To make it easy for you to understand how a wetsuit is constructed and what that means to you in terms of benefits we have created the easy guide below. As the features get more advanced the wetsuit prices generally increases.
The two pieces of neoprene are butted together to form a smooth overlay this is then stitched usually in two lines to ensure maximum comfort. You will usually find flatlock stitching in entry level summer 3mm wetsuits and never in winter wetsuits. Most shortie wetsuits that you buy usually are flatlock and entry-level summer wetsuits. Visually if you turn the wetsuit inside out you will see the stitching.
Glued Blind Stitched or GBS
This is the more popular construction of mid to high end wetsuits and form a better bond to ensure water does not penetrate the inside of the wetsuit through the seams. The material is butted together glued and stitched without going through the neoprene. This type of construction is a must as a minimum for a winter 5mm wetsuit. Most mid range summer wetsuits are also starting to use
this way of making the wetsuit. For starters it’s far warmer and definitely warmer just makes the whole process of wearing a wetsuit far more comfortable. If you look inside the wetsuit you will see the material is bonded with no visible stitching.
Smooth skin is the material usually on the front and back panels of the wetsuit. To the touch it’s like a rubbery smooth material this is designed to prevent wind from entering the wetsuit when its wet thus keeping you much warmer. The only down side is that it can be torn by finger nails when putting the wetsuit on so be careful with this type of material. There is some debate on whether it is necessary anymore, as the development of double lined neoprene which is where there are two layer of material crossed over that forms a good layer may have made smooth skin less attractive. The other down side of smooth skin is that it is not very flexible and can restrict movement. So wetsuits like the tri are usually all smooth skin to aid with swimming and prevent water drag. This material is a finemesh so not exactly the same.
This is the liquid that is put over the seams on some high end wetsuits to ensure that no water can enter any seams. It is less flexible than super stretch material so in that respect reduce flex and again with the advancements of wetsuit technology it can be perceived as over kill as the construction of wetsuits is so good nowadays. Some brands are putting a more flexible taping system on the inside of the wetsuit to give you all the flex and protection you need, I think this type of seam protect will become the preferred method.
2mm of thickness is generally a summer short arm and short leg wetsuit and is used in waters around 20C plus degrees
3mm of thickness is usually a full length summer wetsuit and if the preferred choice to water as low as 15c plus degrees
5mm of wetsuit thickness is usually used in terms of winter wetsuit in waters as low as 5C degrees plus
6mm of wetsuit thickness is for the serious cold water user that needs maximum protection waters as low as 3C plus