Wetsuit

Want to know more about Wetsuits? Read all about wetsuits on this page. If you are looking for more information on a specific subject about wetsuits, just click on the button and read my extensive article about that topic!

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What is a wetsuit?

A wetsuit is a piece of water equipment designed to provide you with thermal protection while wet. Wetsuits are made of different layering of materials, while the most important is the foamed neoprene.

Its construction provides thermal insulation, buoyancy, and protection from abrasion, ultraviolet exposure, and stings from marine organisms to surfers, standup paddlers, divers, windsurfers, canoeists, and other water sports lovers.

The foamed neoprene, as the most important segment of the wetsuit, contains bubbles of gas enclosed in the material which trap warm air and keeping constant control of the temperature. These bubbles also give you the chance to float higher in water, hence the higher buoyancy, which makes you swim faster and move easier in general.

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How does a wetsuit work?

A wetsuit is made of a specific neoprene material that traps a thin layer of water on the inside. This small amount of water is then warmed by your body temperature, and it stays there to keep you from losing your body heat when in water.

While there are many different constructions and designs for a wetsuit, their baseline is providing insulation against cold water temperatures while keeping the heat inside so that you do not go into hypothermia.

If you’d like to know more on the 4 main segments of a wetsuit, and what exactly is its functionality, read this full article 😉

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What to wear under a wetsuit?

There are certain things to think about when deciding what to wear under a wetsuit. Wearing a piece of clothing or none at all both have their pros and cons.

While every paddler will tell you differently, you should decide whether wearing a Speedo or going completely commando underneath works for you. This is it’s a matter of personal preference. Here are the recommended undergarments for a wetsuit, should you decided to wear anything.

  • Diving or fitted bicycle shorts
  • A rash guard
  • A full-body jumpsuit
  • Briefs
  • Sleeveless vests or compression shirts
  • A one-piece swimsuit

Each one has their own benefits, and you can read more on why wearing anything underneath would be better than nothing at all.

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How to wash a wetsuit

Taking good care of your wetsuit expands its lifespan and improves its performance on the water. So you have to know how to wash a wetsuit to keep it in great condition.

This is why, after each use, you should wash your wetsuit with fresh water thoroughly and adequately set it to dry on a specialized hanger turned inside-out. Once your suit is dried inside and out, you should place it away from the sun in a place with a constant temperature that gets aired regularly. This way, your suit won’t develop a stink, and you will preserve the neoprene material longer.

And speaking of unpleasant smells, there are specific shampoos that are designed to remove all dirt and bacterial residue from the wetsuit that should be used from time to time. Want to know more about this? Read this whole article about how to wash a wetsuit then ;-).

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How to put on a wetsuit

When you have the right size and fit for a wetsuit, then slipping into your wetsuit is easy.

When putting it on, you can either use a water-based lubricant or go into water so you can have some liquid getting between your skin and the neoprene. You can also use one of the 5 easy techniques here to make it all more comfortable. Just remember not to pull too hard because you will stretch out the seams and destroy the neoprene.

The more you wear your wetsuit the easier it will be putting it on, since the neoprene has “memory” to remember your body shape and conform to it more and more each time.

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What is the difference between a wetsuit and a drysuit?

Both wetsuits and drysuits have the ability to keep you warm when in water. However, these suits do it in a different way.

Wetsuits actually let in a small amount of water in that you heat with your body as a way to control the temperature and slow the heat loss of your body. You have the choice to wear undergarments under your wetsuit or not, and the wetsuit will still maintain its primary function of keeping you warm.

Drysuits keep you completely dry, and they have a little looser fit than the wetsuits, so they don’t offer as much movement or flexibility as wetsuits. However, they are better in the sense that you can put as many layers of undergarments as you’d like below, depending on the water temperature you’re in. This makes them a bit more practical if you’re paddling or diving throughout the year.

Check out this whole article on wetsuits vs. drysuits to find the complete list of differences and cost of maintenance that can help you decide which one to buy.

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What material is used for making a wetsuit?

Since the invention of neoprene rubber, wetsuits have been manufactured from it. As technology advances, neoprene gets continuously updated to improve the flexibility, fit, and performance of the suit. With that, you have

  • Nylon-Lined Neoprene
  • Smooth Skin Neoprene
  • Air Neoprene
  • Yulex

as some of the most popular fabrics for wetsuits. They all have their pros and cons, but the overall performance also largely depends on the type of seams, entry systems, lining, and paneling. Curious to know how? Check out this article that will help you make an informed decision on precisely the type of wetsuit you need for your water adventures.

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Wetsuit temperature guide

Getting the right range of thickness for your wetsuit largely determines how much enjoyment you’ll get out of your water activities. So, choose carefully.

Here’s a table of wetsuit thickness in millimeters based on the water temperature.

  • For a water temperature of 24° C and up, no wetsuit is needed. Instead, you might want to wear board shorts, a jacket, and /or shorts.
  • For a water temperature of 18° C to 24° C, 3/2mm or 2mm thick wetsuit would be good. It can be in the form of a full suit or spring suit only.
  • For water temperature that ranges from 16° C to 20° C, 3/2mm thick wetsuit would be good. It can be in the form of a full suit or spring suit only.
  • For water temperature that ranges from 14° C to 17° C, I would suggest 3/2mm or 4/3mm in the form of a full suit or full hooded suit.
  • For water temperature that ranges from 11° C to 14° C, I would suggest 4/3mm or 5/4/3mm in the form of a full suit or full hooded suit.
  • For water temperature that ranges from 6° C to 11° C, I would suggest 5/4/3mm or 6/5/4mm in the form of a full suit or full hooded suit.
  • For water temperature below 6° C, I would suggest 6/5/4mm in the form of a full hooded suit.

For more explanation on what those numbers divided by slash mean and which body part they refer to, check the full article here.

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Review written by: Tom

Hi! My name is Tom. During the year I try to be on a paddle board as much as possible. By reading this blog you'll stay updated on everything I test on the water :)