Buyer's Guide: How to Choose a Wetsuit

December 10, 2015

There are so many wetsuit options out there for all kinds of water sports - 4/3, 3/2, steamers, shorteys, farmer johns, short johns, full suits, neoprene - how do you choose the right one?!

Nathan from Ocean and Earth explains everything you need to know to choose the right wetsuit for you.

What type of wetsuit should I choose?

Steamer suit

Owning a steamer wetsuit is essential for anyone living in the southern states of Australia. Steamer wetsuits have long arms and long legs, providing the best option to keep you warm in cold waters.

Steamers come in a variety of different thickness options and cater for even the most die-hard surfers that are brave enough to be in the water through winter.

See also: How to surf 101

Short arm / long leg wetsuit

If you live in northern parts of Australia, or if it's getting particularly warm in the southern states over summer, a short arm / long leg wetsuit could be the best option for you. A short arm / long leg suit will normally be the same thickness all over and is obviously not as warm as a steamer.

Spring suit

A spring suit should really be called a 'summer' suit because it is only used on hot days. A spring suit has short arms and short legs and is normally thinner than the above two options.

See also: What board is right for you?

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What thickness should my wetsuit be?

The thickness of the wetsuit material is measured in mm's and represents the thickness of the torso area and the extremities.

The thickness of a wetsuit will normally be described as a '3/2' or a '4/3'. The first number is the thickness of the wetsuit material around the torso; the second number is the thickness of the wetsuit material around the arms and legs. For a '3/2' wetsuit, the torso area is 3mm thick and the arms and legs are 2mm thick.

There is a wide range of wetsuit thicknesses, from 6/5 if you live in the southern states and spend a lot of time in the water during winter, to 2/1 if you live close to warmer waters.

The torso area is thicker to keep your core body temperature up, while the arms and legs are thinner to allow for greater movement.

See also: Seven easy steps for putting on a wetsuit

What type of wetsuit construction should I be looking for?

Your budget and frequency of use will determine the type of wetsuit construction you should be looking for.

Flatlock seams

Flatlock seams are a cheaper wetsuit option. The flatlock seam construction does allow water in, which is fine during the summer months, or if you live in northern Australia. Obviously letting too much water in is not ideal in colder waters.

Fully-sealed suits

Fully sealed suits offer the greatest amount of protection and warmth. They are glued, blind stitched and have taping around the whole suit, reducing the amount of water getting in.

See also: Dave Porter is shaping sustainable surfboards

How do I get the right fit?

A common mistake people make is getting a wetsuit that is a size too big. The wetsuit may feel restrictive when you first put it on, but once it is in the water and has been worn in, you should feel as one with your new suit.

If you do get a size too big it will let in a lot of water, greatly undermining the benefits of the suit.

When you try a suit on it should feel snug and allow for normal movement. If there are loose areas or the suit doesn't feel snug, try a size down or another type.


To help you find the best local waves, here is a list of Australia's best beaches!

Check out the best beaches in Victoria

Check out the best beaches in New South Wales

Check out the best beaches in Western Australia

Check out the best beaches in Queensland

Check out the best beaches in South Australia

Check out the best beaches in Tasmania


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