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How to Buy a Wetsuit

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

How to Buy a Wetsuit for Your Sport of Choice

how to buy a surfing wetsuit
how to buy a scuba diving wetsuit
how to buy a triathlon wetsuit
how to buy a sup and kayaking wetsuit
how to buy a recreational swimming wetsuit
how to buy a windsports wetsuit
how to buy a wakeboarding and waterskiing wetsuit
how to buy a water aerobics wetsuit
how to buy a snorkeling wetsuit

How to Buy a Wetsuit

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:

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40°+ 48°+ 52°+ 58°+ 60°+ 65°+ 72°+ 80°+
General Watersports
(Surf, Wake, Kite, Etc.)
6/5/4mm
Sealed
5/4/3mm
Sealed
4/3mm
Sealed
& Taped
4/3mm
Sealed
3/2mm
Sealed
3/2mm
Flatlock
Springsuit
Neoprene Top
Poly Top
Rash Guard
SCUBA
8/7mm Full
7mm John
& Jacket
7mm Full
7mm John
& Jacket
7mm Full
5mm John
& Jacket
5mm Full
3mm John
& Jacket
3mm Full
3mm John &
Jacket
3mm Full
Springsuit
Springsuit
Lycra
Bodysuit
Triathlon &
Lap Swimming
5/3mm Full 5/3mm John Neoprene Vest
Kayak &
Paddle
5/4/3mm
Sealed
4/3mm
Sealed
3/2mm
Sealed
3/2mm
Flatlock
Neoprene
Top
Neoprene
Vest
Rash
Guard
General
Watersports
(Surf, Wake, Kite, Etc.)
SCUBA Triathlon &
Lap Swimming
Kayak &
Paddle
40°+ 6/5/4mm
Sealed
8/7mm Full
7mm John
& Jacket
5/3mm
Full
5/4/3mm
Sealed
48°+ 5/4/3mm
Sealed
4/3mm
Sealed
52°+ 4/3mm
Sealed
& Taped
7mm Full
7mm John
& Jacket
3/2mm
Sealed
58°+ 4/3mm
Sealed
7mm Full
5mm John
& Jacket
5/3mm
John
3/2mm
Flatlock
60°+ 3/2mm
Sealed
5mm Full
3mm John
& Jacket
Neoprene
Top
65°+ 3/2mm
Flatlock
3mm Full
3mm John &
Jacket
72°+
Springsuit
Neoprene Top
3mm Full
Springsuit
Neoprene
Vest
80°+
Poly Top
Rash Guard
Springsuit
Lycra
Bodysuit
Neoprene
Vest
Rash
Guard

Neoprene Types:

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!

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Lauren Belt

Merchandiser at Wetsuit Wearhouse
Lauren (LoLo) has been picking out the latest and greatest wetsuits and being the social media queen for Wetsuit Wearhouse since 2014. She learned to surf for the first time ever in Costa Rica but she gravitates more towards SUP. When she's not scouring the web for travel deals, you can find her either hiking, running, practicing yoga, studying holistic nutrition or reading a good book outside on a beautiful day.
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108 Comments

  • Avatar T. F. says:

    I need to order a wetsuit online due to price. It is for my husband, who was uncomfortable in the biggest suit the company could provide on a scuba trip. (And will be used for a handful of moderately warm water scuba trips in the future.)

    Trouble is, if you weigh 300+ lbs, the chart shows you at 7ft tall! He is only 5′ 10″… Do I try to go by chest/waist measurements and ignore weight and height? Or do I split the difference between weight and height and ignore the chest/waist?

    I will have the same problem if I get one… I am only 5′ 2, but my weight says I should be over 6ft tall!

    Thanks for any info you can provide!

    • Avatar Lauren Belt says:

      Hey there,

      Great questions! The best advice here is to first base the wetsuit size off of your chest and height measurements. Weight and waist measurements are also very important, but start with your chest measurement first and then go from there on the size chart. In some cases, finding a name-brand wetsuit that caters to all of your measurements perfectly can be difficult. If you look at a product’s size chart and your measurements still don’t match up to the best size, you could also look into custom wetsuits. They’re pricier, but they’re created just for your body. You can learn more about our custom wetsuits here: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/wetsuits/category/custom-wetsuits.html.

      Thank you and hope that helps!

  • Avatar Robert says:

    Hi Lauren,

    I’m planning a backcountry kayaking trip in Alaska for next summer. I plan to use a wetsuit as a Baselayer and wear a wool layer and rain gear on top. What kind of wetsuit do you recommend?

  • Avatar Amanda says:

    Hi Lauren! I’m looking for a warm water wetsuit that will keep me buoyant. I have trouble treading water for long periods of time and I’ve previously snorkeled with a wetsuit (over a decade ago) that kept me nice and buoyant for a long time. Do you have any recommendations?

  • Avatar Amy Morris says:

    Hi Lauren. I am looking to whitewater raft in spring cold water and also swim/skydive in Hawaii winter and summer. I’m bust 36, hips 42. Is there a brand of wetsuit built for those dimensions? Thanks

  • Avatar John says:

    Hello! I need a warm suit for working on dock systems in early spring. Water temp could be as low as high 40s. Not super concerned about flexibility. Need tear resistance. 6″1″ male, 190lbs.

    • Avatar Lauren Belt says:

      Hey John,

      I’d suggest the Waterman 7mm combo by NeoSport since it will work well in the 40 degree water and works well for dock installing, boat cleaning, etc. A 2XL will probably be the best size for you. If you do decide to get the 7mm thickness, most people have to go up a size (at least for the jacket portion) but you can mix and match thicknesses and sizes if you look at the individual products (not the combos). Here’s the link to our entire Waterman selection: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/wetsuits/category/neosport-waterman-wetsuits.html.

      If you need additional help, please reach out to our customer service team either via live chat, phone (866-906-7848) or email them at service@wetsuitwearhouse.com. Thank you!

  • Avatar Renata says:

    Hello!
    I am not familiar with wetsuits and not sure which one I should be purchasing. I am looking for one for lake sports (temps about 70) jet skiing/surfing off boats/tubing. I hate worrying about wardrobe malfunctions! I want to feel comfortable and I have no idea what size; I’m 5’6 135-140. I just don’t want a wetsuit falling down on me and I don’t want it to be a chore to put on. Can you help? Thank you!!

    • Avatar Lauren Belt says:

      Hi Renata,

      If the air temps will be warm when you’re out, you should be good with a long sleeve top or a shorty springsuit. If you don’t do very well with the cold water or think the air may be cool, a 3/2mm fullsuit with flatlock seams should work well, too. None of these are going to fall down on you or lead to wardrobe malfunctions. Wetsuits fit tight, like a “second skin”! Feel free to contact our customer service team either via live chat, email (service@wetsuitwearhouse.com) or call us at 866-906-7848. Thank you!

  • Avatar Jason says:

    Hi, I’m looking for a wetsuit maybe a shorty or full suit as I live in Bermuda where 6 months a full suit would be fine but may be a bit warm in the summer months. I’m looking for something very thin and flexible with a front zip or zipperless as I’d like to be able to use it for SUP’ing, Kayaking and also beginner scuba. I’ve been looking at the O’neill Hyperfreak range but nowhere seems to have stock especially in Large Tall sizes! Can you tell me if you think this sounds like the best suit and if you’ll be stocking them soon? Alternatively is there another option that will meet my needs? Thanks

  • Avatar Mandy says:

    Hello!
    I am looking for a wetsuit for two purposes… one is for snorkling/beach…going to Hawaii in March not sure exact water temp but I know last time we went in march I was a baby about the cold water and it infringed on a good time with my kids…looking to avoid that this time and secondly, hoped to be able to use the same wetsuit to more comfortably swim laps for exercise in my own backyard pool in southern CA even in the cooler months without feeling too restrictive…all wetsuits look like they would be such a pain to get on and off…I have never worn one…the zipper one look easier -not sure if thats true or if thats an option??
    Thanks for any advice!!!!

    • Avatar Lauren Belt says:

      Hey Mandy,

      Thanks for reaching out about this. So, we recommend checking out this fullsuit: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/PROD/A830WF.html. It’s pretty easy to get on/off, it will work for both water sports, and since you don’t enjoy cooler water temps, it provides you with full coverage for warmth. Hope that helps. Let us know if you need anything else. Thank you!

  • Avatar Teresa says:

    I plan to swim a 1500 in Lake Titicaca in Bolivia this coming April. Wikipedia claims Titicaca is about 50-57F, and from the photos I’ve seen, most wear full wet suits, with a few people in speedos. I’ve been swimming my whole life and figure I can do the swim in 30-35 minutes. Would a sleeveless tri suit work for me, or do you think I should go with the full suit? Thanks!

  • Avatar Monique O says:

    Hi Lauren,
    I am going to be doing some canyoning and am not quite sure what to buy. I will be swimming, wading, rock hopping, scrambling, liloing through the canyons and the water is relatively cold 50-60F. I need something relatively tough but flexible and easy to move in. Thanks. Monique

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