Find the Right Wetsuit:
Wetsuits are a key component to extending your boating season. In addition to water temperature you’ll want to keep a few other things in mind, like sensitivity to cold, wind and your level of activity. To help better understand what to look for in a wetsuit, we created this guide to finding the right one.
Wetsuit thickness is measured in millimeters. It is usually divided into two numbers, the first number representing the thickness surrounding the torso, and the second number representing the thickness on the arms and legs. There is thicker neoprene in the torso to prevent hypothermia and thinner neoprene in the arms and legs to allow more flexibility while riding.
The colder the water, the thicker you want your wetsuit to be. Also consider accessories, such as gloves, booties and a cap.
At the proper size, your wetsuit will fit snug. The neoprene will stretch approximately 15% once wet, so when wearing it dry you do not want bunched up material, especially on your back, arms and legs where most water seeps in. However, you should be able to move easily without pressure when trying it on dry.
Back zippers are the most common type, made with a long zipper handle so that you can enclose and release yourself. The upside to the back zipper is that it is the easiest to get in and out of, but on the other hand it takes in the most water. Some wetsuits are made with double neck seals or draining systems to prevent water entering through the back zipper.
Chest zippers lie across your chest and make for more back flexibility and prevent water from draining in. In addition, it may be more comfortable once on without itchy zippers rubbing on your skin. The downside to the chest zipper is that it can be difficult to get in and out of by sliding in through the open zipper and securing one arm in before pulling the neck piece over your head. The easiest way in and out of these is by flipping the top half of the wetsuit inside out and stepping in, then pulling the top half up and over.
A drysuit, available in a full or hybrid version, are best for fall/winter water. It is made of nylon or neoprene with neck, arm and ankle seals to completely avoid water from entering. With a loose fit, warmer clothes, such as a sweatshirt, can be worn underneath for extra comfort and warmth. The O’Neill Boost and O’Neill Fluid are great options for drysuits.
A full wetsuit covers your entire body and is usually available in a 5/4 to 3/2 mm. Our most commonly sold wetsuit is the O’Neill Epic 4/3 Full Wetsuit.
A shorty wetsuit comes with either long or short arm sleeves and short leg coverage, ideal for spring. They are usually a thickness of 2/1 mm. We recommend trying the O’Neill Reactor II 2 mm Spring.
Neoprene tops are made with 0.5-2 mm and are best suited with swim trunks or a bikini for those warmer days. They can also be paired with a wetsuit for added warmth. O’Neill Reactor II 1.5 is a popular option for UV protection and minimal warmth.
Rashguards are lightweight tops, long or short sleeve, made out of Lycra, a UV protectant material. They are used to protect your skin from the sun or sand or can be worn under a wetsuit to prevent skin irritation. Oneill Skins L/S Crew is sleek, comfortable, and a great protector.