5 Things to Look Out when choosing a Wetsuit

1 April, 2022


A wetsuit is an essential piece of equipment, whether you are a swimmer ensuring a level of safety, a triathlete getting through open water, or a surfer out to enjoy some winter surfing. Wetsuits help protect you from cold water shock and hypothermia by insulating you and helping you retain body heat.

Read on for the top 5 things to look out for when choosing a wetsuit. Truth be told, it can be overwhelming trying to make sense of the many options and expert advice about wetsuits. But these five will help you plan it out:

Water temperature: This influences the thickness of the suit which will suit you.

Wetsuit accessories: Know more about the zippers and seams that help retain warmth.

Sport/ activity: A surfer’s wetsuit will vary compared to those of swimmers, or triathletes.

Fit: As we will explain later, the right fit is important too.

Design features: Find out how the zippers and seams in a suit can control temperature.

Keep in mind too that your surf instructors at your Middleton surf lessons can give you expert advice to help you narrow down to the most appropriate gear.

1) Neoprene and wetsuit thickness The temperatures of where you would swim or surf influence wetsuit top thickness. Neoprene sounds like a high-tech type of material but simply put, the thicker it is, the warmer the wetsuit is.

If you want to check the grade for the thickness of a wetsuit, check the labels. A single number on the label (such as 3 mm), indicates the thickness throughout the suit. Double numbers (3/2) mean the wetsuit has two separate neoprene of that thickness. One layer is for buoyancy and warmth, and the other is for flexibility and mobility. Some high-end wetsuits have three or more different layers of varying thickness.

2) Wetsuit Accessories While your wetsuit is a big help while you are in the water, try to read about these neoprene accessories that can be a real lifesaver in case temperatures plummet,

Wetsuit Gloves - five-finger gloves are the more dexterous. Mittens are more suitable for chilly waters. Some surfers have used webbed gloves.

Wetsuit Boots - boots come in either neoprene or rubber. Split toe designs were a game-changer, and they still are. External split toes are more dexterous, while internal split-toes combine dexterity and try to retain more warmth.

Wetsuit hoods - these help the body keep more warmth in cold waters.

a. Water sport/activity:

Surf wetsuits: there are various styles here to address the challenges of surfing anywhere from Ireland to New Zealand
Shorty wetsuits: also known as shorties, the wetsuit is cut off near the elbows and knees. Paddling is better facilitated here considering the thinner material.
Full suits: these are known for being thicker and can repel cold water better.
Hooded Full suits: these are designed to facilitate surfing in areas like Tasmania. Hooded full suits sometimes have 3 layers to ensure safety.

b. Fit

And we are not just talking about your fitness for surfing! As mentioned, try to ensure your wetsuit is snug without sacrificing mobility. You can recognise a bad fit because of excess folds or bunching somewhere, such as under the arms or behind the knees. If the suit is too tight in the crotch area, it means it’s too short.

A good-fitting suit will need a bit of “dancing”/maneuvering to get into.

c. Design Features

The variety of water sports and activities has resulted in various seam options and zipper placements for wetsuits, and this means a lot for the price too.

For example, full front zippers are easiest to put on, but also the most prone to letting in water. They are also terrible to surf in as you are lying on a zipper on your board when paddling. Many say back zippers are not that user-friendly, but are the least prone to flushing. Chest zippers offer better mobility and a low likelihood of flushing, but it takes time to get accustomed to putting them on.

Even the way neoprene is attached to the suit can affect the performance of the wetsuit. Flatlock seams are not totally water-resistant and are commonly found in more affordable wetsuits. Blind stitched and Glued seams handle well in cold water and retain body warmth. At the pricier level is fluid seam welds, and it has all the checks for a cold water wetsuit.

You can always contact our surf team for advice.

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