Breaking down wetsuit tech and ranges of suits within a brands selection.

Every Brand has a range of wetsuits to sell. Sometimes its an easy choice as it may be what ever fits your budget but when each brand has 2 – 4 options of the same thickness wetsuit which one do you choose?

The aim of a wetsuit is to keep you warm. If your in the colder parts of the world then a wetsuit is an essential bit of kit when going on the water even at the warmest times of year but there are different wetsuits in every brand’s range and it can be a bit confusing making sure you get the right one to suit your needs and everyone’s needs are different depending on how you feel the cold. The thickness of a wetsuit plays the biggest factor in its warmth – the thicker the suit the warmer it is but the less manoeuvrable it is. If a brand has three 5mm wetsuits as a general rule the most flexible and warmest version will be the more expensive one as it will have a higher grade neoprene, lining, seams and the most advanced wetsuit tech. The cheaper 5mm from any brand will do the job perfectly well and when compared to wetsuits of 5 – 10 years ago these more budget friendly suits are huge improvements over what was worn in years gone by. Much like in the car industry the most advanced tech slowly filters down as new improvements come along.

Wetsuits by thickness:

The range in wetsuit thickness is from 1 or 2mm up to 6mm (diving suits may be thicker) and when reading the description of a wetsuit it will often have two or three numbers. The first of which will be the thickest part of the suit that will cover the areas on your body that don’t need to move (chest & back). The second number will be the areas that need to move more (arms, shoulders and legs) and if there is a third number the thickness will change in these areas to promote movement and warmth.

There is no hard and fast rules in saying which wetsuit thickness you should wear in any given temperature as everyone feels the cold differently. Most people will have their thickest wetsuit (5/4mm) on Autumn through to late Spring and longer, then a Summer suit (3/2mm) or shorty (2mm) for the rest of the year.

What sport you are doing will have an impact on what wetsuit you wear too. If you are going paddleboarding then the weather is likely to be calm and not as cold as when you may be going kitesurfing so different wetsuits will work. Or if you are surfing then being submerged in the water means you will probably feel the cold sooner. The sports you do may also determine how flexible the wetsuit you wear should be. A surfer will want lots of flexibility in the shoulders to paddle but will need to keep the core warm.

Wetsuit Fit:

A wetsuit should be snug and the first time you put it on a new wetsuit it may feel too tight. No one else can tell you if it is too small but if you find it hard to move then it may be worth going up a size. A wetsuit needs to be snug to work so if there are any areas that aren’t flat to your skin then this is were large pools of water can sit and actually cool you down – a classic area for this is the lower back.

Each brands sizing varies a little so if you are a Medium with one brand you may not be a medium in the next brand. Its worth looking closely at sizing guides and measuring yourself in several areas to determine the best fit, don’t just go by height.

Wetsuit Tech:

Neoprene – There are lots of different types of neoprene out there. Traditionally it was petroleum based neoprene used in wetsuits but over the last few years brands are finding more eco friendly ways to make quality neoprene. Limestone Neoprene became available and this more sustainable version of neoprene featured in high end suits and now with other versions of this neoprene is readily available and starting to filter down the wetsuit ranges. The higher grade the neoprene the the better insulating value it has and the more flexible it is.

Panels – A wetsuit is made by stitching panels of neoprene together. In general a wetsuit with fewer panels will give more flexibility as seams do not stretch but more neoprene panels can fit better.

Seams – The seams of a wetsuit are stitched together, these seams have reduced flexibility and the different wetsuit ranges have different types of stitching depending on the quality of the suit. In the most basic of wetsuits seams will be stitched together, this pierces the wetsuit and allows water in and out through the holes and will reduce how effectively a wetsuit keeps you warm. Blindstitching is where the panels are glued together and then stitched but the stitching only goes partially through the wetsuit meaning there are no holes to let water all the way through.

Seals – The seals of a wetsuit help keep the stitching in good condition and also improve waterproofing of the seams. Glued seams are common and blindstitched wetsuits are all glued before stitching. Some panels may only be glued and have stitching to help keep costs lower. Taped seams help protect and strengthen the stitching and some suits will only be taped in areas under the most stress and other suits seams will be fully taped on every seam. Some seams may be liquid sealed (welded) and this is where a liquid rubber is layered over the seams to make them completely water tight and durable.

Lining – The lining of a wetsuit has many jobs. From reducing chaffing, increasing warmth, protecting the neoprene, limiting stretch/tearing and making it easier to put the wetsuit on/off. The material wetsuits are lined with varies and it in varies within one wetsuit (thicker fleecy lining around the core, thinner more manoeuvrable lining around shoulders and legs). Common materials are nylon and spandex and every brand has their own version of a thermal lining.

Minimal Panels and Graphine Liner of ION Seek Select

Zips – Whilst we mostly take the zips for granted and just yank at them to do the wetsuit up the tech around the zips is hugely important to the functionality of the wetsuit. All wetsuits at one stage where back zip suits. They are easy to make and easy for people to get in and out of, they also tend to be cheaper to make. As a zip is not waterproof, the down side of a back zip is that it is a large area to let in water. Front zip wetsuits are layered so that any water getting through the zip hits an internal pocket and then drains out without going inside the wetsuit therefor helping reduce cold water getting into the suit. The front zip does make it harder to get in and out of the suit. A zipless suit is the most tricky to put on and take off but it reduces the chance of flushing and is the most flexible suit around the shoulder area. The quality of the zip is really important, it needs to be strong (often stainless steel) and not corrode so will often be coated whilst the teeth are often plastic to stop any corrosion.

Other features – Built in hoods on full winter suits, these create a better seal than buying a separate hood.Ankle closing systems are a Velcro strap that go around the ankle to help limited the warm water from inside the wetsuit draining out as quickly. Key pockets are useful if you have a non battery powered key.


Brands Ranges Explained:

If you are going to be paddleboarding in the Summer months only then a super flexible, front zip liquid seamed suit may be a bit over kill. Or if you plan on going out all year round then you may have two wetsuits, one for the deepest, darkest and coldest months and then something thinner for the late Spring through until Autumn.

The entry level wetsuits will cater for people using them infrequently, these wetsuits will be the most budget friendly but will not feature the latest tech for warmth and flexibility.

The most expensive suits will always be the thickest wetsuits featuring the latest tech to keep you warm in the coldest environments. In the colder parts of the world these may be essential but if you live somewhere a bit warmer these could be excessive. Often these suits will have their own range and will not feature any thinner wetsuits.

With the cheapest and most expensive ranges covered each brand will have several ranges in between catering for the majority or watersport enthusiasts. It is very much a case of the more you spend the warmer the suit will be but the question you have to ask yourself is do you need it?

There will often be small ranges within a brand that will have a specific aim. Sometimes it can be a sponsored riders range, a limited edition range or a specific style range, e.g. Windproof for kite and windsurfing.

Some brands will have a women’s specific range named differently and some brand will have the same range with a women’s size and cut built within the range.

Mystic: Brand – Star – Marshall – The One – Majestic – Voltt

Mystic Womens: Jayde – Gem – The One – Dazzled

ION: Element – Core – Amp – Select – Fuse

Ride Engine: Apoc – Onsen

O’Neill: Epic – Hyperfreak – Psycho One – Psycho Tech – Blueprint

Manera: Seafarer – X10D – Magma

DaKine: Quantum – Mission – Renegade


To find our whole range of Wetsuits click here. And make sure you check out out wetsuit sale page.




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