Suit Style - Steamer, Springsuit, Somewhere in the middle?
It seems like there is a different style of suit added every year, from different types of steamers to springsuits, both long and short arm, then there's long john's, we've given you a list of the main types and what will work for when you want it:
- Steamer: Full length arm and full length leg wetsuit. the perfect Winter wetsuit or if you're in slightly colder climate areas through spring and autumn, or just for people who feel the cold more than others!
- Short arm steamer: Half length arm (t-shirt style) and full leg length. Ideal for spring or short winter sets if you run a bit warmer than your average human.
- Springsuit (Springy): Short arm and Short leg length wetsuit. This is your ideal summer and late spring/early autumn wetsuit, perfect for that little bit of chill or to protect your torso and back.
- Long Arm Springsuit: Much like your standard springsuit, this one has a full length arm and short length leg, just adding that extra point of warmth if you get a little nippy sometimes.
- Long John and Short John: Perfect for people names John, these are Sleeveless in the arms (show off those biceps) and either has a long leg length (Long John) or short leg length (Short John). Frees you shoulders for paddling.
- Wetsuit/Steamer Top: Can be long arm or short arm and only covers yours torso, they can come in a zipperless pull-over, half back zip or full front zip. Perfect for a warm summer weather.
Thickness of a wetsuit can vary greatly and change between styles, from one solid thickness throughout in springsuits, johns and tops to split thicknesses in steamers. for steamers if you see say 3/2mm the first number in this case the 3 is for the thickness of the neoprene in the torso, and the second number here being the 2, is for the thickness in the limbs and high movement areas.
So what thickness should you go? In warmer temperatures and climates for steamers most people are comfortable with a 3/2mm and for summer weather 1 to 2mm in tops and springsuits is mostly comfortable. For considerably colder climates, such as winters in Melbourne, 4/3mm can keep those temperatures at bay and keep you on the water all winter. While thicker will keep you warmer, it is always handy to keep in mind that the thicker the suit gets the more restricted your movement can become.
Sealed vs. Unsealed
These days only the entry level or low cost wetsuits will not be sealed and are just stitched, so what else can there be to it? Sealed wetsuits, one where the seams of the suit are not only stitched together but also glued or sealed with liquid tape to limit water from seeping into the suit and making you cold.
Unsealed is simple:
- Flatlock Seams: No glue, just straight stitched, this is going to offer no water seal, but will kill some of the cold.
There are a few different ways a wetsuit can be sealed and the better the wetsuit is sealed the more expensive the wetsuit generally is.
- Glued Seams: The panels are glued together prior to stitching, increasing the strength of the seam and creating a waterproof seal.
- Critically Taped Seams: Tape is glued to the inside of the seam in critical areas to add additional strength where needed.
- Fully Taped Seams: Tape is glued to the inside of every seam. Neoprene tape can be used to ensure there is no loss in flexibility.
- Liquid Taped: The ducks nuts of seam sealing. A special liquid rubber is applied to the inside seam which makes it 100% waterproof.
Entry Point - Chest Zip vs. Back Zip vs. Zip Free
Like we mentioned at the start, wetsuits used to be simple, zipper at the back, easy entry. How the times have changed; with the constant advancement in neoprene and technology we now how both chest zip and even zip free, so what going to be best for you?
- Back Zip: The traditional entry wetsuit. These are arguably the easiest to get into as they open up to most. The disadvantage, no matter how much you can seal seams, you can't quite seal a zip from allowing water to seep through.
- Chest Zip: The modern way to get into your wetsuit. With the zip across the chest, you get not only a close to fully sealed wetsuit, but a wetsuit with less panels and so a more advanced stretch and greater freedom of movement. With every up there must be a down, in this case, they can be harder to get into, while the pros outweigh the cons, if you are a bigger guy a chest zip can be a harder task
- Zip-Free: Ultimate stretch at almost every point in your suit. No zip points means unhindered stretch with a double overhead seal system it also allows for zero seepage fo water. Like the Chest Zip, these are tough to get into, so just keep that in mind when purchasing
What Size Am I?
Let us start by saying that no two models of wetsuit are normally the same. They can vary between models due to different neoprenes used and different zip entry's allowing for more stretch and of course between brand sizing differently. All these play into how a wetsuit will fit you, and ideally a wetsuit should fit like a second skin, but not so tight that you feel pulled down or restricted in movement. While getting in store can be tough to test out a few different options, it will always be the best way to determine what suits you best if you're not already sure on a brand or model that works for you.
Another thing to note when purchasing a wetsuit, like anything neoprene they will stretch around 5-10% once wet and worn in, hence the second skin fit. So if you are trying on, make sure to go off of the tight fit theory as opposed to something that fits comfortable in store. If you go too comfortable in store, you will end up with a wetsuit full of water when you're out.
For a little added support when purchasing your wetsuit, we though we would expand a little on the sizing of wetsuits, as they can be a bit confusing due to the extensive range:
XS - Standard XS sizing suit for your average human
S - Standard S sizing suit for your average human
MS - A shorter M sizing suit for your shorter than average human
M - Standard M sizing suit for your average human
MT - A longer M sizing suit for your longer than average human
LS - A shorter L sizing suit for your shorter than average human
L - Standard XL sizing suit for your average human
LT - A longer L sizing suit for your longer than average human
XLS - A shorter XL sizing suit for your shorter than average human
XL - Standard XL sizing suit for your average human
XLT - A longer XL sizing suit for your longer than average human
2XL - Standard 2XL sizing for you average human
3XL - Standard 3XL sizing for your average human