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SCUBA Diving Wetsuits
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How To Select the Right Thickness
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The process of selecting your first wetsuit (or even your fifth) can be overwhelming, so we've written a little guide to help solve the problem!
Wetsuit thickness is described in millimeters (mm). This number is literally the thickness of the wetsuit material called neoprene.
The thicker the wetsuit, the more insulation it provides. However as the thickness increases, the heavier and more restrictive the wetsuit becomes. Hence, a 3/2mm wetsuit will give you much more range and flexibility compared to a 5/4/3mm wetsuit.
Every wetsuit also features a seam construction:
- Great for warm water temps (65°F & up)
- Interior & exterior seams look like railroad tracks, but the interior is flat & comfortable against the skin
- Water may seep in through these seams
Sealed (Glued & Blindstitched)
- Great for cold water temps (55° & up)
- Exterior seam looks similar to flatlock but is narrower in width
- Interior seam often has a glue line along the seam
- Very little water will seep through these seams
Sealed & Taped (Glued Blindstitched & Taped)
- Great for very cold water temps (55° & below)
- Same construction as sealed seams but has taping along the interior seam
- This taping reinforces seams and prevents water from seeping through
- Featured in some super high-end wetsuits
- The panels of neoprene are fused and glued together instead of the neoprene panels being pierced
- This creates a lighter, flexible, and more durable seam
With that information, let's take a look at what thickness and seam type needed on a sport by sport basis.
The grade (or type) of neoprene used for a wetsuit also affects the feel and performance. Most suits today are made of super stretch neoprene for a better fit and flexibility.
To simplify, we like to break down neoprene types as follows:
Standard - Wetsuits made of "standard" material are the least stretchy, but most durable and affordable. These suits are best for limited use, general playing around in the water, rental use, and industrial applications. Full wetsuits in the $75-$100 price range generally fall into this category.
Good - Suits falling into the "good" range are a combination of different neoprenes. The flex areas like shoulders and underarms (as shown in green in the image below) will have an entry-level super stretch neoprene. The rest of the suit will be standard material. These suits are great for entry level performance sports like surfing and wakeboarding, as well as paddle boarding, kayaking, or even water aerobics. Great for occasional wetsuit users that don't want to break the bank! Full wetsuits in the $100-$150 price range generally fall into this category.
Inner linings will also drive cost and insulation of a wetsuit. Today's wetsuits are neoprene with nylon laminates on both sides.
Some higher end suits will replace inner nylon laminates with poly fleece, a microfiber that helps wick water away from your skin. Poly fleece effectively keeps you drier resulting in less water against your skin for your body to warm.
Still unsure or overwhelmed with the wetsuit shopping process? We get it and that's why we're here for you!
Call us at 866-906-7848, email us at live chat!