How to Buy a Wetsuit Online -
In a perfect world, everyone would have a local wetsuit shop that was fully stocked with thousands of wetsuits in a variety of models, sizes, and colors for their favorite water sports. In reality, most local water sport shops only stock a limited number of wetsuits in a narrow range of sizes. At WETSUIT.COM you have access to our huge inventory.
Over the years, we have gotten very good at fitting our online customers. The following helpful tips will make your online wetsuit shopping easier and more successful.
#1. Don't wait until the last minute.
If possible, you should begin shopping and plan to order your new suit at least one month before you expect to need it. This allows time to exchange sizes if necessary without the need for expensive express shipping. Triathletes should allow even more time to practice in their new suit before their first race so they can adjust to the extra buoyancy or fix any hot spots in the suit that may cause chafing.
#2. Submit your measurements to us for sizing advice before you order.
Wetsuits are our only business, so our experienced staff knows the ins and outs of sizing our suits. Our sizing charts are a good guideline, but many people fall between sizes and different models do fit slightly differently. Our wetsuit experts can help you to get the right size the first time.
#3. Be honest and accurate with your measurements.
Unlike other brands, we place a lot of emphasis on the chest measurement when sizing our suits. You should take the time and have a friend measure around the biggest part of your chest for you. This measurement should be taken with a relaxed breath at nipple level, with arms at your sides. If you just go off of your coat size or bra size, you may get the wrong size. You should also resist the urge to buy a smaller size suit because you plan to lose weight before you need it.
#4. Stick to our size recommendations.
Don't be tempted to settle for a different size just because it is available in a sale model or your favorite color. In the long run, the fit of the suit is what is most important.
Wetsuit Temperature Ranges -
Most people will eventually own multiple wetsuits for different seasons and temperature ranges. The chart above shows the average water temperature ranges for our most popular wetsuit models. Keep in mind that everyone has a different tolerance for cold, so the exact ranges will vary from person to person as well as with the air temperature and how much time you are spending in and out of the water.
You can also extend the range of your wetsuit with various wetsuit accessories and insulative layering. Adding a polypro rashguard top and/or bottom under your wetsuit can make it feel at least 1mm thicker.
It is very important not to neglect your extremities. You can lose a majority of your body heat through your head, so a swim cap or beanie is especially important in cooler weather. Booties, socks, and/or gloves also go a long way to keeping you warm in colder weather.
For windsurfing or kiteboarding, a hooded vest or flotation vest can add an extra layer of warmth to the torso while helping to seal the zipper on the back of the wetsuit minimizing water entry. This combination is a cheaper alternative to a drysuit for many people.
How a Wetsuit Works -
Wetsuits will not keep you completely dry inside. They are designed to allow a small amount of water to enter the wetsuit. Your body heat will warm this thin layer of water, and the insulation of the neoprene will help to keep you warm.
Wetsuit warmth is directly related to the thickness of the neoprene used in the wetsuit. This thickness is measured in millimeters (mm) and usually varies in different areas of the wetsuit. For example, a 4/3mm fullsuit will generally have 4mm thick neoprene in the body for extra warmth and 3mm thick neoprene in the sleeves for extra flexibility.
Wetsuit Materials -
All wetsuits today are built with superstretch neoprene. The newer, stretchier materials won’t last as long as a wetsuit from 15-20 years ago, but the increased comfort and flexibility of the wetsuits is worth the sacrifice in durability for most people.
Types of Wetsuit (neoprene) Material: Nylon I and Nylon II -
Nylon I neoprene is laminated with a jersey fabric on one side only. The nylon is used on the inside of the wetsuit for comfort and to help the wetsuit slide on more easily. The nylon jersey also increases the durability of the neoprene. Nylon I also known as “smoothskin”, is smooth on the outside.
Nylon II neoprene is laminated with jersey fabric on both sides of the neoprene. The nylon jersey adds durability (and sometimes color) to the outside of the wetsuit, but can increase wind chill due to evaporative cooling. For both types (Nylon l and Nylon II), we use only closed-cell neoprene that is completely water-proof.
Wetsuit Seam Construction -
Depending on the style and thickness, we offer a number of different seam types when building ProMotion Wetsuits.
For wetsuits and accessories 2mm thick and under, we typically use a flatstitch seam construction. With flatstitching, the neoprene panels are overlapped slightly, and stitched together without gluing. This produces a durable seam with stitching visible on both sides of the material. The flatstitched seams are not nearly as watertight, but this is not usually an issue with thinner wetsuits.
For coldwater wetsuits 3mm and thicker, the neoprene panels are glued end-to-end and then blindstitched (usually on the inside of the wetsuit) to produce a watertight seam. The blindstitch does not go all the way through the neoprene, to keep the seam sealed. For the same reason, blindstitching is not visible on the exterior of smoothskin seams.
The wetsuit seams can also be taped on the inside and/or sealed with a liquid seam weld on the outside for more strength. Taping will limit the stretch of the seam, so it is normally used in stress areas only.
Wetsuit Entry Systems -
With over 30 years of building wetsuits, we have experimented with every type of wetsuit entry system known. With most styles we have currently we have settled on a version of the traditional vertical back zipper for it’s ease of entry.
The modification on our coldwater wetsuits is a neoprene panel called a zipper dam that is added between the zipper panel and your body. This extra layer minimizes flushing of water through the zipper, and is super easy to get into.
Many surf style wetsuits use a top entry or “zipperless” design that requires you to climb into the wetsuit through an enlarged neck opening. This entry method works well for some people, but is a struggle for others and takes additional time getting into.
A lycra rashguard worn under the wetsuit can help it slide on more easily. A polypro rashguard will add some extra insulation as well.
How to Put on a Wetsuit -
Use caution when putting on your wetsuit. Never pull on the wetsuit with your fingertips or use fingernails as they can tear the neoprene. Instead, use the pads of your fingers and try to work the wetsuit up by pushing from the bottom rather than pulling from the top.
Step 1: Lower Body
Step into the wetsuit and pull the legs over your feet and ankles. Next work the wetsuit up over the hips and thighs to the waist. It usually takes a second pass up each leg separately to get the wetsuit all the way up in the crotch.
Step 2: Zipper Dam
For our coldwater wetsuits with a zipper dam, it is easiest to reach around from the side and unroll the zipper dam and/or pull it over your head from behind before you put your arms in the wetsuit.
Step 3: Body & Sleeves
Pull the body of the wetsuit up then put your arms in the sleeves one at a time. It is best to get one arm and shoulder all the way into the wetsuit before starting on the other arm. It may take a second pass up each sleeve to get the wetsuit all the way up in the shoulders.
Step 4: Zipper
Make sure the zipper dam or zipper flap is flat against your back before zipping up the wetsuit. You may need to hold the bottom of the zipper with one hand while pulling up on the zipper leash. Close the collar and adjust the Velcro tab for comfort and a good seal.
Step 5: Final Adjustments
Once you are in the wetsuit, you may need some final adjustments to tweak the fit. Most people don’t get the wetsuits all the way up in the crotch or all the way up in the shoulders on their first pass. You can also improve the fit of the wetsuit by redistributing material from areas that are loose towards areas that are tight. Make sure you do not have twists in the legs or sleeves.
Where I can buy ProMotion Wetsuits?
Other than our company owned retail store in Hood River, Oregon, ProMotion Wetsuits are not sold through "the shops". We only sell factory direct. Our customers do not pay the added markup that distributors and retail stores add to their prices. Buying direct, we are able to offer personalized, quick, friendly service, with access to our huge inventory, and shipping from Oregon is tax-free. Either over the phone, online, or in our store, we look forward to getting you in the right wetsuit.
For distance swimming and triathlons, it is critical to have a competitive swim specific wetsuit. Triathlon wetsuits are designed to be extra buoyant. The extra buoyancy will optimize your position in the water so you can swim faster with less effort. In many cases, the extra buoyancy is more important than the warmth provided by the wetsuit. Triathlon wetsuits also feature a smoothskin exterior that reduces friction through the water. Triathlon wetsuits are designed to fit snug for efficiency in the water with minimal restriction to your swimming stroke. They should also be easy to remove for fast transitions.
Our Triathlon wetsuits are available in both Fullsuits and Sleeveless models.
Fullsuits are warmer and more buoyant. For water temperatures below 65 degrees, most people prefer the extra warmth of a fullsuit. In warmer waters some people still prefer the fullsuits because they feel more streamlined and efficient, but you do risk overheating if it gets too warm.
Sleeveless triathlon wetsuits are less expensive, less restrictive, and easier to get on and off. Most people are comfortable in our sleeveless triathlon wetsuits for water temperatures 65 degrees and above. Some people still prefer a sleeveless wetsuit in colder waters if they like their arms and shoulders uncovered and totally unrestricted. With sleeveless triathlon wetsuits, it is especially important to have a snug fit in the chest to get a good seal on the arm openings.
Can I use a surfing or windsurfing wetsuit for triathlons?
For short swims or occasional use, a multi-purpose wetsuit or surfing wetsuit will work for swimming, but it is not ideal. A triathlon specific wetsuit will be more flexible, more buoyant, and more efficient for swimming longer distances and much more competitive for racing.
Should I get a fullsuit or sleeveless?
That depends on the water temperature and your personal preferences.
For water temps less than 65 degrees, most people prefer the extra warmth of a fullsuit. For water temps above 65 degrees, most people are comfortable in a sleeveless triathlon suit.
Some people prefer a fullsuit in warmer temperatures because they feel more streamlined and efficient and appreciate the extra buoyancy, but you do risk overheating if the water gets too warm.
Others prefer the freedom of having their arms and shoulders totally unrestricted, and like the “feel” of the water on their arms, even in cooler temps.
How tight should my wetsuit be?
Wetsuits work by trapping a thin layer of water next to your skin. If the wetsuit is too loose, you will get an excess of water flushing through the suit. We like to fit our triathlon wetsuits “slightly uncomfortably” snug when they are dry since they will loosen up when they get wet. Once you are in the water, the fit should be snug without being uncomfortable or restricting to your breathing.
The neck of my wetsuit feels tight, what can I do?
The necks on our triathlon wetsuits are designed to seal out excess water while swimming so they do need to be snug. They will loosen up in the water, so minor discomfort will usually disappear once you start swimming. If you still feel that the neck is too tight after a few swims, you can trim down the front center height of the collar. We recommend trimming off ¼” at a time. The neoprene collar will not unravel after trimming. Many people think that by switching to a larger suit, they will get a looser neck, but we find that if the suit is too large and you aren’t stretching the chest and collar of the suit enough, the neck can actually feel tighter.
Are your triathlon suits legal under the new USAT and WTC/Ironman rules?
Yes. Wetsuits are allowed for races with water temps of 76 degrees or below. There is a 5mm thickness limit for wetsuits which all of our wetsuits do comply with. The only exception is the combination of our Tri Sleeves jacket when worn with our Power Glide or Fluid Drive sleeveless model, which would exceed the 5mm limit in the torso.
Can I swim in a chlorinated pool with my wetsuit?
Repeated exposure to chlorine will shorten the life of your wetsuit. A couple of swims in a chlorinated pool to check the fit of the suit won’t do damage as long as you rinse the suit thoroughly with freshwater afterwards. If you train regularly in a chlorinated pool, you will need to replace your suit more frequently.
Thorough rinsing and washing with a wetsuit specific shampoo with conditioners and chlorine removers can help to extend the life of your suit.
Recreational Swimming Wetsuits
If you are looking for a little extra warmth when snorkling or while exercising in a chilly pool, a basic wetsuit designed for recreational swimming will help to keep the chill off. Our OverDrive model is a great crossover wetsuit for a variety of activities in the water.
If you are serious about open water distance swimming, you should consider one of our triathlon wetsuits.
Windsurfing & Kiteboarding Wetsuits
Windsurfers and Kiteboarders will benefit from wearing a wetsuit designed specifically for windsports. A windsurfing specific wetsuit will generally be cut with oversize forearms to reduce cramping and fatigue when grabbing the boom. Windsport wetsuits will also have a higher percentage of smoothskin (Nylon I) on the exterior of the wetsuit. The Nylon I will shed water better to eliminate the evaporative cooling (from wind chill) that will occur with a double lined (Nylon II) surf wetsuit.
Our windsurfing and kiteboarding wetsuits use our ADV wind skin material. This is a composite of a more durable skin laminated to neoprene resulting in a more durable smoothskin.
What is the difference between a surfing, kiteboarding, and windsurfing wetsuits?
Most of the major wetsuit companies specialize in building wetsuits for traditional surfing. While these suits can be used for windsurfing and kiteboarding, they are not ideal.
Surfing Wetsuits will generally be built with a majority of Nylon II neoprene, and only use smoothskin (Nylon I) in the chest and back. They will also be cut tighter in the forearms. While this is fine for surfing, it can cause cramping in the forearms and the Nylon II will increase evaporative cooling (from wind chill) if windsurfing or kiteboarding.
Our Windsurfing Specific Wetsuits are built primarily with smoothskin (Nylon I) neoprene to minimize evaporative cooling. They will be noticeably warmer when exposed to the wind than a typical surfing suit of the same thickness. Our windsurfing suits are also cut oversize in the forearms to reduce cramping. When grasping the boom, your forearm muscles will “pump up”, and a suit that is too tight in the forearms can cause excess fatigue and cramping, especially when wearing gloves or mitts.
Our Kiteboarding Specific Wetsuits are a cross between a surfing wetsuit and a windsurfing wetsuit with additional kite specific features and reinforcements. Our kiteboarding wesuits use Nylon II in the lower body for extra durability, with smoothskin in the upper body to fight wind chill. The forearms are cut “medium loose” for grasping the kite control bar. This blend of features makes the kiteboarding wetsuits a great choice for someone who crosses over between sports including surfing, windsurfing, kiteboarding and standup paddling.
Can I use a windsurfing wetsuit for surfing?
Yes, our windsurfing suits can be used for surfing, but they are not ideal. The smoothskin in the thighs can make them more slippery on the board when lying down and paddling out. The oversize forearms may also fill with excess water that can slosh around in the sleeves while paddling. For Stand Up Paddle Surfing, the above does not apply and windsurfing suits can work very well for SUP in the surf.
SUP (Stand-Up-Paddle) and Surfing Wetsuits
Surfing specific wetsuit are available in a broad range of models and thicknesses. Surf specific wetsuits are typically built with Nylon II for durability, but usually have smooth skin in the chest and back for extra warmth. Surf wetsuits can range from hooded 6mm fullsuits for frigid waters to 0.5mm tops for tropical conditions.
As stand up paddling continues to grow and diversify, we are continuing to developed new wetsuits for the sport. For SUP riding in the waves, most people wear traditional surf wetsuits, but going slightly thinner if more skilled and not falling in the water as often. For flat water paddling in colder conditions, a kayaking farmer john and thin top works well and offers less arm and shoulder restriction. For flat water paddling in warmer conditions when you aren’t likely to fall in, a neoprene wetsuit isn’t a necessity. Many people just wear a lycra rashguard with boardshorts for sun protection, or for sun protection with a little insulation our polypro tops and bottoms.
Wakeboard / Water Ski Wetsuits
Most general purpose or surfing wetsuits will work for wakeboarding or waterskiing. The oversize forearms and smoothskin exterior of our windsurfing wetsuits can also be beneficial behind the boat. Kiteboarding wetsuits with a below knee or ¾ leg length are nice since they don’t overlap or interfere with wakeboard or water ski high wrap bindings. Most riders find that with a ski or wake boat near by, getting by with a thinner wetsuit is possible.
Choosing the right wetsuit for kayaking or rafting can be difficult. When you are in the boat, you generally don’t need much to keep warm and you risk overheating while paddling hard. Once you enter the water, however, it is rare to be too warm since most whitewater is freshly melted snow. Most paddlers prefer a sleeveless “farmer john” style wetsuit with a looser fitting splash top or dry top depending on the temperature. For colder conditions, a loose fitting breathable drysuit works best, but these are generally quite expensive. For warmer weather, waterproof splash resistant clothing may suffice in place of neoprene.
Kid’s wetsuits are generally less specialized than those for adults. Most manufacturers produce general purpose wetsuits for children that will work for a variety of activities in the water. In addition to the warmth, kid’s wetsuits offer excellent sun protection for sensitive skin. When sizing suits for children, most parents will go a bit looser than a normal adult fit. This leaves room to grow and makes the suits easier to get on and off. Parents with multiple kids can usually get extra use out of a suit by handing it down to younger siblings. When shopping for a kid’s suit, a full length back zipper and zippers on the ankles are recommended.
For outgrown kid’s ProMotion wetsuits, we have a Kid’s Wetsuit Trade-In Program.
Sun Protection and Layering
Lycra rashguards offer great sun protection (UPF 50) but can actually make you colder due to evaporative cooling when worn by themselves in breezy conditions. In addition to the rash protection under a wetsuit, lycra rashguards help your suit slide on more easily and help your suit stay cleaner . It is easier to wash a rashguard than a wetsuit.
Polypro rashguards will offer extra warmth and sun protection, but can still cause evaporative cooling when exposed to the wind. Polypro rashguard tops and bottoms are great layering pieces to extend the range of your wetsuit in colder conditions. When worn under your wetsuit, polypro can make the suit feel 1-2mm warmer. The wicking properties of the fleece lining against your skin adds to the warmth and comfort.
Our EXO Skin is a great material when worn by itself or with a wetsuit. Different from neoprene, EXO Skin is a warm polar fleece bonded to a windproof, waterproof polyurethane outer layer. EXO Skin is thicker and warmer than polypro rashguards and shields you from evaporative cooling in the wind. EXO Skin tops work great with boardshorts in warmer weather, and can be worn over or under your wetsuit in colder weather. EXO Skin doesn’t stretch as much as neoprene, so it is fit looser than a wetsuit. It does let in more water than neoprene when you fall, so it is not quite as warm in the water. However, it can be just as warm and more comfortable than 2mm neoprene when you are up and riding.
Our Hooded Vests and PullOver Vests are another great way to extend the range of your wetsuit in colder conditions. When worn over your wetsuit, the hooded vest adds an extra layer of insulation to your torso as well as helping to seal the zipper and the neck of your suit to keep out the cold water. You can lose a majority of your body heat through your extremities, so the full coverage hood is also very important in addition to good booties and gloves/mitts. Our PullOver Vest works great as a layer under your wetsuit.