Wetsuits are designed for specific sports or activities. A wetsuit will protect you against water and weather conditions.
Ask yourself what you will be using my wetsuit for? Examples include: scuba diving, snorkeling, water skiing, wake boarding, personal water craft, surfing, swimming.
It is important to know the water temperature and weather conditions, where you will be using the suit. Different wetsuits should be used based upon the seasons of the year. If you are not sure call some local shops that carry wetsuits and ask them.
Wetsuits come in different construction, cuts and materials. There are several different kinds of materials and sewing constructions. A wetsuit will not keep you completely dry. A small amount of water will enter through the seams, zipper, neck, arms or legs. Your body temperature will heat the thin layer of water that is trapped between your body and the material. This may take 3 to 10 minutes. depending on the construction, materials, water temperature and your body's reaction to the water.
The different types of seam construction in wetsuits are:
- Overlock Stitch
- Flatstitch or Flatlock
- GBS - Glued & Blindstitched
- GBS with seam tape
is recommended for warm water. 65 degrees Fahrenheit and up. In a full suit, the seams are stitched on the inside. From the outside you will not see any stitching. On the inside you may recognize this construction from clothing. It is commonly used on sweatshirt and T-shirt seams. Some water may seep in through these seams.
Flatstitch or Flatlock
is recommended for warm water too, 62 degrees Fahrenheit and up. In a full Suit, you can recognize this seam from the outside. This stitch looks like railroad tracks. The interior and exterior seams look about the same. The interior seam construction is flat and is more comfortable against the body than the overlock stitch. Some water may seep in through these seams too.
is recommended for cold water. This construction is best for cold water because the seams are glued and then stitched. This seam construction looks similar to the flatstitch. It is narrower in the width than the flatstitch seam. The seams are glued and bonded together. The seams are then stitched. The thread and needle holes penetrate only the top area of the surface. Some seams are only stitched on one side. Very little water if any will seep through these seams.
Blindstitched with seam taping (fluid seal) is recommended for extremely cold water usually 50 degrees Fahrenheit and below. The seam construction is the same as above accept the inner seams are reinforced or covered with tape. Very little water if any will seep through these seams.
There are many different kinds of material. Most wetsuit manufactures will use the same materials but have different names for them. The materials have changed drastically over the last several years. The materials have become more flexible, warmer and durable. The best materials are usually found in blindstitch constructed suits. Materials come in different thickness. The thickness is measured in millimeters. Colder water requires thicker material like 7mm and 6mm. Warmer water requires less thickness like 2mm and 1mm. Most wetsuits will have a combination of millimeters. Examples include 4/3mm, 3/2mm, or 2/1mm. In a 4/3mm the thicker materials are usually placed in the torso area and the thinner material are usually placed in the arms and shoulders.