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Are you newly getting into diving or surfing and are looking for a wetsuit to buy? If you are, you likely know by now that these articles of clothing don’t come cheap. Therefore, you’re probably asking yourself, how long does a wetsuit last?
The typical wetsuit should last between five and ten years. The exact lifespan of a wetsuit depends on its quality and the type of sport that it’s going to be used for. Another critical factor in determining the longevity of a wetsuit is whether it’s being taken care of correctly.
Read on to learn more about the factors that affect how long your wetsuit will last. We’ve also included some useful guidelines for how you should care for your suit and what you should avoid doing.
What Is the Typical Lifespan of a Wetsuit?
When investing in a wetsuit, expect it to last anywhere from five to ten years.
We understand that this is quite a wide range. Where exactly the degree of your wetsuit’s longevity lies in that range depends on many factors.
Factors that affect a wetsuit’s lifespan
The questions you should keep in mind when trying to prolong the lifespan of your wetsuit are as follows:
- How high is the wetsuit’s quality?
- What type of sport are you using your wetsuit for?
- How well do you take care of your wetsuit?
Now, let’s see how each of these factors affects your wetsuit’s longevity:
The quality of your wetsuit is the most important indicator of how long it’ll last.
High-end wetsuits are usually quite pricey. This high cost is why many forgo these more expensive options in favor of more affordable ones.
Even though you may save a significant chunk of money when you decide to go for a cheap wetsuit, this decision will come back to haunt you in the long run.
Cheaper wetsuits are unlikely to last very long. In turn, you’ll be forced to buy another one as a replacement. Therefore, it’s better to pay more initially and have a wetsuit that’ll be there for you for years to come.
Here are the key components to inspect when gauging the quality of a wetsuit before buying it:
- The zippers
- The sturdiness of the stitching and seams
- The construction of high-impact areas, such as the buttocks and knees
Type of Sport
There are a variety of sports that people use wetsuits for. Not all of these sports expose a wetsuit to the same level of wear and tear.
If your primary activity is surfing, having a high-quality wetsuit is paramount. This requirement is because surfing involves plenty of exposure to saltwater and abrasion against the sand.
Both these elements take a significant toll on the neoprene in your wetsuit over time. If you’re using a cheap wetsuit, its low-quality neoprene won’t withstand this and will tear quite quickly.
The same is true for divers, too. In fact, there are specific wetsuits that are designed for diving because it’s an activity that exposes you to lower temperatures.
Companies manufacture diving wetsuits with thicker neoprene. This choice of material insulates you from the cold water and helps you withstand constant exposure to saltwater and sand.
On the other hand, sports that don’t put you in direct contact with the water won’t have as much of an effect on your wetsuit’s lifespan.
Kayaking is a prime example of such a sport.
How to Properly Care for Your Wetsuit
Knowing how to take proper care of your wetsuit is essential if you want it to last longer.
Here are the practices we recommend to achieve greater wetsuit longevity:
Rinsing after use
Once you’re done swimming or surfing in the salty ocean water, you should give your wetsuit a good rinse.
This step is necessary because leaving any saltwater residue on your wetsuit breaks down the neoprene and deteriorates the adhesive that’s keeping your wetsuit intact. Avoid this by rinsing your clothes with fresh water immediately after your swim.
You should note that it’s better to use cold water when rinsing as well. The reason for this is that excessively hot water isn’t the best for your wetsuit’s structural integrity.
Wash or don’t wash?
Right off the bat, let’s make it clear that it isn’t necessary to wash your wetsuit every single time you use it. This is especially true if you already rinse it thoroughly with fresh water.
However, it’s a good idea to wash your suit from time to time to keep it smelling fresh and looking clean.
Always hand wash your wetsuit as well. Putting it in the washing machine is a surefire way of completely ruining it.
That said, here’s what to do:
Simply fill your bathtub with cold water and mix in some shampoo. Soak the wetsuit in there for a while without scrubbing it, and you’re good to go.
Make sure not to use a shampoo that’s too strong because it may damage the neoprene in your suit.
Drying your wetsuit
After a good rinse or wash, it’s essential to dry your wetsuit the right way.
Never dry your wetsuit using heat. That’s because doing so damages the suit’s core materials. This means that throwing your wetsuit in the dryer or leaving it out in the sun is simply not an option.
As such, find a shaded spot with a pleasant breeze to hang your wetsuit to dry The best way to hang your wetsuit is flat by the waist on a large hanger. Avoid putting it up by the arms as this will cause the wet materials to overstretch.
Storing your wetsuit
The way you store your wetsuit is also a critical factor in determining how long it’ll last.
The ideal spot for wetsuit storage is one that’s dark, cool, and dry. Be mindful of how you hang your wetsuit as well. That’s because hanging it from the same spot every time can lead to permanent creasing in that area of the suit.
Therefore, you should change the wetsuit’s position in your closet every time.
Things to Avoid to Prolong Your Wetsuit’s Lifespan
Let’s face it. Wetsuits are pretty annoying to put on due to their super-tight fit. In turn, we don’t blame you for trying to find solutions to make slipping into your wetsuit an easier task.
However, there are certain things that you should never do.
Using soap or conditioner as a lubricant
Never use soap, conditioner, or shampoo as a lubricant when putting on your wetsuit. Sure, these substances make it much easier to slip your arms and legs in; however, these cleaning products severely weaken your wetsuit’s neoprene.
This makes the suit more susceptible to damage in the long run, though.
Further, using these substances as lubricants has its downsides on the environmental front. The soap residue left on your suit will ultimately seep into the ocean water, which doesn’t bode well for the fish living in it.
Using oil-based lubricants
Oil-based lubricants are another substance that you should steer clear of when it comes to your wetsuit.
They make putting on your wetsuit a breeze, but they also reduce the flexibility of the neoprene in your suit. Ultimately, a less stretchy wetsuit is a less durable one.
Safe Methods to Make it Easier to Put on Wetsuits
You didn’t think we’d leave you hanging, did you?
Here are some useful tips on how to easily put on your wetsuit without the risk of causing damage to it:
1. Turning the wetsuit inside out
Turning your wetsuit inside out is a useful trick that makes it way easier to slip into.
With your suit inside-out, slide your feet through the opening one after the other and proceed to pull the sleeve up. Once you’ve done this, repeat for your arms and midsection.
2. Wearing a dive skin
Dive skins are base layers that are made of lycra and specifically designed for you to wear under your wetsuit.
This article of clothing serves two purposes. The first is to make slipping on your wetsuit less of a hassle. Additionally, it protects you from skin rashes and jellyfish stings.
3. Using a plastic bag
You can also make use of all those extra plastic bags you have lying around the house when putting your wetsuit on.
They’re pretty helpful when trying to slip your hands and feet into the suit.
Put your foot in the bag and pull the suit’s leg over it. Doing this will make it considerably less of a hassle to get all four of your limbs into the suit.
How long does a wetsuit last?
The answer: A wetsuit should last between five to ten years.
That said, the exact lifespan of your wetsuit will ultimately come down to three key considerations: its quality, the activity you’re using it for, and how well you’re taking care of it.
Use the tips provided in this guide to make your wetsuit last for over a decade!