The standard wetsuit for fall and winter surfing is a 3-2. That means that most of the wetsuit is 3 millimeters thick and some parts are only 2 millimeters thick. That normally is warm enough for San Diego water. A 3-2 wetsuit will keep you warm down to about 56 degrees. Below 56 degrees a 4-3 is necessary if you wish to stay in the water for more than a few minutes.
A cheap wetsuit can be bought for $130 and a great wetsuit can cost over $500. For a beginner, a $200 wetsuit is about right. Do not try and go cheap and buy a used wetsuit. Most surfers pee in their wetsuits.
Do not attempt to buy a first wetsuit online because it is critical to try it on. A good wetsuit salesperson can make sure it fits right, because a wetsuit feels different when dry rather than wet.
John Buono, 68, has been selling wetsuits at South Coast in Pacific Beach for ten years. “There is no sense in a new surfer spending a lot of money on a first wetsuit. When you need a second suit, then think about spending more money.” Asked about booties, Buono pointed out, “Don’t get them until you need them. The water isn’t that cold right now. If you decide not to take up surfing you will have wasted your money.”