The British and Irish wetsuit market is the most competitive, innovative and well served in the world. Nowhere on Earth has as many brands (homegrown and imported), price points or qualified wetsuit sales folk as here. It’s also the toughest testing place for wetsuits in the world. We have water temperatures that vary from four degrees to 20, and a climate the means in winter you can surfing in balmy 18 degree air from the continent one day and -10C windchill from Siberia the next. In summer, well it can be 30 degrees or 10, rain or shine. Add to these variables our natural cynicism, love of value for money, unreasonable expectation for high performance and durability and you can see when it comes to summer suits we are tough cookies to both provide for and keep happy.
So anyway, I am sure this has probably fallen on deaf ears and all you want to know about is what is new… So here it is…
Zipless wetsuits are dominant but there is an ever growing demand for zips. They are just easy to get in and out of and todays entry systems combined with more flexible neoprene mean that are not that restrictive. For some kids, older guys, people with zero flexibility and gravel rash after rolling around trying to get their zipperless off, zipped suits are perfect.
Having said that brands have the zipless options pretty wired. They don’t flush. The caveat here being you have to make sure you have the right fit across the body and neck. Fit is still key, and even though the suits are flexible they still have different cut patterns, body, leg arms shapes and neck openings. Try before you buy! If you’re cold, restricted or get flush you have bought the wrong wetsuit.
As far as materials are concerned here are three angles: more flexible, lighter neoprenes. More eco-friendly neoprene and fast dry linings. Super light water repellent neoprenes are advancing all the time, and the quick dry linings work a treat. The less water you are carrying in the material, the lighter the wetsuit and the quicker it dries. All good stuff.
It’s also great to see the progress in natural rubber. One of our great bugbears is the fact that neoprene is notoriously hard to recycle, there just aren’t any large scale solutions at the moment, but the natural rubber technology is now flexible and hard wearing.
Flouros and bright colours are back for kids, patterns are in for women, and nothing changes too much for the men…