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There are numerous extra features available in some suits these days that make a real difference to a diver's comfort and performance, as well as the durability of the wetsuit. When buying a wetsuit, keep the following in mind:

  • Genuine spearfishing or freediving suit.  You should look for a 2 piece suit. Jacket with built in hood, plus long johns or pants (note that pants should have a very high waste otherwise they will want to slide down to around your crotch as you swim and become very uncomfortable).  Neoprene should be open cell and you will need to use lube.  There should be no internal lining anywhere on the suit apart from the beaver tail and a little behind the jacket clip.  Definitely no zips as they reduce comfort and increase water flow into the suit.
  • The search.  It is near impossible to walk into a store and determine which suit will be best unless you can actually lube up and move around with it.  You must really be able to slip into the suit and position it correctly.  This is why we suggest that you purchase a suit, take it home, try it on in the shower to check that the fit is right for you.
  • The fit.  There are so many divers out there with a poor fitting expensive brand name suits it is remarkable - what's worse is because these guys haven't experienced anything better, they seem happy with what they've got - until of coarse they are correctly fitted.  Baggy areas on hoods, lower back, arms etc... all contribute to poor fit, poor heat retention, and lack of comfort. The only place a suit should be a "little" baggy is around the neck and armpits.  You can even notice this on  many brands of product being advertised - have a closer look at photos in magazines and websites to see what we mean.
  • Tailoring and pre-forming are very important key features in wet suit design. Rather than a series of tubes for arms, legs and body, the most comfortable and durable wetsuits are tailored to a body shape and pre-formed to an advanced position so you are not stretching the neoprene unduly when relaxed. A well tailored suit will fit your body correctly and limit any sags and wrinkles that can hold water. You should avoid seams under the armpits as these can cause irritation and skin rash. Quality suits have integrated knee pads and in some cases elbow pads to extend the life of the suit. Quality tailoring adds cost to a suit and therefore many of these features are sadly lacking in many suits available today.
  • Water Barrier Seals at face, wrist, and ankles are a feature commonly left out of suits these days because of the added cost to the suit. These seals restrict the movement of water through the suit and help keep the diver warm. Suits with seals make it possible for more divers to use shorts during summer and many divers can forgo purchasing a thicker suit for winter. Do not under estimate the benefit of quality seals, they are a key feature which you should insist upon when buying a wetsuit. Water Barrier Seals should be at least 50mm wide and be made of a special grade of neoprene - not just of normal open cell with a different coloured outer lining so it appears as they are seals - so look carefully.
  • Wetsuit Manufacturer. A wetsuit made by an experienced, and quality accredited manufacturer will generally perform better and last longer than one which is not.  More and more suits are made in countries with cheap labour - many of our suits are also.  While you should welcome reduced prices, you should not accept a reduction in quality.  Much has been said about the lack of durability of some suits over recent years so this should be a critical selection criterion.
  • Neoprene should be supple and stretchy but not overly stretchy. This ensures comfort as the suit will conform better around curves and bumps without making you feel restricted.  Don't get caught up in the brand of the neoprene as most brands make many grades to cater for various performance and cost requirements.  A neoprene that is overly stretchy will have more air in its structure than actual neoprene - such light neoprenes will increase buoyancy, compress more easily, stretch out of shape, and quickly reduce a suit's performance.
  • Neoprene thickness - 3mm ain't always 3mm. 5mm is sometimes actually 4mm. Some suits are measured including the nylon layer so on some 3mm suits you actually get about 2.5mm of neoprene (almost 20% less insulation). Some brands quote 3.5mm - this generally includes the nylon layer so you are not getting anything extra.  We quote the actual neoprene thickness so you get what you pay for. Thinner neoprene suits have less body and can crush and stretch out of shape more easily and quickly.
  • Synthetic external lining. Various synthetic fabrics are used for the outer lining of suits. These include Nylon, Lycra, and Polyester. These fabrics add strength and provide protection to the neoprene. Although Polyester is the most durable, there isn't much in it. There is a new slick polyester superstretch fabric available in some suits that has a slippery feel which reduces friction whilst swimming.
  • Metallic inner lining is a slippery coating applied to the inside layer of the neoprene. It reduces the requirement for lube, and provides a heat retention barrier "HOWEVER" the slippery lining does not cling to your skin and therefore increases the flow of water through the suit which reduces body heat far more quickly than traditional open cell suits. The metallic lining stiffens the neoprene which reduces comfort.
  • Open Cell interior with nylon exterior is purely raw neoprene without any treatment. The neoprene comes in direct contact with the skin and literally clings to the body. Open cell suits require lubrication to get into. Care must be taken as sharp fingernails can tear the neoprene. Any inconvenience of using lubrication is by far outweighed by the additional comfort and performance obtained from such suits. Tears are easily and permanently fixed with a good quality neoprene adhesive.  The nylon exterior ads protection from the sun and reasonable protection from cuts and grazes.
  • Smoothskin Exterior suits with Nylon interior reduce friction whilst swimming and diving, reduce wind chill when on a boat, and look pretty sexy too. The nylon interior may absorb body impurities more easily, may irritate skin, and increases the flow of water through the suit which reduces body heat. The exterior of these suits are quickly damaged by the sun's UV rays, especially at the back of the head and upper back and shoulders. These suits are certainly not recommended for hunting crays as they can easily tear when foraging around reef.  Nylon interior suits should be washed more frequently to remove impurities like perspiration and urine.
  • Slick Exterior suits with open cell interior are the most comfortable, and the most expensive, but have the shortest life of all suits. They are mainly used by competition freedivers and also preferred by some spearfishers with deep pockets. These suits are also the most fragile so you will have to expect to be continually mending cuts and tears.
  • Long Johns v's Pants. Many divers prefer pants because they are less buoyant and are "aqua grogan friendly" as one diver has put it. If nature calls it is possible to drop your pants and do your business in the water - something not possible with long johns. Long Johns are preferred by most divers because they provide extra warmth but they can also be cut to just below the chest to provide the same benefits as pants.
  • Wetsuit durability.  This will differ from user to user as the life of the suit is governed by how often it is used, to what depths it is taken, and how well it is maintained.  The average spearo will use their wetsuit about 3 or 4 times a month; sometimes a little more in summer;  sometimes not at all in winter, or sometimes the reverse if we're talking about warm northern waters. A good quality suit will give the average spearo about 4 years of service, maybe more if looked after very well, less if not........If you are diving 3 - 4 days a week, and diving deeper water, your suit will not last anywhere near the average. In fact it will be worse as the suit will not get a chance to dry out properly and recover from the compression from previous dives.
  • If you are diving frequently then you should seriously consider a suit made from a crush resistant neoprene.  These suits will ensure you get the maximum possible life from your investment.
West Coast:  (08) 6102 7222     |     East Coast:  (02) 8007 6666