When you're in the water, choosing the right wetsuit can make all the difference. Whether you're surfing, diving, or just swimming for fun, having a wetsuit that fits well and is comfortable to wear will help you enjoy your time in the water even more.
So how do you pick the right dive suit for you? We're always here to help you!
In most of Europe, a wetsuit is needed for at least three quarters of the year. In France alone, with water temperatures ranging from 8 to 25 degrees, most avid surfers will have 2 or 3 wetsuits in their armory. They will have a spring suit, a summer suit and a winter wetsuit so that they can surf comfortably all year round.
The numbers 5/3, 4/3, 3/2, etc. refer to the thickness of the neoprene in millimeters and therefore describe the warmth of the wetsuit. 5/3 wetsuits are 5 mm thick in the torso and 3 mm thick in the arms and legs. The same logic applies to 4/3 and 3/2 wetsuits that use thinner rubber and therefore do not retain warmth as well.
Your choice will depend on the season you plan to use the suit, the water temperature, the wind speed, and how cold you personally are. In 13 degree water, as you would find in the winter off the Atlantic coast of France, you would choose a 4/3. Once the water temperature reaches 16 degrees in the spring, you can switch very comfortably to a 3/2. For the winter throughout most of the UK, you will need a 5/3.
The thickness of your wetsuit you need depends on the temperature of the surrounding water. Of course, there are no hard and fast rules, and if you are particularly susceptible to cold water (like I am!) . Remember, the best suit is the one you feel most comfortable in!
As a general rule, some guidelines on how much thermal protection you need are
85°F / 30°C and above - Sunsuit and surfboard for sun and scuff protection. If you are particularly susceptible to cold (like me), you can wear a 1 mm short sleeve undershirt to keep your core warm. You'll be boiling in a full suit!
80-85°F / 27-29°C - 3 mm shorts or 2/3 mm full suit
73-79°F / 23-26°C - 3mm to 5mm full suit
66-72°F / 19-22°C - 5mm to 7mm full set
50-65°F / 10-18°C - 7mm, 9mm, Semi-Dry or Full Dry
50°F / 10°C and below - Drysuit
❗️Please note that there are no hard and fast rules. Each person is different, depending on cold tolerance, habits, body temperature and the physiological makeup of the body. Fat is an excellent insulator!
Once you've purchased your new wetsuit, the following guidelines will help you wear it as much as possible.
Be gentle when putting on your wetsuit. Pulling hard on your suit will put too much pressure on the neoprene and may even tear the seams. Starting at the bottom, slowly move upward with your feet to the waist.
To help get your feet through the leg openings, place a plastic bag on each foot and slide them through.
Once the wetsuit reaches the waist, adjust it so that the bottom half fits properly over your legs. Then roll the rest of the suit up onto your body and slip your arms through. This will again prevent you from over-emphasizing the seams.
Make sure the suit fits well before zipping it up. This will reduce the stress on the seams. You should avoid forcing the zipper on your suit, as it can be expensive to repair. Slow and smooth is always the best method.
As opposed to putting on a wetsuit, take your time. If the suit is stubborn, try not to pull on it too much as this can cause neoprene to tear and seams to burst.
Take your suit off and turn it over, as this will again reduce the stress on the seams and make it easier to dry after use.
Hooded 7mm Scuba Diving Wetsuit
Rinse your wetsuit with cold, clean, fresh water before completely drying it (the sooner after use, the better). This will stop the neoprene from drying out and reducing its elasticity. By rinsing off the salt water, the seams will not corrode, thus extending the life of your wetsuit.
Turn your suit over to air dry, but avoid direct sunlight. Too much direct sunlight will dry out the neoprene and wither the material. Do not hang your wetsuit on the shoulders as this can cause problems with the shoulder seams. Avoid using metal hangers as they can rust and cause staining.
The best way to hang it up to dry is to run it through a large plastic hanger or hang it on a clothesline at the waist. Once dry inside, turn the suit right side out. Do not dry your wetsuit in a tumble dryer. This will kill your wetsuit.
Store your wetsuit in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Make sure your suit is completely dry before placing it on a wide, non-metallic hanger to properly support your shoulders. Hanging a suit that is still wet in this manner will cause stretching. Make sure to complete all Velcro fasteners, as this helps avoid wearing out the neoprene.
Do not fold up the wetsuit and store it when wet. This causes the neoprene to smell bad and can cause mold to grow on your suit.
Do not use harsh chemical cleaners on your wetsuit as this can damage the neoprene by drying it out and severely shortening its life.
Do not use hot water to rinse your wetsuit as this will dissolve the glue in the seals.
Do not urinate in your wetsuit. This will make it stink and the acids in the urine will corrode the seals and neoprene.
Do not wash your wetsuit in the washing machine as this will kill it.
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