4 Things to Know When Buying a Wetsuit

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Women standing on the beach in a wetsuit at sunset

For any watersport enthusiast, the right wetsuit is the most important piece of kit they can own. Take a look at the Wetsuit centre’s wetsuits, as their extensive range will help you find the wetsuit that will keep you in the water longer, doing what you love better.

Made from flexible neoprene, a wetsuit keeps you warm by trapping a small layer of water in the outer nylon layer of the suit, which is heated by the warmth from your body. A thermal lining then amplifies the insulation by creating trapped air next to the skin.

There are so many factors to consider when purchasing a wetsuit, so to make it a little easier for you, here are four vital things to know when buying a wetsuit.

Know Your Purpose: Surfing, Sea Swimming or Sailing

Whether you intend to sea swim for leisure or compete in a triathlon, the wetsuit you require will be much lighter than a suit used for watersports such as surfing. Competitive swimming wetsuits are created purposely to prevent the water from leaving the suit and to assist with your swimming performance.

For activities such as surfing or bodyboarding, the main focus of the suit is to keep you warm. Therefore, these suits will be thicker and heavier to keep you warmer for longer.

How a Wetsuit Should Fit

There are hundreds of wetsuit brands out there and even more products, and each one is a little different. The most important action you can take in preparing to buy a wetsuit is to take your measurements so you can ensure it’s the right fit!

One thing to note is not all brands use the same sizing, so it is vital to cross-reference across sizing guides. For example, you may be a medium in one brand and a medium-tall in another.

Not sure how tight your wetsuit should be? It should fit you like a second skin. You should be able to bend down and touch your toes (or as far as you can normally reach) and have a full range of motion through your arms and shoulders. You should feel no resistance in your movements, nor should it be baggy in any areas, as you don’t want to lose any of that precious warmth.

Know Your Seasons

The time of year in the UK will greatly determine the type of wetsuit you purchase. In the winter months, the sea can reach staggering lows of 5 degrees, so it is imperative you have a suitable 7mm wetsuit to protect you against the cold water. However, in the summertime water temperatures can reach around 20 degrees, to which you might even want to revert to a shortie suit.

How to Spot a Good Quality Wetsuit?

The most obvious giveaway of a bad quality wetsuit is the stitching, so when you are shopping for your new wetsuit, be sure to closely inspect the seams.

Flatlock Stitch

The most common stitch is the flatlock stitch, which involves laying one-panel edge over the other, then stitching through the neoprene. The drawback to a flatlock seam is that the process involved creates many holes, and is prone to high water penetration. This makes it more suited to summer or warmer water surfing.

Blindstitch

The edges of the panels are placed end on end and glued together. They are then stitched on the inside, but the stitching does not go all the way through to the outside of the panels, resulting in watertight, flexible seams.

These are ideal seams for cold water temperatures, and are found on higher-quality wetsuits. If you are a cold-water surfer, do yourself a favour and pay extra for blind stitching.

The last thing to note when looking at the seam of a wetsuit is to make sure its seams are sealed. This can either be by a liquid rubber sealing the seams or by taping over the seam with more neoprene. This significantly increases the wetsuit’s warmth retention and durability.

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