A wetsuit creates a barrier against the elements using the insulating properties of neoprene. By trapping a layer of water between you and the wetsuit, your body is able to heat the water up and thus keep you warmer. However, the looser the fit the less effective your wetsuit will be as more water will be able to circulate around your body. Your wetsuit should be a snug fit all over but comfortable to wear as well. However, from our experience, we find that customers prefer children’s wetsuits to be about one size bigger as:
a) They last longer
b) They are easier to put on.
This last point should be borne in mind if you are considering a child’s full wetsuit as small, flexible legs and neoprene do not mix very well! If a wetsuit is a bit loose or you need some more insulation you can always wear a rash vest or thermo vest underneath. Wetsuits come in a range of thicknesses from 0.5mm upwards. As a general rule >1.5mm tend to be for use under a standard wetsuit or for surface sport use abroad. 2mm – 3mm tend to be for summer surface use only. 3mm – 5mm winter surface use or dive suits abroad. 5mm + tend to be dive suits (although we recommend 7mm for UK diving.) The main point to consider is that the thicker the wetsuit the less flexible it will be. All wetsuits also offer UV protection.
PUTTING ON A WETSUIT:
When putting a wetsuit on you should (seems obvious but as we see in the shop every year it’s not) remember that underneath you will most likely have your swimming gear on and not your normal clothes! Also if you have sharp fingernails take care as you can tear the neoprene and for the same reason, remove watches, chunky jewellery etc. First, check that the suit is either front zip or back zip then when it’s the right way round put your feet in and pull your suit up to your crotch making sure that the knees are where they are supposed to be and so is the crotch (the saggy crotch look is not great!). Next, pull the suit up to your chest area before you put your arms in & get your armpits to where they should be. Once the suit is on and zipped up adjust the arms to suit i.e. pull them up in stages (this will ease the tension across the chest) starting at the wrists.
When removing a wetsuit it is best to pull the suit off inside out, then rinse the suit out with cold water and hang to drip dry. If you do this whilst it’s inside out then the inside dries first (it’s never pleasant to put a wet wetsuit on!) and the sun does not bleach the colours out quite so quickly.
A point to remember when you first see a drysuit is that unless it is a neoprene drysuit you will be surprised at how tall the suit is. This is to allow the wearer to bend their legs, move their arms etc as there is no stretch in the material. If it is too tight around the neck, wrist, ankles then some suits allow you to trim ‘rings’ off the seals to get a more comfortable fit (just don’t overdo it).