We know that buying a wetsuit can be confusing, whether it is your first ever wetsuit or you’re an experienced user looking at different options, making the right choice is not as straightforward as one might think. To help make this process clearer, we have put together a Wetsuit Buying Guide, covering different aspects from size and thickness to weather conditions and different water sport disciplines.
One of the first things we need to think about when buying a wetsuit is its intended use. Which sport are you intending to use it for? Most wetsuits are designed with a sport in mind and have features that make it ideal for that sport:
Surf - For Surfing, a wetsuit should have close fitting arms and neck to help reduce the water flushing through the suit.
Kitesurf - Kite wetsuits need to be flexible with high cut arms, making the suit comfortable when flying kites.
SUP - A wetsuit for SUP should have a good amount of flex to allow you to rotate your arms and torso freely as well as reinforced knees for kneeling or climbing back on the board.
Wetsuit thickness can be difficult factor to take into consideration when buying a wetsuit, simply due to the variety of sizes available. To simplify this, you would need a thin wetsuit for warm waters and a thick one for colder temperatures. Simple, right? Not exactly, as there are way beyond two different wetsuit thicknesses, meaning that you’ll have to find the right one for the right temperature bracket. To make this easier, the following graph will help you decide:
Should I go for a front zip or a back zip? It's a question that we get asked all the time and can make a big difference when choosing the right wetsuit for you.
A chest zip wetsuit can be more difficult to get on and off than a back-zip wetsuit. However, this has added benefits. The chest zip wetsuits have fluid neck seals which reduce water intake when ducking under a wave. With the removal of the back zip this will allow for more flexibility over the back of the wetsuit when moving.
A back-zip wetsuits offer easier entry and exit due to the long zip running down the spine on the suit. The downside of this is that they have a looser fitting neck seal allowing more water in when submerging.
No Zip wetsuits are like the chest zip suits in terms of entry and features. What makes them advantageous is their lack of open seals, a feature that makes water entering your suit very unlikely.
When choosing the correct size for your wetsuit you want to have the suit as close and tight to your skin as possible. Having a close-fitting suit will reduce water flushing through the neck, wrist and leg openings, keeping the warmth in and you enjoying the water longer.
Full length wetsuits cover all your body except your head, hands, and feet. These are ideal for colder conditions as they keep you warm throughout your sessions.
Shortie wetsuits only cover your torso, upper thighs, and arms. These are used in warmer, summer waters due to their added comfort, breath-ability, and freedom of movement.
Wetsuits are made of neoprene and work by trapping a thin layer of water between you and the neoprene. This is then heated up by your body’s generated heat, keeping you warm in otherwise freezing conditions. To keep warm it is vital to have a close-fitting wetsuit, without this the trapped water will be constantly flushed out by the cold water.
What most people forget to take into consideration when it comes to buying a wetsuit is the way the seams are taped or glued.
Glued Seams: 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: the tape is glued to the inside of every seam
Spot taped seams: small sections of tape are strategically placed on the seams in high wear areas 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.
Depending on when you are out on the water some accessories like hoods, shoes and gloves can make your cold days on the water far more bearable. Accessories like wetsuits hangers are a must for taking proper care of your suit.
Wetsuit hoods work extremely well when out in the cold, keeping your head warm and allowing you to stay on the water longer. Same rule applies as with the wetsuits, needing a close fit for them to work properly.
Wetsuit boots are a winter must have. While keeping your feet warm, having boots also keeps your feet protected from scrapes, scratches, and bruises. Again, a close fit is needed to keep you warmer and dryer, stopping your boots from filling with water and weighing you down.
Wetsuit gloves help keep your hands and fingers warm and your blood flow stable even in freezing conditions.
Specifically designed wetsuit hangers are an absolute must for any type of wetsuit! These will keep your wetsuit tidy and crease-free for longer as the use of traditional hangers can place a lot of strain on the neoprene causing it to pull and dis-form, especially when wet.