With so many brands and wetsuit styles out there, it can be challenging to find a solid wetsuit. Keep these in mind for your next surf or dive wetsuit: proper fit, wetsuit entry, and wetsuit construction. We'll break down these three topics to guide you towards a well-informed wetsuit purchase.
The chest, lower back, shoulders, wrists, and ankles are important regions to pay close attention to.
When you try on the wetsuit, raise your arms and move them side-to-side, up-and-down. If you feel a rubber band like sensation causing your arms to come back down, it is likely too tight. The chest should fit firmly on top of the skin and allow you to rotate your arms freely. Your upper back should also fit firmly without restricting your arm movement. If there is any excess material and the chest puckers out while standing at a rested position, it is an indication that your wetsuit is loose. Although a loose fitting chest will give you good range of motion, it can also cause irritation from the folds rubbing against your skin and armpits during paddling or swimming.
To determine if your wetsuit is tight around your lower back, locate the area right above your tailbone. When the wetsuit is on, see if there is space between your skin and the wetsuit in that region. If the wetsuit in that area creates a little trampoline, it means the material is too tight. The ideal fit should cause the material to lie right over the skin with no space between you and the wetsuit. Any kind of bunching around the lower back is an indication that the length of the back is too long.
Ankles and Wrists
Ankles and wrists on a wetsuit are the easiest to get right. If the sleeves are above your wrist bone or anklebone, it is too short. The sleeves should sit right where your hands and wrists meet and right below that round ball like bone at the ankles with a good tight seal. Make sure these two areas of your wetsuit are lined and sealed up correctly because these two areas make a lot of contact with the water and can cause flushing if not fitted properly.
After getting the chest, length of the back, and wrists and ankles fitted correctly, your shoulders should feel good. For those of you who have massive shoulders who experience overall good fitting wetsuits but still have issues with the shoulders may have to look for wetsuits that have minimal seam work around the shoulders or size up. Try and find a wetsuit that has more neoprene rather than seams because seams cause the restrictions. Our wetsuits are all custom-fit and the back-zip is an ideal wetsuit for those who have larger shoulders.
Another great indication for tight fitting shoulders will be the breakdown of the wetsuit. If there is a lot of wear and tear around the shoulders of your wetsuit then it is a clear sign that the shoulder panels of the wetsuit have been stretched and taking abuse causing the neoprene underneath the jersey to fall apart. You can also get earlier signs of damage when the surface jersey starts to fade quicker than the rest of the wetsuit.
Wetsuits come in many different entry system styles. They are designed specifically for performance and ease of entry. Typically a top entry wetsuit is a more performance based wetsuit and a back-zip is a more traditional design that is easier to get in and out of. Depending on what type of surfer or your body type will dictate the wetsuit entry system you choose.
Top entry wetsuits were designed to increase mobility. Zippers don't stretch well and by having a zipper located on the chest allows the wetsuit to flex and stretch much better. We consider this entry system the high performance styled wetsuit.
The downside of a top entry system is the smaller entry. The more complicated closure system and shorter zipper will cause the entry to be smaller. Typically surfers who are larger or have wider shoulders find it challenging to get into chest-zips because of the small enclosure.
The back zip designs are the simplest designs and are the easiest to get on. The zipper down the back allows the wetsuit to open up creating a large entry point. Typically back-zips also have an adjustable collar that allows the user to create their ideal tension keeping flushing to a minimum.
For wetsuit designers, the placement and length of the zipper will dictate the mobility of the back and it is crucial to get the length long enough for ease of entry but short enough to increase range of motion. All of our back-zip zippers are adjusted to the customer's back length.
There are many different kinds of construction methods wetsuit companies implement for production. When purchasing a high-end wetsuit, there are certain things to look out for in the construction of the wetsuit. We will narrow down the three areas of construction: Stitching, gluing, and seam placement.
Make sure when looking at your next wetsuit to purchase you take a close look at the stitch quality. If the stitches are evenly spaced out and the size is consistent across the suit it means the builder was a skilled sewer and properly stitched the wetsuit. The best stitch for a wetsuit is the blindstitch. This stitch enters the wetsuit a quarter way deep and will come up the same way it entered without penetrating the neoprene all the way through.
When looking at your next wetsuit, flip it inside out and take a look at how the tape was applied. If the tape is a shiny-like tape, about 1/3 of an inch wide, and a little glue residue is visible on the sides of the tape then that manufacturer put a lot of time into hand-taping that suit. Some alternative tapes manufacturers will use are fabric-like tapes that are also strong but tend to fall off easier and don't last as long as neoprene tape.
The location of where the seams sit will dictate the price, comfort, and performance of the wetsuit. When looking at lower end wetsuits, a lot of seams are placed on the wetsuit. This allows for manufactures to fit in more pattern pieces onto a sheet of neoprene, maximizing their yield per sheet. This often affects the performance because the unnecessary seams restrict your movement. Wetsuits with larger panels and less seams are on the higher-end of wetsuits because they require more materials.
Understanding these important facts will help dictate your next awesome wetsuit purchase. Still having trouble finding a wetsuit that fits?
Go custom and check out our wetsuits. Each suit is handmade and custom-fit to your measurements. Whether you're a surfer or a diver, we have something that will keep you toasty and comfortable in the water. For any questions regarding this article don’t hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.