Which is the best spearfishing wetsuit for you?
Your spearfishing wetsuit is one of the top tree most important and expensive purchase decisions you will make so it’s important to get it right first time, the others being your speargun and fins. In this article we will cover which wetsuit you need for the UK and abroad, thicknesses, materials and finishes as well as entry level offerings alongside what’s classed as premium. What’s worth your money and what’s best left on the shelf.
Firstly if you’re new to spearfishing you may well be using or considering an old surf suit. While these are great to get you started you will find you can only stay in the water spearfishing for about 60 -90 minutes.
This is because surf wetsuits are largely designed to be used above the water, when you’re lying on your board. If you note your body position the vast majority is actually above the surface for the majority of the time.
The problem is that being submerged in the water like you are when spearfishing, the water extracts your body heat much quicker than when you are mostly above it. This is why you get much colder, much quicker compared to your dive buddy in a purpose designed spearfishing suit.
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What is a spearfishing wetsuit?
A typical spearfishing suit will consist of two parts, the trousers and the jacket. These also come in various configurations like hooded and non-hooded jackets, as well as trouser that finish at the waist or have shoulder straps with the main torso also being covered (called long Johns). You can also get one-piece versions but these are not so popular.
In the UK we normally we normally used a hood jacket with the long john trousers. We choose the long john trousers as it doubles the amount of neoprene over your core area ie you have the jacket and trouser material over your core body so you have twice the warm for that area. This keeps you much warmer for longer.
In slightly warmer climates where they can get away with it, they often tend to use the pants that stop at the waist. This is mainly to facilitate easier toilet breaks as you pop up the jacket and literally ‘take care of business’ instead of having to pretty much take off your entire wetsuit which is a complete pain!
Camo wetsuit or jet black
Camo wetsuits are by far the most popular among spearos and for good reason. There is nothing wrong with a black finish and many spearo’s do incredibly well with them however if you are looking for an edge then this could well be it. There is a rather big debate on the effectiveness of camo verses black and what the advantages really are. To give you a full break down of the different types, the latest technology (this actually exists!) we wrote a full article on the subject so if you want to learn more, click here see everything you need to know about camo wetsuits.
What thickness wetsuit should I use?
There is no definitive fixed answer here just best guidelines. This is because there are some many external factors to consider. How old you are, your body fat percentage, general health and what you had for breakfast all tweaks your bodies thermometer in different ways. The biggest factor may well be how long you actually dive for, the longer you dive the colder you will ultimately get.
In the UK we largely use a 5mm wetsuit and this is often enough. For the diehards that also hunt throughout winter they will either stick it out or have an additional 7mm wetsuit. The extra 2mm makes a load of difference and will allow you to hunt for longer without feeling the effects of the cold.
Some night spear fishermen also use a 7mm for the same reason.
If you are going to warmer waters you really need to check the water temperature before deciding what you need. If you take a 5mm into 25 degree waters then you won’t last very longer before you are suffering greatly with the heat. Even a 3mm for that temperature can be too much. In very warm waters divers tend to use shorts and rash vest which can be perfect.
You can also try variations of wetsuit cuts for different water temperatures and conditions. A ‘shorty’ is a piece suit with most of the arms and legs cut off. The only down side to this, along with the rash vests is that fish all generally spiky, some with razor sharp teeth or bills. When fighting a fish your wetsuit acts like body armour against these things while generally protecting you from the elements. The thinner material you wear, the greater the risk you are at.
Another factor to consider when in hot climates is the jelly fish. In these hot countries it’s tempting just to wear some board shorts and make the most of the sun. However before you do this it’s important to check what type of jellies are in the waters and if they present a risk or not. If they go you will need a full body rash suit, including hood.
As a rough guide these are the spearfishing wetsuit thickness you will need for different water temperatures:
5C – 9C = 7mm, father john style, 2 piece wetsuit
9C – 15C = 5mm, father john style, 2 piece wetsuit
15C – 19C = 3mm, waist cut, 2 piece wetsuit
20C+ = 1.5mm, 1 piece wetsuit or rash vest variations
Wetsuit gloves and socks
These are normally available at thickness between 1 – 5mm but it’s worth choosing carefully. While extra thick wetsuit socks will keep you toasty, they can make your fin pockets too tight leading to cramp and a generally painful dive. To small and your fins could come loose meaning you also need to buy fin savers to keep them safe.
Likewise extra thick gloves will keep your fingers functioning in cold conditions but they make you cumbersome and the smallest tasks become a nightmare.
In the UK 2mm seems to be the most popular
Open cell wetsuits verses closed cell wetsuits
If you are new to world of wetsuits then you probably don’t realise you these two variations exist but they do and it’s an important difference. Closed cell or nylon lined wetsuits as they are sometimes referred to, basically have a thin nylon liner to the inside of the suit. This means you can slide on your suit much easier and quicker than one without – the open cell. To put on an open cell wetsuit you need to first rinse the inside with soapy water or talc powder.
It’s possible to do it without but it takes ages and is a complete nightmare. Once you have tried it you will understand!
The argument however is the open cell is a slightly warmer wetsuit than the lined. So you giving up a bit of warmth for that ease of use. That said I personally used a lined version and have never noticed the difference.
If you found this information helpful then we have much more at the bottom of each category page in the spearfishing gear shop