Which Front Zip Wetsuit Style to Choose?
Front entry wetsuits come in a few different styles. A more familiar cut to many, especially scuba divers, is a front zip shorty wetsuit. It features a long vertical zipper (either full-length - from neck to knee or slightly shorter - from neck to lower abdomen) that creates a large opening allowing one to put such a suit on simply by stepping into it. This type of wetsuit is best for warm water diving and snorkeling.
Another option, mostly present in high-end performance wetsuits is a much shorter, horizontal or diagonal zip across the chest. Because of its smaller size and position on the upper front section of the suit, this type of closure allows for a full range of movement for your back, shoulders, and arms. For this reason, chest zip wetsuits are considered perfect for surfing and freediving.
How to Put a Chest Zip Wetsuit on and Take it off?
While donning a front zip wetsuit with a full-length zipper is fairly straightforward - you simply step into it, putting on a chest zip wetsuit may be somewhat tricky, especially for the first time. So, here is a short instruction to help you with the process.
Start with your feet and legs. It will be easier to pull the suit up, if you turn its upper part inside out. To do this, reach inside the wetsuit with both arms, grab some material below the armpits area, and pull it upwards. You will then have easier access to wetsuit legs, allowing you to climb into them like you would with any other wetsuit cut. As chest zip wetsuits are usually made of thinner, softer material, be careful not to scratch or puncture the neoprene with your nails.
Once you have pulled a lower part of your suit up to your waist, you can pull it on your arms. Take your watch or a wristband off before doing that. Start with your left hand, then put it on your right hand. Make sure everything is smooth and even. Put the neck seal over and zip the wetsuit up.
How to take a chest zip wetsuit off? Unzip your wetsuit and pull out your hands, starting with the left. Then take it off your torso and legs. Don’t forget to rinse it after use.
Are Front Zip Wetsuits Better?
Well, it depends… Front zip wetsuits are often made of more flexible neoprene to reduce the struggle of donning and doffing them. Thus, a material will be thinner, softer, and lighter. Whether these features are benefits or drawbacks will depend on intended use.
A material like this won’t be ideal for scuba diving since it is an equipment-intensive activity that occurs in a high-pressure environment. A scuba diving wetsuit has to be pressure and abrasion-resistant. In a nutshell, a front zip wetsuit, made of a less dense neoprene will compress very quickly due to the surrounding water pressure and will lose its thermal properties. Additionally, the scuba equipment might damage the softer material many chest zip wetsuits are made of.
For surfers, on the other hand, a shorter zipper located in the chest area is considered a benefit, since it provides more freedom of movement in the back, shoulders, and arms. The thinner and softer neoprene will also be more comfortable for surfing.