The right wetsuit choice can make all the difference to your riding performance. An ill fitted or a low quality wetsuit will cause you discomfort and therefore a hindrance on your riding ability.
There are a few things to know about how wetsuits work before making your selection. Wetsuits work by trapping a thin layer of water next to your skin, your body temperature then heats this water as you work and this is what keeps you warm. To allow for this insulation process to take place your wetsuit must fit well and not be baggy, this is why we always suggest you try before you buy to avoid disappointment.
The process of your wetsuit selection:
1) What is the wetsuit being used for?
Board sports = For a wetsuit being used for board sports, stretch is an important factor. Neoprene is made from oil, and just like oil there is different grades. The higher quality neoprene generally has a greater stretch, the importance of stretch in board sports is quite clear. You need to be able to move freely and comfortably, without the neoprene restricting you movements, especially in the joints and lower back.
Less Active Sports = For sports were there is less movement, warmth and insulation are the key factors. Wetsuits now days are jam packed with technology to keep you warm; such as firewall materials and windshield, to give you that extra warm you need.
Summer = 3/2 – A 3/2 suit has 3mm of neoprene on the body and 2mm on the arms and legs. This provides the good insulation but generally used in warmer waters.
Winter = 5/3+ – Winter suit generally start with 5mm on the body and between 3mm and 4mm on the arms and legs. Some suits provide a 6/4 construction, thee suits are generally heavier but provide a greater level of warmth for them even colder days.
Flatlock Stitching = Flatlock stitching is very distinctive as a train track looking stich. Flatlock stitching is generally found on summer wetsuits or lower grade wetsuits. Flatlock allows water to flow in and out of the seams to keep a constant temperature. This stitching is not recommended for winter wetsuits as water is not trapped and therefore there is minimal insulation. But are perfect for summer suits in warmer conditions.
Glued and Blind Stitching (GBS) = GBS is generally used on winter wetsuits. The neoprene is glued together and then a tight stitching is applied to the outer side, this gives great insulation as water is trapped within the suit, as it should. The “blind” stich provides durability and a tighter seal in the neoprene giving a better level of insulation.
Fluid Seam Weld = This is the highest quality way of joining neoprene together and therefore is the most expensive, but you can really tell the difference. Two pieces of neoprene are glued together then a rubber tape is glued over the seam. There are two main advantages of a FSW suit. Firstly as there is no stitching the suits are totally flexible and comfortable, so perfect for all board sports. The rubber tape mean the suit is totally airtight and almost water proof, many FSW suit are called “semi-dry” suits as they let very little water in and provide the best overall insulation.
4) Front or Back Zip?
Back Zip = Back zip is the original and easiest way to enter a wetsuit, but there are downsides. Due to the zip being at the back of the suit the neck seal is not a total seal and water can leak down the back of the neck causing some discomfort. But with a lot of back suits, a barrier system is used, this barrier is pulled over the head before the suit is zipped up to give a better neck seal and therefore minimize the chance of water rushing down your neck.
Front Zip = Front zip may be more difficult to put on, but a front zip suit provides an even better neck seal and generally provide better back movement as there is no zip restricting movement. But it is totally up to personal preference, as some people prefer back zip even though front zip provides better protection.
Well now I am just confused…
Don’t worry if all that information is too much to take in. Here are Wet’n’Dry we are here to help! Give us a call on 01268 569988 or pop into the store and we will be more than happy to take you through our full wetsuit range to find the perfect wetsuit for you. All the staff at Wet’n’Dry have used a variety of different suit and select only the best suits to stock to make sure you stay on the water for as long as possible!