One of the parameters you should pay attention to is the water and air temperature and the wind speed in which you will be using the wetsuit. If you are buying a warm-water wetsuit you can probably go for a cheaper wetsuit, but with colder water, you can find yourself in a very discomforting position to compromise on quality.
Of course, just because foam is expensive doesn’t ensure high quality. Whether you are buying the 1st or the 15th wetsuit, there are 10 things to know. This is so that you can make the best choice based on more than just the price of the wetsuit.
- Nomenclature of foams can be misleading
Foams are usually marked with the thickness of the neoprene, e.g. 6/4, 5/3, 5/4, 4/3, 3/2, 2/2, this translates into the heat in the foam, e.g. 6/4 foam would be the warmest and designed for cold water, 2/2 foam is the thinnest and therefore best suited to warmer water. The point is that brands use the same thickness designation for their foams, but it doesn’t always mean the same foam heat.
- The thickness of the neoprene can be confusing
The most important part of spearfishing wetsuit is the material it is made of, i.e. neoprene. In all wetsuits, the thicker the neoprene is, the warmer the wetsuit will be. Neoprene is essentially rubber filled with millions of bubbles of nitrogen and gas, and it is extremely ineffective at conducting energy, meaning it slows down the rate at which the body gives off heat to the water.
The manufacturers use similar thicknesses of neoprene on the label. Others use total thickness, including the lining. In case, if you ever experienced a surfing wetsuit that feels warmer than another wetsuit of the same thickness. it may mean that this neoprene is thinner even though it is the same value on the label.
- Not all neoprene is the same
How is neoprene made?
There are two ways to make neoprene. The original process of making neoprene was based on the use of oil and petroleum-based chemicals that were polymerized to turn the chemicals into a rubber-type chip called chloroprene. These chips were then melted and other ingredients such as foaming agents were added to form neoprene.
Another thing to consider is the mesh, Closed Cells neoprene lining versus pure Open Cells neoprene without lining. Closed Cell has a neoprene top lining for easy donning, and the more durable Open Cell surfing wetsuits have no lining so the neoprene adheres directly to the skin. The big advantage of the open cell surfing wetsuit is that it is glued to the skin, making the seal between the body and the foam super tight which means less water and that the collected water is much warmer. In addition, the open cell surfing suit is much more flexible. The disadvantage of unlined foam is that it is very difficult to put on or take off and you will usually need some lubricant.
- The seams and types of neoprene joining matter
One of the biggest differences between cheap wetsuits and expensive wetsuits is that when sewing cheap surfing wetsuits or spearfishing wetsuits, overlock or flatlock stitches are used, which pierce many holes in the neoprene. It means that water can get inside and the foam will be much colder. Stay away from wet wetsuits that use overlock or flatlock seams, unless it’s a wetsuit for warm weather. Some surfing wetsuit or spearfishing wetsuit manufacturers go a step further and stick neoprene panels on the inside which makes the wetsuit much warmer.
- Placement of the zipper
Cheap wetsuits are more often equipped with a zipper on the back as it is suitable for using surfing wetsuits in warm conditions. Using such foam in colder months is a different story. There is nothing wrong with wearing a wetsuit in warm conditions. A wetsuit for the cooler months is another story. More expensive wetsuits often have a zipper at the front, which is often harder to put on, but inside there will be much less water, making them much warmer.
Let’s say you have top-notch surfing wetsuits and spearfishing wetsuits, such as 5mm. It has high-quality neoprene, its panels are welded and seam-free, and it has nice seals around the legs, arms and neck, but has a back zipper that makes it less effective. Because water can get inside your surfing wetsuits or spearfishing wetsuit easily when you fall. As a diving suit, it would probably be fine as divers move differently. While in surfing wetsuit and spearfishing wetsuit, especially when we practice new tricks, there are various body movements.
- The flexibility and purpose of the foam
Do you have a thick spearfishing wetsuit and would like to use it for spearfishing are you wondering if it’s a good idea? Divers move differently than surfers, and for this reason, spearfishing wetsuits are often made entirely of the same thickness of neoprene, in this case, 5 mm. Such spearfishing wetsuits will decay quickly and will acquire holes in the armpit and start to let water out, which will make such a suit useless.
- Wind and water resistance
Another aspect to consider is the resistance of the foam to wind and water. If you spend most of your time surfing or spearfishing.Windmesh technology will help protect you from the wind and keep you warm inside your spearfishing wetsuit. Water and wind are better drained away on a Windmesh neoprene spearfishing wetsuit compared to a nylon lining that can absorb water and wind.
- Inner lining
A good inner lining is desirable in both surfing wetsuits and spearfishing wetsuits. Expensive wetsuits have a special lining that prevents the water from moving inside the suit once it gets there.
Topnotch surfing wetsuits and spearfishing wetsuits feature a Fox Fleece sealing and quick-drying lining. The Fox Fleece lining has high bristles and thus traps air, providing the foam with additional insulation. It retains less water, which makes the fabric quick-drying.
- Foam adjustment
The fitting of a surfing wetsuit or spearfishing wetsuit is a very important factor. You might have the best-designed wetsuit in the world, made of the best materials possible, but if it doesn’t fit you properly, it will be useless.
Your surfing wetsuit or spearfishing wetsuit needs to be as tight as possible around you. Any spaces between you and the wetsuit will not function as well as a well-fitting wetsuit where there is minimal or no water inside. Remember, the less water that gets inside, the warmer the foam will be.
- Age of the foam
Foams age over time. All wetsuits including surfing wetsuits and spearfishing wetsuits will age after every dive/spearfishing. Nitrogen bubbles escape from the neoprene, which in turn lowers the insulating properties. The old 6/3 foam can be colder than the new 3/2.