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Beginners Guide to Buying a Wetsuit: What You Should Look For

Are you one of the 1.2million scuba divers worldwide? Maybe you are new to the sport and looking to get the right equipment. 

Whatever your experience level, buying a wetsuit can seem like a confusing process. There are so many different options. How do you know which one is right for you?

 Use this guide to help you find the perfect wetsuit for your next dive trip. 

Choose the Proper Thickness 

Since the purpose of wearing a wetsuit is to stay warm in colder water temperatures, the thickness of your wetsuit is one of the most important factors. The thicker your wetsuit is, the warmer you will be. 

To choose the right thickness, think about where you plan to go, and the water you plan to be in. Here is an essential guide to water temperatures to help you determine the correct thickness for your needs. 

  • 85 F degrees and above- 2mm thick 
  • 70-85 F degrees- 3 mm 
  • 60-70 F degrees- 5 mm 
  • 50-70 F degrees- 6.5 mm 

A 3mm thick wetsuit is typical for Caribbean scuba diving activities. Here the water is generally warm but may get chilly during certain times of the year. 

When you start shopping for the cold water temperatures, you may want to consider a dry suit. This will keep you warmer than any wetsuit every could. 

Other Factors to Consider 

You need to think about more than just the temperature of the water when deciding on a thickness. First, there is surface water temperature and deeper depth water temperature. Think about how deep you plan to dive and prepare for that temperature. 

Consider the air temperature too, after all; you have to get out of the water at some point. Remember that wind speed can affect this temperature. 

The final thing to consider is your activity level and sensitivity to the cold. The more active you are, the warmer you will feel from your body generating your own heat and activity pumping blood through your system. 

Choose Your Style

Now that you know how thick you need it to be, you need to decide what style you want. You could choose a full wetsuit. This style is a one piece with long sleeves and legs. 

A shortie is similar to the full, but it has short sleeves and legs cut off just above the knees. Another option is the farmer. This is a two piece with long pants and a sleeveless top. 

Some wetsuits also come with hoods and footies. 

You need to think about your comfort level and the water temperature when picking your style. For instance, the shortie is a popular choice for warm water diving because it leaves your arms and legs exposed. 

The most common type of wetsuit is the full. It can be more versatile if you plan to do a variety of activities in varying water temperatures. 

If you are a surfer, you may prefer the shortie. It will be less constrictive on your movements. 

Those planning to go in cold water will want a hood and other accessories. That way, you cover as much of your body as possible. 

Compare Brands and Models 

Invest in a wetsuit that is going to last. Check the seams as this is an easy indication of quality. Cheap wetsuits use a glued stitch. 

Another basic stitch type is the overlock. This is where the two edges of neoprene get stitched together. This seam can become uncomfortable on the inside of your suit. 

The next step up in quality is a flatlock stitch. It is similar to the basic stitch in that the two layers of neoprene are stitched together. It is different because the seam lays flat so that it is more comfortable for the wearer. 

The highest quality of stitching you will find on a wetsuit is a blind stitch. The seam is first glued and stitched on one side. Then it is stitched again on the other side. The two lines of stitching interlock with each other but neither fully pierces the neoprene. 

If you are struggling with finding a quality suit, you should head online for other user’s experience. You can read advice like this review that lay out the best options in a particular style. 

give you a chance to read about other people’s experience with a specific brand and model. You may find that one particular suit is known for lasting a long time while another is plagued with issues. 

The final indication of quality is the actual neoprene used. The highest quality neoprene is glass blown. It will have thousands of tiny bubbles of nitrogen gas

A lower quality neoprene is chemically blown. This type will feel softer, but won’t be nearly as durable.  

Buying a Wetsuit with good Fit 

If you’ve never worn a wetsuit before you’ll probably assume you’ve ordered a size too small. You didn’t, that feeling is normal. Wetsuits fit snugly. 

Don’t be surprised if you feel like your range of motion is a bit reduced. It shouldn’t be so tight that you struggle to breathe or can’t move at all. 

If your wetsuit is too loose then water can flow freely through it. This defeats the purpose of wearing it. 

You know you have a correct fit if the ankles and wrists are snug. This is a place where water can seep in. 

It is normal if you have a gap in your lower back. However, you don’t want a gap in your armpit or crotch. 

Buy Your First Wetsuit 

So what are you waiting for? Buying a wetsuit is the first step to getting out in the water. By using this guide, you will buy the right one for your needs and be more comfortable. 

The warmer you are in the water, the longer you will be able to stay in and explore. 

You need more than a wetsuit for your next trip. Check out these to have something to wear when you get out of the water.