lady surfer in summer wetsuit walking on the beach

Buying A Wetsuit Guide

If like us you enjoy your Watersports; then water temperature will play an important part! With British water temperatures ranging from below a chilly 15°C to a warm 20°C, and the body loosing 30 times more body heat in water than in air, buying a wetsuit is a necessary piece of kit. However, you must choose an appropriate wetsuit, which fits, for it to work.

Buying A Wetsuit

To help choose the correct wetsuit it essential to know what you are going to be doing in it, what time of year it will be used, how much you’re plan on using it, and finally a realistic budget. If you are looking to spend only a few hours every week, in the hottest days of summer, it’s likely you will get away with an entry-level suit. However if you plan on riding in the coldest of conditions, all year round, then a thicker more technical suit will probably be necessary.

However, either wetsuit will need to fit correctly for it to work. Basically a wetsuit is made from neoprene which is made up of thousands of tiny air bubbles; these air bubbles create an insulating barrier to keep you warm. An ill-fitting suit will be prone to flushing (keeps re- filling with cold water) because water enters the suit from the neck, sleeves or ankles. This will instantly decrease your body temperature and shorten your time in the water. Also a poor fitting wetsuit will restrict mobility and prevent you from participating in your water sport effectively.

Summer Wetsuits

Summer suits are typically made from a combination of 3mm and 2mm neoprene across the core and limbs, respectively, to give the best balance of warmth and flexibility. Buying a short sleeve or leg wetsuit (shorty) is a personal preference and will most likely be a decision based on activity. The wetsuit is constructed with flat-lock stitching to prevent chaffing, and various design/construction methods give the suits a different degree of stretch and conformability; such as lady specific wetsuits.

lady surfer in summer wetsuit walking on the beach
Ladies summer wetsuit © O’Neill

Winter Wetsuits

Winter suits are designed for warmth; this of course involves using a thicker cut of neoprene to trap more air. Most winter suits are constructed with 5mm panels on the torso to maintain core temperature and 3mm on the limbs for better movement. Seams in-between the neoprene are often welded using a special rubber bonding solution to prevent any water flushing; which essential when the water is sub 10°C.

surfer sat in the sea
Winter wetsuit © O’Neill

What size Wetsuit Am I?

To help get the right fit we suggest you measure your height, waist, chest and weight and use the appropriate brand’s size guide; because they know what they are talking about!

Wearing A Wetsuit

This applies to anyone buying any type of wetsuit no matter what time of the year. There are a few simple rules we like to follow to make sure that you are wearing the wetsuit correctly. At the end of the day only you can tell if the wetsuit is comfortably snug, but here are some tell-tale signs of a good fit:

  • Kneepads: Make sure that the centre of the kneepad is position directly over the kneecap, not doing this can lead to tightness over the shoulders.
  • Crotch: You must work as much material you can from your legs inch by inch up to your waist so that there is not a gap in the crotch of the suit. This would hold water and cause the suit to sit too low.
  • Sleeves: The end of the sleeve doesn’t have to sit on the wrist! However it is important that the shoulder of the suit is located correctly over your shoulder, by working the sleeves up inch by inch.
  • Zip: Don’t make the ‘schoolboy error’ of putting the suit on the wrong way round. If the zip is vertical it will need to be at the back; and if the zip is horizontal near the top it will need to be at the front. You shouldn’t have to pull the zip cord too hard to do it up; but if you not a yoga master and are struggling to reach the zip – just ask someone for a helping hand.
  • Neck: All done up in your suit but you still feel like there is some tension pulling down on your neck? It might be that you have to work some more material up from the waist up to your shoulders. Once this is all done you should have good movement in your neck and shoulders with little restriction.
  • Lumbar: I you can get someone to grab the material at the base of your spine/lumbar and they can grab an inch or more the suit is likely to be too big. What will happen is that water will pool in this area and cool your body – we suggest you try the next size down.

This wetsuit guide will help you fit a suit correctly, but if unsure come in-store and try some on.

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