Ranking the Best Wetsuits for Watersports in 2021
Rip Curl Flashbomb 3/2MM GBS Chest Zip Wetsuit
O’Neill Psycho Tech 3/2mm Chest-Zip Full Wetsuit – Men’s
Rip Curl Dawn Patrol 3/2 GB Steamer Back-Zip Wetsuit – Women’s
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Why would anyone get into watersports or any recreational activity involving water and want to stay dry? Doesn’t make sense, right? Not quite. Getting wet when you spend a considerable amount of time in the water is inevitable, but you want to protect yourself from dangerously cold temperatures.
Even the best wetsuits do not protect people from getting wet in the same way that good-quality rain ponchos or rain gear will. Instead, they are a lifesaver, especially for surfers, divers, paddle-boarders, and kayakers, who don’t live in tropical regions or people who hit the water during the cold months. The neoprene getups are your surest way to retain body heat and keep hypothermia at bay, at least for the most part.
As you may already know, a diver will need a different type of wetsuit than a kayaker. That’s another way of saying these suits are designed for different purposes, and although you may be lucky to find one that works well for most scenarios, there is really no such thing as a jack-of-all-trades type of wetsuit.
For this reason, we have rounded up a few of the best wetsuits for different purposes, including surfing, diving, swimming, and triathlon. We also offer some useful buying tips and how to care for your wetsuit at the end of the review.
The Best Wetsuits on the Market
Best Wetsuits: Buying Advice
Wetsuit’s global sales will continue to witness tremendous growth as more people take part in recreational water sports. But that doesn’t mean every neoprene suit out there is right for you. Before you invest your money in one, consider the following buying tips.
The thickness of the rubber in a wetsuit determines its flexibility as well as its warmth-retention capability. Consider choosing steamers, as these are designed to trap a small quantity of water between the rubber and the body. The water is warmed up by body heat and serves as a thermal jacket.
A 6/4mm wetsuit should do if you easily get cold than most people. Otherwise, opt for one that comes in 5/4mm thickness. These will keep you warm, even in the coldest months. For surfing in warmer temperatures, such as during summer, consider a 3/2mm thick neoprene suit. A 4/3mm also works great for the spring and fall seasons.
When considering thickness, remember that, unlike dry suits that completely lock all water out, wetsuits allow small amounts of water in but only for a bit. Choosing a very thick wetsuit might get slightly uncomfortable and can considerably restrict your movement when the trapped water warms up, especially if you do a lot of water-related cardio-activities such as swimming and surfing.
Size and Fit
Make sure to understand the company’s size chart to be sure you pick a wetsuit that fits you. Remember that size charts are different across manufacturers, so a listed size from one brand might not fit well for another company.
The surest way to get a snug fit without sacrificing free movement is to try it on. However, because it might not be convenient to buy your suit from a brick-and-mortar store, you can order a few different sizes and send back the rest when you have selected the best fit.
In any case, you might not get one that suits you perfectly unless you order a custom fit. But you should be able to find one that comes close to a perfect fit.
Stitching and Seams
Stitching and seams are the major factors that separate cheap wetsuits from high-end options. Generally, the options to choose from include:
This is the most basic type of stitching. It does a poor job of preventing water from getting inside the suit. Wetsuits with overlock stitching are typically inexpensive, but that doesn’t mean they are not useful. You can save them for the summer when a constant flush will be more welcoming.
Suits with flat stitching lie flatter and prevent water seepage better than wetsuits with basic overlock stitching. However, they are not watertight.
These types of suits have narrower stitching than flat-stitched types. These options are great at preventing water seepage to a large extent because the seams are usually glued.
Sealed, Taped, and Glued
The very best wetsuits don’t only feature blind stitching; they are also sealed and taped on the insides and out. These options are typically on the pricier end of the spectrum, as should be expected. But they are worth every single dime, especially if you plan on surfing extremely cold water temperatures.
The brand name is not as important as what a suit is designed to do. Consider what you want to use the wetsuit for before choosing one. For example, a surfing suit from a household name such as O’Neill might be worthless to you if what you want to use it for is a triathlon. For this reason, it is important to find out the intended use of a suit (just as we’ve listed in the reviews) before making your purchase.
How To Care For Your Wetsuit
It goes without saying that a little love is in order if you want your wetsuit to live to its expected lifespan (and even beyond). Your suit can only offer protection from cold if you protect it by caring for it. Here’s how to go about it.
Wash your wetsuit after each use. If this is not feasible, consider washing the suit as frequently as possible. Everything that goes on your body (and comes out of your body when the suit is on) ends up on your suit. This includes body cream or lotion, sunscreen, seawater, sweat, and even urine.
Of course, these elements may not outrightly damage your wetsuit, at least not immediately, but it will definitely smell awful. It is not difficult to wash a wetsuit, but any ordinary soap won’t cut the deal. Make sure you get an eco-friendly and hypoallergenic wetsuit-specific shampoo to keep your suit clean.
Store in a Dry, Shaded Area
Your wetsuit is better stored in a dry, shaded area with adequate ventilation. Dumping your suit in a place without proper airflow or in a confined space is an open invitation for mold growth. Whatever you do, avoid hanging your wetsuit to dry in the sun. Nothing shortens the lifespan of a neoprene suit quicker a keeping it in a hot environment.
Hang or Fold Loosely
The best place to hang your wetsuit is on a specially designed wetsuit hanger. If you don’t have this presently (consider getting one as soon as possible), you could place your suit on a thick-framed clothes hanger. A sharp wire hanger will stretch out the suit. If you prefer folding, do so loosely to avoid creases. Alternatively, roll them up for storage or travel.