Beginner's Guide to Buying a Wetsuit
This article is aimed at the novice as it is assumed that an intermediate or advanced watersports enthusiast will probably know most of this stuff already. This is not intended to be an exhaustive study of wetsuit design. Instead we have deliberately filtered out a lot of the unnecessary jargon and technicalities and put together a simple list of considerations that are relevant just to beginners. We hope that you find this article useful and that it helps you to choose the perfect wetsuit for you.
Wetsuit Design and
The purpose of a wetsuit is to trap a thin layer of water between your body and the suit. The water is warmed by your body heat which then in turn keeps you warm, a bit like a hot water bottle. In contrast, Dry Suits (often mistakenly referred to as wetsuits) keep you warm by keeping you bone dry and hopefully preventing a single drop of water from coming into contact with your body (hence the name).
Wetsuits are made of a special type of rubber called neoprene and come in many different styles and thicknesses. The first step in deciding which type of wetsuit you need is to simply look out of the window! Wetsuits are designed for either warm or cold seasons (or somewhere in between) and wearing the wrong type of wetsuit at the wrong time of year will leave you either too warm or too cold.
If you've never worn a wetsuit before you may be surprised how difficult they are to get on and off. This is normal, but a bit of practice makes perfect most of the time.
As with most things, it is easy to get bamboozled with technicalities, but here are the main things a novice needs to know about wetsuits.
A shorty wetsuit
is one with short sleeves and short legs (the legs cut just above
the knee). This type of wetsuit offers the maximum amount of flexibility
but is intended for warm weather as water can usually enter a
shorty wetsuit quite freely.
A full wetsuit is exactly that - one with long arms and legs. A full suit provides the most warmth but is the most restrictive in terms of movement. However, in cold weather this will be a tradeoff that you will be more than happy with. Some thinner full suits allow water in quite freely, others do not. Most water enters a wetsuit either through the stitching, the neck and arm seals, or the zip. Suits designed to restrict water penetration will therefore have more attention given to these 3 areas.
Short Arm Wetsuits
The short arm wetsuit has full legs but short arms and make the perfect cooler weather wetsuit for tow sports (waterskiing, wakeboarding etc) as the short arm design minimises forearm cramps often associated with long arm designs.
These are great for really cold days as you can literally wear warm fleecy layers underneath. Very cosy, but better suited to watersports that require less physical movement such as kayaking.
Wetsuit thickness is measured in millimeters and is usually expressed as two measurements e.g. 3/2mm or 4/3mm. The first number tells you how thick the suit is around the body area and the second number indicates how thick the suit is in the arms and legs. Thinner material is used in the arms and legs as it increases flexibility. Thickness is a good measure of how warm the suit will feel so basically the higher the number, the warmer the wetsuit. Therefore, the colder the weather the thicker the wetsuit you need and vice versa.
Wetsuit Seam Construction
"Flatlock" stitching is perfect for summer suits as it allows water to flow into the suit quite freely. "Glued and blindstitched" construction is great for colder weather as it only allows a small amount of water in. "Glued, blindstitched and Taped" construction is ideal for really cold weather as it allows little or no water in.
All you need to do now is decide which suit you need and how much you want to spend, and after that it's all down to which colours you like the best.
|Glideskin Seal||Glideskin seals made from the softest neoprene for comfort and a perfect seal|
|Glued and Blind Stitched||Glued and Blindstitched ultra strong joints to prevent water ingress|
|Flatlock Stitched||Strong flatlock stitching allow the suit to breath in warmer conditions|
|Neoprene Chest Panel||Neoprene chest panel for thermal insulation and to prevent wear and tear|
|Neoprene Weather Panel||Neoprene weather panel for thermal insulation and to prevent wear and tear|
|Top Entry Design||So stretchy that it can be quickly and easily entered via the neck opening|
|Front Zip Design||Front zip provides a better neck seal and flexibility across the back|
|Back Zip Design||Quick and easy traditional back zip design with pull strap for convenience|
|4-Way Stretch||4-Way stretch kneepads are flexible in all directions for a unique freedom of movement|
|For All Water Sports||Perfect for all types and levels of water sports|
|Excellent Quality||This is a top end product that is built to a high standard and is of excellent quality|
|High Performance||This is a high performance product that is built to high quality standards|
|Ultra Comfortable||Designed to provide the ultimate in comfort|
|Excellent Mobility||Designed to provide the ultimate in comfort and mobility|
|High Stretch Materials||Ultra stretch materials used extensively for excellent flexibility and comfort|
|Warm and Insulating||Designed to keep you warm and toasty in all conditions|
|Soft Neck Seal||Soft and effective seal around the neck to keep you warm and dry|
|Elasticated Waist||The elasticated waist provides a comfortable and flexible fit|
|Very Quick Drying||The materials used are designed to dry as quickly as possible|
|Very Fast Drying||The materials used are designed to dry as quickly as possible|
|Velcro Fly||The extra strong velcro provides a strong and secure fly closure|
|Stretch Lycra Material||Lycra stretch materials for the ultimate in flexibility and comfort|
|Water Repellent||The materials used are designed to repel water and stay dry|
|Very Hard Wearing||The materials used are designed to be as hard wearing as possible|
|Adjustable to Fit||Fully adjustable to fit a wide variety of shapes and sizes|
|Branded Logo||Comes complete with a fashionable branded logo|
|One Size Fits All||One size fits all for convenience and versatility|
|Moisture Controlled||Cleverly controls moisture and sweat to keep you comfortable and at your best|
|Moisture Wicking||Cleverly controls moisture and sweat to keep you comfortable in all conditions|
|Fully Ventilated||Breathable ventilation system keeps you at your best and looking good|
|Temperature Regulating||Breathable insulation and ventilation system keeps you operating at your very best|
|Perfect Anatomical Fit||The anatomical design ensures that the fit is second to none|
|Seamless for Comfort||The seamless design ensures that there are no harsh edges|
|Shock Cushioning||Provides cushioning and protection against shocks and bumps|
|For Spring and Summer||Perfect for use in warmer Spring and Summer conditions|
|For Autumn and Winter||Perfect for use in colder Autumn and Winter conditions|
|For All Year Use||Perfect for use in Spring and Summer or in colder Autumn and Winter conditions|
|Secure and Snug||Designed to fit perfectly and stay put|
|Waterproof Design||Waterproof design to keep water out|
|Fully Breathable||Breathable ventilation system controls moisture in all conditions|
We hope you found this article useful but if you have a question that is not covered here or you just need some advice then please do get in touch and one of our friendly and knowledgeable staff will gladly assist you.