In a perfect world we would all be diving in warm tropical waters but in reality (where we live) it is not always warm and pristine. In fact, it is kind of cold most of the time and sometimes there is fantastic diving in cold waters you just need to be prepared for it!
In warmer places like Mexico and Australia you will need a wetsuit for warmth at lower depths or even a 2 or 3 mm wetsuit for protection against jellyfish. For the purpose of this article I will go over men's and women’s scuba wetsuits, best rated wetsuits, Cressi 3 mm wetsuits, best diving wetsuit and best wetsuits for scuba diving. I know these all fall into most of the same category but they don’t and for good reason in which I will explain the differences that will serve you best.
What To Look For When Buying a Wetsuit?
Before you jump into the best diving wetsuit we need to go over a few things that you may want to consider before you jump into buying a suit. There are a lot of variables that you want to consider before actually buying a wetsuit.
The first thing you need to consider is where you will be going diving? The reason this is that if you are planning on diving in Vancouver, Canada you will want most definitely a 7 mm or a full on dry suit. Or vice versa if you are going down to the Caribbean you do NOT want a drysuit. The chart below will give you some direction to what kind of wetsuit you will be looking to buy and making the right choice.
1. Thickness of wetsuit
Rash Guard or shorty
Rash Guard/full body shorty
Farmer John/Full w/ hood,boots,gloves
Full Wetsuit with gloves, hood, boots
< 53 degrees
This should be the FIRST thing you think about when considering a wetsuit. As mentioned above so take a look at where you will be diving, snorkeling or enjoying the water and then go and look for wetsuits
Different Kinds of Wetsuits
There are lots of different options that can help you stay warm where ever you are and depending on how cold it actual is. You can get a full wetsuit that has a hood, gloves, boots, and only your face is showing. Some brands have shorties which is like shorts and a t-shirt and for women there are long sleeve to just a bathing suit bottom. Below are the different kinds of wetsuit options.
Full Body Wetsuit
Here is your full body wetsuit that that will normally have a zipper in the back and is easy to do up and down yourself and will have a Velcro backing to hold the zipper upright and keep any extra water out of your suit. They can range from .5 mm up to 7 mm which is for the extreme cold and definitely limits your mobility.
Farmer John Wetsuit
Next off you will find the farmer john wetsuit. Now this can be beneficial in a lot of ways because you can use it as it starts getting warmer or you can buy a jacket that goes along side with it so you have a warmer core temperature and still full body wetsuit. This allows for more options and sometimes is the same price as most full body wetsuits. If you live in a place with 4 seasons I highly recommend the farmer john with the upper body suit! Look below for the upper body suit.
Upper Body Wetsuit
This upper body wetsuit can now go on its own or with the farmer john bottoms. As I mentioned it works great for the in between days and seasons or great with the bottoms.
Now you are getting into the tropical environment where you only really need a bit of protection and warmth with a shorty. Sometimes even diving in tropical places like Mexico can get cold when you are 45- 60 feet down so it is nice to have that extra little protection when you need it.
So of course women get so many options of what to wear and much like a lot of the other wetsuits these wetsuit bottoms work great. My wife recently purchased these and they are 1.5 mm and work great for snorkeling with a rash gaurd and even for diving as she sometimes gets cold.
So as you can see there are lots of options on what kind of suit to get as well as thickness. So those will be your first to thoughts before actually looking at styles and different kinds of wetsuits for snorkeling, diving, surfing or any other water sport that you may enjoy so much. Now if you really are in some cold water and your outer extremedies get real cold CLICK HERE and it will bring you to more options for gloves, booties and head covers.
What are wetsuits made of?
NEOPRENE will be your best friend when it comes to wetsuits. Neoprene is synthetic rubber that has great flexibility or mobility when it comes wearing a wetsuit to allow for mobility when you are in the water doing whatever your water hobby may be. The last thing you want to be is restricted in the water. Once you get a 7 mm wetsuit, unfortunately there is no way around that. You will have some movement but at 7 mm you will be warm and that is what matters most! Once you are in warmer waters you can use the 2, 3/2, 5 mm wetsuits and you will have lots of movement. Some wetsuits also contain nylon 2 and that is for more insulation and strength to hold the wetsuit together better.
Just because wetsuits are made of neoprene and sometimes nylon 2 as the properties but the wetsuit needs to be stitched together just like clothes or any other type of garments. The difference is that the manufacturer will glue the neoprene first and then stitch the fabric for a sold hold. Now this will prevent water from coming into your wetsuit but if you go to the mid range wetsuits that will cost a little more money you get glue on the stitching that double seals water out of the wetsuit.
There is also double stitching where the company will do the same as above but then sew from the outside as well to make it a more solid hold.
Getting further into a stronger, longer hold they will double stitch, glue and then add tape to the inside of the wetsuit so the seam is not on the body and even less likely of a chance to let water in your wetsuit.
It doesn't stop there because they have developed what is called Super Seal and rubber is used to sew the material together on the in and outside of the wetsuit with glue and you are 100% waterproof guaranteed as you are using a waterproof material to sew together another waterproof material! Makes sense right?
With that being said there are a few more features that will help you stay dry. If you look where your wrists and ankles come out there are what is called "double lock" and you will see an extra layer of fabric to keep water out. If you are in the water and a wave hits or you jump in the water water can rush into your suit. This double lock keeps the water out and from all of my wetsuits that I have owned and being in cold waters way to much this feature is worth the extra few dollars. Once you get the double lock your quality of your suit goes up as well and is definitely worth it!
Of course you need a zipper on the wetsuit because it helps you get in and out of the wetsuit properly without tearing it to shreds and if you have ever put on a wetsuit you know what I am talking about but I do have a trick later on. The best zippers I have come across are the YKK and pretty much every manufacturer uses them. They do come in metal and plastic and usually the metal zippers last longer but I have had a plastic one for years and have had no issues with it. There is a cover on the inside of the wetsuit that allows for protection from the zipper so regardless of the material it won't be touching your skin.
How it works
Now you know what kind of wetsuit to buy for warmth and thickness along with how much of the suit you need for a shorty to a full body suit. People always say that the wetsuit keeps a little amount of water in the wetsuit to keep you warm but that is false! Heat dissipates 32 times faster in water so why would you want water in your suit??? Makes no sense right. You want to have a wetsuit that is snug to the body so it does not allow water into your suit and will keep you warm!
How to fit your wetsuit properly
Getting in and out of your wetsuit can be nothing short of a pain in the you know what! When you first put on a wetsuit your best start is to take a plastic bag (I know they are not environmentally safe but this one you can pass for) and put it over one foot and slide your foot into the leg hole. Do that for both legs and arms and it will be the best thing you will have ever done. The wetsuit should fit snug, not so that you cannot move or breathe, but once you are in the water the wetsuit will have more mobility.
You should NOT be able to grab a piece of the wetsuit with your hands or fingers. It should feel like a thicker layer of skin. When the suit is zipped up you should be able to bring your hands over your head without feeling restricted. Before you zipper up the suit get someone to help you and as you are putting your arm through the sleeve get the other person to put their hand on your shoulder at the back into the wetsuit and then pull, that will allow the wetsuit to pull onto your back properly. That is your shoulder mobility and should NOT restrict any range of motion.
For your lower half of your body, if you do a squat it should not restrict or be baggy at any point. Snug to your leg and feeling good!
Your neck should not be so tight you are turning purple and if it is to tight try to open up the Velcro strap a little bit and see if that helps. Once you are in the water it will loosen up so not to worry, remember it is like a second skin you are wearing!