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What to consider when buying a neoprene wetsuits. Wet suit, semi dry suit, dry suit and shorties

What is a neoprene wetsuit?

Scubapro Definition neoprene wetsuit 5mm Men
Scubapro Definition Overall 5mm

A neoprene wetsuit is made of neoprene. In technical fields, neoprene is known as chloroprene rubber or polychloroprene. At the molecular level, the material consists mainly of chlorine and hydrogen atoms. Production begins with a chemical reaction between chloroprene and other solutions.

The result of this reaction is flakes. These flakes can be further processed. In order to transform the solid synthetic rubber flakes into elastic rubber, it needs vulcanization. After the vulcanization the molecules can no longer move, the end result is elastic and will always spring back to its original shape.

In order to be able to sell neoprene as a fabric, the right and left side of a neoprene sheet are covered with fabrics, these can also be printed with colors or patterns.

Men and Women Difference

In many Scuba Diving Equipment Parts there is no difference between Men and Women however there is a big one in Neoprene Wetsuit cuts. Women feel usually much faster cold than men so it’s a better Idea to buy a thicker wetsuit if you are a frosty.

My next guide will be all about women Wetsuits. Don’t want to miss it? Then subscribe to our free newsletter.

Insulation ability of neoprene wetsuit

First of all, you have to know that water dissipates body heat 25 times faster than air, so you cannot survive forever even in water at 25° C and the colder the water, the faster you lose your body heat.

Water temperatureTime to exhaustion
or unconsciousness
Theoretically possible survival time
0,3 °C< 15 minup to 45 min
4,5 °C30 minup to 90 min
10 °C1 h3 h
15 °C2 h6 h
21 °C7 h40 h
26 °C12 h> 40 h

Neoprene has excellent insulation properties that is due to the fact that a lot of air is trapped in the neoprene, which, as we know, has very good insulation.

Thickness of a neoprene wetsuit

The thicker the neoprene fabric, the better the insulation from the cold water.

Mostly for very cold water with 12° C and colder or for ice diving and long dives in them, you’d use a dry suit.

Neoprene wetsuits from approx. 7mm thickness can be used for cold water diving (12° C and colder), but dry suits are recommended. This also includes neoprene gloves, hoods and shoes.

Long neoprene wetsuits in 3-5mm thickness are usually used for waters with a water temperature of more than 18° C.

Shorties are neoprene wetsuits with short arms and half-length legs, these are mostly 3mm thick and they are used for water temperatures from 25° C upwards.

Buoyancy and thickness of the neoprene wetsuits

Weight and thickness of Wetsuit
Weight and thickness of Wetsuit

The neoprene thickness of the suit affects the buoyancy control, as thicker material creates more static buoyancy. This buoyancy has to be compensated with lead weights. To make matters worse, the neoprene itself is compressed by the water pressure increasing with depth, so that the buoyancy decreases with increasing ambient pressure – i.e. increasing water depth. Since the weight of the lead remains constant, the downforce increases with increasing depth, which has to be compensated for by a buoyancy compensator (BCD).

How does a neoprene wetsuit work?

Many believe that you don’t get wet in a neoprene wetsuit. This is only true in a dry suit.

Wetsuit function
Function of a neoprene wetsuit
and a semidry wetsuit

In all other diving suits you get wet. The water that has entered the wetsuit remains in the suit because the ends of a neoprene wetsuit are provided with cuffs and the thin layer of water is thus heated up by the body heat.

That is why it is so important to have a neoprene wetsuit that is skin-tight because the less water penetrates, the less the body has to heat the water entered up and the longer you stay warm. Depending on the suit, this water layer is exchanged faster or slower (water circulation).

Types of neoprene wetsuits

Shorty

Cressi Shorty

Is the simplest version of the neoprene wetsuit. As the word shorty suggests, they have short arms and legs and are only effective in protecting the core temperature of the body.

This can be worn in tropical areas with water temperatures of 25° C and more. Mostly in the common thicknesses of 1.5-3mm available. and also obviously the cheapest version of all of them.

Neoprene Wetsuit

Is a Neoprene wetsuit with long arms and legs where cuffs are sewn on so that the water stays in the suit and is not exchanged as quickly. Usually comes in thicknesses between 3-7mm

Semi-Dry Neopren Wetsuit

These suits don’t just get you “half-wet”. These neoprene wetsuits have smooth neoprene sealing lips on the arms, legs and neck. With the higher quality semi-dry neoprene wetsuits, the zipper is also underlaid with a cuff or sealing lip. Which causes the water to run into the suit but no longer come out of the suit or relatively slowly through e.g. Movement while scuba diving water is exchanged. This makes the suit very comfortable for colder waters for long or several dives per day. Most semi-dry wetsuits come in thicknesses between 5-7mm.

Dry Suit

Drysuit function
Funktion eines Trockentauchanzugs

There are several types of drysuits and the topic is very large as buoyancy control is not only done with the BCD but also has to be done with the suit itself. I’m not going to go into this type of suit too much, though.

Even if you have successfully completed a diving course and buy a dry suit, you should try it out in the swimming pool or in shallow water or even better take a course. Most international diving organizations offer dry suit diving courses. Because there are certain things with this suit that you have to pay attention to and practice in order not to be in danger underwater!

Some will still remember: When James Bond in “Goldfinger” takes off his wetsuit (dry suit) and wears a tuxedo underneath that is completely dry and yes it would work.

Dry suits are designed for diving in very cold water, for commercial underwater work, and for sewage diving.

Scubapro Trockentauchanzug
Scubapro Dry suit

The dry suit, is a one-piece suit made of water- and gas-tight material. Today these are made from trilaminate membranes of synthetic plastics or neoprene.

The advantage of the dry suit is that the diver hardly ever comes into contact with water and, when properly filled with an insulating gas, like air it is better protected from the cold than in any other diving suits. The dry suit is usually sealed with a cuff at the neck and wrist and the boots are permantly attached. It has a water and gas-tight zipper on the back or chest for getting in and out. In addition, textile protective clothing against the cold is worn under the suit.

Zippers

Reißverschluss
Reißverschluss

The main zipper on a neoprene wetsuit can be on the back as well as on the front, vertical, horizontal or diagonal. For the shorties and neoprene wetsuits, these are normal coarse zippers mostly made of plastic because they don’t rust. In the case of a dry suit, this must be zipper which is gas and waterproof so that no water penetrates. The semi-dry wetsuits have both wet and dry zipper versions.

All zippers on the neoprene wetsuits are underlaid with a smooth neoprene sealing lip as this is more comfortable and the pure zipper does not cause irritation of the skin.

Thicker long wet and semi dry neoprene wetsuits with zippers on the arms and legs make it easier to get into the suit.

Insider tip:

If the neoprene wetsuit has no zippers and it is very difficult for you to put the suit on, you can put a plastic bag over your hand or foot before getting into the suit. The neoprene slides much better then. The alternative is to mix a little dish washing liquid and water and spray it on the arm or leg.

Protection against injury and nettles

Jellyfish

Neoprene wetsuits are not only worn to protect against cooling down of the body temperature, but also to protect against injuries such as jellyfish and their nettles.

Or if you accidentally roam along a rock face. Shipwrecks are also a good example with their sharp edges

One piece or two piece

Zweiteiliger Neopren Tauchanzug
Two piece neoprene Wetsuit

A one-piece is a neoprene diving suit that consists of one part. Here different thicknesses of neoprene can be sewn together so that the one-piece is, for example, a 3mm thick wetsuit on the arms and legs and a 5mm thick neoprene wetsuit on the core of the body.

A two-piece is two separate pieces of clothing, a high-cut or bib shorts (called “Long John”) and a long-sleeved jacket, usually with an attached hood, so you have a thick double suit at the core of your body.

Some two-piece neoprene wetsuits only consist of pants and a vest, but they are also much less warm.

Ice vest

Eisweste Neopren

One-piece suits sometimes come with a separate ice vest to be able to dive with this suit in very cold waters.

This ice vest is worn over the normal suit.

But you can also buy them individually.


List of my best top 10 Mens neoprene wetsuits 2020 in 3-5mm


Number #10

Nataly Osmann Wetsuits 3mm

Nataly Osmann Wetsuits 3mm
Nataly Osmann Wetsuits 3mm
  • 3mm thick neoprene wetsuits are suitable for 50℉- 67℉, keep you warm and comfortable in the water.
  • Flatlock stitching throughout to reduce seam irritation, ensure maximum comfort and durability.
  • Extra long leash, easy to reach. Strengthened back zipper is designed to allow to easy entry and exit.
  • Adults’ wetsuits can keep the body warm, help you float more easily in the water, and help you master swimming and diving skills faster.
  • Diving suits are suitable for many water sports, such as diving, swimming, surfing, snorkeling, paddle boarding, kiteboarding, wakeboarding, kayaking, sailing and so on.

Number #9

Pandawoods Neoprene Wetsuit 3 mm

PAWHITS Herren Neoprenanzug 3 mm
Pandawoods Neoprene Wetsuit 3 mm
  • High quality SCR neoprene of 3mm, environmentally friendly and highly elastic nylon with a long service life; excellent thermal insulation performance
  • The rear zipper made of heavy metal with an extra long leash. A neoprene sealing lip behind the closure can reduce water leakage.
  • Long sleeve
  • Large silk print on the front and back, can reduce attrition and protect the combination of friction from diving equipment. The super stretchable panels around the knees and armpits ensure good freedom of movement.
  • The knee pads offer additional protection. Especially for diving, snorkeling, surfing, and other water sports or outdoor activities.
  • To ensure your full satisfaction, we offer you a 30-day money-back guarantee. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions and we will find the right solution for you.

Number #8

ZCCO Neoprene Wetsuit 3mm

ZCCO Neopren Tauchanzug Herren 3 mm
ZCCO Neopren Wetsuit 3 mm
  • Men’s wetsuits made of high quality material are made of 90% CR neoprene, 10% nylon and elastane. Sufficient flexibility, environmentally friendly materials.
  • 3 mm neoprene wetsuit offers plenty of heat protection. Additional padding in the chest and knees provides protection. Versatile wetsuit – for all water sports such as diving, spear fishing, apnea, stand-up paddleboarding, wave surfing, kayaking, swimming, surfing, canoeing.
  • Durable YKK zipper with zip / Velcro on the back is easy to put on and take off, flatlock seams give you a smooth suit.

Number #7

Cressi Morea Neoprene Wetsuit 3mm

Cressi Morea Wetsuit 3mm
Cressi Morea Wetsuit 3mm
  • Wetsuit for all water sports: Morea is a one-piece without a hood with long sleeves and legs made of 3 mm thick neoprene. The suit is ideal for diving, snorkeling, swimming in warm waters and tropical seas, and for water sports in general
  • A new cut: sewn with Flatlock with non-abrasive thread. The new, simple and elegant cut only has colored inserts on the shoulders, which are coordinated with a pearl-gray detail made of highly elastic fabric. The large neoprene panels optimize the natural elasticity of the material and are combined with a new, particularly elastic nylon lining
  • Minimized ingress of water: The YKK back zip is equipped with an Aquastop cover. The wrist and ankle cuffs are finished with an overlock hem. Preformed Anatomic Shape collar, which takes over the natural chest-neck angle, with highly elastic Ultraspan lining. Combined nylon lining with Ultraspan in the joint areas
  • Higher wearing comfort: This fabric combines high wear resistance with strong elasticity and a soft grip. Chest area made of smooth neoprene, embossed on the outside. Improves hydrodynamics, elasticity and ensures quick drying when the suit is worn outside the water in the wind for water sports such as water skiing, sailing or surfing. Back zip with Velcro fastener

Number #6

Quiksilver Syncro Series 4/3mm

Quiksilver Herren 4-3mm Prologue
Quiksilver Herren 4-3mm Prologue
  • Freemax neoprene on torso and legs with Hyperstretch 3.0 on arms and lower legs
  • Gbs seams for maximum flexibility and minimal water ingress; Back zipper with the ykk plastic zipper
  • Fully adjustable hydrowrap neck closure system for a watertight closure
  • Supratex knee padding – durable, light and flexible;
  • Weight: 1.28 kg

Number #5

O’Neill Wetsuit Epic 5/4mm

O'Neill Neoprenanzug Epic 5-4
O’Neill Neoprenanzug Epic 5-4
  • 5/4mm UltraFlex DS neoprene, crypto knee pads
  • Glued and blind stitched construction with strategic seamless paddle zones
  • Inner lining: 64% polyamide, 36% polyester; All other interior linings: 100% polyamide
  • Double Super Seal on the neck with adjustable closure
  • FluidFlex zipper

Number #4

Mystic Star 5/4mm Neopren Tauchanzug

REALON Wetsuit 5mm
REALON Wetsuit 5mm
  • The kneecaps are made of a 4-way Super-Tex fabric.
  • Critical taping inside
  • GBS (glued blind seam). Glideskin double neck construction.
  • Back zip
  • Mesh neoprene chest plate

Number #3

Scubapro Definition 5mm

Scubapro Definition Overall 7mm Men
Scubapro Definition Overall 5mm
  • Certified A class B dive suit – rated for water temperatures ranging from 50°F/10°C to 64. 5°F/18°C.
  • Designed to keep new divers and casual divers warm and comfortable while diving in moderate to shallow depths.
  • Made from surf foam Neoprene, a variation of x-foam, which is softer and more flexible than dive foam Neoprene – although less resistant to water compression.
  • Assembled using Solvent-Free Aqua glue, a 100% Green process. Glued and blind-stitched seams keep warmth in and water out.
  • Comfortable Wetsuit, Fits Like Second Skin: Struggling into Unfamiliar Neoprene Suit for First Time, Stressful! Experiencing Initial Feelings of Restriction Cause Trepidation Not w/Scubapro’s Sport Steamer

Number #2

Scubapro Everflex 3mm

Scubapro Everflex 3mm
Scubapro Everflex 3mm
  • “Made from 100 percent Everflex neoprene, an X-Foam formulation, for durability and better health.”
  • Suits are assembled using a solvent-free water-based glue.
  • SCUBAPRO is the first in the industry to offer this environmentally and diver friendly adhesive material.
  • Multi-thickness panels deliver a superior combination of warmth and flexibility.
  • Pure Design Concept uses fewer seams and panels for maximum flexibility.
  • “Double blind-stitched outer seams are durable and watertight, and single blind-stitched inner seams are comfortable against bare skin.”

Number #1

Scubapro Everflex Steamer 5/4mm Wetsuit

Scubapro Everflex 5-4mm
Scubapro Everflex 5-4mm
  • Made from 100 percent Everflex neoprene, an X-Foam formulation, for durability and better health.
  • Multi-thickness panels deliver a superior combination of warmth and flexibility.
  • Pure Design Concept uses fewer seams and panels for maximum flexibility.
  • New nylon thread resists abrasion for longer suit life.
  • Diagonal back zipper offers increased long-term durability and ease of use.
  • Zippers on arms legs and in front of throat

Additional Neopren Wetsuit Equipment


Scubapro 6,5mm Definition Ice Vest

Eisweste Neopren
Neoprene Ice Vest
  • Neoprene vest with front zip
  • attached hood
  • Material thickness 6.5mm
  • X-Foam

5mm Hood Neopren

5mm Kofhaube
5mm Hood
  • NO AIR IN THE HOOD: Thanks to the air release system, the Seac Tekno hood allows air to escape into the open air, thus avoiding annoying air bubbles in the hood.
  • PERFECT FIT: The collar made of smooth neoprene lies close to the neck cuff of the diving suit and thus minimizes the ingress of water.
  • 5mm THERMO-NEOPRENE: The Seac Tekno hood is made from 5mm ultra-flexible neoprene, which prevents the head from cooling down.
  • EASY TO PUT ON: The Ultraflex neoprene of the Seac Tekno hood is extremely elastic and therefore very light and easy to put on with optimum wearing comfort.
  • ESSENTIAL ACCESSORIES: The Seac Tekno diving hood fits perfectly with all diving suits, for women and men, and is available in 5 sizes.

Rash Vest or Rashguard Long Sleeve can be worn under the neoprene wetsuit for additional protection against the cold.

Rashguard o'neill
Rashguard o’neill
  • U.P.F. 50+ Max UV Protection Factor by O’Neill creates tight Performance Fit that hugs your body like a second skin.
  • Skin Cancer Foundation Recommended Polyester/Spandex blend for effective UV protection with minimal heat absorption.
  • Quick Dry 4-way Stretch Moves with You for wearing alone or under a wetsuit for rash protection with minimal seam placement.
  • Strategic Seamless Paddle Zones Stop Chafing Supports movement throughout this O’Neill Basic Skins 50+ long sleeved rash guard with value-driven choices.
  • More than 10 colors available

Cressi High Stretch Neopren Gloves
Gloves are only against the cold and not for touching anything underwater!

Cressi High Stretch Neoprenhandschuhe
Cressi High Stretch Neoprenhandschuhe
  • Highly comfortable flatlock stitched gloves
  • Five fingered gloves made from single lined high-stretch neoprene
  • Suitable for many applications- surfing/bodyboarding to snorkelling and diving Ideal sports accessory for protecting your hands

This has been my equipment guide and the list of the top 10 best neoprene wetsuits for 2020! I hope you enjoyed it and if so, please share it or leave us a comment.

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