As the water starts to cool down here at our HQ in Maryland and across the country, the first suit most of us grab when the water gets chilly is a 3/2mm full. Over the past few years, we’ve seen tremendous improvements not only in high-end wetsuit technology, but also at the entry level suits. We get a lot of questions about the different price points for 3/2 suits – so here’s a refresher on the basics:
3/2 suits, as far as insulation is concerned, can be divided into three categories based on their seam types:
Flatlock stitched seams (unsealed sewing machine stitch), for moderate water about 65°F and up.
Sealed seams, for water about 60°F and up
Sealed and taped seams, semi-dry, for water about 55°F and up
If you need a refresher on seam types, check out this video that Pappy shot back when he was a young man. Note that his name is “Dave” in the video. He was in denial about being Pappy in those days, now he has a credit card with Pappy on it. Anyway…..
Let’s take a quick look at some of our staff favorites and proven best sellers covering each seam type. The suits covered here are general watersports suits, so they’ll be great surfing wetsuits , wakeboarding, PWC’s, and paddlesports. These suits are not ideal for SCUBA or Triathlon.
The Syncro products are a proven wetsuit line for value, quality, and performance. For only $119.95, you get a suit that is 100% stretch neoprene (Quiksilver’s Hyperstretch 3.0 rubber), which is pretty crazy for the price point. Since the suit is flatlock stitched, you’ll be looking at about 65°F+ for the water temps, as the flatlock seams will allow for some water exchange.
O’Neill has a solid wetsuit line from entry level to high end. The Epic line is our best selling line from ONeill, and for good reason. Just like the Syncro, the Epics are 100% super stretch neoprene (O’Neill calls their equivalent rubber Ultraflex Neoprene). The seams on this suit are glued and blindstitched (sealed), which will keep most of the water out, resulting in a bit more insulation over flatlock wetsuits. A great investment for those in water about 60°F and up.
We’ll stick with O’Neill to cover our sealed and taped seam selection. The Heat line has been around for years and is always a really popular suit. This suit is my personal favorite and has been for years. If a customer calls looking for a really warm suit at the $250ish pricetag, the Heat is on. O’Neill uses Fluid Seam Weld technology on the Heat, which is a liquid taping on the inside AND outside of the suit. This leads to an even dryer experience and some extra durability over time.
Combine those seams with O’Neill’s Firewall lining and the water resistant zipper, and you have a suit that can take you easily to 55°F (think San Diego at XMAS). Of course all suits at this price point are made of super stretch – and stuff that is stretchier than the Syncro’s Hyperstretch 3.0 and the Epic’s Ultraflex – the Heat is made from gooey Ultraflex DS rubber.
For the demanding and uncompromising user, the high-end wetsuit lines may be the answer. Suits like the Flash Bomb Plus are insanely buttery soft, warm, and light. The Flash Bomb Plus features neoprene that contais large air cells, (they call it Air-Loc) which reduces the weight of the suit and increases the suit’s insulation properties. A Flash Dry poly fleece lining covers nearly the entire inside of this suit for insane warmth and a semi-dry experience. To work with the poly fleece lining, seams are actually “welded” together and then taped. In fact, these seams are stitchless (no needles thru the neoprene). These seams stretch more and are lighter weight than a traditional seam.
Remember, this is a basic overview of different classes of 3/2 suits. Many of the suits featured here are available in different seam options and thicknesses (2mm spring, 4/3 , 5/4/3, and hooded).
If you need more specific information or advice, don’t hesitate to contact us by phone, 866-906-SUIT or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org . The water is getting cold, Wetsuit Wearhouse can help!
By Chris Moleskie