HOW TO BUY A WETSUIT? A COMPLETE GUIDE
If you are into water sports, it makes sense to spend some time going through this article. Simply put, when we talk about a wetsuit, we are referring to a garment. It is designed and made from special material. The objective is to provide the best possible thermal protection while a person gets wet when indulging in underwater and other types of sports. Many materials are used to make wetsuits but the most common material is foamed neoprene. It is commonly worn by surfers. Windsurfers, divers, and many others who are regularly involved in water sports. When a person is underwater for even a short period of time, especially in cold temperatures, there could be a risk of hypothermia or in other words, sudden drop in body temperature. Usually these suits are worn over the naked body. In some cases, men could wear neoprene shorts or thermal Lycra beneath the wetsuit. This could help in getting that additional bit of comfort and protection from cold waters.
Benefits Associated with Wetsuits
There are a number of benefits associated with wetsuits and we are listing down a few of them:
- Wetsuits are known to help in buoyancy. In case of issues pertaining to swim panics, these wetsuits could provide that extra buoyancy and this may make it easier for you to float. It also could bring heart rates down and bring focus back to swimming.
- Swimming speed could also increase and this is again because of the extra buoyancy that it offers. Swimmers can expect to gain around a few seconds to around tens of seconds per 100.
- Warmth without any doubt is one of the biggest advantages of wetsuits and this perhaps is the main reason why they are used regularly.
However, on the flip side there are some issues that could prevent people from going in for wetsuits. Cost perhaps is one of the most obvious drawbacks. Good wetsuits could cost as much as $1000 though cheaper variants are available for $100. Read this article: What's the Price of a Wetsuit? How Much Does It Cost.
Problems of constricting have also been reported in some cases. Hence, you have to make sure that you buy the right sized wetsuits. Tight suits could hamper movement underwater and it could lead to major problems.
Taking off and preparation time could be more when compared to those who are underwater without these wetsuits.
However, on the whole, there is no doubt that wetsuits are considered essential and indispensable for many who are into water and underwater
How to Buy the Right Wetsuit?
Now that we have reasonably good knowledge about wetsuits and why they are needed, let us try and answer the question of how to buy a wetsuit. With so many options available, making the right choice is not easy to say the least. You need to have the right type of information and knowledge and know a few things that could help you to understand as to such a question: what kind of wetsuit should I buy? Let us try and list down a few important points to bear in mind before you spend money on your wetsuit. As mentioned above, quality wetsuits could cost anything up to $1000 and therefore you need to make sure that you are getting the best value for money for it. We are referring to the most important points to be considered before you invest in a wetsuit.
Identify the Needs
First and foremost you have to make out whether you need a wetsuit. These suits are suitable for people who spend a significant amount of time underwater, especially in the oceans and seas. Ideally, it would be needed for those who spend at least 10 hours underwater on a regular basis. You have to choose between three options, entry level wetsuits, mid-range ones and the high end ones. Always do your research, identify your needs carefully and then invest in a wetsuit. You would need these suits if you are going for underwater activities where the water is cold. You may not need one if you are going to get under water or engage in water activities sparingly or rarely.
Depending on the temperature, the thickness of your wetsuit material will also vary. For example if you are planning to use it in frigid temperatures, ensure that the thickness is anywhere from 6/5 mm to 7 mm. In case of cold weather, the thickness could range from 4/3 mm to 5/4 mm. For cool, warm and tropical temperatures, the thickness should be in the range of 2 mm to 3/2 mm, 2 mm to 1mm and for tropical temperature any good UV Lycra material with minimum thickness could be good enough.
Apart from thickness, you also must be reasonably clear about the different types of wetsuits. While thickness and material are the most important attributes to be kept in mind, there are a few more things that also should be considered before you make up your mind when it comes to choosing a good wetsuit. There are different specifications and types of wetsuits that are popular and we are listing down a few of them.
Spring Suit: These types of wetsuits are used during transitional seasons such as autumn and spring. They come with short legs and arms but there are many variations to it.
Long John wetsuits are again spring wetsuits but they cover the entire leg and in most cases then come without sleeves.
Short John wetsuits do not have sleeves and the legs are short.
Wetsuit top is a dress that is used to cover from the waist upward. You can get both short and long sleeve variants. Wetsuit jacket is a type of wetsuit top with long sleeves and a front zipper. They are generally made from thin neoprene around 1.5mm to 5mm.
Wetsuit vest is almost the same as a wetsuit jacket but it does not sleeves.
Fullsuits are those long sleeve long leg wetsuits that cover your entire body with essential thermal protection.
Most two piece wetsuits are full length suits that come with a hooded beavertail jacket and a pair of pants.
Water Temperature & Thickness Guide
Make sure that you are aware of the different types of wetsuits. The types of wetsuits are classified based on the kind of temperature you will be using them. Frigid temperatures are those where the mercury is below 7 degrees Centigrade. Cold is between 8 and 11, while cool temperature wetsuits could be suitable for water temperatures between 12 to 17 degrees. Finally you have warm and tropical water temperatures. Here the temperature could range from 18 to 25 degrees Centigrade and above 26 degrees in case of tropical climate.
Yes, thickness of the wetsuit, as mentioned quite a few times earlier is one of the most important and vital attributes to keep in mind when you are planning to choose one wetsuit over another. The thickness that you are planning to choose would depend on a number of situations, needs and situations. The weather, the length and duration for which you will be underwater, the temperature of the water and the sports that you will be engaging in are a few things that must be considered. Only then will you be able to choose the right wetsuit with the right thickness. It could range from 1mm to 7mm and the thickness would depend accordingly. We have in the above few lines given some rough idea about the temperatures and the thickness of wetsuit materials that are recommended. It would be advisable to follow them because of obvious reasons.
The average temperatures will have a big bearing on the thickness of the wetsuits. 3/2, 4/3 and 5/3 mm are the most common sizes as far as wetsuits in most locations concerned. You could have a few cold places with cold water where wetsuits of higher thickness would be required.
When you choose a 3/2 mm thick wetsuit, you can be sure that the torso of your body will be covered with 3 mm of neoprene. 2mm thickness is for the knees and arms. The thickness is lesser in the arms and knees to enable you to move your hands, arms, legs and joints easily. The same is the case with 4/3 and 5/3 mm thickness wetsuits.
3/2 thickness wetsuits are perfectly suited for summer. You can use wetsuits with thickness of 4/3 during autumn or during spring. 5/3 is the best option for winter and in many cases it is a must and indispensable. At times, you may feel cold and would like to increase the thickness of the wetsuits. However, before going in for extra thickness make sure that it does not hamper your movement in the water and make things slow for you. Further, any good wetsuit of 5/3 thickness that is properly glued and has the right blind stitch should be enough. It could go a long way in helping you to retain the body heat and also increase the time you may be spending in the water.
Enclosure (Back Zip, Front Zip, No Zip)
Staying secure and preventing inward flow of water is extremely important when somebody chooses a wetsuit. Therefore, make sure that you pay attention to the quality, style, design and placement of the zip. In most cases, back zips are the most commonly chosen option. This is the common method followed for entering into a wetsuit. The zips should be of the best quality and should run for the entire length of the back. They are generally attached to a cord strong which helps in zipping up and zipping down as needed. The reason for this popularity is perhaps because they are easy to get in and get out. They are also cost effective and comparable to the cheapest wetsuits available in the market.
Chest zip or front zip are also becoming quite acceptable amongst the younger generation of customers. The wetsuits have to be entered through the top and over the head and face. They also come with a flap over the neck. They are known for their comfort levels because you don't have a full length zip running down your back. The zip is located across the chest and therefore they are much shorter in length when compared to other options.
No Zips. Yes, many may not believe but today improved wetsuit technology has made it possible to choose one that does not have any zips. In terms of design they are similar to that of a chest zip. You will have to slip the wetsuit over through the top. It is easy to enter and exit. In the absence of any zip, you have to tighten the wetsuit with the help of a cord. It is preferred because it is also quite light and is not bulky as is the case with zipped wetsuits. They are extremely comfortable, versatile and flexible. They have caught the imagination and liking of thousands of customers and experts believe that it will not be long before non-zipped wetsuits will catch up and even overtake zipped versions. They are also cost effective.
When choosing the right type of zip for your wetsuit, there are a few more things that you must bear in mind. Make sure that the size of the wetsuit is perfect. It should not be too tight or too loose fitting. Check out the actual size and try it out before you buy one. This perhaps could be one of the main reasons why many people are happier
Which Color to Choose?
Color of the wetsuits are again personal choices and it may not be possible to straight jacket the same. Having said that it would be better to go in for common colors like black, camouflage, etc. They help you to stay protected and also maintenance, washing and other such things will be easier. If we are looking at cost-effectiveness, sun protection, and durability, then the obvious choice is the black wetsuit. With a camouflage wetsuit, you will not be attracting water borne reptiles, fishes and other dangerous sea lives while free diving or spear fishing. Hence, you can have a safer and more hassle free time underwater. You also can stay underwater for a longer period of time without getting noticed or become too indiscreet.
Always pay attention to the size of the wetsuit and make sure that it fits you perfectly. A wetsuit that does not fit properly will lead to problems and in most cases, you may not have any other option but to spend money on a new one. A wrongly fitting wetsuit will not be able to perform the task that it is supposed to perform. On the other hand, a snugly fitting wetsuit will make sure that you stay warm in the water and you also can stay underwater or inside the water for a longer period of time. Trying them on is the best way forward.
This also could be one of the main reasons why some people prefer buying wetsuits from land-based outlets instead of online outlets. While most online suppliers are also taking utmost care to sell the right-sized wetsuits to their customers, buying it from a brick and mortar outlet would always be a much better choice because of obvious reasons. The local shops offer much wider variety and the personal touch and attention is certainly a plus point which never will be available in a brick and mortar store.
But this does not say that you cannot buy wetsuits online. While selecting your size smartly, you will have a much wider selection of wetsuits online with different types, colors and price ranges. Make sure you pay attention to the size chart. It is very accurate to select your size in relation to every metric provided on the wetsuit size chart, like height, hips, waist, and chest.
The life, performance and overall utility of wetsuits will certainly depend on the type and quality of stitching that you find in these wetsuits. You have to pay attention to the way in which the panels of the wetsuit are stitched, particularly along the seams. This is done carefully and the objective is to increase flexibility and help in easier movement of the arms and also to ensure that the paddling ability is not hampered. Stay away from cheap wetsuits from the supermarkets. You will be disappointed because water will certainly enter your body through the seams and stitches. You will soon be left with no other option but to buy a new one. Never cut corners on this. Look for wetsuits that use flatlock stitching or they make use of a combination stitching known as GBS or Glued as well and Bind Stitching. Read this: A Guide to Wetsuit Stitching & Seam Construction.
Flatlock stitching is about having neoprene panels one over the other and then having them stitched together. This gives seams that special strength and durability. However, they may not be able to totally prevent water seepage in the seams and at the stitching points.
Blind stitching could be a better option because the neoprene is joined together with glue and the stitching is done on the inside. This prevents the needle passing through the material. This could ensure that the wetsuit is quite water tight. If you are buying winter wetsuits, you can be sure that you will get these types of wetsuits.
Lastly, do pay attention to various other features like the quality of the chest, reinforced knees and also the need or otherwise for a hood and so on. Padded chest is essential for spear fishing especially when you would like to reduce the shock of a spear gun. Reinforced knees could help you avoid scratches due to rocks and other sharp rocks under the sea. Also make sure that you choose between hooded and non-hooded wetsuits.
To sum up, there is no doubt that wetsuits are of recent origin when compared to other such dresses and apparels. Hence, if you are planning to choose the right wetsuit you must try and follow the above tips and guidelines. This will make it easy for you and enable you to make the right choice. It will help you to understand the weather better and the kind of wetsuits that you need in terms of thickness, size, zipper, fitting and other such attributes.