10 Best Wetsuits | March 2017

We spent 25 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. Whether you are a diver, a snorkeler, a windsurfer or water skier, you'll find one of these wetsuits perfect for your favorite sport or hobby. We've included full-length and shorties, as well as models best suited for warm and cold waters. Skip to the best wetsuit on Amazon.
10 Best Wetsuits | March 2017


Overall Rank: 3
Best Mid-Range
★★★★
Overall Rank: 1
Best High-End
★★★★★
Overall Rank: 7
Best Inexpensive
★★★
10
The Storm Accessories 3.2mm women's full suit offers unparalleled comfort by letting the suit adapt to the user. It seals well at every possible water entry point, but feels a bit tight at the neck.
9
The NeoSport 7.5mm has Lycra trimmed arm, neck and waist openings for enhanced comfort, and an anatomical cut that is form fitting. It is thick enough to provide extra warmth without sacrificing flexibility.
8
The TYR Hurricane Category 1 is a streamlined version of the brand's most advanced model, and designed specifically for triathletes. The suit has excellent buoyancy, and is great for long, strenuous swims.
7
The Hyperflex ACCESS lets your kids get in on the fun, too. It comes in boys and girls sizes, both with multiple color options to choose from and, at roughly $25, it's not so bad if they grow out of it quickly.
  • heavy duty #10 ykk back zipper
  • adjustable velcro collar
  • excess water gets trapped in the legs
Brand Hyperflex
Model XA620CB
Weight 16 ounces
6
The NeoSport Premium 3.2mm women's diving wetsuit has a thicker torso to help keep your core body temperature high in frigid waters. It provides a good balance of warmth and flexibility, and it comes at an affordable price.
  • generously cut back zipper
  • thin arms and legs for maneuverability
  • sizing runs small
Brand NeoSport
Model S832WB
Weight 16 ounces
5
The O'Neill Superfreak represents the latest in cold water technology from the original and most trusted brand in wetsuits. It has a double seal neck, minimal seam design, plus tight wrist and ankles seals to keep you completely dry inside.
  • stretchy ultra flex ds neoprene
  • front upper zip entry closure system
  • integrated side key pocket
Brand O'Neill Wetsuits
Model 4408-U86-XS-P
Weight pending
4
The women's Micosuza Long Sleeve is proof that you can wear a wetsuit and look stylish at the same time. It has a flattering cut that is specifically designed for water fitness and aqua aerobics, plus bright splashes of color.
  • defends against biological irritants
  • no chemical treatments to the fabric
  • doesn't include bottoms
Brand Micosuza
Model pending
Weight 5.3 ounces
3
The Cressi Bahia 2.5mm women's wetsuit is designed for extended warm water diving, snorkeling, and swimming sessions. It offers good freedom of movement, making it a smart choice for intense water sports.
  • easy front entry zipper
  • neck, wrist, and ankle seals
  • extra protection in the knee area
Brand Cressi
Model CR04
Weight 16 ounces
2
The Seavenger Tropical Shorty is a low cost choice that is available in men's and women's options. It is made with nylon, giving it a stretchy comfort, and features an easy-reach, extra long leash attached to the rear zipper.
  • flatlock stitching throughout
  • super-stretch armpit panels
  • has a performance-enhancing cut
Brand Seavenger
Model pending
Weight pending
1
The Sharkskin Chillproof is constructed from a windproof, UV resistant, 3-layer composite material with a durable water repellent finish. Its one-piece construction not only provides protection from the cold, but marine stingers too.
  • extremely thin and comfortable
  • itch resistant and machine washable
  • neutrally buoyant for diving
Brand Sharkskin
Model pending
Weight pending

The History Of The Wet Suit

Human beings have taken to the water for tens of thousands of years. Ancient accounts of deep sea free diving tell of men routinely reaching depths of 100 feet or more below the surface for the purposes of harvesting sponges, shells, coral, pearls, and to salvage items from sunken ships. Ancient swimmers took part in everything from competitions to military campaigns, with aquatic soldiers serving as everything from scout to saboteur to raider.

In the later Renaissance, technological development finally began to alter the ways in which people entered the water. Developments like the diving bell allowed a person to spend longer periods of time underwater in relative safety, though accidents were frequent enough, and usually tragic in nature. Diving bells were employed throughout the 17th and 18th Centuries, most often for salvage work aimed at recovering the cannons, gold and silver, and other goods lost with sunken ships.

The early 1700s saw the first diving "dresses", which were designed to permit greater control by the person within and included the ability to control watertight sleeves that stuck out from the hard walled devices. Rather than merely a veritable underwater room, these diving dresses at least conformed to the general shape of their occupant, though range of motion was still dramatically curtailed.

The 1800s saw the first true diving suits. Usually made from layers of leather and/or watertight fabric and with the iconic copper diving helmet atop, diving suits of the 1830s finally allowed for true movement by a diver under the water connected to the surface by a hose (or a series of hoses). Dive times were extended and what a diver could accomplish while submerged grew in proportion.

The next great advance in diving technology came in the 20th Century, when self contained underwater breathing apparatuses (better known as SCUBA gear) first came to the fore. Liberated from tethers connecting them to the surface, divers could now range far and wide of their own accord, the implications of which were not lost on any of the major combatants during WWII. Frogman was the name given to soldiers of the era who would often approach targets underwater to conduct sapping missions or to collect intelligence.

Scuba gear would continue to develop apace throughout the rest of the century. In the mid 1900s, there was one more major development in aquatic gear in the offing: the development of the wetsuit. Credit for the conception of the wetsuit goes to a physicist working out of Berkeley, CA named Hugh Bradner. He first posited the idea that insulation provided by a thin layer of semi-porous fabric could preserve enough heat for comfortable protracted use even in cold waters, and conducted research to identify the ideal material and arrangement of the aquatic garments.

Bradner was more interested in science than in sales, however. His idea, revealed in 1951, would be seized upon by others and, by the end of the decade, commercial wetsuits were cropping up far and wide. They were soon to use by everyone from military divers to rescue swimmers to surfers to kayakers and beyond. The pairing of the lightweight, warm, and flexible wetsuit and the ever improved, ever more compact scuba systems available to the public would revolutionize sport and commercial diving in particular.

How The Wetsuit Works

Contrary to popular belief, wetsuits don't work by warming up the water trapped between the body and the suit; not exactly, at least. While that water is gradually warmed to a comfortable degree, the suits actually work by trapping in body warmth with the gas bubbles trapped in their own fabric.

Neoprene, the fabric most commonly used in wetsuits, can hold millions of minute nitrogen bubbles within its fibers, and these bubbles form a layer of reliable insulation against the ambient chill of the water. This is the concept that was first understood in a practicable way by Hugh Bradner.

The issue with neoprene is its inherent weakness and tendency to tear or to be easily punctured. Early wetsuits required their user to don them with the greatest care, and could easily become damaged to the point of uselessness. (Suits with large rips or that have been stretched out allow for so-called washing, which is when cold water rushes into the warmed wetsuit, thereby undoing its thermal properties.)

The addition of layers of backing materials, such as nylon and foam rubber. The modern wetsuit usually employs two layers of neoprene with a layer of a more durable rubber or spandex sandwiched between them.

Choosing The Right Wetsuit For Your Needs

Before you chose a wetsuit, you have to consider both the types of aquatic activities in which you participate and the places in which you will be swimming, surfing, or diving. In general, it's a good idea for most recreational users to wear only as much wetsuit as they need given water temperature and personal comfort levels.

Shortie wetsuits that cover only the upper thighs, torso, and upper arms are fine for mild to cool waters in which the wearer is only looking to maintain a warmer core temperature. These suits are great for surfers in particular, as the activity is already prone to elevate body heat, and as freedom of motion is important.

Full body wetsuits are often called steamers, a name gleaned from the steam released after a user removes his or her suit on a cool day. These neck to ankle suits can be augmented with booties and hoods for extreme cold waters, and many have double seals at the neck, wrists, and ankles which can keep their wearer almost totally protected from the cold water all around you.

For the competitive or distance swimmer, there are specially made wetsuits that are thin, sleek, and have a water repellent finish that helps their user glide though the water with minimal effort.



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Last updated: 03/22/2017 | Authorship Information

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