SCUBA Diving Wetsuits
The below tutorial should help you make an informed decision while searching for your next SCUBA diving wetsuit. Dive suits are different from surf and general purpose suits because they are subject to pressure at depth, which can cause the effectiveness of surf suits to degrade over time. Dive suits are also built to hold up in rugged environments, other suits are not.
First, you need to know that wetsuits DO NOT keep you dry! The idea is to allow a small amount of water inside the suit, your body will heat the water, which adds extra thermal insulation to what the neoprene is already providing.
We will attempt to take a step back from the technical stuff and present you with the 3 most important aspects of SCUBA suit construction.
When it’s time to shop for a wetsuit, our listings give you a great snapshot of the suit’s construction. The example below will make sense when you are finished this FAQ:
#1 Wetsuit Thickness:
Wetsuit thickness is measured in millimeters and impacts warmth. For example: 2mm , 3/2mm, 4/3mm. The first number represents thickness in the torso area, the second number in the extremities. Less neoprene is used in the extremities to increase flexibility. As a rule of thumb, thickness increases warmth and decreases flexibility. Luckily, a diver’s biggest concern is warmth. Proper warmth will allow you do dive comfortably, and for longer periods of time. Flexibility is nice, but divers don’t have to be super mobile like a surfer. Click on the Water Temperature Guide below for recommendations based on your water temp.
*Click on Image for Full Version*
Wetsuit Wearhouse Video Series: Wetsuit Thickness Explained
#2 Neoprene Type:
The type of neoprene used impacts flexibility, and there are 3 types of neoprene available for surfing wetsuits. Standard Neoprene, Super Stretch Neoprene, and Super Stretch Water Repellant Neoprene. In order to offer wetsuits at different price levels, manufacturers use varying degrees of these neoprene types.
30% equals the back, shoulders, and arms which is exactly where you need flexibility for paddling. The other 70% of the suit is made of Standard Neoprene.
60% extends down to the knees and covers all major flex points. These wetsuits are lighter and tend to fit better.
100% stretch wetsuits are ideal if they are within your price range. These wetsuits provide the ultimate combination of fit and flexibility while decreasing bulk.
Wetsuit Wearhouse Video Series: Neoprene Types Explained
#3 Seam Construction:
Seam construction impacts warmth and comfort. Sealed Seams are important to keep the warm water in and the cold water out. Below is a listing of the 3 types of seams available on SCUBA diving wetsuits:
Flatlock Stitching: Recommended for warm water only. You can recognize this seam from the outside. It looks like railroad tracks. The interior and exterior seams look about the same. The interior seam construction is flat and comfortable against the body. Some water may seep in through these seams.
Sealed (Glued and Blindstitched): Recommended for cold water use. This construction is best for cold water because the seams are glued, then stitched. It looks similar to Flatlock stitching, but is narrower in width. Very little water will seep through these seams.
Sealed & Taped (Glued Blindstitched & 100% Taped): Recommended for very cold water. Same construction as above plus interior seam taping. The tape reinforces seams for added durability, and prevents any water from seeping through. Sealed and taped wetsuits are often referred to as “semi-dry suits.”
Wetsuit Wearhouse Video Series: Seam Types Explained
#4 Extras:Extra internal and external features will enhance the performace of your wetsuit.
Poly Fleece Lining: Interior fleece material wicks away moisture and retains heat. Not a gimmick, this stuff feels great and really works! You can also wear a Poly Fleece Rash Guard under a non-lined suit for the same benefits.
Wetsuit Wearhouse Video Series: Poly Fleece Lining Explained
- Full-Zipper: Standard entry
- Short-Zipper: 25% shorter zipper increases flexibility and limits water entry thru zipper
- Chest-Zip: Chest zip wetsuits load from the top. A neck gasket is opened, you enter the suit, and pull the gasket over your head.The suit then seals with a horizontal chest zipper. PROS= Increased flexibility and no chance of zipper breakage CONS= You cannot wear the suit at your waist after use.
Wetsuit Wearhouse Video Series: Zipper Types Explained
Neoprene Zipper Barrier: A neoprene panel located between the zipper and your skin. Keeps flushing water out of the zipper area
Wetsuit Wearhouse Video Series: Flush Guards Explained
Flush Resistant Neck ,Arms and Legs: Tapered cuffs that bond to your skin, preventing flushing
Smoothskin / Wind Resistant Neoprene: Smoothskin neoprene a.k.a smoothy is a rubberized coating applied to the outside of neoprene that helps block wind, and resists water absorbtion into the wetsuit. Smoothy is typicall found on the chest of a wetsuit. Smoothskin neoprene offers no real advantage for SCUBA Diving wetsuits.
Wetsuit Wearhouse Video Series: Smoothskin Neoprene
Key Pockets: Key pockets or key loops are added as a convenience to most suits.
Wetsuit Wearhouse Video Series: Key Pockets Explained