HOW TO BUY A WETSUIT

Wetsuits are designed for specific sports and activities. The right wetsuit will protect you against water and weather conditions, keeping you warmer, more comfortable, and safer in the water.

CHOOSING THE PROPER WETSUIT

First, ask yourself: what will I be using my wetsuit for? All top wetsuit brands make different wetsuits for different activities. If you plan to use your wetsuit primarily for scuba diving or snorkelling, you won't buy the same wetsuit as your surfer buddy. Whether you're water skiing, wake boarding, surfing, swimming, or hitting the waves on a personal water craft, there's an ideal wetsuit design for your needs.

It is important to know the water temperature and weather conditions where you will be using the suit. Different wetsuits should be used based upon both geographical locations and the seasons of the year. If you are not sure what conditions to expect feel free to contact us by e-mail info@porthcawlmarine.co.uk or telephone 01656784785 and our trained staff will only be too pleased to help you.

There are several different kinds of materials and sewing constructions used in making wetsuits. Remember that a wetsuit is not designed to keep you completely dry. A small amount of water will enter through the seams, zipper, neck, arms, and legs. Your body temperature will heat the thin layer of water that is trapped between your body and the material. This may take 3 to 10 minutes depending on the construction, materials, water temperature and your body's reaction to the water.

CONSTRUCTION

Familiarizing yourself with the different types of seam construction it is an important part of learning how to buy a wetsuit. The different types are:-

  1. Overlock Stitch
  2. Flat stitch or Flat lock
  3. GBS – Glued & Blind stitched
  4. GBS with seam tape/liquid seamed

Overlock is recommended for warm water 65 degrees F and up. The seams are stitched on the inside. From the outside you will not see any stitching. On the inside you may recognize this construction from clothing. It is commonly used on sweat shirt and T-shirt seams. Some water may seep in through these seams. This type of stitching can rub you on certain parts of your body; most people use a rash vest to protect them from rubbing their body. You tend to get this type of stitching on cheap or older type of suits.

Flat stitch or flat lock is recommended for warm water too, 62 degrees F and up. You can recognize this seam from the outside; this stitch looks like railroad tracks. The interior and exterior seams look about the same. The interior seam construction is flat and is more comfortable against the body than the overlock stitch. Some water may seep in through these seams too.

Blind stitch is recommended for colder water, or for people who feel the cold. These long arm long legs suits are often referred to as spring and autumn suits, This construction is best for colder water because the seams are glued and then stitched to help prevent water seepage. This seam construction looks similar to the flat stitch, but is narrower. The seams are glued and bonded together, and then stitched in such a way that the thread and needle holes penetrate only the top area of the surface. Some seams are only stitched on one side. Very little water if any will seep through these seams.

Blind stitched with seam taping (Fluid Seal) is recommended for extremely cold water, usually 50 degrees F and below. The seam construction is the same as above except that the inner seams are reinforced or covered with tape. Very little water if any will seep through these seams.

MATERIALS

Before you concern yourself with what size wetsuits will fit you best, you need to figure out what type of material (and what thickness) you need. There are many different kinds of material available, though nearly all are a variant of neoprene. Most wetsuit manufactures will use similar materials, though they may have different names for them. The materials have changed drastically over the last few years. Wetsuit materials have become more flexible, warmer, and more durable as technology continues to improve. The best materials are usually found in suits featuring blind stitch construction.

Wetsuit materials come in different thicknesses, measured in millimetres. Thickness is expressed using two numbers, separated by a slash. The first number represents the thickness of the material covering the torso, and the second represents the thickness over the arms, shoulders, and legs. For surfing cold water requires thicker material, up to 6 mm. for extreme cold such as the North of Britain, normally 5/4 or 5/3mm for other parts of British waters. Warmer water requires less thickness, perhaps 3/2 or 2/1 mm. Make sure that you purchase a suit with stretchy neoprene as these are the most comfortable to wear and give you better ease of movement. Beware of cheap suits that restrict your movements and are colder in the water.

Today you can purchase a back zip suit (BZ) or a front zip (FZ) suit there are pros and cons to both types of zip, on average a front zip lets in less water than a back zip, but some back zip suits are fitted with water barriers or zips which prevents any water ingress through the zip coming in contact with your body. Front zip suits can however be more difficult to get into.

WETSUIT SIZING

Once you have determined what types of construction techniques and materials/thicknesses you want, you can try to find the perfect fit. By now you'll have narrowed down your choices to just a few options, so you can try them on and see how they feel. If you don't know what size wetsuits to try, knowing your measurements (waist, torso, etc.) can help. The best method for ensuring a good fit is to call in to see us, our professional staff will then supply you with a suit that fits, is the correct thickness and is suitable for use. Otherwise contact us on 01656 784785 or on info@porthcawlmarine.co.uk. We are here to help.

Please be careful as sizes vary from brand to brand. Just because one size fits in one make does not mean that you will be the same size in another make.

WETSUIT WATER TEMPERATURE GUIDE

FARENHEIT CELCIUS RECOMMENDED PRODUCT
74 & above 23 & above Board shorts, Surf T's, Rash vests + sunblock
69 - 73 21 - 23 0.5mm or 1mm wetsuit top, Board shorts + sunblock
65 - 69 18 - 21 2/2mm Shorty or Short sleeve spring suit + sunblock
62 - 64 17 - 18 2/2mm Short sleeve Full or long sleeve spring suit
58 - 61 14 - 17 3/2mm Full suit with 2mm Surf Sock
54 - 57 12 - 14 3/2mm or 4/3mm Full suit with 3mm boot
50 - 53 10 - 12 4/3mm Full suit, 2mm hood - 3mm boots & gloves
47 - 49 8 - 9 5/4/3mm Full suit with hood - 5mm boots & gloves
46 & below 8 & below 6/5/4mm Full suit with hood - 7mm boots & gloves