How to Pick the Perfect Wetsuit

Surfers lying on their boards in the ocean in wetsuits

 

We’ve been on the wetsuit game since 1999, so you could say we know a thing or two about finding the perfect wetsuit!

 

If you’re looking to buy wetsuits online, this could be one of the most essential reads for you! With over two decades of experience, we offer our top advice on areas of consideration when choosing the most suitable wetsuit!

 

How Wetsuits Work

 

Water is trapped between your body and the neoprene of the wetsuit. Your body then heats this water up, which, in turn, keeps you warm while submerged in the water.

 

For this to happen effectively, the correct sized suit is vital! We explore the importance of this, and more in the infographic below!

 

Wetsuit Centre Infographic on How to Pick the Perfect Wetsuit

 

Consider Your Sport

 

The type of watersport you do will affect what kind of wetsuit you will need.

 

In our guide, we will mainly be focussing on choosing neoprene wetsuits for surfing. However, the same suits are also great for the following watersports:

 

  • Bodyboarding
  • Paddleboarding
  • Wakeboarding
  • Kitesurfing
  • Kayaking
  • Canoeing

 

You may prefer a thinner thickness of wetsuit for sports that heavily rely on paddling, such as kayaking and paddleboarding. This is because you will require more flexibility from your suit to paddle with your arms. You are also not fully submerged in the water for these types of activities. However, we will go into more detail about wetsuit thickness later on!

 

A female swimmer in her swimming wetsuit

 

Wetsuits for Swimming

 

For more specific watersports, such as diving and open water swimming, you may require a more specialised wetsuit. Thicker wetsuits are not appropriate to use as they are too buoyant, and for most swimmers, anything beyond a 3:2 thickness is too thick.

 

If you’re searching for the perfect swimming or triathlon wetsuit, we have a fantastic range here at Wetsuit Centre! Take a look by clicking the link below!

 

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Drysuits

 

If you are sailing, you may require a different type of suit altogether and want a drysuit! If so, we also have a great range, here at Wetsuit Centre! Some water enthusiasts also prefer wearing drysuits for kayaking, wakeboarding and kite surfing! It depends entirely on preference.

 

A surfer in a winter wetsuit, hoods, boots and gloves

 

Thickness

 

The thickness of your perfect wetsuit depends on several factors: the temperature and season you go in the water!

 

If you’re a fair-weather surfer or an all-year-round surfer, you will be looking for different properties in your wetsuit.

 

Thickness Measurements

 

Wetsuits are measured in ratios such as 3:2 or 5:4. These measurements refer to the mm of the neoprene.

 

If a wetsuit were a 3:2 thickness, it would mean that the thickness of the neoprene on the legs and body was 3mm. The number two refers to the thickness of the arms of the suit, which, in this case, would be 2mm.

 

Below, we break down what thickness of suit to look for at different times of the year and the water temperatures that they’re most suitable for:

 

A female surfer holding her board and wetsuit

 

Summer

 

Shorty wetsuits are a common choice for hotter weather. Instead of neoprene covering your whole body, they are cut off at the knees and elbows. A shorty wetsuit is usually used in temperatures of 20ºC and more. You can find them in a 2mm or 3mm thickness.

 

If you want some additional warmth to reduce the chill of UK waters when the sun isn’t shining, you may prefer a full-length summer wetsuit. Full-length summer suits usually come in a 3:2 thickness.

 

Mid-Season

 

Mid-season suits are a great all-round suit and are usually the best option for those who need a wetsuit throughout the majority of the year but may not necessarily want to buy more than one option.

 

They are suitable in 12ºC- 15ºC temperatures and most designs come in 4:3 thicknesses.

 

Winter

 

Winter wetsuits are for those who go in the sea in the depths of the coldest seasons, or feel the chill and need that extra millimetre, or two, of warmth!

 

They are recommended in 5ºC-12ºC temperatures.

 

You will need extra neoprene accessories to keep your body heat locked in when the winter season hits!

 

A stand-up paddleboarder

 

Fit

 

The fit of a wetsuit is the most crucial part. If you splash out on the most recent and expensive design, but the fit is slightly off, the wetsuit won’t be able to do its job, and you will be cold! So it's fundamental that a suit fits you correctly before anything else.

 

Wetsuit Sizing

 

Think of a wetsuit as a second skin. You don’t want any excess neoprene, as this will only flush through with water and make you cold. Instead, you need it to be as close to your body as possible, without it being restrictive. A good test is to simply see if you can touch your toes in it with ease!

 

Our guide for wetsuit fitting tips for women’s wetsuits explains how a suit should fit in more detail. Obviously, it won’t be applicable for men, but the overall guidance and advice on how a suit should fit around the neck, arms, lower back and legs applies to all genders, so it is worth the read!

 

Click on the link below to find out more!

 

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In-between Sizes

 

Some wetsuit ranges come in additional sizes. Instead of the standard, 8, 14, 16  or S, M, XXL, there are in-between sizes too.

 

These are:

 

  • Short (S)
  • Tall (T)

 

It is something worth considering if you need less or more length in the body and legs.

 

Look out for brands who do sizes, such as:

 

- 8S

- 8

- 8T

- 10S

- 10

- 10T and so on…

 

Or, in men’s sizes:

 

- XS

- S

- SS

- ST

- MS

-M

- MT and so on…

 

Brand Sizing

 

Also, it is worth mentioning that different brands will vary in size. For example, a small in O’Neill might not provide the exact same fit as a small in Rip Curl.

 

Always check the brand’s size chart before purchasing a wetsuit and, if in doubt, ask one of our lovely team for extra guidance!

 

A surfer on a wave in a wetsuit

 

Pricing

 

A fundamental factor that impacts your wetsuit purchase is, of course, the price. Depending on your budget, the suit will offer different features and usually a thicker suit tends to cost more.

 

In terms of quality, you get what you pay for, and a cheap suit will provide the matching quality.

 

Of course, you don’t need to get the most expensive suit out there either. However, advanced technology will cost more, as you may expect. So as the price increases, so will the technology of the suit.

 

Additional Features

 

You should always look out for specific features in a decent wetsuit, especially if you are looking for a 4:3 or thicker. We explain more about them below.

 

They should feature in suits designed by reputable brands, even when trying to stick to a budget. For some ideas on winter wetsuits to buy on a budget, take a look at our blog below!

 

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Glued and Blindstitched Seams

 

Glued and blindstitched seams (GBS) is a better form of sealing than the standard flat-locked seams, a more suitable form of stitch for summer wetsuits where warmth isn't necessarily a priority. However, a good suit will be finished with GBS.

 

A layer of glue seals the blindstitch and ensures that extra water doesn’t flood the suit, therefore keeping you warmer. For a reliable suit, try and look out for this feature, especially in 4:3 and thicker wetsuits.

 

Liquid Seams

 

A step up from GBS are liquid seams. Liquid seams are a tape applied to the inside and, in some cases, the outside of the wetsuit to the GBS seams. The purpose is to further halt any water entering the suit through the seams. In turn, the suit keeps you feeling warmer.

 

Some surfers find this an unnecessary addition to a wetsuit and prefer the option of more flexibility.

 

However, as technology advances each year, reduced flexibility becomes less of an issue.

 

Thermal Lining

 

A thermal lining can be found inside the wetsuit, created to wick water away from your body. The less water on your body, the less likely you are to get cold! If a suit is fitted with a thermal lining, you can usually locate it in the wetsuit chest and kidney areas.

 

It is a feature expected in reputable suits and is an especially important feature in mid-season and winter wetsuits where warmth is a priority. 

 

Ask for Advice

 

If you are unsure of the best wetsuit for you, ask an expert! Here at Wetsuit Centre, we are always on hand to help! With many years of experience behind us, we have plenty of advice to share!

 

If you want to discuss anything we have featured in our blog, feel free to call us on 01202 302943 or email [email protected]