You wouldn’t go out on a walk in winter wearing only a summer frock or a pair of jeans and shirt. Nor would you go camping without a camping tent
! The same thing could be said of a person going to spend a lengthy time in the water without protective clothing.
Whether you’re going scuba diving, windsurfing
or even swimming, the first item on your checklist should be a wetsuit. The wetsuit is a special garment, usually made from neoprene, designed to be worn for all forms of watersports. It provides warmth against the cold backdrop of the water, thus protecting users from freezing extremities and helping them stay longer and enjoy their time in the water without worrying about hypothermia. It works by trapping a layer of water beneath the suit and utilizing the body’s heat to raise the temperature of the water – thus the body remains warm all through its stay underwater.
The wetsuit also has the capacity to improve one’s performance and reduce drag in the water because of the streamlined nature of the neoprene material that allows water molecules move smoothly over it. If you’re new to watersports, you’ll need a wetsuit as it induces buoyancy on the wearer which means you float to the top of the water if you lose your bearings or panic while under. Even if you’re just going for a swim, having a wetsuit gives you more confidence and leverage which a normal swim suit
or bikini will not give you.
Given the importance of the wetsuit, it’s necessary to get the best when shopping for one. The most obvious factor is the thickness of the neoprene. Then one has to consider the fit, freedom of movement, type of stitch seal, styles and accessories. Also, don’t forget to check the price and see if it fits into your budget.
Although all wetsuits are made from neoprene, you should note there are different types or classes of neoprene such as super-stretchy and X-stretch neoprene, and these impact the price of the wetsuit. Good old neoprene is less expensive than these new inventions, although the new types are far superior and perform better.
You can get a good wetsuit for as little as $45.00 but for high performance wetsuits, you should be planning on parting with about $300 which, although it may be on the high side, will pay for itself in the long run. Our featured wetsuits are spread across the price range given above, so whatever your budget is, you’re going to get a wetsuit that will serve you well. In the course of our research, we came across some cheap wetsuits and unless you want to risk getting freezing cold while in the water, you’d do well to steer clear of such flimsy options.
To make the best choice of a wetsuit, you’ll have to think about several factors that impact the performance of the wetsuit. Those factors include:
- Thickness of the neoprene
- Freedom of movement and fit
- Type of stitch seal
Construction and Design
The neoprene thickness determines how well the wetsuit defends the wearer against the cold and is often represented with 2 numbers separated by a stroke. The unit of measurement is in millimeters. The first number represents the neoprene thickness on the torso of the suit while the second (and third as the case may be) number represents the thickness on the arms and legs. Usually, the torso measurement is thicker than the extremities because the wetsuit needs to conserve more core heat and the extremities need to be flexibly encased for better movement. A very thick-in-the-arms-and-legs wetsuit would be too cumbersome for any serious watersports use.
Since the wetsuit needs to be stitched with a needle and thread and the main aim is to protect against water and wind, how then do the manufacturers prevent water and air from going into the suit from holes made by the needle? Different brands employ different means of ensuring the stitch holes are adequately covered and to that end, there are 3 main stitch styles common in wetsuits – flatlock stitching, sealed stitching and sealed and taped stitching.
Flatlock stitching stays flat and comfortable on the skin, but lets in some water and is therefore only suitable for use in waters above 65 degrees. Sealed stitching has the panels glued and blind stitched so little or no water can penetrate through the stitch holes. Its best used in waterbodies of 55 degrees and above. Taped stitching has its interior seams taped in addition to being glued and blind stitched. It’s most useful for watersports in waterbodies below 55 degrees and is fully water proof.
There are different styles of wetsuit, with the most popular being the full body wetsuit. This style covers the entire body, save for the head, wrists and ankles. A shorty wetsuit or spring suit has short arms and legs and is best used for warmer climes and waters. A Short John wetsuit has a sleeveless design with short legs and is also suitable for warm waterbodies. Long John wetsuits cover the legs but have a sleeveless design that leaves the arms fully exposed. A wetsuit can also be either in tops alone or bottoms alone form that is used in warm waterbodies. The style of wetsuit you go for should primarily depend on the temperature of the water where you’ll be using it, as wells as your preference.
Performance and Ease of Use
A dry wetsuit is a little bit difficult to put on and unless you plan on soaking it first before wearing it, you have to consider access. Essentially, there are 2 types of zipper access on wetsuits – back zipper and chest zipper. The back zipper is the classic and most common entry and exit solution on wetsuits and apart from the fact that water can easily get in through its seams, it’s the most preferred access type for most people.
The chest zipper on the other hand makes it almost impossible for water to enter into the suit but it’s trickier to wear and remove. It’s worn through a zippered cutout in the neck region and then the neck cutout is finally pulled on and the two parts are zipped together.
The wetsuit is meant to fit like a second skin and a loose fitting one just won’t cut it. The fitting should be snug but not so tight as to impede circulation and movement. This is why the neoprene thickness on the arms and legs is usually lighter than on the torso, given the arms and legs are actively involved in movement during most watersports. The wetsuit should be quite snug on the wrists, ankles and neck, in fact most people use a Rashguard underneath to prevent rashes from the tight wetsuit.
Do note that standard sizes vary from brand to brand, but a general rule of thumb is to go for a wetsuit that is one size smaller than your normal size.
Some wetsuit brands employ the FAR IR technology to keep you warm when using the wetsuit. Accessories that may be included in a wetsuit kit are neoprene wetsuit gloves or mittens, boots and hoods. The hood often times is attached to the wetsuit but can also come separately.
The buying guide which you just read was designed to provide you with pertinent information on what to look for in a great wetsuit. We hope you will use this knowledge to make your choice. We’ve provided a lineup of some of the finest wetsuits available, so go on to our product review section and have a look at them.
O’Neill is a surf and dive outfitter with several decades of experience. It has a fine range of wetsuits to choose from for expert divers, occasional weekend divers, and those who are looking to keep warm while surfing or swimming. It also has a full range of gear options for divers and surfers.
The Reactor suit has full coverage and looks quite nice. There is a single super seal neck with a zip-up in the back. Knee pads give this suit extra durability. It offers good protection against cold, wind, and UV rays, and it’s comfy.
The seams are breathable, and the suit also includes a hidden pocket for a key. The materials are 30% FluidFlex and 70% FluidFoam. There are lots of sizes to choose from, even for large frames. Colors include black, black and red, black and pacific blue, black and green, or black and smoke.
Synergy was inspired by a Danish triathlete named Stefan Laursen, who found that top-notch athletes who push themselves to the limit of what they can achieve require the best equipment in the world.
The Endorphin wetsuit won’t weigh you down. On the contrary, it is made to be buoyant, with a thin comfortable lining to keep you warm in cool climates. This full sleeve wetsuit by Synergy has many features that improve overall performance, making it Ironman approved for triathletes. It is non-porous, super flexible and covers your entire body from neck to foot.
The triple-stitched seams are bonded for extra durability. The zipper is of superior quality and zips internally to reduce drag. It is so elastic that you’ll feel like you have super powers. A quick-grab tab makes the suit easy to peel off, and the personal ID tag ensures you can identify your suit among others. The neck also has a velcro strap to ensure the fit adjusts perfectly to your neck size.
Specific panels are aligned into the design of this wetsuit to keep it from snaking, so it fits your body form. This second skin has plenty of options to choose from for the right fit. Just check out the detailed sizing chart to fit your form when ordering. You have nothing to lose, as this Endorphin wetsuit has a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Seavenger offers many products for the diving community and other sports. It has everything from a wide range of wetsuits to masks, gauges, regulators, tank valves, weights and belts, as well as fins and other apparel and gear.
If you know your kids are going to get cold in the water, it’s best you come prepared. They’ll love you for thinking of their comfort when you get them this cool wetsuit for all their favorite activities. It has comfort stitching so they won’t get irritated, and long sleeves and pant legs. It's stretchy and comfy, so they can extend their stay in the water without getting the chills.
You can also be sure that your little daredevil will be safeguarded by the extra knee padding. Choose from black and pink, blue, pebble blue, or green. There are lots of sizes for kids of all ages: 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, or 14. Check the sizing chart for reference when purchasing. It gives increments in height, waist, weight, chest, and hips for the perfect fit.
Thanks for reading. Having made your choice, what’s left is just for you to go ahead and place the order. Now, you can get right to the business of enjoying your favorite watersports, all year long.