Wetsuits, what do you need to think about when choosing a wetsuit?
Having run a surf shop for over 10 years I have seen wetsuit design and development come a long way., as well the demand for wetsuits become more and more.I often get asked many questions regarding wetsuits. In response to this I have complied a list of the most asked questions to do with wetsuits:
How should a wetsuit fit?
Think of your suit as a second skin, the neoprene should be in contact with your skin all over. Make sure you can still breathe, a wetsuit that is too short will create a big gap in the lower back which you want to avoid if possible, any gaps are lightly to collect cold water, also make sure the suit is broad enough you can check this by flexing you arms and making sure they have adequate movement. When trying on suits be mindful that the suit can give up to 10% so try and take this into consideration. Check out one of our many size charts here to guage size.
How does a wetsuit work?
Wetsuits used to work by collecting a layer of water in between the wearer and the wetsuit, the body would then warm up this thin layer of water and create additional warmth. In more recent years neoprene has improved significantly enhancing stretch so the wetsuits have a skin tight fit, and the method of sewing the suits together has improved to stop water leaking in. So nowadays the wetsuit fits close to the body and acts as a ayer of insulation. You may even find that when you take the suit of you are still bone dry.
What's the best brand?
This one is subjective and of personal opinion, the most important thing is that the wetsuit fits well. Some of the bigger brands tend to offer better value as they can approach factories with bigger numbers thus getting a better whole sale price.
Front zip or back zip?
Over the last few years there has been a massive movement towards front zips, a front zip wetsuit has a zip entry that goes across the top of the chest, this cuts down the risk of getting a cold flush, it also creates greater stretch in the suit as there is now zip down the back. However this is not for everyone, if you have broad shoulders you may struggle to get in and out of a front zip, also bigger guys and children tend to use back zip as they are easier to use.
What make a more expensive suit better ?
More expensive wetsuits are made from less panels as more stitched panels reduce stretch, they will be made from a higher grade neoprene. Again this is in order to create stretch and a better fit, the other key factor is the way they are sewn together, some seems are simply attached by a fluid seem weld, this is done to enhance stretch, and yes, you guessed it, a better fit!
Are dive suits different to Surf suits?
Yes! Dive suits are made from a slightly different type of neoprene that does not condense at depth, they often have a front zip to stop the zip impinging on the dive tank. A surf wetsuit tends to have more flexibility around the knees and around the arms to aid the ability to paddle and kick. you can also get suits that are designed for swimming, these suits are intended to fit very tight and are made from a smooth skin material to help the swimmer glide through the water.
What thickness suit should I get?
Below is simply an indication of thicknesses for given temperatures, This list is only an indication so if you feel the cold there is no problem getting a thicker wetsuit, also consider how active you are in the water, if you are doing something more active you are lightly to stay warmer.
> 2/2 mm: Water temperatures above 29 C (85 F)
> 3/2 mm: Water temperatures between 21-28 C (70-85 F)
> 5/3 mm: Water temperatures between 16-20 C (60-70 F)
> 6.5 mm Water temperatures between 10-20 C (50-70 F)
Any colder and you may want to consider a Drysuit, but that's a discussion for another day!
How is the thickness explained?
In the question above (What thickness wetsuit should I get) you can see thicknesses such as 3/2mm or 5/3, this ones easy the first number is the thickness of neoprene in the torso, the second number is the thickness of neoprene in the arms and legs, the theory behind this is that if you can keep your torso warm it will send warm blood to your extremities this allows thinner neoprene on the arms and legs which helps with mobility.
How do I look after my wetsuit?
You can make your wetsuit last a lot longer by simply rinsing it out in fresh water after every use and making sure it is hung out to dry, if you wish to freshen up the suit try and use a non-detergent (which may be harmful for your wetsuit), there are
wetsuit cleaning products on the market.
New Technologies are being developed all the time, some of them have been touched on in the questions above such as Stretchy neoprene, fluid seems, Front Zips. Another notable evolution is the a neoprene that oneill have developed, called techno-butter, this material stays 30% Lighter when wet, other brands seem to be following wetsuit with there own spin on the same idea.
If you have any further queries to do with anything watersports related,
we will be happy to help, simply call 01473232918 or email
email@example.com or pop in and see our range of wetsuits and other products in store.