How to Pick a Perfect Wetsuit
Whether you're a surfer spending most of your time outside the tropics, a triathlete swimming in open water, or a rower looking for an extra margin of safety, a wetsuit is essential.
Pick a Perfect Wetsuit
The wetsuit keeps you comfortable in cold or freezing water by maintaining a thin layer of water next to your skin as your body heats the skin, creating a thermal barrier.
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The range of choices and opinions may seem overwhelming, but you can narrow down your ideal combination by considering our ultimate guide regarding the perfect pick of a wetsuit.
What is the Water Temperature?
Choose the right thickness for the temperature you find yourself in.
What Activities Do You Do?
Surfing, swimming or boating requires a unique wetsuit design.
Looking for a match, a well-fitting wetsuit will prevent additional cold water from entering and replace the warm body water already inside. Also, find out how zippers and seams can affect warmth. Useful accessories, Clothes to complete the set and keep you warm.
Water Temperature and Neoprene Thickness
The magic ingredient in wetsuits is neoprene, a stretchy neoprene found in everything from hose joints to couture clothing. The neoprene used in the wetsuit is foamed with nitrogen to improve its elasticity and insulating qualities.
While most neoprene produced today is petrochemical-based, some brands use neoprene made from a limestone-based manufacturing process that uses less gasoline. Some wetsuits also use dope-dyed yarn, which reduces carbon emissions while providing better resistance to fading.
Combinations for Different Activities
How you plan to use your wetsuit plays an important role in choosing a wetsuit. Explore your options for surfing, triathlon and outdoor swimming.
Also known as spring jumpsuits or shorts, this style is cut past the knees and elbows. Relatively thin material and short arms make paddling easier. Ideal when it’s a bit chilly to surf in a bathing suit and bathrobe.
Also known as steamships, they are often carried when sailing around the world. Full suits are generally thicker and more heat resistant than short suits. Generally suitable for summer sessions. Combined with face coverings, gloves and boots, many surfers can wear 4/3mm wetsuits during shoulder season.
Clothes with Hoods
A neoprene hood built for a surfer’s coldest circumstances is part of the entire outfit. For increased warmth, some feature interior linings made of cotton. In west coast spots like Tofino and Atlantic breakers like Lawrence town, Nova Scotia, a 5/4 hooded suit can be worn all year long practically anywhere but the area. For winter on Lake Superior or similar temps, go thicker (like 6/5/4).
Fitting of Your Wetsuit
A well-fitting wetsuit is essential to do its job. To avoid hot flashes, you want your wetsuit to fit as snugly as possible without restricting mobility.
At the Other Extreme, A Wetsuit Can Be Too Tight
- The entire fit is hampered by pain.
- Your arms and legs are not free to move.
The location of the zipper can make a difference in how warm a suit is and how easy it is to put on or take off.
Full Zipper Front
Makes a suit super easy to wear but also the most prone to hot flashes. They can be frustrating for surfers because you spend much time on your front paddle.
Not quite as user-friendly as the front zipper, but much better wash-resistant and common on many wetsuit styles. Zippers usually extend from the base of the neck to the collar and have a long strap that you can close on your own.
Chest zippers have two main advantages over the following zippers. First, they are more resistant to heat and help you move better because the back of the suit is made of a continuous neoprene sheet that can stretch, unlike a zipper. Popular on high-end wetsuits.
Hoods can make a big difference in cold water and cold air. Accessory hoods often have bibs or laces, a neoprene collar that slides under the collar of a wetsuit to reduce hot flashes.
Gloves & Boots
Bare hands and feet quickly become numb in the cold water, reducing the fun factor. Boots keep your feet warm and protect you from sharp dirt on the seabed and shore.
When picking a wetsuit, it is important to consider the thickness, material, fit and intended use. It is also recommended to try on different sizes and brands before making a final decision. (ADV)