Kahlee talks us through some helpful tips in choosing a wetsuit, and which wetsuit to choose.
Wetsuits are an important addition to your equipment providing spearos and divers with a range of benefits. A good wetsuit will provide environmental protection from the sun, give warmth when needed and prevent abrasions from coral, reefs, wrecks or even your own catch. The spines of a large or even small fish raked up against your skin can cause some nasty cuts.
Choosing a wetsuit can be a daunting task as there are so many styles and materials to decide upon so here’s the lowdown to make it easier.
- This is the standard material used in wetsuits.
- Good for warmer water or beginners looking for a steamer (full-body wetsuit).
- Doesn’t need any lubrication to put them on.
- Offers great protection.
- Cost effective.
- Open-cell neoprene wetsuits have air bubbles which will stick to your skin providing almost a second skin.
- Inside material of the open-cell wetsuit is sticky so requires lubrication to put on. Tip: Use lubrication and baby powder or conditioner mixed with a bit of water to put on your wetsuit.
- Once on an open-cell wetsuit is on it’s really comfortable and soft.
- One of the warmest wetsuits on the market.
- More expensive than close-cell neoprene.
- More fragile material.
- Can be reversible or lined with a closed-cell neoprene on the inside.
- Smooth skin on the outside feels great to wear.
- Having a closed-cell neoprene liner means they are easy to put on and you don’t have to get cold or wet change into your wetsuit.
- Smooth skin helps protect against wind chill.
- Dries quickly
- Fragile, so not good if scraping up against bottom of a harsh surface or hunting crayfish etc.
- Great for really warm water, such as in north Queensland or northern Western Australia where putting on a warmer wetsuit can be too hot and even cause you to get dehydrated.
- Will still provide you with environmental protection. Spearos Note: Make sure a lycra wetsuit has a loading pad to provide provide protection and comfort on your chest when loading up your speargun.
- You can add a thermal to your wetsuit for added warmth.
- Thermals come in different styles.
- Fleece thermal is about 1mm thick so if you’re planning on wearing one you may need to adjust your wetsuit size.
- Titanium is more expensive but much thinner than a fleece so won’t interfere with your wetsuit size but still provide great warmth.
There are different cuts to chose from with wetsuits.
- Full body wetsuit, often used by entry level freedivers and spearos.
- Choose knee pads for if you are on the bottom. Spearos make sure your steamer has a loading chest pad.
- Usually have a zipper at the back.
- A two-piece wetsuit consists of a jacket and either waist-high pants or long john-style pants with straps to go over the shoulder, similar to overalls.
- A long john (or long jane, for women) covers your legs but doesn’t have sleeves. The way top locks with the bottom differs, but common systems are Velcro, sliding clips, and toggles.
- A two-piece long john-style wetsuit is preferable for spearos diving in colder water as there’s normally an overlap between the top and bottom so you get a double layer of warmth at your core, where you need it most.
- Very comfortable.
- High-waisted pants are much easier if you need to go to the toilet. If wearing the long john style you’d have to take your whole top off first.
TIP: If you find the wetsuit you want only has long johns but you’d prefer high-waisted pants just cut it to make your own.
The thicker the wetsuit generally the warmer it is so when deciding what thickness wetsuit to buy consider when and where you are going to be using it.
Wetsuit thickness falls mainly into three categories:
- 1-2 or 2.5mm category for warmer waters, ie 24-28 degrees celcius
- 3-5mm for cooler water, ie 16-23 degrees celcius;
- 7mm thickness for much cold water, ie 6 degrees and below.
TIP: Often you can only afford one wetsuit so in southern Queensland where the temperature can range from 16 degrees in winter to 28 degrees in summer you may just opt for a 3.5mm two-piece wetsuit. In summer you may wear your top with boardies, in those in between months wear your full wetsuit and in winter add a thermal for extra warmth.
It’s important to get the right wetsuit size to achieve optimum warmth and comfort. If a wetsuit is too big or baggy you will experience flushing or water flowing through the suit. A main purpose of a wetsuit is to stop flushing so your skin is not in constant contact with cold water. A wetsuit needs to fit snuggly but should not be so tight as to compromise comfort. When choosing a wetsuit it’s best to follow the manufacturer’s own size chart. We’ve compiled size charts for all our stocked brands to make the job of choosing the correct fit easier.
This is a matter of preference.
- People diving of spearfishing in clear, blue water tend to want a blue or blue camouflage wetsuit.
- Those hunting crayfish in rocky terrain tend to go for the browns.
- Divers or spearos on the reef might just go for a bit of a mix-up or multicoloured suit.
Caring for Your Wetsuit
It’s important to take care of your wetsuit as they are not cheap. As mentioned open-cell and smooth skin wetsuits can be fragile and may get a small cut in them now and again. Adreno sells neoprene glue to repair a small cut or even a larger rip.
Wetsuits, especially the ones made of closed-cell neoprene, can also harbor bacteria and smells. A wetsuit wash, which we sell, will help prevent any smells or bacteria building up, prolonging the life of your wetsuit.