Wetsuits - Buying Guide

Wetsuits - Buying Guide

We know just how confusing looking for the right wetsuit can be. Whether it is your first wetsuit, or you are looking to expand your collection, making the right choice is not as black and white as some may think. A wetsuit is one of the most important kits for any water sport.

These wetsuits are made of stretchy, insulating neoprene, perfect for combating those colder conditions. Neoprene is great as it keeps you warm from the bubbles in the neoprene that traps warm air, not only that however with additional thermal linings and seals, wetsuits will trap in as much heat and ensure that no cold water can flush into your wetsuit.

The first thing we need to think about when looking for a wetsuit is its intended use. What sport are you intending to use it for? Some wetsuits include features that are tailored to what sports you're looking to play in.

  • Surf - For surfing, a wetsuit should have close-fitting arms and neck to help reduce the water flushing through the suit, ensuring that you stay warm especially in those colder surf conditions.
  • Kitesurf - For kitesurfing, a wetsuit needs to be flexible with high cut arms, making the suit comfortable when flying kites.
  • SUP - for paddle boarding, a wetsuit should have a good amount of flex/stretch to allow you to rotate your arms and torso freely when paddling so that you can output your best. A SUP wetsuit should also have reinforced knees for kneeling or climbing back on the board.

A wetsuit is very important as it doesn't just serve as a form of warmth through the cold and bitter days, but they also form as a "second skin", protecting you from scratches, bruises, wind-chill and harmful UV radiation. On top of that, the bubbles in the neoprene also provide a little extra buoyancy.

WETSUIT THICKNESS

Figuring out what thickness you want your wetsuit to be depending on the conditions can be a bit of a pain, especially when you are bombarded with different thicknesses of a wetsuit. The thickness of a wetsuit is measured in millimetres. Thicker neoprene is warmer, however is less stretchy. which thickness do you need? Well not to worry as this temperature graph will aid you in picking the right thickness.

Once you've matched up the best option for the water temperature, you'll now need to choose whether any of the below conditions apply, if so then we would suggest adding 1mm to the wetsuit thickness.

  • The Weather - If it's particularly windy, you'll need a thicker suit to protect you from wind chills
  • Changing Seasons - The water temperature is warmest at the beginning of autumn however the summer heat will be dropping around this time too. This means that you will feel colder out of the water. At the beginning of Spring, the water temperature is at its coldest even though the weather is getting warmer.
  • Personal Preference - A big factor that can adjust someone's decision as to what type of wetsuit/thickness is also down to simply personal preference! Some riders may feel cold quicker than their friends and that can ultimately lead into the right size for you.

WETSUIT SIZE

Each brand will have its bespoke sizing so it is vital to look at the wetsuit measurement guides relevant to the brand you are looking at before choosing a size. It is important to choose a size that will be as close and as tight to your skin as possible. Having a close-fitting wetsuit will help reduce water flushing through the neck, wrist and leg openings, this allows your body and core to keep as warm as possible, resulting in enjoying the water for longer.

A wetsuit should feel like a second skin however you should be able to bend down and touch your toes (or as far as you can normally reach) and have a full range of motion through your arms and shoulders. You wouldn't want to have a baggy fit to your wetsuit as that will allow cold water to flush through your wetsuit and will reduce your total time out on the water.

WETSUIT ENTRY

  • Back Zip - A back zip wetsuit offer easier entry and exit due to the long zip running down the spine of the suit. The downside of this is that they have a looser fitting neck seal allowing more water in when submerged.
  • Front/Chest Zip - A Chest Zip Wetsuit can be more of a challenge to get on and off in comparison to a Back Zip however provides better sealing around openings which reduces flushing. On top of that, the removal of a back zip offers greater flexibility over the back of the wetsuit when moving.
  • No Zip - A Zipless wetsuit seals by having fitted, overlapping panels act as a seal instead of a zip. Having this style of wetsuit means a minimal amount of flushing and the maximum amount of stretch/flexibility. On the other hand, they often aren't as durable as other more traditional wetsuits due to the amount of stretching required each time you put them on.

FULL OR SHORTY?

One of the more popular questions we often get asked is what type of wetsuit they should go for. Whether that'll be down to the type of zipping they get, what thickness and lastly, if they should opt-in for a full wetsuit or a shorty wetsuit.

  • Full-Length Wetsuit - A Full Length will cover all of your body except your head, hands and feet. These are ideal for colder conditions as they keep you warm throughout your session.
  • Shorty Wetsuit - A Shorty Wetsuit will only cover your core, upper thighs and arms. This type of wetsuit is predominately used in warmer/summer conditions due to its added comfort, breathability and freedom of movement.

WETSUIT SEAMS

What most people forget to take into consideration when it comes to buying a wetsuit is the way the seams are taped or glued. The seams are the most likely areas on the suit to let water in as well as restrict your movement, therefore, looking at which seams you should look for when buying a wetsuit can affect your options depending on the conditions you're looking to use the wetsuit for.

  • Glued Seams - These are the most common seam construction available when looking at wetsuits. The sections of the wetsuit are first glued together and then stitched together, creating a strong bond to reduce water breaches.
  • Fully Taped Seams - This is where stretchy tape has been applied on the inside of the seams to make them more watertight and durable. It acts as an extra barrier against water getting into your wetsuit.
  • Spot Taped Seams - Strategic Taped/Spot Taped Seams means it has just been applied to the high-stress areas of a wetsuit to help improve durability and strength.
  • Liquid Taped Seams - A specialist liquid rubber is applied to the inside of the seams which makes it 100% waterproof.

WETSUIT ACCESSORIES

Last but not least, we have the wetsuit accessories. Now, this is also a key part to finalise your wetsuit depending on your weather conditions as it can help upgrade your wetsuit, especially for those who are on a tight budget. For those colder conditions, having a pair of wetsuit footwear, gloves and hoods can improve the overall quality of your adventure.

  • Wetsuit Hoods - Hoods are a key aspect of a wetsuit during those icy temperatures as it maintains warmth to your head, allowing you to stay out on the freezing waters for longer.
  • Wetsuit Boots - These are a winter must-have. While keeping your feet warm, having boots also keeps your feet protected from scrapes, scratches and bruises. A close fit is needed to keep your warmer and dryer, stopping your boots from filling with water and weighing you down.
  • Wetsuit Gloves - Gloves and mittens are another worthwhile investment for those winter warriors. Providing warmth for your hands and ensures stability in your blood flow despite freezing conditions.

WETSUIT CARE

It is vital to clean and take care of your wetsuit to ensure the lifetime of your wetsuit. It is recommended that you give your wetsuit a clean especially after the use of the neoprene in saltwater or chlorine water by using freshwater. The next thing will be to dry your wetsuit. We offer a range of wetsuit dryers/hangers which will allow you to dry your wetsuit so that you don't get a nasty cold shock next time you put on your wetsuit. The best place to dry your wetsuit will be preferably indoors or in the shade and not in direct sunlight. It is also important to dry your wetsuit inside out first and then dry the outside.

Proper storage of your wetsuit will prevent the appearance of wrinkles in the neoprene and keeps the seams free of tension through time. For best results, use a wetsuit hanger; however, you can also use a regular broad shoulder hanger; or even roll up the wetsuit from the bottom to keep it in the best condition possible.