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like clothing manufacturers, wetsuit sizing varies. This could be down to the country it is made in, the material it is made of or how the manufacturer designs it. Here at Mike’s Dive Store we offer a 30-day returns policy to give you extra peace of mind when choosing a wetsuit but what should you take into consideration when selecting one?
- Where will I be wearing it?
Many of us own at least three different thicknesses of wetsuits to cater for a wide variety of global water temperatures. If you are only going to buy one wetsuit though, we recommend you make it a 5mm. This would be the most versatile suit to cover the broadest range of temperatures and sea conditions. A 5mm wetsuit would be suitable for both Red Sea and South East Asian waters as well as summer diving in the UK (probably layered up with an over- shortie or hooded chicken vest like the Fourth Element Thermocline 2).
A 3mm, shortie wetsuit or skin in comparison would work for destinations like the Caribbean and Indian Ocean. For chillier dives in the Mediterranean, summer UK sea dives and perhaps a Red Sea winter, we have a solid range of both 7mm wetsuits or semi-drys .
- What is it made of?
The science behind neoprene is complex. Stretch neoprene - such as that offered by Fourth Element on their Xenos 5mm wetsuit - makes a suit easy to get on and off and that is important in a hot climate. Another material with similar properties is Everflex found in the Scubapro Nova Scotia 7.5mm Semi Dry and Ultraflex as seen in the Waterproof w50 5mm. Plush linings and ankle and wrist zips can also help to don and doff a wetsuit. You can now also get wetsuits that are hypoallergenic (if you have had allergies to neoprene) and environmentally kind (without hydrocarbons or where solvent-free glue has been used).
- I always feel the cold wherever I dive!
There are lots of features in a wetsuit that can trap the warmth in and keep the cold out. Some manufacturers have added special linings that give exceptional thermal performance. The Fourth Element Proteus2 has both Themoflex and Hexcare linings, designed for prolonged water exposure. Special seals can minimise water ingress like the Aqualung Dive 7mm wetsuit, as do fluid weld or blind stitched seams. The Waterproof W1 5mm even has a spine pad to keep kidneys warm and zip barriers to eliminate water from entering.
- What additional features should a wetsuit have?
Firstly – what will you be doing with your suit? If you plan to be involved in an archaeological dig or squeezing through tight restrictions in caves, you might want to consider some abrasion-resistant kneepads like the Aqua Lung Dive 7mm wetsuit. Perhaps you are a solo diver or single traveller – in which case it is nice to have either a front loading zip - Waterproof w1 5mm - or one with a long pull chord for you to reach easily. Some wetsuits may also come with a hood hook or thigh leg pocket like the Scubapro Novia Scotia 7.5mm Semi-dry.
Mike's Dive store has access to lots of size charts to help you find the best suit for your shape. If you want a bit of extra reading to help choose which wetsuit is for you, have a read of our blog Best Wetsuits for Scuba Diving 2020, or call us for advice.