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Wetsuit FAQ – Your Wetsuit Questions Answered

   July 15th, 2016   Posted In: Articles, FAQs, How-To  

Wetsuit FAQ

Chris and his youngest son Bennett

Whether you’ve been in a wetsuit once or a thousand times, no matter your sport or skill-level, you’ve probably thought of a number of practical curiosities regarding wetsuits! For this installment, we sat down with Wetsuit Wearhouse President and CEO, Chris Moleskie, to answer your most frequently asked wetsuit questions!

Why are wetsuit zippers in the back?

Some wetsuits have zippers in the back of the suit because they’re easier to get in and out of that way. A traditional back-zip wetsuit has a zipper that extends all the way to the tailbone, allowing a nice big opening, easy to get in and out of, unassisted. Some modern surfing wetsuits have modified short-back zippers, about ¾ length that don’t go all the way to the tailbone. They get pretty close, but there’s less room for water to enter, keeping a drier seal. A vertical front-zip suit is ideal for anyone who struggles with shoulder issues or low-mobility. There are also horizontal chest-zip wetsuits which are more watertight, making it a bit more difficult to maneuver in and out of, but are ideal for surfing or windsports.

How wetsuit works?

Wetsuits keep you warm, they don’t keep you dry. They work by allowing a small amount of water in your suit when you jump in the water the first time. The neoprene, the rubbery material that the suit is made out of, is an insulating material which works in conjunction with your body to heat the water, trapping it against your skin and keeping you warmer while you’re in the water.

How a wetsuit should fit?

A wetsuit should fit clingy to the skin, kind of like a glove. You’ll know that a suit is too tight if it restricts your breathing, or if you can’t reach upward without it really hunching you over. A suit is too loose if it bunches beneath the arms, chest or waist. A wetsuit that is too big won’t do you any good because it will just flush with water, instead of doing its job to maintain body temperature. Check out more “how-to’s” on wetsuit sizing here!

Wetsuit FAQ

O’Neill Fullsuit with Back Zip

Why wear a wetsuit?

Wetsuits allow you to enjoy the sport of your choice year round without being cold. Regardless of your sport and geographical location, there’s something for everyone! Wetsuits also offer protection from sun and abrasion.

Why wear split toe boots?

Split toe boots are beneficial for any board-sport. They are essentially a traditional wetsuit bootie that has a thong, just like sandals, that splits your toe to allow more traction and control over the board. Whether you’re surfing, kite surfing or stand up paddling, controlling your board is crucial.

Why does my wetsuit smell?

Your wetsuit probably smells because you peed in it and haven’t washed it. Everybody pees in their suit, (no need to be embarrassed), but not everyone takes the time to properly clean it. There are a few other factors though, including body odor or not allowing your suit to dry properly (we don’t recommend balling up your suit and leaving it in your hot car). All you need to do is give your suit a fresh water rinse and hang dry out of direct sunlight. If your suit needs extra care, use a wetsuit shampoo which will kill the stinky bacteria.

What suit for Southern California?

The most common suit for Southern California is a 3/2mm fullsuit or a 4/3mm fullsuit depending on your personal tolerance for cold. Southern California has notoriously cold water, averaging 55° to 65° during a majority of the season.  There are a lot of other factors included, though; how the seams are constructed, how water tight the suit is, and again, your own personal threshold for cold. If the cold bothers you, you want to be in a 4/3mm suit. If it’s not so bad, a 3/2mm will do just fine.

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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

Who invented the wetsuit?

It depends on who you ask. Some credit Hugh Bradner, he was a physicist known for being among the first to work with neoprene, but he never patented his work. The most bonafide in the industry are Jack O’Neill who founded O’Neill Wetsuits in 1952, and also Bob Meistrell who founded Body Glove Wetsuits one year later.

Which wetsuit for surfing?

The most important aspect of a surfing wetsuit is stretch. The sign of a quality surfing suit is something that has 100% super stretch. All of our listings at Wetsuit Wearhouse break down the percentage of stretch for your convenience. For a sport like surfing, stretch in the underarms and upper body should be a minimal requirement. 100% super stretch is ideal and won’t necessarily break the bank!

Where to buy wetsuits?

Wetsuit Wearhouse, of course!!

We are the largest stocking wetsuit dealer in the world. We only sell wetsuits, so we’re wetsuit experts. We have over 25,000 wetsuits and accessories in stock every day. Our customer service reps are available by phone, email and live chat and we’re here to answer your questions! We’ve got you covered!

Like what you read, or have any additional questions? Feel free to leave your questions or ideas in the comments below! We love to hear from you! Or check out our other articles where we answer top wetsuit questions!

Paige Troiano

Paige Troiano

Executive Floater at Wetsuit Wearhouse
When Paige is away from Wetsuit Wearhouse, you can find her by following the sound of rock ‘n roll and the call of the open road. She’s probably cruising around in the sun, likely to be doing something outdoors, picking through flea markets, reading or crafting.
Paige Troiano

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