How to Buy a Wetsuit
Revised by BoatUS editors in April 2012
The most important element in buying a wetsuit is the way it fits. A wetsuit is a tight fitting suit usually made of neoprene rubber. This suit traps a thin layer of water against your skin. The water is then warmed by your own body's heat. If you buy a wetsuit that is too big, cold water will constantly rush into the suit. The best way to describe how a wetsuit should fits is "snug with ease of movement".
In recent years there have been some breakthroughs in the wetsuit's comfort level, its ability to help keep us warm, and flexibility allowing increased ease of movement. More flexible fabric and various thickness of fabric have allowed watersports enthusiasts to do what they love longer because they can use wetsuits that are more comfortable, give greater freedom of movement and, of course, allow them to enjoy being out in cooler weather. There is a wide range of wetsuits from which to choose, ranging from very thin and supple gear designed for uses such as surfing to heavy duty gear designed for being in or under cool water for long periods of time. Often the best way to find out what’s on the market to suit your purposes is to visit both a well stocked surf shop and also a well stocked dive shop. Both should have qualified employees to help you. By doing this you can get a good idea of what best suits your needs, price ranges and what fits you best.
It’s necessary to try wetsuits on before buying. You can’t rely on sizes. Find a wetsuit that fits "snug with ease of movement". Now, try squatting all the way down and raising your arms above your head. If you can do this with ease, you probably have a good fit.