We’ve put together a wetsuit guide in order to make wetsuit buying a little less overwhelming!
You need to establish whether you need your wetsuit for warmth, protection from the reef or rocks or protection from the sun.
Are you surfing, sailing, open water swimming, scuba, free diving or spear fishing?
Stretch and flexibility are as important as warmth and comfort. A general rule is “the more stretch the more expensive”. With today’s technology we are blessed with insanely warm suits that are unbelievably comfortable. The challenge here is matching what you want with your budget.
Here you will need something that is tough and can handle the rigours of sliding around the boat. Definitely no smooth neoprene on the surface, it will tear easily when getting hooked on cleats etc.
Designed to provide added buoyancy, warmth and reduce drag while not inhibiting your ability to swim.
Warmth is the main criteria here and an open cell wetsuit is essential. The water is generally a lot colder when Scuba diving than any other water sport. The deeper you go the colder the water. Here in the Cape it is not uncommon to dive in temperatures as cold as 6°C. Scuba wetsuits have numerous options. One piece hooded or un-hooded. Two piece with the option of pants in long-john or mid-waist and the jacket either hooded or un-hooded. Then there are all the accessories that are as important, gloves, booties and hoods.
A lot of casual free divers just use there surf suits but many use spearfishing wetsuits that are more suited to diving.
The new super soft camo wetsuits are becoming more & more popular here. Mostly in 5mm but also available in 3mm. They come standard with a chest pad for loading your speargun. The latest suits are amazingly soft & supple and the camo patterns look spectacular.
First off, you’ll see a thickness at the beginning of a product (i.e. 3/2mm or 5/4/3mm). Wetsuit thickness is described in millimetres (mm) and the number is the thickness of the wetsuit material called neoprene. A 3/2 usually means 3mm on the chest, back and down to the knees or ankles and 2mm on the arms & shoulders to make it easier to paddle or swim.
The thicker the wetsuit, the more insulation it provides. However as the thickness increases, the heavier and more restrictive the wetsuit becomes. Hence, a 3/2mm wetsuit will give you much more range and flexibility compared to a 5/4mm wetsuit in the same model.
A top-end 4/3 will be much softer, stretchier and more comfortable than a cheaper 3/2.
Where you want to use the wetsuit is important when choosing the thickness. If you surf or dive predominantly on the West coast of South Africa then a thicker warmer suit is a must. 4/3 or in extreme cases 5/4.
If you are predominantly in False Bay in summer or the East Coast up to East London the a 3/2 will suffice. Further North you will probably get away with a 2mm or a Springsuit (short arms, short legs)
If it is in the tropics then just a Neoprene vest will be adequate if you want some protection for your core & ribs.
If you are not sure of your requirements send us an email, give us a call or pull into the shop for some professional advice & help. There is no reason to be cold while living your passions & dreams!