Wetsuit Guide - Water Sports Protective Apparel
A wetsuit will not keep you totally dry. Some water will seep in through the seams, zipper, and bodily extremities; and this water will be trapped in your suit and gradually warmed by your body temperature. Each type of wetsuit seam construction – overlock, flat stitch, and blind stitch – is designed for comfortable use at a different water temperature range. Blind stitch construction is usually favored by modern wetsuit makers. Blind stitch seams lay flat and are sewn with curved needles so that the stitching does not completely penetrate the neoprene layer.
Wetsuit materials have improved in quality over the years, becoming warmer, more flexible, and more durable. Wetsuit thickness is measured in millimeters; the optimal thickness depends on the water temperature, and the thickness in the torso area is often greater than around the arms and shoulders. Typically, water temperatures around 50 degrees Fahrenheit require a 7 mm diving wetsuit or a 5 mm surfing wetsuit. Temperatures around 60 degrees Fahrenheit require a 5 mm diving wetsuit or a 3 mm surfing wetsuit. Thicker wetsuits generally keep their wearers warmer in cold water, but they tend to be less flexible and restrict their wearers' freedom of movement. Real cold water? Add booties. Arctic air? Get gloves and a hood.
The three primary types of wetsuits are spring suits, full suits, and long johns. A spring suit, or shortie, covers its wearer's torso and thighs. It may have either short or long sleeves for its wearer's arms. A full suit, or steamer, covers its wearer's torso, legs, and arms, while a long john wetsuit covers only its wearer's torso and legs. In California, when the water is cold and the air is warm, a long john wetsuit is often the most comfortable choice. Wetsuit booties, gloves, and hoods are sometimes worn to provide extra warmth and protection from the elements.
Another popular wetsuit shape is the vest, which can be layered over a full suit for additional thermal protection. In Florida or Hawaii, a simple wetsuit vest may suffice to keep you warm in the water.
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Guide to Surfing Wetsuits and Diving Wetsuits
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