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How to Buy a Wetsuit

   January 27th, 2016   Posted In: How-to   Tags: ,

 

 

 

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.

 

How to buy a wetsuit seams

 

Flatlock:

 

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:

 

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:

 

Wetsuit temperature guide
 

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 service@wetsuitwearhouse.com, or hit us up on live chat!

Lauren Belt

Merchandiser at Wetsuit Wearhouse
When Lauren's (LoLo) not picking out the latest and greatest wetsuits or being the social media queen for Wetsuit Wearhouse, you can find her outdoors running, hiking, or reading a good book. She also spends her time practicing yoga and scouring the web for travel deals.

39 Comments

  • Lucy says:

    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?

    • Lauren Belt says:

      Hey Lucy,

      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 service@wetsuitwearhouse.com or call 866-906-7848. Thanks and have a great one!

  • JAG says:

    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).

  • Caio Garcia says:

    Hey,
    Is there a suit I can use for swim in in the cold ocean and also use it for kayak?

    Kind regards

    • Lauren Belt says:

      Hey Caio,

      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!

  • Andy T. says:

    Hi there,
    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

    • Lauren Belt says:

      Hey Andy,

      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 (service@wetsuitwearhouse.com) if you need additional information or more help!

      Thank you!

  • Terry says:

    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.

    • Lauren Belt says:

      Hi Terry,

      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 (service@wetsuitwearhouse.com) with some more measurements and they will help you find just the suit you need for your awesome trip in the Dominican!

  • susan v says:

    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!

  • John L says:

    Hey Lauren,

    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?

  • Linda Gentile says:

    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

  • Sherrie says:

    Hi Lauren,
    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!

  • Roy Brown says:

    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.

  • Lori says:

    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?

    • Lauren Belt says:

      Hi Lori,

      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 (service@wetsuitwearhouse.com). Thanks again!

  • Richard Coleman says:

    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?

    • Lauren Belt says:

      Hi Richard,

      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!

  • Amy A says:

    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

  • Dee Bokhart says:

    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.

    Thanks

  • Janet says:

    Hi Lauren,
    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.

  • Janet says:

    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?
    Thanks again

    • Lauren Belt says:

      Hey Janet,

      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, service@wetsuitwearhouse.com. Thank you!

  • Daniel Vanderhave says:

    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.

    Thanks, Daniel

    • Lauren Belt says:

      Hi Daniel,

      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 (service@wetsuitwearhouse.com) or call, 866-906-7848. Thank you!

  • Anne Gagnon says:

    Hi Lauren,
    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,
    Anne

  • Elaine says:

    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!
    B 33″
    waist 32″
    hips 39″

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