What to Look For In a Wetsuit or Life Jacket
Shopping for your first wetsuit or life vest and not sure where to start? We've got an easy guide that will walk you through everything you need to know so you can pick the wetsuit or vest that will work best for you.
What will you be using the suit for?
Keep in mind that certain activities require specific types of wetsuits (like triathalons or scuba diving), we carry what is considered to be 'surfing style' wetsuits that you can use for surfing, casual swimming, boating, windsurfing or jet skiing.
What temperature water will you be in?
Not only does the type of wetsuit vary, the thickness of the neoprene will be different across models. For summer temps, check out a spring suit. These will have short sleeves and be cut just above the knee. For colder temps, we recommend a full suit with long sleeves and long legs. Generally spring suits are all 2mm thick and full suits can range anywhere from 2mm - 6mm. If you see several numbers, like 3/2, that will mean the suit has 3mm in the core (body) and 2mm in the extremities (arms and legs). For a full range of temps you can view our wetsuit temp chart.
What activity do you need your life vest for?
If you are stand up paddle boarding, many people prefer a PFD (personal flotation device) belt pack. These look like fanny packs and have a life vest rolled up inside and will be armed with a small CO2 cartridge. If you run into a problem, you can pull a tab that will puncture the cartridge and the vest will inflate. These are ideal for people who are very confident in their swimming skills. For kids or anyone not as comfortable in the water, we always recommend a traditional life vest.
Be sure to look out for the term "USCG Approved". This refers to the US Coast Guard stamp of approval on life vests and PFD's. Many recreational areas require USCG approved life vests to SUP, kayak or boat so be sure you read the local laws before hitting the water.
For more detailed information on how wetsuits work, take a look at the resources below.show related articles