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Wetsuits - What to Know
Wetsuits are tight-fitting garments made from a stretchy rubber material called neoprene. They are specifically constructed to provide protection against the effects of water. However, wetsuits also offer sun protection and shield skin from scratches and abrasion.
How does a wetsuit work? Contrary to popular belief, wetsuits are actually not waterproof. Instead, they just allow a thin layer of water inside the suit, which is then warmed by your body. This provides insulation against the water and air temperature. The neoprene thickness and quality are also important factors determining the warmness of the wetsuit.
Wetsuits come in many styles with varying sleeve lengths, zips, and seaming. Furthermore, you can find women’s wetsuits, men’s wetsuits as well as kids’ wetsuits that take the different body types into account.
How Do I Choose a Wetsuit?
The most important factors when choosing a wetsuit are the sport you will use the wetsuit for, the water temperature, and the zip placement. Both the wetsuit type and thickness depend on the water temperature and the water sport. If you are into different wind sports or planning to perform water sports in cold temperatures, choose a cold water wetsuit with a thickness of 4 mm or more. You should also favour fullsuits or hooded full-body wetsuits in these cases.
For warmer water conditions, pick a wetsuit with short sleeves, like a springsuit or a pure shorty, or a Long John if you need to constantly use your arms. As for the zipper placement, choose chest zips for colder water temperatures and the highest performance demands. This is because they typically let in less water than back or front zippers. The only negative is that it is a bit trickier to get into the suit. But once you are used to it, you’ll never turn back. And, remember to also pick a wetsuit according to your gender, height, and age - the latter especially if buying a kids’ wetsuit.
Take Good Care of Your Wetsuit
If you take good care of your wetsuit, you can use it for many years. There are some easy tips on how to prolong the lifespan of your suit. One of the simplest ways is to be extra careful when getting in and taking off your wetsuit. If you pull your wetsuit too hard, mesh, lining or seams can get torn.
Storing is another important aspect that can increase the durability of your wetsuit. Remember to always store the suit away from direct sunlight and high temperatures. To make sure that the suit dries correctly, do it in two stages. First, hang it on a plastic or non-metal hanger inside out and then after, do the same but right-side-out.
You can find more information on how to pick a wetsuit from our extensive Buying a Wetsuit Guide.