Back zip or Chest zip wetsuit? Shorty or full wetsuit? 5/4 or 3/2? These are all questions you may be asking yourself when thinking about buying a wetsuit. Whether you’re a neoprene queen or you’re just looking for something to float around in, buying a wetsuit can be a daunting process, and buying the right one is paramount to your enjoyment out on the water.

All wetsuits are made out of neoprene (a stretchy rubber compound). Wetsuit neoprene differs in thickness, thicker for colder water and thinner for warmer water. Wetsuits generally come in a combination of thicknesses for different temperatures, for example a 5/4/3 refers to 5mm in the core body areas, 4mm for the limbs and 3mm in areas that require more flexibility Known as winter wetsuits.

When buying a wetsuit, there are a few questions you have to ask yourself in order to get the right wetsuit for you. Firstly, What temperature is the water you’re going to be in? Buying a wetsuit that suits the water temperature you’ll be riding in is fundamental to your enjoyment and comfort on the water. Buy your suit that’s too thick for warm weather and you’ll be sweating more than a seal in the sahara. Buy a suit that’s too thin for the water temperature and you’ll be out of the water quicker than a herd of speeding turtles. So Summer wetsuit or Winter wetsuit? See below:

Secondly, you need to ask yourself what kind of suit design you would like. Different suit styles have different pros and cons, so it’s important that you know the differences to ensure you get the right thing!

Chest Zip Wetsuits

Pros:

  • Less water flushes as there are fewer gaps in the suit.
  • The back of the suit is all one piece of fabric, therefore more flexible. Creating less restriction when paddling.
  • There is no Velcro on the suit so the related damage to the fabric on the inside of the suit from it clinging is eliminated.
  • Although potentially harder to put on (see cons) you at least wont need anyone to help you with a jammed zipper because its on the front of the suit.

Cons:

  • At first they are most definitely harder to put on. However, once you get the knack of it, it shouldn’t take any longer than a normal back zip suit.
  • Most chest zips tend to be a little more expensive than back zips

Back Zip Wetsuits

Pros:

  • Massive opening on the back of the suit makes putting the suit on really easy.
  • The adjustable collar allows the user to choose the preferred tension around the neck, making it a common choice for larger surfers or divers.

Cons:

  • The zip on the back of the suit creates some restriction. Making the suit less flexible when paddling.
  • The Velcro strap around the neck can sometimes cause discomfort if too tight. However can also cause the suit to ‘flush’ if not tight enough.
  • The zip on the back can be quite hard to undo when by oneself, especially with cold hands!

Other Wetsuit Designs

Shorties
Shorty suits are perfect for those warmer conditions when a full-suit is too much, but it’s still too chilly to get your board shorts on. Most shorties also come with the option of having a chest zip or back zip. Due to the thinner neoprene construction, naturally shorty suits give the user a wider range of movement.
Wetsuit Tops
Neoprene tops are perfect for the type of person that spends a lot of time in the water in warm conditions. Much like a rash vest, one of their primary uses is to prevent rashing from the users equipment. Although very similar to rash vest tops, they do differ in the fact that they definitely provide more warmth and insulation to the user. Neoprene tops come in a variety of thicknesses and styles.
Spring Suits
Spring suits are generally used in temperatures of around 13C and above. The idea of a spring suit is to have the wide range of movement that you would get from a shorty, but with a little extra warmth. Springs suits generally come in two main designs; short sleeve, or long leg.

Wetsuit Accessories

Boots
Wetsuit Boots: When the temperature starts to drop below 12-14C, most people will start wearing wetsuit boots to stop their feet from going numb during those long winter sessions. Wetsuit boots are available in a range of thicknesses depending on the temperature of the water. Wetsuit boots usually feature a rubber bottom for increased grip and durability, Velcro straps to keep the water from rushing in and out of the boot freely. Wetsuit boots usually come in two main designs; split toe or round toe. Split toe simply means that there is a piece of rubber running between the big toe and the other toes to avoid the boot from slipping around on the foot. Reef boots, are similar to wetsuit boots, however usually have a tougher, more robust sole to protect the foot from sharp coral, rocks and sea urchins.
Gloves
Wetsuit Gloves: The last thing a waterman or woman needs is cold hands on the water. Having cold hands can affect the way you’re riding massively, so it’s essential that have a pair during the colder months. Wetsuit gloves come in 3 main designs; 5 finger, 3 fingers and mitten. In recent years the 3 finger and mitten designs have increased in popularity as they have the capability of keeping your hands warm, however they do cut down on mobility which some users may find annoying.
Hoods
Wetsuit Hoods: No-one likes ice-cream headaches do they? Well, wetsuit hoods are designed to keep the users head and neck warm when riding in the coldest of conditions. Wetsuit hoods usually tuck into the neck of the wetsuit, preventing the user from losing too much heat out of their head.

Wetsuit Care

Wetsuits are built to survive and help you survive in the harshest of conditions, however if not treated and looked after properly, the quality of the service they provide will quickly deteriorate. Just following a couple of simple points before and after your session can increase the life of your suit tenfold.

How To Clean Your Suit: It is imperative that you clean your suit with cold, fresh water as soon as possible after your session. Salt water does a pretty good job of eroding the neoprene and the seams if left unclean. Wetsuits can be treated with special neoprene shampoos, which do a great job of keeping the suit smelling fresh. Avoid using any harsh chemicals, irons or washing machines when cleaning your suit.

Getting In And Out Of Your Suit: Although hard wearing, wetsuits can be easily damaged very easily if the user doesn’t take proper care and attention when putting on and taking off their wetsuit. They can be easily torn by pulling on the seams too hard, or by the user wearing sharp accessories or jewellery.

Storing Your Suit: After cleaning your suit, you’re going to want to hang it and dry it ready for your next session. Try and store your suit in a cool, dry, place away from excessive heat and UV light. Most people will hang their suit inside out fro ease of drying.

Useful terms to know

YKK Zippers:

These zips are industrial marine grade systems used on nearly all wetsuit zippers.

Taped Seams:

This is used to strengthen wetsuit seams. Put simply, every seam will have nylon tape glued over the inside to avoid the suit ripping at the seams.


Liquid Seams:

This is used to both strengthen the panels of the suit, but also keeps the suit far more watertight. This is achieved by covering all of the seams with a layer of liquid rubber, which creates a fully waterproof seal (often used in winter suits)


Flatlock Stitches:

Flatlock stitching is where certain panels of a wetsuit are overlapped before the stitching process. This method is used in thinner suits to help keep a high flex rate and also allows limited amounts of water to flow through the suit to maintain a solid body temperature.


Polypropylene:

Polypropylene has only recently started being used in wetsuits. It is used as an inner liner in the suit, and helps to keep the user dry, and therefore warmer.


Glued and Blind stitched Seams:

This is a method of construction used in many winter wetsuits. The seams are glued and then stitched to ensure minimal water penetration. It looks similar to flatlock stitching; however it isn’t stitched as wide.


Glideskin:

Glideskin is a smooth material found in the neck of a wetsuit that prevents rubbing and rashing. It also helps with ease of entry and exit of the suit.

Useful terms to know

We stock a huge range of here at Surface 2 Air sports from the worlds best brands like Quiksilver wetsuits, O’Neill wetsuits and Mystic wetsuits You can be sure that if you’re looking for a new Wetsuit for the Summer or winter months we will be able to get you the right suit for your needs. Why not pop in to our Shop in Poole and try a few suits on.

We Specialize in Wetsuits for Kite surfing, Surfing, Wakeboarding and Paddle boarding.

Call Us:01202 738 448
Email Us:info@s2as.com