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What kind of a wetsuit do I need?

Buying a wetsuit can be a bit on the confusing side, there are so many types and brands so deciding which one is right for you and your chosen sport can be a bit of a mine field. Here a few questions which should help you narrow down your choice…..

What do you want to use it for?

This is a very important question as it will help determine the thickness of your wetsuit. For example if the main use of your wetsuit will be surfing year round, then a winter weight (5/3mm) wetsuit is a must. This thickness will ensure you’re warm and toasty for the majority of the year, although you most likely going to need wetsuit boots and a wetsuit hood in the colder winter months of January and February.

However, if you want a wetsuit for swimming, a winter wetsuit is not the recommended choice as it will dramatically increase your buoyancy in the water making your swimming stroke more difficult and at times a bit clumsy. For this activity we recommend a lighter weight 3/2mm, or summer weight, wetsuit or a swim specific wetsuit such as an Orca wetsuit.

Which brand should I go for?

As with everything, you get what you pay for. Buying from a trusted manufacturer will ensure you get a good quality product that comes with a warranty. There are lots of wetsuit brands available now, but we find that O’Neill wetsuits, who have been pioneering in the world of surfing wetsuits for over 60 years, and C-Skins which has earned a reputation of having a no-compromise attitude to quality and value for money, are both excellent choices. We have been supplying both of these brands for many years and have found that they live up to their promise. Very importantly, in the event of a problem, both companies warranty departments have honoured the warranty without quibble.

What Size do I need?

Wetsuit manufacturers all provide sizes charts which can be used to get an idea of the size needed but, not all brands follow the same sizes, some brands have a “Slim Fit” others will be more generous.

For ladies, wetsuits generally follow clothing sizes, however, there are variations in sizes. For example, O’Neill wetsuits do a US10 Tall size which is perfect for taller ladies or ladies with a very long back.

For men, a rough guide is if you take a Medium in a T-shirt then start with a medium. Again, there are variations such as Medium Tall and Large tall that suit the taller man. Broader shoulder may mean you have to go up a size.

Having said all this, there really is no substitute for having a wetsuit fitted by someone who knows what they’re doing! We strongly recommend fitting a wetsuit before you buy, especially if it’s your first one. A badly fitting wetsuit will not keep you warm.

Long or short? Sleeves or not?

This question links back to what are you going to use it for? Casual swimmers who just want to swim in the summer months may be happier with a short sleeve/short legs wetsuit known as a shorty. This keeps the core body warm while allowing freedom of movement in the arms and legs. Swimmers training for triathlons may chose the swim specific wetsuits like Orca.

Kayakers often prefer to use a “Long John”, a wetsuit with long legs and sleeveless top which again, gives unrestricted movement in the arms.

Nowadays there are so many options to choose from, make sure you know what it is you want to do in your wetsuit and if you’re not sure contact us and we’ll talk you through the options.

How much will a wetsuit cost?

There are several grades of wetsuit within the summer 3/2mm and winter 5/3mm wetsuits. Price will vary according to a few things;

  1. Quality of neoprene – the material used to make the wetsuit, comes in different grades of flexibility. More stretch in the neoprene usually costs more but will allow more freedom of movement which is advised for swimmers.
  2. Stitching - how the wetsuit is put together also affects price, the basic “flatlock” stitched wetsuits will be cheaper than the “Glue and Blindstitched” wetsuits. A lot of winter wetsuits will have “Liquid Seams” which will again increase the price.
  3. Brand – expect to pay a little more for a reputed brand, you will get a superior quality wetsuit and a warranty with the brand name. It’s worth it.

Prices for summer wetsuits range between €69 and €160 for adult wetsuits.

Winter wetsuits range between €150 and €450 for adult wetsuits.

Kids and babies wetsuits range between €25 and €60 – for more information on kids wetsuits please look at our “kids’ wetsuits” section.

How to put on a wetsuit?

Step 1. Figure out which is the front. Sounds obvious but many an intelligent person has been fooled! If the zip has a long chord attached to it, it most likely goes to the back. Short horizontal zips at the neck go to the front of the suit.

Step 2. Holding the wetsuit in front of you, turn down the top so that it’s half inside out and you’re holding it at the waist. For the moment think of it as a pair of trousers.

Step 3. One leg at a time, slide your leg into the leg of the wetsuit until your foot comes out completely. If you find this difficult, put your foot into a plastic bag and then try again. The bag makes your leg slide through the wetsuit causing less pressure on the seams.

Step 4. Starting at the ankle, work the wetsuit up your legs using your fingers not your nails, (ladies; think tights!) Position the knee pad at the knee and continue up your thigh, working out the rolls as you go, until the wetsuit sits snugly around your hips, groin and waist – this is important, if the wetsuit isn’t pulled up enough it will feel short in the body and pull down on your shoulders. Don’t be shy to have a bit of a ‘hip wiggle’ as you pull it up.

Step 5. One arm at a time, put your arm into the wetsuit until your hand comes completely out the bottom. Position the wetsuit wrist at your wrist. Do the same with the other arm. As with the legs, work the wetsuit up your arms until it sits snugly in the armpit.

Step 6. Before you zip it up, make sure it’s pulled up high enough on the body. Give it a final pull up in the torso and base of your back. Ensure the flap of neoprene inside the zip is flat against your back. Using the long leash on the zip, pull it up. Close the collar securing snugly with the Velcro fastner.

You're in! Now get out there!

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