Until now, we have approached some of the pieces of your diving equipment. From mask to fins and BCD, it is time now to have a look at the wetsuit. Compared to the other items in your diving gear, the wetsuit is one that does not have such a high importance. In order to be able to dive, you don’t actually need a wetsuit.
In general, the wetsuit is built to be used in water sports such as surfing and diving. Its prime feature is to keep the wearer warm, even when they get wet. The wetsuit allows some water between it and your body which offers temperature maintenance and protects the body from scratches and cuts when coming in contact with the underwater environment.
In this article, we will be covering the different types of wetsuits and the features they have. After reading it, one should be able to choose a wetsuit based on his or her needs.
Types of wetsuit
A good way of sorting the wetsuit is by the variety of cuts it comes in. First and foremost, you should consider the temperature of the water you will be diving in. A colder water would require a thicker wetsuit, whether in a warmer water a thin one will do the job.
Shorty which the name also implies, are wetsuits with short sleeves and legs, ending just above the elbows and knees. These type of suits are designed for warm waters. The thin neoprene built will keep the core of your body warm, while giving your extremities full movement with no restrictions.
Farmer John (respectively Jane for women) comes in two pieces. One piece is the full-length legs that connect to a sleeveless jacket, which is the second piece. For slightly cold water, this is a good choice to make as it provides high core insulation. Besides that, it gives great movement for the shoulders and arms.
Full-Body Wetsuit is probably the most common one you will find. This type of suit offers protection and insulation from the neck down to the wrists and ankles. The thickness varies from one to another, offering all ranges so that it can be a choice for warm water and cold water.
After you have chosen which type of wetsuit suits you the best, it is time to move along and have a look at the features. Most of the features are shared between the types of suits and here are the ones you should keep a look out for.
Like any other of the diving equipment, the wetsuit must FIT properly on the body in order to have the most comfort underwater. If it is too tight, it will restrict your breathing and movement underwater. If it’s too large, then it will constantly let water in which prevent it from keeping you warm.
Important to remember is that on land it will feel tighter than in water. When trying one out, it should fit you like a second skin. It has to be snug without being too constricting. If one fits good but the arms and legs are too long, no worries! You can fold them without losing the insulation properties.
Gender: In general, the wetsuits are built for either men or women. Paneling and thickness will vary in gender-specific areas. The unisex ones might present you with an opportunity when it comes to pricing, but people might find the right one in the gender-specific areas.
Thickness varies from one to another. The thicker the wetsuit, the warmer the diver will remain underwater. To generalize, a 3mm thick neoprene suit will be perfect for waters with temperatures above 25℃. For temperatures between 16-24℃ a 5-5.5mm thickness will do the job and for colder water, under 16℃ a 7+mm thickness will be the right choice.
Neoprene is the material of choice when it comes to building wetsuits. Neoprene is a rubber polymer that is filled with small nitrogen air bubbles. This is what is allowing water to be trapped between the suit and your skin and which keeps the warmth inside. There are two types of neoprene wetsuit when it comes to that: closed cell and open cell neoprene.
Closed cell neoprene is one of the most common ones. They are stiffer, more durable, and with a rubbery texture that will protect you against foreign elements. These suits are mostly used for short dives as the material can get uncomfortable after a longer period of time. It is also one of the cheapest ways to go for a beginner.
Open cell neoprene is a more advanced wetsuit. It features a porous interior design that allows the suit to be more fitting on the body. The suit will fit tightly and you will usually need lubricant to put it on. It is not as resistant as the closed cell ones but its softness will make it less abrasive and more insulating. They usually come at a higher price and it’s a choice for more advanced divers.
Another aspect to consider is the seams. Different styles of seams fit better in warm waters, where others are more suitable for cold water. Choosing the suit based on seams comes down to the water temperature and in the end, the diver’s preferences.
Overlock stitching is done on the inside and they are the least effective at keeping out water. This type of stitching should be used for warm waters. Flatlock stitching rests on the outside of the suit and it looks like two pieces of material are held together by railroad style threads. The interior seaming is flat, making it comfortable against the skin, even though water still seeps through. Wetsuits with flatlock stitching should also stay in warm waters.
Blind stitching is the ideal choice for scuba diving. The material is first glued together and then stitched on the inside. This provides the most waterproof option and can include additional features such an extra stitching on the outside and a tape to cover the stitching.
Taking care of your wetsuit is not hard, but you should do it after each dive in order to extend its longevity. As for any other piece of diving equipment, it is recommended to rinse it up with fresh water after each use in order to clean it of foreign materials and salt crystals.
Do not use any cleaning products that are not specifically designed for cleaning wetsuits. Also, you should never use a washing machine to wash it and never use a tumble dryer to dry it up. Also never leave it to dry out in the sun or in the back of your car. The wetsuit should be kept outside sunlight and it should be stored on a hanger in vertical position.
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