When it comes to spending time in the water a wetsuit is an important piece of equipment. They can keep you warm even when the temperatures drop or there are sudden cold patches in the water. If you are going to spend a lot of time in the water, or the waters are colder, a wetsuit will make a big difference in your enjoyment and comfort. They are particularly common for snorkeling and scuba diving. We have selected the best wet suites available on the market today, providing both warmth and comfort. The designs are built of top quality material and will keep you warm during your time in the water.
Wetsuit Buying Guide
If you are planning to try diving for the first time it may seem intimidating to choose your first wetsuit. There are several things to consider before deciding on a final purchase. Proper size, thickness, and how to make the wetsuit warmer are just as important as what to wear underneath.
Some people like to wear a bathing suit to reduce chaffing and others prefer to simply wear nothing at all. The downside to not wearing anything can result in chaffing if the wetsuit is worn for too long. Be sure to also note the length of time you will be underwater as well as the water temperature. Follow the guide below to help you decide what type of wetsuit is right for you.
The first step in choosing the correct wetsuit is to determine what environment you will be wearing it in: surfing, diving, or swimming in a pool.
- Surfing– Surfing requires a wetsuit that does not restrict movement (so avoid thick materials starting at .5mm)
- Diving– Thick suits provide extra warmth…they also protect the diver from sharp objects and ocean creatures
- Pool Swimming– Pools are generally not deep so there is no need for a thick wetsuit.
A relatively common question is how to select the correct size wetsuit. The answer is, you don’t want it too tight but it should be snug. If you are unsure if the suit fits correctly, consider the following:
- Does the wetsuit feel loose when on dry land?
- Is the suit bunching up as if there is extra material?
- Is your body not warm enough when in the water?
If the answer is yes to any of the above questions then you will have to step down a size.
The thickness of the wetsuit determines the temperature that it is best suited for. For example, you wouldn’t want to purchase a Top/Shorty for use in water that is 52-58 degrees Fahrenheit. The wetsuit would not be warm enough for that environment. As a general rule, select the correct wetsuit based on the correct environment the suit will be used in:
- Top/Shorty – Thickness .5mm – 2/1mm; Best suited for temperatures of 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit
- Springsuit (Full suit) – Thickness 2mm – 3/2mm; Best suited for temperatures of 62-68 degrees Fahrenheit
- Full Suit (including boots) – Thickness 3/2mm – 4/3mm; Best suited for temperatures of 58 – 63 degrees Fahrenheit
- Full Suit (including boots, gloves, and hood) – Thickness 4/3mm – 5/4/3mm; Best suited for temperatures of 52-58 degrees Fahrenheit
When a Wetsuit is Needed
Many individuals assume that wetsuits can keep your body warm underwater. The truth is…they don’t always. So when do you know if you need to wear a wetsuit? The answer is when temperatures hit between 50-78 degrees Fahrenheit.
If the water temperature rises above 78 degrees swimmers can actually overheat. If the temperatures are below 50 degrees the wetsuit’s material will not keep the swimmer warm.
Swimming in a wetsuit is a very unique and rewarding experience but most swimmers do not realize they can actually drown while wearing one. While swimming underwater it may seem difficult to drown in a wetsuit.
Those not used to the snug material may grow uncomfortable after wearing the wetsuit for long periods. These individuals are more prone to panic which can lead to poor decisions in the water. If you are new to diving, be sure not to stay in the water for very long until you are comfortable with the suit and the environment.
Sleeveless Vs Full Suit
A full wetsuit will increase swim speed by approximately 10 percent. A sleeveless wetsuit will allow the swimmer to move a little slower than a standard full wetsuit however, the difference in speed is marginal at best. Getting the proper fit is essential when it comes to sleeveless designs. The incorrect fit can increase tension in the shoulders thereby risking chaffing and creating discomfort while underwater.
Wetsuits come in a variety of colors but most experts recommend just getting one in pure black. The reason behind this is because certain colors and tattoos seem to attract trouble with sharks. This is not because sharks have something against tattoo wearers, but because sharks are attracted to contrasting water but not colors. Sharks are colorblind, however things like nail polish colors can be mistaken for schools of certain fish.
Certainly no one wants to be injured by sharks or other sharp underwater marine life. Following the above recommendations will help you look your best in your favorite new wetsuit, while at the same time keep you safe from harm.