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Wetsuit 101

Insulation

Wetsuits insulate your body in two ways:

  • First, they trap a thin layer of water between your suit and skin to reduce heat loss. That's done by the neoprene, which traps nitrogen bubbles to provide the insulation.
  • Second, by keeping cold water away from your skin, you receive further insulation

Thickness

  • Thickness is expressed in millimeters
  • Thicker wetsuits provide greater insulation but less mobility
  • If your diving conditions vary from the extremes, you should buy the thickest wetsuit to cover your needs
  • Refer to the chart below to help determine the appropriate wetsuit based on the water temperatures where you plan to do your diving

Styles


Shorty

These are one-piece, short sleeve shirt and short set best in waters over 72 degrees to take the “edge” off the water temperature


Full-length

This suit has long sleeves and legs that extend down to the ankles. For water less than 72 degrees.


Farmer John/Jane

Two-piece suits that make it easier to get off and on and to provide double the warmth for your core. They can be worn separately if temperatures permit.


Front Zipper vs Rear Zipper

Rear zippers come with a pull string to make it easier to put on and take off. A common misconception is the rear zipper is more difficult to take on and off. You do have to be able to grab the long leash to pull on and off but removing the suit is much easier with a rear zipper. You pull forward to remove vs pulling backward with a front zipper. Still about 75% of our suits sold are front zipper. In the end it comes down to what you are most comfortable with and look.


Arm and Leg Zippers

Some wetsuits come with arm and leg zippers, these do make it easier to put on and take off the suits. You should consider if you have larger hands and feet. One thing to consider is the more zippers the more expense and the more that could wear out down the line.


Materials and construction

  • Most wetsuits use neoprene, a synthetic rubber that is waterproof, insulated and flexible
  • Lycra, a type of nylon, is used in thinner suits. These are more flexible but are most appropriate for diving in warm and shallow waters.
  • The inside and outside of wetsuits typically have a nylon fabric laminated to the neoprene. This helps resist tearing and abrasion.
  • Manufacturers use different stitching techniques to increase the seal at the seams. These are usually glued and blind stitched or glued and taped. TommyDSports uses the highest quality seals, glued and double blind stitched.
  • Zippers are very important, without a good zipper, you are literally stuck. TommyDSports uses the best in the world, YKK #10 zippers which are corrosion free.

Layering & Rashguards

When snorkeling or diving in warm tropical waters, Lycra rashguard tops and shorts may be all that is required. These protect you from UV rays and scratches or abrasions from dive gear or the environment (such as jellyfish). They are great for controlling the amount of sun you get, much less body area to keep lotioned. For cooler waters, many divers obtain additional warmth by layering Lycra rashguards under their wetsuits. (They also make putting on a wetsuit much easier)


Tips and Tricks

A wet wetsuit is harder to put on than dry because it sticks to your skin and it won’t go on. So to do it faster, put a plastic grocery bag on your leg or arm before you push it through your wetsuit. Your arms/legs will slide right through.

The other trick is to have a dry rash guard, put it on before you get into a wet wetsuit and you won’t feel the cold neoprene on your body.