever you want to get something to eat or drink.
- Can be made with fade-resistance technology so the colours stay bright for longer.
- Usually have pockets for your wallet, phone and keys (just don't take them in the water!)
- Have an elasticised waistband (with or without a cord) or a velcro fly with a tie at the top.
- Can have moisture-wicking technology to keep you dry in hot weather when you sweat.
- Made from cotton are more breathable than nylon boardies (but cotton won't dry as fast).
Also known as a rashie:
- Protects your upper body from the hot sun (but won't always keep you warm in the cold).
- Can have long sleeves or short sleeves - long rashies protect your arms, body and neck.
- Has a UPF rating (like sunscreen) - a UPF50+ rating gives you the best sun protection.
- Is lighter than a T-shirt when wet and moisture wicking so you stay dry when you sweat.
- Is more breathable than a wetsuit (but not as warm) so is better for warmer weather.
- Is perfect for stand up paddle boarding, surfing, bodyboarding, and kayaking.
- Some rashies:
- Are made with chlorine-resistance technology so they won't fade as fast/last longer.
- Are made from environmentally-friendly recycled water bottles (Speedo ECO rashie).
Also known as a steamer suit or spring suit, a wetsuit:
- Keeps you warm while surfing or bodyboarding so you can stay in the water for hours.
- Is made from neoprene (a hardy synthetic rubber) that can handle sharp coral and rocks.
- A steamer suit (also known as a steamer) has long sleeves and long legs to:
- Keep you warm in winter or cold water (or if you're a colder person).
- Protect your arms and legs from the sun, stingers and cuts.
- A spring suit (also known as springy) has short sleeves and shorts so:
- Your core stays warm but your arms and legs are free (so you don't overheat).
- Is best for summer or warmer water (you'll need sunscreen on your arms and legs).
- It's easier to put on/take off than a long wetsuit (but still hard to put on when wet).
How comfortable you feel will depend on how warm you are and how much you can move.
When it comes to staying warm:
- Some materials keep you warmer than others (better insulation).
- Warmth is more important in colder weather and water.
- Getting wet leads to feeling cold so wetter means colder.
- The wind can also make you feel cold when you're paddling.
- How thick or thin the material you're wearing is impacts your ability to move:
- Thinner materials give you more freedom to move (but don't keep you as warm).
- Thicker materials keep you warmer (but restrict your movement).
What you're wearing determines how freely you can move (and how warm you'll be) for:
- Paddling - you need to be able to reach forward, and although you're not in the water, if you get wet (from paddle splashes or falling in) then warmth matters more.
- Surfing - you need to be able to lay on the board and paddle with your arms - warmth is more important when you're surfing for longer or surfing in cold water/weather.
- Other water sports - weigh up how much you need to move against how long you'll be in the water for and how cold the water and weather will be.
The material you wear needs to suit the weather and type of activity you're doing:
- Lycra - stretchy swim/surf/paddling rashies for sun protection in warm water/weather.
- Poly-fleece - paddling rashies with fleece lining on the inside for warmth in cool weather.
- Neoprene - wetsuits for the warmest possible insulation in cold surf and cold weather.
- Nylon/polyester - loose-fitting, water-repelling kayaking/canoeing tops, shorts and pants.
The warmth and comfort of a wetsuit is determined by:
- Thickness - a thinner suit's best for warm weather (2mm), a thicker suit for winter (5mm).
- Sealed seams - if the seams are sealed water can't get in (so you won't get wet/feel cold).
- The zip
- A back zip is easier to use and more comfortable when you're lying on a board.
- A front zip is trickier but better at keeping water out so best for cold water/weather.
To choose the right swim and surfwear, use your usual clothing size as a guide:
- If you're small go for a smaller size (your actual size or a X Small, Small).
- If you're average go for a medium size (your actual size or a Medium).
- If you're bigger go for a larger size (your actual size or a Large, XL, XXL).
How should a wetsuit fit?
- Should sit flush with your body (not too tight otherwise you won't be as agile in the water).
- Has to allow you to move easily when surfing so you can jump up quickly and catch waves.
- Like jeans, will give a little bit once you've worn them in, so buy a wetsuit that feels snug.
Try different sizes at your nearest Anaconda store to make sure you're getting the right size and feel comfortable.
You can also enhance your comfort, safety and fun in the water with accessories.
What are the different types of swimming pool accessories?
- For good underwater visibility while swimming and the best visibility while jetskiing.
- Silicone straps last longer than rubber straps - neoprene straps are best for jetskiing.
- What are water shoes?
- What are the best water shoes?
- They're made from neoprene (wetsuit material) with a non-slip rubber sole.
- Where can you find water shoes? Where can you buy water shoes online?
- You can find water shoes in store and also buy them online from Anaconda.
- How do you wash water shoes?
- With wetsuit soap in cold or warm water (don't dry them in direct sunlight).
Hat, Sunscreen & Sunnies
- A quick-drying hat with UVA and UVB protection keeps your face shaded from sun.
- An SPF50+ sun hat or legionnaires cap protects kids on the beach and in the water.
- UV-rated sunglasses minimise the glare from the sun reflecting off the water.
- A neoprene strap keeps sunglasses attached so you don't lose them in the water.
- Plenty of sunscreen that's at least SPF 30+ and applied 20 mins before sun exposure.
- Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours to make sure you and loved ones are protected.
- What are some different types of comfortable thongs and sandals?
- Where can you buy Teva sandals? Where can you buy Havaiana thongs online?
- What colour sandals and thongs are available at Anaconda?
- Men - blue, black, brown, grey.
- Women - black, blue, brown, green, grey, multicoloured, natural, orange, pink, purple, red, white, yellow.
- Kids - black, blue, grey, multicoloured, pink, purple, white.
What swimming pool accessories are available for kids?
Anaconda has lots of swimming pool accessories for kids:
- Floaties/arm bands - to help them stay afloat and practice swimming (always supervise).
- Floatsuits - with a foam waist so their arms are free to practice swimming (supervised).
- Fun floats - different animals and shapes kids can play and paddle on (supervised).
- Snorkels - so kids can swim in the pool and the ocean for hours of free fun (supervised).
Are there any swimming pool accessories which can help you learn to swim?
There sure are! Anaconda has:
- Personal flotation devices - to help you stay afloat while you practice swimming.
- Floaties - that you inflate and put on your arms so you float in the water while learning.
- Kickboards - you can hold onto with your hands while you practice swimming leg kicks.
Where can you buy swimming accessories?
You can buy swimming accessories online or in store from Anaconda.
When you're weighing up which swim and surfwear to buy, think about quality versus cost:
- Rubber goggles and snorkel masks are the cheapest but won't last as long as silicone.
- Thin wetsuits are cheaper than thick wetsuits (but they don't keep you as warm).
- A wetsuit with sealed seams is more expensive (because it will keep you warmer).
When it comes to how much you should spend on water wear and accessories:
- When it comes to kids, go for gear with the highest sun protection rating (UPF50+).
- Cheap gear may not last as long as pricier gear, so you get what you pay for.
- Whatever you spend is an investment in skin protection, warmth and comfort.
- If you'll be spending lots of time at the beach or in the water, it might be worth spending a bit more on good-quality gear.
How much is swim and surfwear?
Anaconda has swim and surf wear ranging in price from:
- $20 to $70 for kids.
- $20 for adults to $130 for wetsuits.
When you go to the water section on the Anaconda website then click on swim and surfwear, you'll see tick box filters down the left hand side of the page. Using these filters makes working out what to buy easier and faster because you can choose to filter what you see by:
- Price - so you only see gear that's within your budget on the page.
- Deal - so you only see stuff that's on sale or reduced for clearance.
- Categories - to just see swimsuits, boardies, rashies or kids' gear.
- Size - so you can just see the gear that's the right size for you or loved ones.
- Brand - so you can see swim and surfwear made by a specific brand you know and like.