There are four key attributes to consider when selecting the right wetsuit: Warmth, Flexibility, Durability, and Fit. Balancing these four attributes makes the perfect wetsuit. Some aspects will take from another, for example if you add materials like seam tape to a wetsuit, it will become more durable but at the cost of becoming less flexible. Other features may factor in as well, such as built-in hoods, different zipper types, overall weight of the suit, key stash pockets, color, price, and more.
Four Things to Look for in a Wetsuit
Flexibility is essentially how stretchy a suit is. You’ll need a really flexible wetsuit in order to paddle with ease, perform more advanced maneuvers, and get in and out of the wetsuit without the help from a friend. The biggest factor that affects flexibility is the thickness of the neoprene. Assuming the same type of neoprene is used, the thicker the suit the less flexible it is going to be, so if you are used to wearing a 3/2 and then you go on a trip to a place where you need a 5/4/3 you will find it a lot more resistant to your movement.
The number one reason you need a wetsuit is to stay warm. If you aren’t warm out in the water, then what’s the point? The warmth of a wetsuit is most directly related to the thickness of the neoprene used. The thicker the neoprene is, the warmer it will be. Other factors to consider are seam construction, internal linings, entry systems, and the type of neoprene.
Ensuring your wetsuit is going to last is key. Generally, the seams of a wetsuit are the weakest point, so the best way to determine the durability of a wetsuit is by the seam construction. There are also many ways to reinforce seams on a wetsuit, which will be covered in this guide under our seams chapter.
Not to be overlooked, fit could easily be considered the most important factor when selecting a wetsuit. If your wetsuit doesn’t fit properly it won’t keep you warm, and it could be very uncomfortable. Getting this right can be challenging, frustrating, and a workout, or it can be an easy learning experience. We’ll go in-depth on wetsuit fitting later in this guide.