Whether you are a surfer, diver, or water sports enthusiast, you probably already know the importance of a wetsuit. But if you've ever gone to buy one, there's one thought that most likely crossed your mind at least once, "why do wetsuits zip in the back?" If it did, you're not alone. Unfortunately, every one of us has been there, and unfortunately, most of us don't get any answers.
Today, we will discuss everything about different wetsuit entries, along with their respective benefits and drawbacks. If you're confused about which one to buy, read the full guide to make decisions easier for you!
Before we move on to our primary question, let's discuss any other FAQ, "Should I buy a front zip wetsuit, zip free wetsuit, or a back zip wetsuit?"
Since there are plenty of options in the market, it can sometimes be confusing for buyers to decide which type of wetsuit entry is more suitable. Here is a detailed guide on various types of wetsuit entries with their advantages and disadvantages to clear the air and get rid of any confusion.
The most traditional entry system in wetsuits is a back zip. If you have ever gone shopping for these sports gear, you couldn't have missed them! They're the most popular and possibly the oldest style in the market. These wetsuits have a typical vertical zip at the back that runs from the waist to the top. The zip usually has a long tag, so you can easily pull it up all by yourself.
Back Zip Wetsuit
These wetsuits are very easy to put on. The back zip makes the opening very wide, so you can quickly get in without any wriggling or making awkward positions.
Since they are easy to get into, it is much less likely to hurt yourself while putting them on (Weird arm and leg positions can cause sprains and cramps).
If your arms are flexible enough to reach the tag, the wearing time is much lesser than other styles. Thanks to this, donning on and off doesn't take a lot of time.
Since this style is more popular and traditional, you will find much more variety in back-zipped wetsuits.
These wetsuits are also generally more pocket-friendly and accessible.
Even though donning is easy, movement can be strenuous when you are finally into the suit. Since the back is zipped, it doesn't offer much flexibility while you are in the water.
Cheaper wetsuits are very prone to having low-quality zippers. In such a case, you might experience water leaking inside the suit. Even though it's not significantly dangerous, it's not the most pleasurable feeling.
Back-zipped wetsuits may require assistance. If you don't have a lot of flexibility in your arms and can't reach the back to get hold of the tag, you will eventually need someone to zip you up and even unzip you.
Gears that have back zip usually require Velcro around the upper end of the suit. It can potentially lead to irritation and might be a cause of rashes around your neck.
Back zips also have more potential to catch your hair or skin while you zip up, both of which can be painful.
These are the exact opposite of the back-zipped styles. These wetsuit designs are becoming more and more popular these days, and there are several reasons why. These wetsuits usually consist of a diagonal or horizontal zip that moves across the chest. Some of these zips detach entirely (the top collar is attached using a hinge and folds with the zipper). In other designs, the zip stays attached, reducing your wearing time.
Chest Zip Wetsuit
Front zips have lesser chances of flushing since these suits have fewer gaps to let the water in.
Opening and closing the zip is much more comfortable. You don't need anyone else to help you zip up or get the suit off.
Since the back is free and has one neoprene material section, flexibility in front-zipped suits is much higher than in back-zipped ones. It allows more effortless movement in the water with a complete range of motion in the back.
Since front zips don't require any Velcro whatsoever, there are much lesser chances of skin irritation.
Front zips have much lesser chances of catching your hair or skin while you zip up and down.
Front Zip Wetsuit
The donning and doffing of horizontal front zip wetsuits are easy, but wetsuits with chest zips are typically harder to put on. The opening is much smaller than that in a back-zipped wetsuit. With these, you will probably need someone to help you wear it.
Chest zips can make you feel like the shoulder area is more restricted, especially if you are wearing a tight, fitted suit. This way, it is hard for you to make full-range arm movements in the water. As a result, it can significantly reduce your sports activity enjoyment and might even prove to be dangerous.
Since these styles are more modern and relatively new in the market, the variety is not as good as that of a back-zipped wetsuit.
You might also find most chest-zipped wetsuits relatively pricier than back-zipped ones.
As the name suggests, zipperless wetsuits (such as a two piece wetsuit that consists of a hooded beavertail wetsuit jacket and a pair of wetsuit pants) don't comprise of any zips whatsoever. Instead, their design consists of overlapping layers of neoprene. These layers have a snugly fit that seals the suit entirely and avoid any breaks or gaps. Since there are no zips either, there is less chance of any water getting inside the suit. Thus, flushing is not a problem with zip-free wetsuits. This design is unique and is still making its way into the market.
No zips mean no flushing. There are no spaces for the water to enter in so you can enjoy your water sports carefree.
You also get the most flexibility since there is no zipper at the front or the back.
These are also the most comfortable, aesthetically pleasing, and modern wetsuit entry designs.
Since you don't have a clear opening to get through, putting the suit on, and getting it off can be tricky.
Donning on and off can also take more time and effort. Thus, you have more chances of missing out on sports time and even getting cramps while you're at it!
Zipperless wetsuits are the most expensive out of all three since they're newer in the market.
Whether your wetsuit is back-zipped or front-zipped, it is essential to take care of both. If not, and your zippers might give up on you, and you may experience flushing, wardrobe malfunction, and other potentially dangerous situations while you're in the water. So, here are some simple and basic tips for the care and maintenance of wetsuit zippers:
While you are putting on your suit, examine it at first and look for any kinks. These kinks along the zipper eventually cause the snagging and pull on your hair and skin. If you look out for them, you might be able to avoid them and fix the problem before it hurts you.
In case you find any flaws in the zipper, it is best to fix it before you go into the water wearing the suit. Wearing a faulty zipper when you're going into the deep waters can lead to potential hazards. Avoid it at all costs.
Never force the zipper with your fingers or your teeth. You might end up damaging the neoprene and tearing the suit altogether.
Make sure the zippers are clean and dry. Don't let them stay wet for too long. If you've been in the sea, use fresh water to rinse the suits. Doing this prevents salt from depositing in the zipper and eroding it.
Consistently check for any dirt or sand stuck in the zipper and wash the zipper with warm water to make sure there isn't any.
You can use beeswax and a candle to lubricate the zipper. Avoid using chemical or spray lubricants since they have the potential to damage your neoprene wetsuit.
Back-zipped wetsuits are not any better than front-zipped wetsuits, or vice versa. Each of these designs has its pros and cons, and it all comes down to personal preferences. Traditional divers, surfers, and water sports enthusiasts like to stay classic and go for back-zipped wetsuits. However, the newer front-zipped and zip-free versions are also rapidly gaining popularity among the younger generation of sportsmen and women.
The most prevalent reason why most zip suits zip in the back is that it's the most traditional design and more people are comfortable with it. Since this style is decades-old, people prefer it and feel more secure wearing it. However, the newer versions are not coming slow, and more people are switching to advanced wetsuit entry styles. Thus, if you are trying to get yourself a wetsuit, decide according to the pros and cons mentioned above. Decide which advantages you prefer and what drawbacks you can compromise on. Then, make a choice accordingly.
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