As Of June 2021
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Conquer the Sea With the Best Wetsuits
Anyone active and fit enjoys the opportunities that the open water has to offer. A surfer somewhere right now is waiting for the first glimpse of waves with their board on hand. Paddleboarders look out from their windows, waiting for the perfect smooth sea to jump in the water. But, why limit yourself to surfing only when the water temperature is high?
A wetsuit will make colder water a non-issue even for the entry-level water sports fans. With the right wetsuit, you will be lunging in the water in no time. Be the aqua king or queen of the beach and ride those waves like a pro! Rain or shine, surf, dive and canoe in the coolest or warmest waters out there.
Do you want to find out more? Our buying guide highlights the best wetsuits out there so that you can make the right choice. Who says you can’t find a quality wetsuit to match your price point?
What is a wetsuit?
Are you just starting out with water sports? Do you have no clue what a wetsuit is and want to find out more? Well, a wetsuit is a special outfit that people who spend a lot of time in the water like to wear. They are especially nice to have if you are someone who prefers winter watersport activities. When the temperature drops and you still want to surf, swim or dive, you will find this fitness accessory insanely valuable.
Wetsuits have internal insulation and padding that keep you warm by retaining your body heat. They are usually made from a rubber neoprene material, called neoprene. It absorbs water without hitting the skin, so there is always an extra layer between you and the suit. Wetsuits are tight and flexible so that you can have high-intensity water activities comfortably.
The two types of wetsuits are either full-body or shorty ones that only cover the torso and down to the knees. It’s a matter of personal preference but also depends on what type of sport you will do. You will find many benefits to each type. If you want to find out more about the differences, check the top features section below.
Is a wetsuit necessary?
Wetsuits are an essential buy for winter use as they prevent hypothermia by warming you internally with your body heat. They are made of materials with different thickness to suit all weather conditions and keep you warm in or out of the water. If you want a suit that will allow you the most flexibility with freedom of movement, keep in mind that a thicker wetsuit is harder to move in.
A casual swimmer or surfer who plays around in the water for short periods might not find them necessary. But, wetsuits offer flexibility and extra protection in the sea. When you spend a long time in the sun, you have a higher risk of getting a sunburn. No matter how much sun lotion you put on when doing water sports, you are constantly exposed with no shading. A wetsuit will lower the chances of a bad sunburn as long as you apply sunscreen to your face and neck.
Another benefit to wetsuits? They also protect water enthusiasts from unwanted stings. If you are underwater diving or paddleboarding in the open water or on warm beaches, you might run into jellyfish or stingrays. With a full wetsuit, you cover your entire body and block out any marine life from coming close to you. Say goodbye to sharp stings and ointment treatments. We all hate it when those little sea creatures find us in the sea.
Are you feeling overwhelmed with the information already? If you are a wetsuit newbie we can help you understand the things that you should consider. You will make the right pick by combining the sport type and time of year. The water temperature and sport will help you pick the right wetsuit for your needs. Take a look at some of the top features to look for before buying your suit.
1. Size Fit
We can’t stress enough how important it is that the wetsuit you buy has to be like a second skin on you. If you’re a newbie with wetsuits, you might think that its stickiness is uncomfortable or wrong but, trust us, that’s the way you should wear one. You don’t want a wetsuit that is too big on you because it will fill up with water inside, and you will feel gross and heavy.
Check the size guides before you buy a wetsuit, as there are clear instructions of which size is for you. Pick between XXS-4XL just like you would for your everyday clothes. Depending on the type, a full-body wetsuit should fit your entire body from the neck down to your ankles. A short wetsuit should also sit above the knees comfortably.
2. Wetsuit Thickness
The wetsuit’s thickness makes it a more durable and long-lasting fitness accessory. Most wetsuits use a limestone stretch neoprene material that is tear-resistant. Very thick material is often harder to move in and doesn’t offer as much flexibility. It does have a bigger layer of protection, though, between your skin and the water.
Some wetsuits combine neoprene with other materials such as lycra for a smoother inner lining with improved stretch. Winter use aims for a thick material up to 6mm to keep you warm from colder temperatures down to 8-10°C. Some materials offer increased warmth and also stop heat flushing. One of those is glideskin that some brands include on the neck seals. Glideskin neoprene lets you slip on and off of your suit without a hassle.
When you are going through the choices, keep in mind that brands describe the thickness in mm. The higher the mm number, the thicker of a wetsuit. The thicker a wetsuit, the better it is for low temperatures. If you plan on using it as a spring suit, a 2mm thick material will protect you from temperatures ranging from 17-21°C. For in-between temperatures, a 3-4mm full-body suit will be perfect.
There are two types of wetsuits to pick from, and those are full-body or shorty suits. You should base your pick around the water temperatures, time of year and sport type. A full-body wetsuit is ideal for cold water and winter or spring use. During that time of year, the water temperature is still cool, so you will need enough insulation to stay warm without fear of hypothermia.
A shorty suit is usually sleeveless or short sleeve. These are ideal for swimming in warmer temperatures without the risk of overheating. A full-body suit with sleeves covers your arms, and you will find it uncomfortable in the summer. A sleeveless wetsuit has equal buoyancy to a full-body suit. That means that you will have as good of a speed and efficiency as with full-body wetsuits. You just won’t break as much of a sweat!
Proper stitching will prevent water leaks. Blindstitched wetsuits are long-lasting and very smooth. They are glued and sealed but don’t go all the way through the neoprene. That means that there are no holes in the material. They are an affordable choice for a water suit. A blind stitched wetsuit is ideal for temperatures above 12°C.
Sealed and taped wetsuits are an improved version of the blind stitched ones. They are also perfect to use at 12°C and above. Their biggest difference to blind stitched suits is that they have an internal seam. They offer the most durability and freedom of movement for many years of use.
For warm weathers and summer use, a flatlock wetsuit sits flat on your skin which adds comfort. The one downside is that they are not fully watertight, so you might see some water slipping in. They are ideal for use in temperatures higher than 16°C.
5. Thermal Linings
A thermal lining is critical if you want to engage in watersports in the winter. They protect you from hypothermia and keep you toasty inside. Some high-end and pricier wetsuits have advanced thermal heat panels. You can find this padding in the back and chest area or throughout the full suit. Don’t worry that it will limit your movement. This lining is ultra-thin so that you can stretch without restricting your movement.
Pro tip: you should exercise caution when washing your wetsuit. The thermal linings or heat panels should not come into contact with hot water. You can rinse your suit with warm or fresh water and let it air dry. Never put your wetsuit in a dryer as it could shrink!
6. Zipper Position
Who would have thought that such a small part like a zipper would matter? A high-quality zipper will let you wear your wetsuit faster. The zipper’s position matters if you are a solo surfer or diver. You can pick between a front or back zipper, depending on your personal preference. The one negative to a front zipper is that you could feel it on your chest when lying flat on a surfboard.
A back zipper is excellent for slipping in your wetsuit effortlessly. Even if you are surfing alone you will find many options that their back zippers have a puller. That way you won’t have to worry if you can reach it. The most significant benefit to a back zipper is that you won’t feel it in your way.
7. Knee Pads
Anyone who surfs will agree that knee pads promote healthier surfing. When you’re always up and down on your board, you want something smooth on your knees. A wetsuit with integrated knee pads will prevent wear and tear. They are also an additional padding for improved comfort and warmth on your skin. One downside to knee pads is that they are likely to absorb water, so always be careful with the seams.
It’s only natural that a good stretch on your wetsuit will make you feel as if you’re not wearing an additional piece of clothing. A stretchy suit will allow more flexibility and freedom of movement. Look for options that have extra stretching on areas that get sore faster. Those can be your elbows, wrists, ankles, knees and shoulders. You will feel less resistance. A solid stretch will let you stay in the water for longer hours without feeling tired and exhausted.
9. Water-Repellant Features
There is no worse feeling than having water stuck in all the wrong places. We’re positive you want the most relaxed experience that will boost your performance. Keep reading to find out more about the features that will stop water from reaching your core.
A gasket is extra protection inside the zipper that will prevent water from going inside the suit. Some wetsuits have this feature on other parts like the ankles, wrists or the neck.
Another waterproof feature are neck seals. Most wetsuits have them to keep water away from the neck. No more goosebumps every time water trickles down from your head. These seals will stop the water from sneaking inside.
Although these are not mandatory, who doesn’t love some accessories in the packaging? An integrated hood on the neckline will keep you snug when diving. It’s an ideal accessory for winter swimmers that take on activities in the cold weather.
Booties are perfect for adding to any surfing suit. Surfers prefer them because they offer cosiness to your feet. They are ideal for cold temperatures and let you be out in the open water for hours. You can find booties in many styles and lengths. There are short sock-style booties, ankle boots or high boots with zippers. If you plan on canoeing or kayaking in rocky waters, you will also benefit from the boot’s soft rubber, non-slip soles.
Gloves can provide insulation in the winter months and make your surfing or diving experience more enjoyable. They are an added layer of protection from windy conditions, keep your hands dry, and sun shaded.
What is the difference between a wetsuit and a dry suit?
Yes, we can understand that it might be confusing seeing these two terms next to each other. Don’t worry, as we will go through each one and help you understand them better. Let’s have a closer look at the two.
This type is best for getting a warm sensation when wet, but they are not water-proof. Wetsuits have a water-absorbing technology which warms up water in case it flows inside. Always try to find a perfect skin-tight fit. You want the water to enable you to feel comfortable despite it sticking on your body.Wetsuits offer maximum performance on cold water, which is why people use them in the winter. You will find convenience in-water with this type compared to dry suits.
So which activities benefit the most from this type? Surfing, wakeboarding and other sports that you are more likely to soak in water.
A dry suit is fully water-proof and, as the name suggests, keep you dry. Divers and winter swimmers who spend a lot of time underwater in chilled temperatures prefer dry suits. But, other sports can benefit from this type too. Paddling and kayaking that are upright sports with less water contact work well with dry suits.
Dry suits don’t have that same skin-tight feeling as wetsuits, so it’s better to use them out of the water. The fact that they stand looser on your body results in a restricted motion with less manoeuvring. But, you can use them in different situations than a wetsuit.
The bottom line is that either of the two will serve a purpose for you. The final choice is yours. Based on your hobbies, you should consider the pros and cons and find the right fit.
Can you only use a wetsuit on water?
A wetsuit provides you with warmth when you are in the water. Surfers don’t spend too much time outside of the water wearing them. So, you will most likely see them wearing only the bottom half when they are on the beach taking a break. We would recommend not using them outside of the water as you would have a higher risk of overheating, especially in summer.
They are not water-proof like drysuits, but you will never get cold when you are wearing one. The insulation keeps you warm in cold waters, which would be uncomfortable when outside of the water. They are also skin tight to prevent water from leaking in, so unless you are actively in the water, you won’t like that feeling on your skin once you dry off.
Should you wear anything under a wetsuit?
We find it rather valuable to wear something below your wetsuit, even if that’s just your swimming costume. However, there are different opinions on layering below your suit, but follow what you think is best for you.
Below, we will break down the best practices that you should follow to ensure cosiness and maximum comfort while using a wetsuit.
- Increased Insulation: Rather than wearing a thick wetsuit, you can put some underwear under the suit for increased insulation. The thick material of the suit will limit your movement and make you feel tired.
- Less Skin Irritation: If you have skin sensitivities, adding an extra layer between your skin and the wetsuit’s rubber material will prevent skin irritations. An extra layer will also protect certain areas from chafing.
- More Privacy: This point matters more so when you are removing your wetsuit. Adding some sort of undergarments like underwear or swim shorts will give you privacy from other people. Unless you’re changing in your car, taking off the suit on the beach will draw the attention of others. It’s best to cover yourself up with a bottom layer.
- No Chills When Taking it Off: A bottom layer will keep you warm and prevent shivers from running down your spine, when you remove the suit.
Is a wetsuit expensive?
Are you on a tight budget? Do you still want to splurge on a wetsuit without breaking your bank? You will find that surfing wetsuits can range on price tags. Check out the average price ranges below and find one that matches your budget and needs. Bear in mind that you should pick one that you can afford without compromising on quality.
- Affordable Option: A low-budget choice will be a sleeveless suit. Shorty spring suits are cheaper than full-length suits. You can find inexpensive ones for as low as £50. The one negative to this type is that they are not ideal for winter use.
- High-End Choice: Looking for a full-body suit in different price ranges? Well, you’re in luck! The most affordable ones start at about £100 but may lack durability. A high-quality suit will cost more than £200, and you will see that they are tear-resistant and very flexible. They are stretchy and comfortable for hassle-free use.
With a purpose and use for any water sport, wetsuits are essential for limitless fun in the water. A scuba diver, surfer or winter swimmer swears by a full-body suit. Paddleboarders, kayakers and canoers enjoy summer activities with sleeveless wetsuits. Whether you’re a winter athlete or a water sports enthusiast, you will love the freedom of movement and flexibility a wetsuit offers.
Feeling convinced that now is the right time to buy a wetsuit? We’ve taken the time to look for the best options available to match any taste and preference. Our buying guide provides you with all the information to better understand why a wetsuit can be a necessary fitness accessory. The choice is yours, but we are confident that you will pick the right wetsuit for you, thanks to our guide. Who’s ready to dive into the coldest water like a competitive triathlon swimmer?