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January 27th, 2016
Posted In: How-to
Tags: Kayak, Surf
Want to know how to buy a wetsuit? We’ve put together a wetsuit guide in order to make wetsuit buying a little less overwhelming!
First off, you’ll see a thickness at the beginning of a product (i.e. 3/2mm or 5/4/3mm). Wetsuit thickness is described in millimeters (mm) and the number is 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. This includes: Flatlock, Sealed, Sealed & Taped, and even Stitchless.
Flatlock seams are great for warm water temps (65°F & up) as they do allow a thin layer of water to enter the wetsuit. The interior and exterior seams look like railroad tracks, but the interior is flat and comfortable against the skin.
Sealed (Glued & Blindstitched):
Sealed seams are great for cold water temps (55°F & up)! The exterior seam looks similar to flatlock but is narrower in width and the interior seam often has a glue line along the seam. Very little water will seep through these seams.
Sealed & Liquid Taped (Glued Blindstitched & Taped):
Sealed & Taped seams are great for very cold water temps (55°F & below). These seams have the same construction as sealed seams but there’s taping along either the interior seam or exterior seam (or sometimes on both sides.) This taping reinforces seams and prevents water from seeping through.
Stitchless seams are 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 all of this in mind, here’s handy wetsuit guide to ease the guessing of what wetsuit you need:
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.
Neoprene types can be broken down into Standard, Good, Great, and Superior.
Standard is your least stretchy type of neoprene but is still durable and affordable. These suits are great for general water and rental use as well as industrial applications.
Good has more flexibility than standard and the super stretch neoprene is in flex areas like the shoulders and underarms. These suits are great for entry-level performance water sports and for wetsuit users who don’t want to break the bank!
Great has super stretch neoprene throughout the entire suit thus creating a better fit and performance. You can wear these suits a couple of times a week or more!
Superior suits are made of the highest grade of super stretch neoprene throughout the entire suit and have a higher price range. Great for serious water sport enthusiasts and pros!
Then there’s the inner lining of a wetsuit. This can increase the insulation as well as the cost of a wetsuit. Most wetsuits now use poly fleece as the lining. The poly fleece is a microfiber that helps wick water away from your skin and effectively keeps you drier faster.
Still unsure or feel overwhelmed on how to buy a wetsuit? We get it and that’s why we’re here for you!
Call us at 866-906-7848, email us at [email protected], or hit us up on live chat!
I want to keep my butt dry kayaking in Oregon lakes in my leaky snap together kayak. Would shorts in a 3/2 thickness, good neoprene keep me dry and warmer?
Thanks for asking! Unfortunately, you will still get wet in a wetsuit. Wetsuits do a good job at maintaining warmth so if you’re looking to stay warm, maybe look into thick shorts or a long jane/jacket combo. Again, you will not stay dry with this toption.
A drysuit or dry tops/bottoms will be the only option to keep you completely dry while kayaking. And we currently offer two drysuit options but they are full body suits, not shorts. Feel free to contact our customer service and they can answer any more questions – email is [email protected] or call 866-906-7848. Thanks and have a great one!
Looking for a wetsuit that fits my needs without breaking the bank. I have an indoor 30 k gallon lap pool that is difficult to use doing laps in early spring when the pool has just opened after a seasonal winterization. The water temp is around 65° – 70° and am considering using a wetsuit to take the “chill” off before I begin swimming laps. Looking for a comfortable wetsuit that would provide both flexibility and comfort from the cold and no skin rash after a few morning daily workouts. Thank you for any suggestions. Sincerely, TBESC. (Trying to Break the Early Spring Chill).
It sounds like the best option for what you’re looking for is a long john triathlon suit. These suits are great for swimming and with those water temps, a long john will provide the right amount of coverage and warmth without constricting any movement. Check out our selection of those suits here: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/SEARCH.html#/?_=1&page=1&filter.sports_combined=Triathlon&filter.suit_type=Long%20Johns
And if you have any more questions or are still unsure of what you need to get, feel free to reach out to our customer service team! Their email is [email protected] and the phone number is 866-906-7848. Thank you!
Is there a suit I can use for swim in in the cold ocean and also use it for kayak?
Unfortunately, that is going to be tough for two main reasons: 1) The thickness you need for swimming will need to be heavier than a wetsuit for kayaking for the same water temp. That’s because while swimming you are constantly exposed and in the water. With kayaking, it’s mostly splash.
2) Suits for swimming have a smooth rubber coating, which can be delicate for anything other than swimming.
There are some more reasons why it isn’t ideal to use one suit for both, but those are the main two. Buy the suit for what you’re doing most.
Hope that helps and thanks for asking!
We are going snorkeling in the Keys next March and are a little concerned about the 65F water temps especially for the kiddos. What would you recommend considering price,functionality and ease of use for our 7 and 8 year old guys. These suits probably won’t get a ton of use. Can you recommend some brands and features to look for. We are new to wetsuits. Thanks
Thanks for asking! Due to those water temps, they could get away with a shorty springsuit. And because they won’t be using these suits a ton, we recommend the 2mm HyperFlex ACCESS springsuit which you can find here: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/PROD/777-XA620CB-44.html#.V7SRJjVWXXg. This is a basic suit with an entry level price point, so not a ton of stretch but it will do just fine in the Keys in those temps! Feel free to contact customer service via phone (866-906-7848) or email ([email protected]
I am spending a week in March snorkling and swimming with whales 99 miles off the coast of the Domincan Republic. The temp of the water is 70 degrees. A full wetsuit is recommended. I am about 5’3″, female, about 145lbs, and 62 yrs old. What type of wetsuit would you suggest.
Based on your height and weight, you should look into a Short size. Take a look at this Henderson Thermoprene fullsuit: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/PROD/A830WB.html#.V8nQPjVWXXg. This suit is great for those water temps and it has a wide range of sizes including 6S and 8S which is where you might fall into. Feel free to contact customer service either via phone (866-906-7848) or email ([email protected]
Looking for a full body wetsuit (possibly with hood as well) to swim laps in our 40K gallon pool. Swimming laps all summer yet now the water is too cold to enjoy. A friend suggested getting a wetsuit but I don’t have a clue as what would serve my purpose best. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Thanks for asking! For swimming or swimming laps, a triathlon suit would be best. Here is a link to our selection of full triathon wetsuits which will work well in cold water as well as socks, caps and gloves:https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/search.html#/?_=1&filter.sports_combined=Triathlon&page=1&filter.suit_type=Fullsuits&filter.suit_type=Boots&filter.suit_type=Hoods&filter.suit_type=Gloves. Please feel free to reach out to our customer service team either via phone, 866-906-7848 or email, [email protected] if you need any additional help!
I’m looking for a wetsuit to keep me warm during an obstacle course race where there will be water obstacles and running through the night at temps of about 40 degrees. I need good mobility throughout to be able to complete all of the obstacles but, since it will be so cold overnight, I was thinking about a thicker suit. What would you suggest?
Thanks for reaching out! Based on what you said, I highly recommend you take a look at our separates for layering. That allows for temperature regulation as well as comfort and performance for you. The zippers of these layers will also allow you to unzip if needed and shed any layers. These separates are both 3mm thick, but when worn together you would have 6mm of warmth and thickness where they overlap. https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/PROD/SX535MF.html#.V_fFAclWX2s and https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/PROD/SX130MF.html#.V_fE-8lWX2s are great options. If you have any more questions or need more assistance, please feel free to contact our customer service either via phone, 866-906-7848 or email, [email protected]. Thanks and good luck at your OCR!
Hi Lauren, I live in RI and I am going to be digging quahogs in the spring and need a suit to keep me warm. Most of the time I will only be in 3 to 4 feet of water but the water is cold as well as the air. I want something flexible and preferably 2 piece so when I get warm I can take the jacket off. What suggestions do you have for me. Thank You Linda
Thanks for asking! Based on your information, check out the NeoSport janes and jackets. They will give you the flexibility to wear the pieces together or separately. They will also be very durable and hold up to years of use. They won’t be the stretchiest pieces, however. Two piece suits are generally made for diving or industrial uses, where durability is important. If you want a lot of stretch, consider a one piece suit. Here is our NeoSport selection: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/wetsuits/category/neosport-premium-neoprene-wetsuits.html#/?_=1&filter.gender=Women%27s&page=1&filter.suit_type=Fullsuits&filter.suit_type=L%2FS%20Springsuits&filter.suit_type=L%2FS%20Tops&filter.suit_type=Long%20Johns&filter.suit_type=SCUBA%20Combos&filter.suit_type=Shorty%20Springsuits&filter.suit_type=Vests
And if you need more help, please feel free to contact our customer service either via phone or email. Our email is [email protected] and our number is 866-906-7848. Thank you!
I’m 5’3″, 113 pounds, 34B Bust, wide in the waist (30″), no hips. I need a wetsuit which will keep me warm in an indoor swimming pool in Washington State (they leave the windows open a bit.) I’ll be doing laps, but I’m a slow swimmer and get cold very easily. I tried a Henderson shorty in a size 6 without getting into the water but it choked m. So then I got a Billabong Synergy Springsuit in an 8 and it was too big and my arms were cold – I was fine on the bottom, but I was wearing a Diveskin made of nylon and spandex so I’m not sure if that made me colder or helped. Also, should I wear a bathing suit underneath the wetsuit?
Any suggestions? I will pay any money to get a suit that fits. properly and keeps me warm. I d like to swim for more than an hour. THANKS!
Thanks for asking! There are a few options that you could do in this situation. 1) You could do a vest and short combination. I know you said your arms were cold from the shorty, but the vest will keep your core warm while providing you with a great range of motion with your arms. And shorts will provide you with the right amount of warmth and coverage as well. Here is what we recommend: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/PROD/SX125WF.html#.WBtu58lWX2s in a size 8 and https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/PROD/SX210UN.html#.WBtvPclWX2s in a small.
If you don’t want to do a vest/short combo, we recommend either the 2.5mm Women’s HyperFlex Cyclone shorty in a size 6: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/PROD/XD625WB.html#.WBtv1slWX2s OR the 2mm Roxy Syncro shorty springsuit also in a size 6: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/PROD/ARJW503001.html#.WBtwEclWX2s.
Hope that helps and feel free to contact our customer service team either via phone, 866-906-7848 or email, [email protected]. Thanks again Sherrie!
I need to buy two wet suits for a job. We are removing an submerged jetty and have to be in water for long periods. Water is around 55 to 60. More than one person may have to wear the suit. There is no planned use after. Looking for sometime inexpensive but durable. Kind of like rental suit.Thanks for any advice.
We recommend this 5mm Men’s NeoSport John and Jacket combo: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/PROD/WATERMAN5.html#.WByru8lWX2s. It’s an affordable and durable option for what you need and are looking for! If you need any more assistance, please feel free to reach out to our customer service team either via phone, 866-906-7848, or email, [email protected]. Thanks!
I am going to the Galapagos Islands in February and want to get a full body wetsuit for snorkeling. The water temps should be 70 and higher. I get cold easily and want to enjoy the experience. I am 5’6″ and 140lbs. Do you have a recommendation for a wetsuit?
Thanks for asking! Based on what you wrote, we suggest the 3/2mm Women’s XSPAN Fullsuit: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/PROD/SX832WB.html#.WFGQ831WUV0. As far as sizing goes, you’ll want to go off of your chest measurement first for the best possible fit. If you have any more questions or need assistance with sizing, please feel free to contact our customer service team either via phone (866-906-7848) or email ([email protected]
If I elect to purchase a 2/3 full wetsuit for snorkeling in Central FL springs (about 70 degrees), will I need some sort of weight belt to counter the buoyancy of the suit?
Thanks for asking. As far as the weight belt goes, there is no way to tell. Everyone is different based on their body type and body composition. But it sounds like you might need something – an estimate would be a belt that’s 5% of your body weight for a 3mm wetsuit. Hope that helps and thanks again!
First of all: Great Article!
I am new to outdoor winter lap swimming in an unheard saltwater pool in Tel Aviv.
The pool water is changed in the 50 meter 10 lane pool every single night.
The water temp is 72 in December and 74 in March. Been told that the water feels warmer than the air.
Much higher in the summer of course.
I just want to check which type you would recommend. I see there are three seam choices. My major question is, why would anyone choose a suit that water can get in? Wouldn’t you just go for a suit that lets no water in? Is there a reason that water getting in might be preferable?
Also what do those numbers 3/2 and 5/8 mean?
Shoukd I get a two piece to accommodate the dramatic weather changes here?
Sorry for Ll the questions.
I am 5’2″ and about 120 lbs.
Thanks in advance
Thanks for asking and for reading the article! To answer your question about how wetsuits work, all wetsuits allow in some water. The water that enters the suit becomes trapped, and your body heats up that trapped water, becoming the insulating layer. Depending on the suit, some suits will be dryer than others, but they will all allow in some water.
The numbers refer to how thick the suit is in millimeters. A 3/2mm suit is made of panels of 3mm and 2mm neoprene.
The best type of suit for swimming, even laps, would be a triathlon suit. Given your water temps, you could go with either a full or a sleeveless depending on your tolerance for cold. Here are some triathlon suit options for what you need: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/search.html#/?_=1&filter.gender=Women%27s&page=1&filter.sports_combined=Triathlon&filter.suit_type=Fullsuits&filter.suit_type=Long%20Johns&filter.suit_type=Short%20Johns&filter.suit_type=Shorty%20Springsuits. If you need any assistance or have any more questions, please reach out to our customer service team either via phone, 866-906-7848, or email, [email protected]. Thank you!
I am 70 years old and have been trying to lose weight and get in shape. I was swimming 40-60 miutes a day in the summer. We have a pool in TX that I swam in all last summer and lost a bunch of weight and got into descent shape, but when fall came I just couldn’t take the cold water, below 75. I just checked and even though its 25 outside the pool is 46 degrees.
The average in the winter is probably about 55 degrees. I am 6’1″ and 280 lbs, is there a wetsuit that would work for me, and yes the pool is chlorinated.
Any suggestions would be appreciated.
A full triathlon wetsuit are the best types of suits for swimming in. The chlorinated water will be hard on any wetsuit so it’s important to rinse it with fresh water after each use and to use a wetsuit shampoo like this one once a week: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/PROD/30120.html#.WG_4On1WUV0. Here is our selection of fullsuits for you to try: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/search.html#/?_=1&filter.sports_combined=Triathlon&page=1&filter.suit_type=Fullsuits. If you have any questions or need more help, please feel free to contact us via phone, 866-906-7848, or email, [email protected]. Thank you!
I need a wetsuit top that will keep my shoulders warmer (like a “shrug”). I don’t need so much protection in the torso as I am working out in an indoor pool and use a flotation belt that keeps my torso warm enough. I need it easy on/off with a zippered front. Thank you for any help in solving my problem.
Thanks for asking! Unfortunately we don’t really have what you’re asking for as far as no protection in the torso. If you want something to keep your shoulders warm, we recommend a front zip jacket, but these jackets also provide protection in the torso: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/wetsuits/category/womens-neoprene-tops.html#/?_=1&filter.zipper_type=Front%20Zip&page=1. Hope that helps and have a great one!
Thanks Lauren for such a quick response. Actually I would like protection in the torso as long as the shoulders have equal protection. I like the #4008 1mm Women’s O’Neill BAHIA Front Zip wetsuit jacket. I am 40inches in the bust, 142 lbs. and 5 ft. 5 in. tall and short waisted. Would a size 16 be best even though it will be too long? Wish you had petites (wishful thinking). I believe that I would like to order this top but you do not show size 16 available now. when will you have size 16?
Unfortunately, O’Neill does not make that jacket in a size 16 – it goes up to size 14, which, based on your measurements, I think you would be able to fit in but I’m sure as you saw, it is currently sold out. That color for O’Neill is also discontinued so we will be getting a newer color for that same jacket within the next month or so for spring 2017. We apologize for any inconvenience on this. If you need any more assistance on finding the right jacket, please feel free to contact our customer service team either via phone, 866-906-7848, or email, [email protected]. Thank you!
Hi Laurent, as you are helping so many others…
Was wondering if there is something for both free-diving as well as open water swimming for relatively warm waters (I live in Hong Kong) so 70+ suits.
Unfortunately, there is not something for free-diving and open water swimming. Triathlon suits (suits which are used for open water swimming) have buoyancy panels for swimming and are delicate. If you are primarily going to do free diving, buy a wetsuit for that and it will get you by in a pinch for open water swimming. But we do recommend getting two separate suits. If you need additional help, please feel free to contact our customer service team either live chat, email ([email protected]
I moved to Tucson and want to swim in my unheated outdoor pool earlier in the spring if possible. The pool is deep and the water temp will be around 6O F. I would like a separate top and bottom combo is possible. I am 5’4″ and 100 lbs.
Thank you kindly,
Here is a link to our tops and bottoms: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/search.html#/?_=1&filter.gender=Women%27s&page=1&filter.suit_type=S%2FS%20Tops&filter.suit_type=L%2FS%20Tops&filter.suit_type=Pants&filter.suit_type=Shorts but based on those water temps, a top and a bottom might not be warm enough so you could even try a one piece fullsuit: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/search.html#/?_=1&filter.gender=Women%27s&page=1&filter.suit_type=Fullsuits.
If you need more help, please feel free to contact our customer service team either via phone, 866-906-7848, or email, [email protected].
Thank you very much!
I need to get a wetsuit for swimming in Maine – water temperature around 58-60. I’d like short sleeves and short legs. Not sure about size!
Thanks for asking! Based on your needs and what you’re looking for, we recommend this triathlon long jane: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/PROD/666-S553WB.html#.WNKo52e1uUk in a size 8. If you have any more questions or need additional help, please feel free to reach out to our customer service team either via phone, 866-906-7848, or email, [email protected].
Hi Lauren, I will be in Hawaii during June where the average water temp is 70. I will be surfing, paddle boarding, and snorkling. I get cold very easy especially when snorkling. I’m 5’3″ and weigh about 135. However, I’m extremly large busted (34F) with a small waist. I can’t wear a one piece swimsuit as if the top fits, the bottom is way to big. What would you suggest.
Thanks for asking. Wetsuits stretch and you have to order by your bust measurement in inches (it’s best to measure yourself with whatever you plan on wearing underneath the wetsuit, so probably a swimsuit top). For those water temps, a shorty springsuit should be ok but if you want full abrasion and sun protection, you could wear a 3/2mm fullsuit. If you need additional help picking products and sizing, please contact our customer service team either via live chat, phone (866-906-7848), or email [email protected]. Thank you!
Hi Lauren. I am looking for a wetsuit to try my hand at swimming events based in Miami during the summer season. The sea temperature is always really warm during that period like 80F+. I only really want the wetsuit so I will be faster – I understand the increased buoyancy will make me slightly faster. What do you think would be the best wetsuit for this? Thanks!
I would definitely recommend a triathlon-specific wetsuit. We have short johns which would be perfect for the water temps you’ll be swimming in but we may not have your size. You could try a long john as well but that will have more insulation and warmth and may make you hotter while swimming in really warm waters. Here’s a link to those options: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/wetsuits/category/mens-triathlon-wetsuits.html#/?_=1&filter.gender=Men%27s&page=1&filter.suit_type=Long%20Johns&filter.suit_type=Short%20Johns. If you need more assistance, please feel free to live chat us, call us at 866-906-7848, or email [email protected]. Thank you!
Very confusing. I’m 67 years old. I swim a mile a day 6 days a week in Tucson Az. In the winter the water gets to be 70 degrees. I’m 5-6, 160 and broadshoulderd. My waiste is 36
Depending on your tolerance for cold water, we recommend checking out a triathlon john like this one: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/PROD/666-S553.html#.WV5LCFGQyUk. The john requires a decent amount of effort to put on because it is one piece but it will keep you warm and the sleeveless style allows for a good range of motion in the arms. Or, you could look into trying out a layering piece like one of these tops: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/SEARCH.html?q=xspan#/?_=1&filter.gender=Men%27s&page=1&filter.suit_type=L%2FS%20Tops&filter.suit_type=S%2FS%20Tops. Again, just depends on how warm you want to be while swimming. If you have any more questions or need additional help, please feel free to reach out to our customer service team either via live chat, phone (866-906-7848), or email ([email protected]
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