Chest zip suits are getting more and more popular. The benefits are that the length of the zip is shorter and it frees up the entire back of the suit to increase flex when paddling. CHEST PANEL
Sometimes chest panels have an interior laminate to wick water and increase insulation. Also can be on the back, or other areas on high-end suits. KNEEPADS
Flexible, yet more durable rubber is used for a high-friction area. KEY POCKET
Many suits have them on the outside, though some brands put them on the interior. BACK ZIP
Back zips are the traditional entry system. Many brands are making the zip as short as possible, as its typically the least-flexible part of a suit. DRAIN HOLE
Lets any water that slips in the neck drain out here instead of going down your suit. WRIST SEALS
Liquid tape, or similar material is put on inside of wrists and ankles to help keep out water and keep from overstretching. ANKLE SEALS
Liquid tape, or similar material is put on inside of wrists and ankles to help keep out water and keep from overstretching.
Surfers love fall because the wind mellows out, surf bounces in from the north and south making for some magical combo swell days, and the water clears out from summer madness. The other wonderful part of fall is getting a crispy new fullsuit. Sure, you're not in trunks anymore, but the neoprene is soft and comfy, the seams are sealed, and you're actually warm again. With that in mind, this guide breaks down what the best wetsuit brands have on offer this year, and it's impressive. There's a suit for every budget, from entry level all the way up to some Gucci stuff. Dig in and enjoy!
Try on more than one brand. Brands have different fits, which is the most important aspect of deciding on a suit. Some suits fit certain body types better than others, so don't be lazy, get a second (or third) opinion.
Bring a plastic bag, or ask the shop if they have one you can use. Put it over your foot and it helps to slide the suit on. The first suit you try on should go on smooth. After that, things tend to get kinda sticky.
Go to a wetsuit demo. Trying on a suit in a shop is a start, but paddling out in a suit is a way more telling experience.
Ask around. You can get some valuable feedback from word of mouth. Ask friends or people in the water how they like their suit. Also keep in mind that wetsuit brands are constantly evolving and changing fabrics and technology, so if someone tells you they had a suit from so-and-so five years ago that was horrible, the brand might not even make that model anymore, or has addressed any issues.
2010 Wetsuit Price Guide: A quick and easy guide broken down into different price ranges.
($100–$140) Mostly lower-end neoprene with some superstretch in areas. The suits on the bottom of this range will have flatlocked seams, which lets water pass through while the top of the range have glued and blind-stitched seams (GBS), making them warmer.
($190–$280) All suits in the mid-range should have GBS seams which raises the warmth of a suit. These suits are also likely to have more superstretch material and better closure systems. Also look for additional seam sealing with tape, which further improves water tightness.
($290–$400) Suits in this range will be made of nearly all high-end rubber. Seams will be sealed with additional tape, more flexible kneepads, and other design upgrades like fewer seams and panels of ultra high end material.
($400+) These will have the softest, warmest materials, and most advanced seam technology. Suits in this range will have all the bells and whistles, and be soft, comfy, and warm.