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This wetsuit guide will get you the very best wetsuit for your requirements, you first need to be looking at the category of suit for the time of year and water temperatures and matching this to the type of watersport for which you’ll be wearing it. Even if you choose a top-of-the-range suit, if it is not appropriate for the conditions you will be using it in and the purpose you want it for, you will have wasted your money!
So read on, our best wetsuit guide will provide tips and advice to ensure you choose the right suit for you.
All wetsuits use Neoprene. This is a material made from foam rubber. However, since the early days of all Neoprene suits, technology has moved on and now this material is often laminated with other materials to provide a smooth inner lining making suits easy to put on and take off and an outer, tear-resistant membrane.
Other materials laminated into the fabric, such as Lycra help to increase flexibility by adding even more stretch. As a general rule, the colder the water, the thicker the suit you will need. Wetsuits vary in thickness from 2mm used in summer ‘shorty’ suits right up to 6mm for winter suits. Our handy wetsuit guide reference table below is designed to provide you with the best wetsuit guide depending on water temperatures.
Wetsuits are often a combination of two or three different neoprene thicknesses, for example, a 5/4/3 refers to a garment with 5mm neoprene in the core body areas, 4mm for the limbs, and 3mm in areas that require more flexibility.
|Water Temperature||Recommended Wetsuit and Accessories|
|18-21 C or 65-69 F||2mm shorty|
|17-18 C or 62-64 F||2mm short sleeve full suit or a long sleeved spring suit|
|14-17 C or 58-61 F||3/2mm full suit (suggested 2mm surf socks)|
|12-14 C or 54-57 F||3/2mm or a 4/3mm full suit (suggested footwear 3mm boot)|
|10-12 C or 50-53 F||4/3mm full suit (suggested 3mm boots plus 3mm gloves and 2mm hood)|
|8-9 C or 47-49 F and below||5/4/3mm or 6/5/4 full suit with either 5 or 7mm gloves and boots plus hood.|
When choosing a wetsuit, one brand may fit you better than another. Your suit really needs to fit like a second skin. If you have never tried on a wetsuit before, this can feel very strange and even a little uncomfortable but it is vital as when you jump into the water your body will contract and there is nothing worse than a suit that is then too big and feels baggy!
Wetsuit sizing is determined in the same way as street clothing when it comes to the width of the garment. The height is taken into account with suits available to fit comfortably whether you are short or tall.
What To Look For
- Choose a suit with glued and blind stitching to prevent leaks. Look for a suit that is fully taped – especially when choosing a winter suit. Flat stitched, unsealed seams are common in garments designed for warmer waters.
- For winter wear, the more expensive suits have plush thermal linings, sometimes called firewalls or heat-shields. In the past, thermal lining material was so stiff that to enable freedom of movement in a winter suit, manufacturers only put this type of lining in the chest and back area.
Newer thermal materials are much more flexible and stretchy so the ultra-thin thermal lining can be used throughout the suit without restricting the wearer’s movements. For extra warmth, some suits include titanium. This can be woven into the fabric where the metal reflects body heat back to the wearer and/or applied as titanium oxide as an inner coating.
- Look for a suit with a top-quality zipper. Most modern wetsuits have rear entry zippers so an extended zipper pull is pretty much essential if you are going to be getting into and out of your suit without a buddy to help you.
- A nice refinement, especially on suits designed for winter wear, is the barrier, called a floodgate or gasket found inside the zipper section. This stops the flush of water from coming through. Gaskets are also available on the wrists, ankles, and neckline of some suits.
- Another refinement that stops water flowing in is the provision of touch-fastening seals at the neckline.
- Some wetsuits have an integrated hood. This is mostly for cold water surfing and diving though.
- Integrated knee pads are a good idea as they add durability to the area which probably gets the toughest wear.
Extra stretch in the knee, elbow and shoulder areas of some suits is provided by what are called ‘flex zones’. These areas provide a four-way stretch to allow the greatest possible ease of movement and if you are going to be in the water for a long time, these reduce fatigue considerably.
Our Men’s Picks
1. Seavenger Odyssey 3mm Neoprene
If you are looking for an affordable full suit, this Seavenger Odyssey 3mm Neoprene wetsuit design in Men and Women sizes offers excellent value for your money with some great features and a manufacturer’s one-year warranty. The clever design of the stretch panel areas and the “ultra-flexible” knee and armpit design means that motion is unrestricted and chafing rashes are eliminated. It also has anti-abrasion shoulder and knee pads for comfort and durability.
2. NeoSport Wetsuits Men’s Premium Neoprene 3mm Shorty
Available in black or blue with a lighter trim, this NeoSport Wetsuits Men’s Premium Neoprene 3mm Shorty suit is a best seller for NeoSport. It is ideal for use in warmer waters, providing warmth for the torso without the risk of getting too hot. It has a good quality YKK back zipper, robust flatlock seams, an adjustable collar, and Lycra trimmed edges to avoid the risk of chafing. It also comes with a manufacturer’s one-year warranty.
3. Xterra Men’s Volt Triathlon Full Body Wetsuit
This full Xterra Volt Triathlon Wetsuit incorporates many features found on more expensive suits. Perfect for training as well as racing. For beginners or seasoned veterans. Flexible liner stretches in all four directions. Allowing for a comfortable snug fit. Many more features. A must-see! Considering the wide range of sizes, this suit offers exceptional value for your money!
Our Women’s Picks
1. Dark Lightning 3/2mm Thermal Wetsuit
This 2019 new design Dark Lightning 3/2mm Thermal wetsuit provides a great quality suit for any watersport at a budget price. The suit is comfortable to wear with a specific design for ladies. The seams flatlock process includes super-stretch, neat, warm and wears comfortably for Diving, Snorkeling, Paddleboarding, or Kayaking just to name a few. Some reviewers say the fit is perfect.
2. NeoSport Wetsuits Women’s Premium Neoprene 3mm Shorty
Available in two colors, black, or black with lilac trim, this Neosport Women’s Premium Shorty 3mm wetsuit is designed to fit and flatter – although many reviewers recommend buying a size larger for optimum fit. It is comfortable to wear and easy to put on with a heavy quality back fastening zip. It has an adjust-to-fit Velcro collar and Lycra trim around the seals at the leg and wrist to keep the water out. It’s 3mm thick neoprene construction keeps the torso warm but allows optimum mobility and in addition to the flatlock seams have additional spot taping to ensure durability.
3. O’Neill Wetsuits Women’s Reactor 2mm Short Sleeve Spring
This great value, lighter weight O’Neill Women’s Reactor 2mm Shorty is branded as a spring suit and is certainly getting great reviews from ladies who have bought it for snorkeling. In three colors and cut to fit the female figure, the flat stitched seams, smooth skin panel over the chest and well-designed neck seal make it comfortable to wear and the O’Neill Fluid Flex construction around the shoulder and underarm area enable unrestricted movement. Sturdy YKK back zip too.
Choosing Your First or Your Next Wetsuit
Now that you have read our wetsuit guide and checked out our recommendations, we hope that you feel in a much better position to make an informed decision about the type of suit you need. Being sure of the features that are important to you from the get-go is the best way to avoid an expensive mistake.