Many people who enjoy water sports, particularly swimmers, windsurfers, wakeboarders and those participating in paddle sports enjoy the flexibility of wearing wetsuit pants instead of a full suit. They are made of neoprene and available in a variety of lengths with calf length ‘Capri’ wetsuit pants for women and full-length wetsuit pants for men, apparently the most popular.
No matter what your size, you are likely to find a pair to fit you perfectly as there are sizes available from XS to 3XL. They also come in various thicknesses, the most usual range being from 0.5mm to 1.5mm, making them more suitable for warmer waters and weather conditions. However, specialist suppliers retail wetsuit pants for men and women in thicknesses up to 7mm but in practice, anything thicker than 3mm reduces the range of movement and flexibility.
Their popularity lies in the fact that they offer greater freedom of movement than a full suit and greater flexibility, teamed with a rash vest or wetsuit top if needed. For divers and spearfishers, in particular, they protect the legs from all those minor bumps and scrapes from underwater debris, rocks, and coral.
What Are The Pros and Cons?
As with anything you buy, there are pluses and minuses! The positives include greater freedom of movement for the lower limbs and complete freedom for the upper body. They are also much easier to put on than a full suit, whether you choose to wear them alone, or in combination with a vest. For those who suffer from shoulder fatigue or chaffing around the neck, across the shoulders and chest, using wetsuit pants in combination with a vest can help as both move independently and reduce the impact of these problems.
Another plus is that for those who do not wish to invest in a full suit as most of their water sports or leisure activities are in warmer weather and water, a pair of wetsuit pants may be teamed with a ‘shortie’ wetsuit to give full leg protection in colder conditions.
The negatives include the fact that they are only suitable for warmer weather and water conditions as they do not offer the same degree of insulation as a full suit.
What To Look For
Whether you are buying wetsuit pants for men or women:-
- Look for a 4-way stretch garment for maximum freedom of movement.
- Look for good seam finishes where the inner seam lays flat for comfort and durability.
- Look for good design, ensuring that the seams are positioned so that they will not cause irritation.
- Look for easy to pull on pants. Those with a Lycra waistband are popular with women. Draw-cord waistbands with a barrel-lock ensure your pants will stay put!
- Look for a garment with a zippered internal pocket for valuables and keys.
- If choosing one of the thinner 0.5 mm garments, look for neoprene with a heat reflective outer layer to keep you warmer.
- Look for wetsuit pants that have a DWR (water repellent) coating to shed water and reduce the cooling effects of evaporation.