Your Wetsuit Questions Answered: Part II
For this installment, we sat down with Wetsuit Wearhouse GM, Dave Mentzer, to gain the answers to your most frequently asked questions on all things wetsuits!
When should a wetsuit be worn?
The most obvious time a wetsuit should be worn is when the water is cold! Wetsuits provide insulation to keep the wearer warm in the water. Any time the water is too cool, or flat out too cold to go without a wetsuit, that would be the perfect time to throw one on! Another good time to wear a wetsuit is when extra protection is needed. SCUBA divers often wear full coverage wetsuits to protect their skin from hazards in the water. Wearing a wetsuit also provides complete sun protection on areas the suit is covering. Check out this temperature guide to see which suit best suits you!
When to replace a wetsuit?
Signs to replace your wetsuit include unraveling seams, splitting seams (for liquid taped suits), de-laminating material, and thinned material. Additionally, over time, wetsuits may lose stretch. If you feel like your suit is less stretchy than it used to be, it may be time to replace it for some fresh rubber!
How should wetsuit boots fit?
Wetsuit boots should fit a little more snug than sneakers. Ideally, your big toe should touch the end of the inside of your wetsuit bootie. In regard to split toe boots, they fit very similar to the way your toes align while wearing thong flip flops. Wetsuit material tends to “relax” a bit after it gets wet, and if the boots are loose, they will fill with pockets of water which is no good for keeping your feet warm!
What are wetsuit thicknesses?
Wetsuits are made of neoprene, and that neoprene thickness is measured in millimeters. Generally speaking, wetsuit thicknesses start at about 0.5mm up to 7mm. It’s possible to find neoprene thicker than 7mm, but not often. For your thinner wetsuit products, try to not get too hung up on a 0.5mm difference. The insulation between a 1mm and a 1.5mm isn’t tremendous. It’s extremely difficult to feel a difference of a 0.5mm.
What are wetsuit socks?
Wetsuit socks are essentially socks made of neoprene. To qualify as wetsuit socks, they must not have soles, although they may have some small gripping texture on the bottom. Wetsuit socks are commonly used for swimming, as the absence of a sole allows for a more natural feel while swimming. A favorite brand we carry called Wetsox have some really great products, they double as an inexpensive source of added insulation and they help you to get in and out of your suit more easily!
Which wetsuit boots should I buy?
There are a bunch of different options here. For swimming, without any question, wetsuit socks. They will allow for the most natural feeling, as they don’t interrupt your kick and *bonus*, are triathlon legal. Wetsuit socks are made in varying thicknesses, from 1.5mm up to 5mm. For performance sports without bindings, like surfing, you’ll probably want to go with a soled wetsuit boot for traction. Soles help protect the feet while walking to the water, and provide a sure grip on the board. If you have bindings, you may need to pick up some socks. It will depend on the style of bindings. For SCUBA divers, definitely go with a soled wetsuit boot. You may even want to consider a hard soled wetsuit boot, which will feel more like sneaker sole than a regular rubber wetsuit boot sole. Another consideration will be split or round toe. Split toe boots will give wearers a better feel for the board, while round toe boots will be better for those that do not prefer that feeling, or when the waters are very cold. Round toes have less surface area in relation to volume, and will be warmer as a result.
How does wetsuit sizing work?
Let me make this statement loud and clear: Your wetsuit size may very well NOT be your clothing size! Wetsuits must fit like a second skin in order to work the way they’re intended. Therefore, the sizing can be a bit more specific and less forgiving than regular clothing. With that out of the way, selecting your size depends on the style of wetsuit. For tops/jackets, go by chest measurement. In most cases, just ordering by chest measurement will result in a good fit. For shorts or pants, order by waist measurement. Any style springsuit or fullsuit will require a bit more care. You need your chest and height. It’s still imperative that you fit the chest measurement, but always be as close on the height as possible. Being close on the height is important, as the length from the crotch of the suit to the neck of the suit must be long enough to be comfortable. If you are shorter than the recommended height for a suit, but need to choose that size to fit the chest, that isn’t the end of the world. While a little extra length usually isn’t a deal breaker, there is always the option of custom wetsuits that are tailored to your measurements.
Check out our blog post on How To Find Your Wetsuit Size!
How long do wetsuits last?
It depends on how often the suit is used, and what kind of water it is used in. If used in a chlorinated pool, depending on the level or chlorine and how often and how long it is exposed to chlorine, the lifespan of a wetsuit can vary tremendously. Most users should expect 6 months to a year. Keep in mind, there is no warranty coverage for chlorine damage – but the good news is wetsuits are cheaper than energy costs to heat pools! Fresh water and salt water are less damaging to wetsuits than chlorinated water. It will really come down to how frequently the wetsuit is used. Daily surfers, for example, should expect about a season for their suit. Seasonal weekend surfers can easily get years from one suit. Our CEO, Chris Moleskie, has one suit in particular that he’s been rocking for fifteen years.
What are wetsuit categories?
Wetsuits are categorized by sports and by cut. The major groups of wetsuits are general purpose, surfing wetsuits, SCUBA diving suits, and triathlon wetsuits. Within those groups, wetsuits are categorized by their cuts: fullsuits, springsuits, tops & bottoms.
Are wetsuit gloves waterproof?
They are not. No wetsuit product is 100% waterproof. Some can be waterproof if not fully submerged, but most wetsuit applications mean, at least some of the time, full submersion.
Have any additional wetsuit questions that were left unanswered? Feel free to leave them in the comments below, we always look forward to your feedback! Or, check out our other articles where we answer more top wetsuit questions!