Very comfortable and soft. Features light sleeves and good shoulder movement. Full range of motion. 5 mm wetsuit offers maximum buoyancy. Perfect for open-water swimming.
Runs a little small, so consider ordering up a size. Some customers say the neck is a little tight.
Comes in male and female sizes. Well made, with flat stitching for comfort and rubber reinforcement in stress areas. Extra-long leash and YKK zipper add convenience. Looks and feels good.
Suit can be hard to pull on, due to the zipper not going far enough down the back. Sizes run a little large for women and a little small for men.
Available in a few different color combinations. Very comfortable and warm. Fabric and stitching are high quality. Suit is easy to get on. Gives you a lot of freedom of motion.
Some buyers claim it runs a little small. Some of them have a strong, lingering odor. The zipper on the back unzips itself in large waves.
Comes in a few different color combos. Good for scuba and other water sports. Has reinforced knees for paddle boarding and surfing. Good quality for the price. Holds up well.
Runs a little small, so think about ordering up a size. Some quality issues reported with the seams ripping.
Great for swimming and snorkeling. Reinforced knees give you more padding for surfing and paddle boarding. Easy on and off. Nice no-logo look at a great price.
Runs a little small, so consider ordering up a size. Some complaints of fit around ankles and wrists being too loose.
You might look cool hanging ten in your favorite bathing suit, but there's nothing cool about catching a chill or scraping yourself on the ocean floor. Whether you’re surfing, wakeboarding, or swimming in open water. wearing a wetsuit is a more practical option,.
But wetsuits can seem baffling to the uninitiated. What with various entry styles, cuts, thicknesses, and stitching, not to mention a heap of specialist jargon, checking out the product description of a wetsuit can seem like reading a menu in a different language.
Never fear. We at BestReviews are here to help. Read on to learn how to pick the best wetsuit to fit your needs. You'll also find some of our favorites to make shopping even easier.
Full-body: Full-body wetsuits are perhaps the most common. These cover the arms down to the wrists and the legs down to the ankles. Unless you live in a tropical climate or in a region with very hot summers, you'll probably want a full-body wetsuit.
Sleeveless (or Long John): Sleeveless wetsuits cover the legs but not the arms. These are designed for people who still want extra warmth and coverage on their legs and torso but enjoy greater range of motion in the arms. This isn't an extremely common type of wetsuit, but it's out there for those who need it.
Short: Short wetsuits (or "shorties”) are wetsuits that come down to just above the knee and have either short T-shirt-style sleeves or no sleeves. These wetsuits are designed for use in warmer climates where a full-body wetsuit isn’t needed.
Back zipper: Until recently, almost all wetsuits had zippers up the full length of the back. Even with a cord attached to the zipper pull tab, these wetsuits can be awkward to get in and out of, and the long zipper increases the chances of water seeping into the wetsuit. If you choose a wetsuit with a zipper, check whether it zips top to bottom or bottom to top. While different users have their own preference about this, you could find a bottom-to-top zipper is more likely to accidentally come undone in the water than a top-to-bottom option. However, a top-to-bottom zipper at the back can be more difficult to fasten by yourself.
Chest zipper: A lot of the newer wetsuits have a shorter chest zipper, sometimes running diagonally across the chest, which many users find more flexible and comfortable.
Cord: You can also find some suits with front entry and a cord closure instead of a zipper.
Zip-free: Some wetsuits are so stretchy that you can get in and out of them without a zipper.
Wetsuit thickness is measured in millimeters (mm) and ranges from 1 mm to 6 mm.
Use a 1 mm suit in warm water over 68°F.
Use a 6 mm wetsuit in cold water below 50°F.
Obviously, a thicker wetsuit will keep you warmer, but it’s less flexible, which can limit your range of motion. That’s why you'll find wetsuits with thicker material through the torso to keep your vital organs warm and thinner material on the arms and legs for flexibility.
If you come across two numbers separated by a forward slash, it refers to the thickness. A 5/3 wetsuit, for example, is a wetsuit that's 5 mm thick on the torso and 3 mm thick on the arms and legs.
To minimize water entry, look for wetsuits with glued, taped, or liquid seams.
Glued seams are glued before stitching to limit the water that gets into the wetsuit. This is a common type of seal found on seams in cheaper wetsuits, but it isn't as effective as some methods.
Taped seams use a special watertight tape adhered to the inside of seams. They may either be spot taped (with small pieces of tape in areas where water is most likely to come in) or fully taped (taped all the way down the length of the seam).
Liquid seams are generally only found on more expensive wetsuits, and they're the best option out there. The seams are sealed with a special liquid rubber that's not only flexible and comfortable but also 100% watertight when dry.
Most wetsuit seams are either flatlock stitched or glued and blindstitched (GBS).
Flatlock stitching involves layering panels over the top of one another and stitching them together through the material. This allows for more water to get into the wetsuit, which is great for maintaining a cooler body temperature in hot weather but not ideal when you're in cold water. Flatlock stitching is generally only used for thin summer wetsuits.
GBS wetsuits are glued together and only stitched on one side rather than all the way through the material. This enables less water to get into the wetsuit and so is good for use in cold water.
It’s important to choose a wetsuit that fits correctly. Too small and it will be hard to squeeze into and uncomfortable. Too large and it won't keep the water out effectively and you'll get cold quickly, especially in cool water. Different wetsuit makes and models fit differently, so it's important to measure yourself and check your measurements against the manufacturer's size chart. These charts are usually right, but they aren't infallible, so be sure your chosen wetsuit comes with a good return policy, just in case.
Some wetsuits designed for cold water contain additional insulation, especially around the torso, to keep vital organs warm.
Reinforced knees on a full-body wetsuit will help the suit last longer.
Wetsuits vary widely in price, from as little as $30 to around $1,000.
Assuming you only want a wetsuit for occasional recreational use, you shouldn't need to spend more than $100, but don't expect the latest technology or features.
For more regular use, we'd recommend a wetsuit in the $100 to $300 price range. You can find some great wetsuits at this price that are more than good enough for most hobbyists.
If you need a wetsuit for professional use or high-level amateur competitions, expect to pay between $500 and $1,000 for a top-quality option.
It's important that your wetsuit is comfortable and flexible enough to allow for good range of motion in the water.
Decide if you need other accessories. If you’re in very cold water, you might require wetsuit boots, gloves, and hood.
Check the number of panels on your chosen wetsuit. Fewer panels equals fewer seams, which reduces the likelihood of water getting into the wetsuit and possible irritation from seams rubbing on your skin.
Choose a wetsuit with a good seal at the neck and cuffs. This will help prevent water from entering the wetsuit.
If you don’t find a wetsuit in our top five that’s right for you, don't worry. There were several more options we like enough to give honorable mention. The Xterra Wetsuits Men's Volt Triathlon Wetsuit is so comfortable and flexible that it's perfect for open-water swimming whether in competition or just for fun. If you're looking for a suit for use in warm water or to layer under another suit for extra insulation, the NeoSport Women's Premium Neoprene Full Suit is an outstanding choice. Now, let's talk shorties. If you're not looking for a full-body suit, we have some excellent recommendations. The Seavenger Navigator Shorty is a solid yet affordable choice that's available in both women's and men's sizes. We also love the O'Neill Men's Reactor Back Zip Spring Wetsuit with its flatlock construction and superseal neck.
Q. What are wetsuits made of?
A. Wetsuits are made of neoprene. This closed-cell synthetic rubber is an exceptional insulator, which is why it's ideal for keeping you warm in the water. It also improves buoyancy, which is a plus for many water-based activities.
Q. What can I use my wetsuit for?
A. When you think about wetsuits, you might think of scuba diving or surfing, but there are plenty of other activities for which a wetsuit is useful. Many people wear wetsuits for open-water swimming, including triathlons and Ironman events, especially in particularly cold water. You might also wear a wetsuit for windsurfing, kayaking, wakeboarding, river rafting, or sailing.
Q. Do you always need a wetsuit for surfing?
A. There's no requirement to wear a wetsuit while surfing, but you might want to for a number of reasons. First, if the sea is cold, it would be silly to surf in just a bathing suit. A wetsuit can help keep you warmer. If you're surfing in an area where the seafloor is rough or rocky, a wetsuit will help protect you from abrasions. What's more, some people get a rash on their torso from board wax, which can be prevented by wearing a wetsuit, even if it’s only a shortie.
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