Wetsuits – Considerations Before Buying

With any outdoor activity, it’s best to come prepared and dressed to sustain any abnormal conditions that you might experience. Many scuba divers are all too familiar with these types of conditions. Cold water, prolonged submersion, and tight clothing are just a few descriptions of what to expect when your trip calls for a wetsuit.

What Does a Wetsuit do?

A wetsuit sounds exactly like what it is: a suit that is designed to get wet. Divers and other aquatic athletes know the importance of wearing a wetsuit, especially in natural environments. In lakes, oceans, and seas, the water temperature is unregulated, thus making it much colder than what one might expect at a swimming pool.

Divers become used to being submerged underwater for lengthy periods of time. The most popular scuba diving spots are often out at sea or in the ocean. With this in mind, the temperature of the water can get very cold very quickly. Wetsuits are designed with this fact in mind, making the temperature much more bearable to the wearer.

How well a wetsuit can protect the wearer from cold temperatures will depend on a variety of factors. The thickness of the wetsuit, the material, and the design all play a role in keeping the user adequately warm.

What to Consider When Buying a Wetsuit

There are a few factors you’ll want to take into account when you’ve decided to purchase a wetsuit. Certain features and design aspects can be the difference between a good wetsuit and a shoddy one. Not all wetsuits are created equal!

Weather Conditions

Before buying a wetsuit for diving, make sure you are aware of the standard conditions that you will be diving in. If you plan to dive in a lake located in a desert, there is a good chance that the weather (and in turn, the water) is not going to be as cold as it would be in the Atlantic Ocean. Keep in mind that the time of year, as well as the weather, will play a role in this, too.

With the estimated temperature level in mind, you’ll want to pay attention to the thickness of prospective wetsuits. Wetsuits made from thicker material tend to provide more insulation for your body. Wetsuits may be designed for specific seasons or climates. For example, a 3/2 wetsuit might be appropriate for warm Summer days whereas a 5/4 wetsuit would be meant for colder climates.

Why Thickness Matters

The digits associated with wetsuit thickness look similar to improper fractions. The first digit represents the thickness of the torso while the second digit represents the thickness of the arms and legs. Generally speaking, the torso will always be slightly thicker than the arms and legs.

If you plan on diving in unusually cold waters, you may want to consider wearing a drysuit over the top of your wetsuit. The difference between these two types of aquatic gear is the purpose that they serve. While a wetsuit is meant to keep the body well-insulated in wet conditions, a drysuit is designed with the intent to prevent water from coming into contact with the body at all.

Material Matters

Your wetsuit’s material will also determine how warm it can keep you in cold water. While neoprene wetsuits are among the most common, they are often less efficient in maintaining insulation. If you don’t plan on diving in cold waters too frequently, this is an affordable option that might provide you with what you are seeking

If you are intent on keeping warm, it may be wiser to opt for a close-celled wetsuit. While the material is typically more adaptable to the user’s body, it is also more susceptible to damage. If you are willing to spend a bit of extra money for added insulation, this might be the best wetsuit for diving. However, it might be best to use it in conjunction with a drysuit over it.

A skin suit is a bit redundant regarding its usefulness as a wetsuit. The material is very thin and provides virtually no insulation. However, it is designed with this in mind, particularly for warm waters. If you know that you will not need thermal insulation, it is still nice to have an extra layer protecting you from UV rays and aquatic debris.

Wetsuit Reviews

All wetsuits have their advantages and disadvantages. These wetsuit reviews should give you an idea of what to look for when deciding on the best one for your needs.

Aqualung Aquaflex

The Aquaflex wetsuit is designed with comfort and insulation in mind. The back comes equipped with an additional zipper shield and is made from flat-stitched 3-millimeter neoprene. This wetsuit is perfect for the occasional recreational diver in moderate climates.

Henderson Thermoprene

The Thermoprene wetsuit is meant to adapt to the shape of the wearer’s body. Made from nylon II quality neoprene, the material is significantly more stretch than standard neoprene materials. The seams of the wetsuit are GBS-glued and blindstitched, making the material more flexible and insulative.

For the diver who plans to move a lot under water, this suit is ideal for protecting against wear and tear. The Thermoprene is the best wetsuit for diving in waters that require frequent maneuvering around obstacles. The durable material and seam designs are meant to endure long periods of movement and water submersion, making this one of the best wetsuits for diving in potentially treacherous waters.

Bare Velocity

While this wetsuit is on the expensive side (approximately $325), the quality is well worth the money spent. The Bare Velocity boasts twice as much stretch as standard neoprene materials, making this wetsuit far more flexible and durable than many of its competitors.

While the material in itself is enough to provide the wearer with enough warmth and comfort to withstand most diving conditions, this wetsuit comes with features that make it more adaptable to the wearer’s body. The collar consists of an adjustable Velcro strap, and the ankles are sealed off with zippers. Knee pads are also designed in the suit for additional comfort and protection.

Neo Tek Semi Dry

Another expensive wetsuit (approximately $450), the Neo Tek is specifically designed to be used in frigid conditions. With an 8/7-millimeter thickness, this diving wetsuit comes with inner insulation features designed into the suit itself. In addition to the inner lining and double-glued seams around the arms and legs, the inner seams around the wrists, ankles, and neck are quadruple-glued.

The Neo Tek Semi Dry is the perfect wetsuit for anyone who plans to go on very deep dives or for the diver who frequents colder waters. Neo Tek took extraordinary measures in designing this inside and out (no pun intended) to make sure that there is no water too cold for the diver wearing this wetsuit.

Bare Reactive

A thinner wetsuit, efficient insulation is the focus of its design. The celiant fabric that the Reactive wetsuit is made from delivers quick thermal recovery to the wearer, making it easier for them to maintain their body temperature. The body zipper makes slipping in and out of this suit easily and snugly.

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