Wetsuit Glossary0 comments
There's a lot of jargon surrounding wetsuits and wetsuit technology. So we've put together a nice little glossary of the terms that you'll want to familiarize yourself with before you begin your search for a new wetsuit.
Please feel free to contribute any terms that have been left out. There are also a couple of other glossaries that you may find useful to increase your surfing vocabulary.
Terms and Terminology
The traditional location for a wetsuit zip. Back zips normally run from the base of the spine and zip straight up the back behind the neck.
A separate layer in the back of a wetsuit, which stops water seepage from the zip from coming into contact with the skin.
You won't see beavertails much these days, but they were all the rage in the 1970s. Wetsuits had a flap attached to the wetsuit's back. The flap was used to secure the wetsuit, passing it between the legs and secured in front. Although designed to hold the suit in place, it would often be seen hanging free, resembling a beaver's tail.
A method of wetsuit stitching where the edges of the wetsuit panels are glued together then stitched. Find out in detail about wetsuit stitching here.
Neoprene boots for use with wetsuits in very cold water and for protection from reefs, urchins etc.
A wetsuit with detachable arms and / or legs.
A wetsuit that is tailor made to a persons specific measurements. This ensures an excellent fit and results in a warmer wetsuit.
Where the seam is glued together and blindstitched (see above) on one side. The seam is then turned inside-out and blindstitched on the other.
A wetsuit that has a lining on both the inside and outside.
Expanded Seam Technology (EST)
EST is a patented stitchless technology first used in wetsuit fabrication in the 1990's. The panels are bonded together with glue, using hexagonal or wave shaped edge patterns, resulting in a strong stitchless seam.
Flatlock stitching involves laying one panel edge over the other, then stitching though the neoprene. Flatlock seams are strong and flexible, but let in water. This type of stitching would not be used on a cold water suit.
Refers to cold water entering the wetsuit, normally though the neck while duck diving, and flushing the warm water from inside the wetsuit. Brrr!
A wetsuit with full length arms and legs. Find out more about wetsuit types in detail.
Gaskets were areas on the neck, wrists, and ankles of a wetsuit where the wetsuit fabric was rolled inwards to create an improved waterproof seal in an effort to reduce seepage and flushing. Gaskets have been replaced by modern tight fitting wetsuit neoprene.
Where glue has been used in the sealing / stitching of the seam.
The gusset is the panel that runs down the arm, and designed to make paddling easier.
Hoods are wetsuit balaclava's that are used in very cold water conditions. Hoods can be bought separately, but some models of wetsuit include an attached hood, or a hood that can be removed if required. An wetsuit with hood attached can dramatically reduce flushing.
No prizes for this one. Extra resistant rubber pads placed over the knees of a wetsuit to help protect the knee area from wear and tear.
Liquid rubber is applied to the inside and / or outside of a seam over the stitching. This creates a 100% waterproof seal, strengthens the seam, and is ultra flexible.
Armless, long legged wetsuit.
Refers to thickness of neoprene. For example, 2mm refers to a wetsuit made from 2 millimeter neoprene. For full details, have a look at the wetsuit sizing page.
A zip at the back of a wetsuit, smaller than the traditional back zip. Its reduced size results in less chance of cold water seepage through the zip.
A small wetsuit zip, an alternative to the full length back zip. Mini zips can be located at the back of front of a wetsuit, but not both!
Neoprene is the stretchy synthetic rubber that wetsuit are made from. It is produced by polymerization of chloroprene, and its production process results in a waterproof material with insulating gas cells.
The separate sheets of neoprene that are joined together to make the wetsuit. As neoprene technology has moved on, the number of panels used to make a wetsuit has reduced, meaning less seams and a more flexible suit.
A water repellent material used as a lining in modern wetsuits, and some rashguards.
The areas of a suit where the panels have been joined together. There are a number of different ways that seams are created, read all about them here.
Armless, short legged wetsuit.
A wetsuit with short arms and legs.
A zip that goes across the shoulders at the back of the wetsuit.
A short legged wetsuit, with either long or short arms. Usually made from 2mm neoprene.
A full length wetsuit, normally with full length arms, but sometimes with short arms.
Stress point taping
Glueing tape over critical seam joints in a wetsuit to provide additional strength. Also see taped seams.
Superstretch / Ultrastretch
A type of neoprene developed for excellent stretch and memory. It is usually used on the arms or underarm panels to provide lower resistance when paddling.
Nylon tape is glued along the seams, covering the stitching. The tape strengthens the seam and makes it waterproof. The tape does decrease flexibility, and is now being replaced with more flexible liquid seams.
The addition of a titanium layer to the wetsuit provides increased insulation, resulting in a warmer suit. Also used in rash guards.
Hook and loop fastener, used to secure overlapping wetsuit panels on zipperless wetsuits and at the top of zippers.
Wetsuits, like most other purchases, come with a guarantee, issued to the purchaser of an article by its manufacturer, promising to repair or replace it if necessary within a specified period of time. These periods vary, so check at the time of purchase and find out exactly what warranty is on offer. Wetsuits can be expensive to buy, so it's nice to have some piece of mind with a good warranty.
A wetsuit without a zip. Ultra stretchy neoprene is used in it's construction.
Further Wetsuit Information
We have some other articles that give in-depth explanations of many of the terms mentioned here. Types of stitching are mentioned several times about, so why not continue by reading more about wetsuit seams and stitching.
What about the type of surfing wetsuit you'll need?
Take a look at our main wetsuit detail page that explains how a wetsuit works.
Taking care of your wetsuit is important if you want it to last. The price of a new wettie is high enough that you should care about it lasting.
If you are looking to buy a wetsuit, look through the wetsuit buying guide, which gives an overview of all considerations.
You Might Also Like
- Wetsuits - How they are made and how they work.
- The Different Types of Surfing Wetsuits
- Wetsuit stitching and seams explained in detail
- Wetsuit Sizing Guide from Surfing Waves
- The thickness of a wetsuit explained
- Taking care of your wetsuit
- Wetsuit Temperature Guide - make sure you get the right suit
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