Surfdome stocks a huge selection of wetsuits for every requirement - ranging from the best value for money to the best money can buy. Buying a wetsuit can seem complex at first but our experienced team have put together this Wetsuit Buying Guide to ensure all your questions are answered and to make your decision an easy one.

The type of wetsuit that you are looking for will generally be decided by a combination of two major factors, wetsuit neoprene thickness and wetsuit design as they influence how warm the wetsuit will keep you in varying water temperatures. Your final choice will also be dependent on the water sport you are participating in i.e. surfing, wakeboarding, kite boarding, windsurfing, sailing, scuba, etc.

Please use the links on the right to access the information you are looking for.

Wetsuit Thickness

Wetsuits are all constructed with neoprene, which is a stretchy rubber compound. Wetsuit neoprene varies in thickness and in general a thicker neoprene is required in colder waters to ensure you have more insulation around your body.

Wetsuits are often a combination of 2 or 3 different neoprene thicknesses, for example a 5/4/3 refers to a wetsuit with 5mm neoprene in the core body areas, 4mm for the limbs and 3mm in areas that require more flexibility.

The table provides a good summary of the neoprene thickness you would typically find a surfer using in varying water temperatures.

1mm Wetsuits

CLICK HERE for all 1mm Wetsuits

Made from either 0.5mm or 1mm of neoprene, these wetsuit tops or short wetsuits generally have the same design as a regular lycra rash vest but are either lined to retain heat or are made from thin neoprene.

They are often known by a variety of names, such as Thermal Rash Vest, Titanium Rash Vest, Polypropylene Top or Wetsuit Top. They offer minimal restriction to the paddling motion or for general water sports use and provide some protection from board rashes, wind as well as mild water temperatures.

A thermal wetsuit top is a valuable addition to any water sports enthusiasts’ wardrobe as they are perfect for summer riding in temperatures above 23 degrees. They can also be used under a wetsuit for that extra layer of warmth in the depths of winter.

The design of the thermal tops are commonly t-shirt, long sleeve t-shirt or vest, although 1mm wetsuit shorts are also commonly used in water sports such as wakeboarding, kite surfing and kayaking to provide additional padding and protection.

2mm Wetsuits

CLICK HERE for all 2mm Wetsuits

2mm wetsuits are most commonly found as ‘shortie’ suits, which cover the whole torso, as well as the upper arms and upper legs (as seen in the picture on the right). They tend to be used in warmer water temperatures i.e. between 16 degrees and the low 20 degree range and can also be found as wetsuit tops.

They are commonly used in the UK summer by surfers, wake boarders, water skiers, windsurfers, sailors and kayakers.

2mm wetsuits and wetsuit tops will have some of the features that full length suits do, such as neck seals, enhanced stitching and zipper systems. However, ‘shorties’ are often made using less of the technical features that are essential in keeping a wetsuit warm in the cold winter months such as glued and blind stitching.

3mm Wetsuits

CLICK HERE for all 3mm Wetsuits

Designed to be used in temperatures from the low teens and upward, 3mm wetsuits are also known as spring suits or convertibles as they often feature several different wetsuit designs.

Typically 3/2 wetsuits have long arms and legs and come with 3mm of neoprene in the core body area e.g. chest, and then 2mm of neoprene in the paddle zones that need flexibility i.e. under the arms.

A ‘Jon’ wetsuit design refers to a wetsuit which has no arms and can come with either short or long legs, thus there is both a ‘Long Jon’ design and a ‘Short Jon’. The Long Jon design is also referred to as a three-quarter length wetsuit.

3mm wetsuits are ideal for keeping you warm throughout the UK and European summer and can bridge the spring and autumn months when you are coming out of thicker 4mm and 5mm wetsuits.

4mm Wetsuits

CLICK HERE for all 4mm Wetsuits

4mm wetsuits are most commonly used in water temperatures between 10 and 14 degrees celsius. They are great for late summer and early spring when a surfer would typically be coming out of their thicker 5mm or 6mm winter wetsuits. With superior wetsuit technology, 4mm wetsuits are even being worn year round – although we wouldn’t advise it for the very coldest months!

The suits are often used in a 4/3mm combination which means that the areas which require more flexibility, such as under the arms or between the legs, is stitched with more stretchy 3mm neoprene, whereas the core body areas are covered with 4mm of neoprene.

A full wetsuit, as the name suggests, covers the entire arms and legs and can be utilised along with a hood, boots or gloves on colder days.

5mm & 6mm Wetsuits

Choose from a great range of 5mm Wetsuits

Designed to protect surfers, wakeboarders, and other water sports enthusiasts from the very low sea water temperatures. These wetsuits are some of the thickest neoprene models available from surf brands, as wetsuits above this thickness become significantly less stretchy, inhibiting the paddling motion. These thick suits are commonly combined with thinner neoprene, such as 5/4mm or 6/5/4mm, with the thicker neoprene being used in the core body areas i.e. the torso and then thinner neoprene being used where flexibility is required e.g. under the arms.

5mm wetsuits and 6mm wetsuits are frequently used with wetsuit hoods. Some wetsuits will come with a detachable wetsuit hood or permanently attached for enhanced waterproofing. Wetsuit boots and wetsuit gloves also become essential as water temperatures drop below 10 degrees Celsius. Suits which virtually keep all water out are referred to as "drysuits".

When purchasing a full winter wetsuit, technical specifications which influence the warmth, comfort, performance and durability of the suit will also influence the quality and therefore price.

Some of the features that you may want to consider are:
• The type of neoprene and the neoprene coating
• Flat lock verses glued and blind stitched
• Seam taping and liquid sealed seams
• Batwing zip waterproofing
• Zipper systems
• Neck, wrist and ankle seals

All these terms are explained in the Jargon Buster link on the right hand side

Wetsuit Sizing

Wetsuits are sized in a two dimensional manner to ensure the user has a snug fit, no matter what their body shape is. Wetsuits are measured in both body width as well as body length. With regards to width, regular clothes sizing’s apply, such as small, medium, large and extra large. With regards to length, wetsuits are created either short, regular or tall. Please use the following links to all our branded wetsuits to make the right choice for yourself:
Animal Wetsuit Size Guide
XCEL Wetsuit Size Guide
Billabong Wetsuit Size Guide
Quiksilver Wetsuit Size Guide
Rip Curl Wetsuit Size Guide
Roxy Wetsuits Size Guide
Alder Wetsuit Size Guide

Rash Vests

CLICK HERE for all Rash Vests

Rash Vest or Rash Guards are the lightest water sports clothing and usually made from lycra. They are used to protect from both sun and to avoid skin rashes created from contact with boards or around the neck from wetsuits.

Wetsuit Boots

CLICK HERE for all Wetsuit Boots

In temperatures reaching below 12-14 degree Celsius, many surfers begin to wear wetsuit boots or wetsuit booties to keep their feet warm. The thinnest booties are called wetsuit socks and mirror their body wetsuit partners in ranging from 1mm up to 7mm in neoprene thickness. Wetsuit boots feature rubber bottoms for durability and grip, Velcro straps to keep water out and can be round toe or split toe depending on preference. The split toe simply means that there is a rubber strip between the big toe and the other toes to prevent the neoprene slipping around on the foot. Reef boots are enhanced with a metallic mesh on the base to ensure nothing can come through the sole, such as sharp coral.

Wetsuit Gloves

CLICK HERE for all Wetsuit Gloves

Hands are essential to keep warm and can be done so via 5 fingers, 3 fingers and claw wetsuit glove designs. The popularity of 3 finger and claw designs has been growing as they have the capacity to keep hands warmer but do cut down on dexterity. Wetsuit gloves are generally used in colder waters and are often not as thick as their full body wetsuit, to allow better dexterity for the surfer.

Wetsuit Hoods

CLICK HERE for all Wetsuit Hoods

Wetsuit caps are designed to cover the skull area, whereas wetsuit hoods cover the head and neck area and tuck into the wetsuit or are sometimes attached to the wetsuit. The greatest percentage of body heat is lost via the head and thus wetsuit hoods ensure longer and happier surfing sessions. If you don’t wear a hood in the coldest waters you’ll get an ice-cream headache and then you’ll probably change your mind!

Wetsuit Care

An investment in a wetsuit can be one of the most rewarding choices a surfer can make as it enables you to stay warmer, surf for longer and perform better in the water. Surfdome offers a range of products to help ensure you get longevity from your wetsuit. We have listed our best tips for wetsuit care as well as some products we stock that will assist to keep your wetsuit new.

Be careful when you are putting on and taking off your wetsuit not to tear it through pulling on seams to hard. The best system for putting on a suit is to roll the body of the suit down inside out so that you can put the legs of the wetsuit on first and pull it up to your waist first. Then put your arms through the wetsuit arms and fully adjust before pulling the zip up to finish the job. Again, when taking off the suit, try not to over stretch the suit, stand on it to get it off or drag it though the mud.

Wash your suit as soon as you can, preferably at the beach, in cold fresh water, as hot water breaks down the seams and neoprene integrity. This also means that if you have long commute home that the wetsuit is at least clean and any corrosive salt water has been washed. When transporting the suit a wetsuit sack is an excellent way to stop water leaking throughout your car’s boot.

Store the suit in a cool place away from heat and direct sunlight, as UV ages and discolours neoprene. Always hang wetsuits inside out to dry as soon as it is convenient and for storage it is preferable to keep them on a hanger although they can be stored flat once they are dry. Surf wax is tricky to remove and result in damage to the wetsuit neoprene so is best left where it is. Never put your wetsuit in a washing machine or try to iron it or treat it with any strong chemicals. Wetsuits can be treated with special shampoos and agents, in particular when they get a little smelly, which are designed to remove the odour rather than the wetsuit glues.

Surf Accessories

CLICK HERE for all Surf Accessories

Our wetsuit accessory range includes:

• Wetsuit sacks for waterproof storage
• Changing mats (which zip into
  waterproof wetsuit carry bags)
• Surf helmets and protection
• Ear plugs and ear wax
• Wetsuit shampoo
• Board repair kits
• Wetsuit repair glue
• Wetsuit hangers and driers
• Surf towels
• Technical board shorts