How To Choose A Wetsuit



A wetsuit is usually worn by surfers, divers, and others water sports.  The suit provides thermal protection against cold water temperatures, abrasion resistance, and some buoyancy. Wetsuits are usually made of neoprene, which has an excellent chemical stability and maintains flexibility over a wide temperature range. So the thicker the wetsuit' neoprene, the warmer it will be. Keep in mind that different wetsuits styles are made for different seasons and different water temperatures. Also, other factors such as your sensitivity to coldness, the wind, activity, and time in water also need to be considered.



As mentioned before, one the most important features of a wetsuit are the thickness of the neoprene. Wetsuit thickness is measured in millimeters.  The following are the ranges you will find in nearly any brand: 0.5 - 1 MM, 2 MM, 3 MM, 4 MM, and 5+ MM. The first number refers to the thickness of the neoprene in the torso area, the most important area of your wetsuit that protects against hypothermia. The second number relates to the thickness in the legs area, and if there is a third number, it refers to the thickness in the arms area.   That is why the thicker neoprene is placed where you need less flexibility (your torso), and the thinner neoprene is used where your body is constantly in movement (arms and legs).

Below is a comprehensive guide for the wetsuits thickness for different water temperatures and corresponding wetsuit type.  


Water Temperature Range (°F)

Wetsuit Thickness

Wetsuit Type

Seal Type





65°- 75°

0.5 mm - 2/1 mm

Top / Shorty


62°- 68°

2 mm - 3/2 mm

Springsuit / Full Suit


58°- 63°

3/2 mm - 4/3 mm

Full Suit + Boots


52°- 58°

4/3 mm - 5/4/3 mm

Full Suit + Boots + Gloves + Hood

Sealed and Taped

43°- 52°

5/4 mm - 5/4/3 mm

Full Suit + Boots + Gloves + Hood

Sealed and Taped

42° and below

6/5 mm - 6/5/4 mm

Full Suit + Boots + Gloves + Hood

Sealed and Taped



The fit is also an important feature to consider when shopping for a wetsuit. The improper fit will hinder your movement in the water, expose your body to cold, and cause discomfort while in the water.  So make sure to find the correct fit and size for your body type to enjoy the experience to the fullest.  A wetsuit should fit snug to your skin and tight to keep you warm but still allow for mobility and movement. If your suit is loose it will allow too much water to get trapped in the suit, making it less effective at keeping you warm.  Be careful of how tight your wetsuit is!  You want to be able to move your legs and arms freely and also allow for your blood to circulate.  A very tight fit can cause your blood circulation to slow down or even stop which is extremely dangerous.  Next important area to watch for is the neck. Neck fit is also important to prevent abrasion and skin rash.  Most women wear a swimsuit underneath for extra layer of protection.

** Check out the video for tips on how to properly fit a wetsuit

Some other considerations:


There are different styles of wetsuit available in the market today.  Wetsuits with front zippers, back zipper, most common, and no-zipper. Check out the video for more details on zipper types.


In the video shown above, no-zipper style is ideal for comfort reasons.  It is easier to put on, and most importantly more comfortable and fast to take off.


This is the classic wetsuit style and the most popular among surfers. Zippers are usually the length of the spine and have a long cord attached for self-zipping. Like the no-zipper style, this style is also easy to wear and take off. However, the water can get through the seams on the back zip, which can become a significant deterrent in cold situations.  The back also hinder the flexibility and movement of your back.


This style is less likely to cause rashes and a zipperless back with a greater level of flexibility.


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