Wetsuit Buying Guide
For those of you who aren't regular wetsuit buyers the range of products and some of the sizing can be overwhelming. In this guide we hope to steer you through the options.
The first thing to consider is thickness. For use in the UK they will range from 2mm to 6mm. Most suits will have at least two measurements, usually the higher number for the body and/or legs and the lower number for the arms and shoulders. Water temperature and weather vary widely over the seasons so one wetsuit is rarely enough for year round use.
The seams and stitching make a big difference to warmth and, as a rough guide, come in three different types.
1-Flatlock (it sits flat against the skin) stitch which allows some water through the seams and is only suitable for summer use. Only normally used on the budget end of the market.
2-Glued and blindstitched or G.B.S. The stitching does not pass through the entire thickness of the material and the opposite side of the seam is glued to reduce water entry. Most mid-priced suits use this method. A G.B.S 3/2mm is the most common suit for Cornwall between May and October.
3-Taped seams. This is really just a reinforced version of number 2. Flexible fabric tape is glued over the seams to reduce water entry even further. Most suits over £200 will have taped seams;with proper care a taped suit will last longer than others and keep you warmer.
To sum up ,if you're "up north" then a taped 5 or 6mm is a minimum requirement for year round use. Further south a good quality 4/3mm will comfortably cover Easter 'til Christmas and, if you are reasonably hardy, can see you all the way through; albeit a little too warm from June to September. Plenty of higher end suits have a fleece lining which in our experience has a similar effect to buying 1mm thicker.
SIZING- Children's wetsuits are usually sold in ages but cut and fit vary widely across the brands. Nothing can beat trying a wetsuit in the shop but if that's not possible then our brands generally fit according to this approximate guide. Shortest/Narrowest to Longest/Widest - 1 Rip Curl. 2 Xcel. 3 Quiksilver/Roxy. 4 Vissla. 5 Alder.
Men's wetsuits are usually sold in Small to XXL. With an added S to indicate short and a T to indicate tall. The sizing according to brands is broadly similar to the children's guide above.
Women's wetsuits are usually sold in US dress sizes. Generally one to two sizes different from UK sizes. For example a US 6 will fit a UK 8-10. According to the manufacturers there is only one size difference between US and UK but we think a US 6 is closer to a UK 10. Just to add some confusion, Alder use UK sizes and correspond roughly to British high street fashion sizes. The brands vary and generally Rip Curl and Xcel come up smaller than Roxy(larger top half) and Sisstrevolution, with Alder being slightly wider in the hips and more suited to hourglass shape.
If all this leaves you baffled please email or call the shop and we can talk you through our large range.