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A wetsuit being zipped up from behindA wetsuit being zipped up from behind

WETSUIT BUYERS GUIDE

Choosing the right wetsuit for you can be a tricky process if you don’t know what you are looking for. Without the correct guidance or experience it would be easy to pick a wetsuit based purely on style, but there are some key factors to consider. From enhanced warmth to flexibility, each wetsuit has a variety of different features which all perform in different ways. Find the right wetsuit for your sport by exploring our wetsuit guide!

WHAT WETSUIT DO I NEED?

There are three main different types of wetsuits which are common-place for water-goers. These wetsuits all provide their own unique benefits which enable you to perform best in the sport you do. The different types of wetsuits include full-length summer wetsuits, full length winter wetsuits and shorty half-length wetsuits. Find out their purpose and different features below.

COLD WATER

Thicker neoprene wetsuits are best for water temperatures of 15°C and below. A nice toasty 5/4/3mm is the safest option especially if you plan on surfing early morning swell or later in the evening when the sun offers a little less heat. Boots, gloves and a hood are advisable too if you're heading out in the winter water!

WARM WATER

For water temperatures of 15°C to 25°C, a full length summer suit or a shorty is the ideal option. A full length summer suit will give you a little extra warmth in cooler water and a shorty is perfect for giving you just enough warmth without cooking you when the sun climbs during the day. 

WHAT WETSUIT THICKNESS IS BEST?

FULL LENGTH SUMMER & SHORTIES

Standard full length summer wetsuits and summer shorties tend to generally have a thickness of around 3/2mm, with the 3 referring to the thickness around the torso, as this is where you need warmth most, due to your vital organs. The 2 will generally refer to the thickness in the legs and arms. The reason this number is lower is because you need flexibility to paddle and swim in the water so thicker neoprene will hinder your movement and tire you out faster.

Summer suits usually incorporate flat lock stitching which involves overlapping two pieces of neoprene and then stitching the seam together. This zigzag stitching method used because the holes left by the stitching makes them more breathable and cooler to wear.

Smiling woman wearing summer wetsuit holding a surfboard above her headSmiling woman wearing summer wetsuit holding a surfboard above her head

FULL LENGTH WINTER

Full length winter wetsuits usually have a thickness of 5/3mm and above. The 5 refers to the thickness of the neoprene around the torso, where you need warmth the most and the 3 refers to the thickness around areas such as the arms and legs, allowing for greater flexibility for easier movement in the water. Occasionally there will be a middle number for example 5/4/3mm, which usually refers to the thickness of the neoprene around the thighs etc. for a bit of extra warmth.

The seams are an important factor for winter suits, most come with glued and blind seams, so called because the neoprene is glued together at the edge of the panels with a stitch that doesn't go all the way through the neoprene, resulting in a watertight and flexible seam.

A man in a full winter wetsuit surfingA man in a full winter wetsuit surfing

WHAT WETSUIT IS BEST FOR BEGINNERS?

WETSUIT TYPE

For these conditions we would recommend a shorty or full length wetsuit as it will provide you or your child with the perfect amount of insulation.

A wetsuit of 1/2mm or 3/2mm will provide more than enough insulation for such conditions. Wetsuits with this neoprene thickness also provide great flexibility and breathability, meaning that young children can wear them without it affecting their ability to play on the beach. 

WETSUIT THICKNESS

As a beginner you or your child is unlikely to be entering the seas in the winter, especially in the UK. Therefore, we’ve come up with come up with a list of recommendations for beginners who will be entering the seas around the British Isles during the summer where seas, on average, range between 10 and 20 degrees Celsius.

WETSUIT ERGONOMICS AND FITTING

A wetsuit that has an ergonomic design with anti-rub design are best for beginners as they are much more comfortable and means you or your child will wear them for longer. Full length suits should also have knee pads to help protect them from irritation and abrasions when learning to surf. 

The close fit of the suit may make you feel restricted around the neck but don't worry, many wetsuits come with anti- rub necklines and cuffs to help combat chaffing and some of our suits come with super stretch neoprene in these areas for added comfort.

Collage of adults and children in wetsuits on the beach and surfing in the seaCollage of adults and children in wetsuits on the beach and surfing in the sea

WHAT WETSUIT SIZE AM I?

For most people sizing will be based on your height and chest size, women can also base can base their wetsuit size on dress size, but should be close fitting. If in doubt, measure yourself by using our video below to help you find the best wetsuit size for you.

To find the right fit of wetsuit, you’ll need to measure both your height and your chest.

To measure the chest: place a tape measure loosely under the arms (over the shoulder blades) around the fullest part of the chest.

To measure height: measure from the top of the head to the ground. Remember to keep feet flat and remove any footwear.

How to check your suit is fitting correctly:

  1. It should be as tight to the skin as possible - if you can pull a handful of material, your suit is a little too big.
  2. You should be able to move freely and comfortably to allow for a range of movement in the water.
  3. Your suit shouldn't pucker under the arms or be bunched around the waist.
  4. The leg cuff should finish just above the ankle - anything longer indicates your wetsuit is too large.

For most people sizing will be based on your height and chest size, women can also base can base their wetsuit size on dress size, but should be close fitting. If in doubt, measure yourself by using our video below to help you find the best wetsuit size for you.

To find the right fit of wetsuit, you’ll need to measure both your height and your chest.

To measure the chest: place a tape measure loosely under the arms (over the shoulder blades) around the fullest part of the chest.

To measure height: measure from the top of the head to the ground. Remember to keep feet flat and remove any footwear.

How to check your suit is fitting correctly:

  1. It should be as tight to the skin as possible - if you can pull a handful of material, your suit is a little too big.
  2. You should be able to move freely and comfortably to allow for a range of movement in the water.
  3. Your suit shouldn't pucker under the arms or be bunched around the waist.
  4. The leg cuff should finish just above the ankle - anything longer indicates your wetsuit is too large.

DO I NEED WETSUIT ACCESSORIES?

There as several items that water enthusiasts should consider to compliment the performance of their wetsuit. Some of these are seasonal like gloves and hoods, and others are for use all year round such as rash vests. Either way it’s always best to be prepared, so here you can find useful information on how to choose the correct accessories to get the most out of your wetsuit and ultimately your session in the water. 

WETSUIT BOOTS

  • Avoids cold toes and protects feet from rough rocks
  • All-year essential
  • Perfect for cold water surfing, paddle boarding, and coasteering

WETSUIT GLOVES

  • Keeps hands warm and toasty
  • Winter essential
  • Perfect for cold water surfing and coasteering

RASH VESTS

  • Added insulation and reduces skin irritation from wetsuit
  • All-year essential
  • Perfect for paddle boarding in Summer

WETSUIT HOODS

  • Added insulation in winter
  • Winter essential
  • Perfect for cold water surfing

HOW DO I LOOK AFTER MY WETSUIT?

Having invested your hard-earned money into your new wetsuit, you want to be aware of the best possible ways to look after it to get the best possible wear out of it. Here are some helpful hints and tips like the best way to get your wetsuit on, and other care aspects, like how to dry it out after use.

HOW TO PUT ON YOUR WETSUIT

The first rule of putting on your suit is, be gentle! Yanking your suit about is a sure-fire way to put undue stress on the neoprene and even tear seams. Start at the bottom with your feet and slowly work your way up to the waist.

  1. For helping with the thankless task of getting your feet through the leg openings is to put a plastic bag on your foot and simply slide it through.
  2. Once the suit is up to the waist adjust it so that the bottom half fits correctly over your legs, before rolling the rest of the suit up the body and putting your arms through. This again will avoid you over stressing seams.
  3. You're in! Now before you do the zipper up make sure the suit is fitted correctly before you seal yourself in. This will result in less stress being placed on the seams. You should avoid forcing the zip on your suit as it will be costly to repair; slowly and smoothly is always the best way!

HOW TO TAKE OFF YOUR WETSUIT

  1. Work in the reverse of putting on your wetsuit and take your time. Try not to pull too much on the suit if it is being stubborn, as this can result in torn neoprene and blown seams.
  2. Peel your suit off and leave it inside out, as it this will again cause less stress on seams and is better for drying out after use.
One man in a wetsuit walking along the beach with a surfboard and another putting on gogglesOne man in a wetsuit walking along the beach with a surfboard and another putting on goggles

HOW TO DRY YOUR WETSUIT

  1. Before you dry your wetsuit out fully, rinse it with cold, clean, fresh water (the sooner after use the better). This is especially important after use in salt water as the salt retained in the suit can dry the neoprene out reducing its elasticity and causing corrosion to the seams which will impair the lifespan of the suit
  2. Leave your suit to air dry inside out but keep it out of direct sunlight., Heat is not good for the health of your suit and too much direct sunlight will dry the neoprene out withering the material. Hanging your suit up by the shoulders is not advisable as this can cause problems with shoulder seams. The best way to hang it out to dry is to put it through a large plastic coat hanger or over the washing line by the waist. Avoid using metal hangers as these can rust and cause staining. Flip the suit the right way round once the inside is dry to dry the outside properly as well.
  3. NEVER EVER dry your suit in a tumble dryer! This is a guaranteed way to kill your wetsuit!
  4. When storing your wetsuit away, place it in an area away from direct sunlight that is cool and dry. Make sure the suit is fully dry before placing it on a large wide non-metal hanger to support the shoulders properly. Hanging a suit that is still wet this way will result in stretching. Make sure any Velcro fastenings are done up as this will help avoid abrasions on the neoprene. 

HOW TO INCREASE YOUR WETSUIT LIFESPAN

  1. Folding it up and storing it when wet. This will result in a pretty ripe stench emanating from the neoprene and possibly mould growing on your suit. In severe cases of mould this will sentence your wetsuit to the skip!
  2. Using harsh chemical cleaners will ruin the neoprene drying it out and severely reducing lifespan. Using hot water to rinse out your suit can also dissolve the glue in the seals.
  3. Peeing in your suit! Yes, the waves might be barrelling sweetly, and the white water might be pumping but it’s best to get out of the water to empty your bladder somewhere other than your suit! For one, peeing in your suit will make it stink, and two, the acidic properties in urine can corrode the seals and the neoprene, so it’s best not to risk it.
  4. Washing your wetsuit in a washing machine will kill your suit!
Male and female models posing on the beach in full length wetsuitsMale and female models posing on the beach in full length wetsuits

READY TO EXPLORE THE OCEAN?

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