12 Misconceptions About Wetsuits

12 Misconceptions About Wetsuits

Every year we ship thousands of wetsuits to people all over the world.  We sell hundreds of wetsuits to people through our local brick and mortar shops.  Combine those two numbers, and that still doesn’t come close to the number of wetsuits we rent out every year.  We know wetsuits, and in our 30+ years of business we’ve seen and heard it all.  Here is a list of the top 12 misconceptions in our experience when it comes to wetsuits.

1-2Wetsuits Keep You Dry

This is one that a surprising number of people believe to be true.  Wetsuits are designed to let water in, then keep that water in, letting your body heat it up, thus keeping you warm.  Dry suits keep you warm and dry, wetsuits keep you warm and wet.  After all, they are called wetsuits!

2-2Wetsuits Give you Rashes

Not anymore!  In the past wetsuits did not fit as well, but now with their improved form fitted design and newer less abrasive materials like polypropylene, you will find they are far less likely to give you a rash, as long as you get one that fits properly.  If for some reason you do find yourself getting a rash, there is always the trusty rash guard to solve that problem.

3-2I Need a Dry Suit for Surfing

Dry Suits will keep you warm and dry, yes.  What you may not know is that Dry Suits are made to be loose fitting, unlike wetsuits which are form fitting.  This results in a good amount of drag, and the last thing you want to worry about is a suit that is aiding the ocean at holding you under, and dragging you back while paddling out.


Internal Taping Makes a Wetsuit Warmer

Ok…this one is pretty common, and understandable.  The thing is, when you get a brand new wetsuit, the seams are completely sealed, thus the internal taping doesn’t necessarily increase the warmth of the suit.  When it really matters is later in a wetsuits life when the glue on the seams starts to deteriorate and the seams start to leak.  Once this happens the Internal Tape acts as a back up seal, thus keeping the suit from leaking, and keeping you warmer.

5-2Hooded Wetsuits are Uncomfortable

Quite a few people complain that a wetsuit with a built in hood is uncomfortable.  It is true that hood sizes on wetsuits can vary, making them seem too tight, however, tight when you are trying a suit on in the shop, or anywhere out of the water might be just right when the suit is wet, and especially after it loosens up from multiple uses.

Tip: By turning your hood inside out and rolling it behind your head, you can make your hooded suit into a high rise turtle neck!  Thus relieving that constricting feeling one might experience while sitting in the water between sets.  Once you cool down and relax a bit, you can pull it back on.  Try it next time your out there.  You’ll appreciate the hooded wetsuit more.


All Wetsuits Are Created Equal

No way jose.  There is a lot to a wetsuit, and considering the price of a wetsuit can range from $50 to over $600, it would be absurd to not put the proper thought into your wetsuit purchase.  Wetsuits come in a wide range of thicknesses from 2mm to 6mm.  Some come without seam tape, some come fully seam taped.  Some are Glued and Blind Stitched, and some are Flatlock Stitched.  Every wetsuit manufacturer has multiple types of neoprene they use throughout their wetsuit lines with different properties of durability and stretch.  Some wetsuits have special internal linings that can make the suit warmer, dry faster, and slide on easier.  The list goes on.

Morale of the story: There’s a lot more to a wetsuit than meets the eye.  Talk to an expert if you are not sure about what to get.

7-2Back Zip Wetsuits Are Better Than Chest Zips – Or Vice Versa

Back Zips and Chest Zips both have their pros and cons, and when it comes down to it, it’s personal preference.  Back Zips are easier to get in and out of because the zipper is much longer and opens up the suit much more.  Chest Zips have a small zipper that is more difficult to get in and out of, however because the zipper is accross the chest area, and not on the back, this adds flexibily for paddling.  Chest Zips are less prone to flushing when duck diving, but some may argue they are more prone for a complete flush when getting pummeled in big surf or doing cart wheels down the face of a wave.

8-2My Wetsuit Doesn’t Fit

We know how to fit people into wetsuits, and we’ve seen it time and time again, where people think that the wetsuit doesn’t fit properly.  If you have never worn a wetsuit before you might not be sure about your wetsuit fit, and you may even think it fits wrong.  What you should know is…

  • Wetsuits are meant to be form fitting, you don’t want loose folds of neoprene, or large pockets of air/water in your wetsuit.
  • Your wetsuit will feel tight, but it will loosen up in the water considerably!
  • There is a proper way to put a wetsuit on.  Many people try to put their arms in before the suit is fully pulled up, resulting in the sense that the suit is too small or doesn’t fit properly.  Don’t get ahead of yourself and take it slowly.  Make sure your knee pads are over your knees, then make sure the groin of the suit is pulled up as far as possible.  Next work on the torso until the entire suit is pulled up near your arm pits and is smoothed out for the most part, then you’re ready to tackle the arms.  This will make it much easier to put on.
  • Don’t put your wetsuit on backwards!  If the zipper is horizontal then it is and chest zip and goes in the front.  If it is a longer vertical zipper with a long pull tab on it, then it is a back zip and goes in the back.

9-2Dive Wetsuits Work Great for Surfing

For those divers out there that want to use their dive suits for surfing, there’s a few things to know.  First of all, dive suits are cut differently than surfing wetsuits.  Divers use their arms less and their legs more.  That is, kicking with their arms behind themselves.  Therefore, dive suits are cut to allow warmth more, and not so much for performance movements.

Surfing wetsuits are cut with the arms and legs stretched out to maximize movement.  In addition, extra panels, more flexible neoprene, certain stitches and things like fluid seam welds are used.  This is not to say that surfing wetsuits are not meant to keep you as warm.  Choosing the right millimeter suit for the water temperature should be considered, along with other materials like wool lining.  Also because diving wetsuits are meant to go deep underwater where there is extreme pressure, the neoprene used is much tougher, resulting in a less flexible suit.  If you were to take a regular wetsuit for surfing down to a depth of 20 meters, it would come up flat as a pancake, and it will have lost all its water absorption capabilities.  Basically, it’s safe to say that dive suits are not cut out for surfing.

10-2It’s OK to Dry Your Wetsuit in the Dryer

No, no, no, for the last time NO!  Drying your wetsuit in the dryer will not only ruin your suit, but it also voids the warranty.  Please don’t do it!


11-2Wetsuits Stink

Wetsuits only stink if you don’t take care of them.  Just like a stinky pair of socks, you will need to wash your wetsuit from time to time.  It is best practice to wash your wetsuit in fresh water after each use, then hang to dry away from direct sunlight.

Tip: If you’re wetsuit is still smelly then try using wetsuit shampoo, it works wonders.

12-2Wetsuits Last Forever

We don’t think people actually think wetsuits last FOREVER, but there is a common misconception that wetsuits will last many years when in fact they do not. In our experience, if you use your wetsuit regularly, say four times a week, then a wetsuit will last you about a year.  This of course is a rough estimate, and you may be able to use that wetsuit after a year on warmer days, but it isn’t going to be as water tight, and thus not as warm.

Tip: Wetsuit Glue works great for prolonging the life of a wetsuit.


Tell us what you think…

Have you fallen victim to believing some of these, or do you think we missed a big one?

Let us know using the comments below.

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Matt is our chief blogger here at Cleanline Surf. He has an extensive knowledge of wetsuits, surfboards, and other surf gear and rides the products he writes about. When he isn't blogging he's answering your questions on the phone, packing up your brand new suit, or out in the water testing new gear.