Choosing the right wetsuit
We get asked this question several times a day. It depends entirely on your answers to the following questions: What? Where? When and How? What activities are you doing? Where are you doing it? Are you in the water or on the water? What is the water temperature? When are you doing it? Summer? Winter? How do you feel the cold? How long do you want to stay out?
The best wetsuit for you comes down to three main criteria:
Neoprene: Where it is made and what from. Is it standard or super stretch.
Style: coverage, thickness, construction.
Fit: firm or loose, standard size, custom-fit
Other Neoprene vs Yamamoto: What kind of rubber your wetsuit is made from is really important. Most other neoprene's are made from Petroleum which has less thermal properties. We use Japanese Yamamoto neoprene exclusively in our wetsuits. Made from Limestone and filled with nitrogen air, it's warmer, lighter, and more durable.
Standard or superstretch: What you do in the water usually indicates how stretchy you will need your suit to be. Standard neoprene is durable and great for all kinds of watersports where flexibility isn't as essential. Superstretch rubber is less durable but perfect for sports where ease of movement, comfort and performance is important.
Coverage: Steamer, a term coined from Steamer Lane, a famous surfing location in Santa Cruz, California, is used to describe a full length wetsuit - long sleeve and long legs — this gives you a full body cover and the warmest option.
A Spring wetsuit also known as a 'shortie' has short sleeves and legs and is usually better for warmer temperature waters.
A Long John style is like a singlet top with long legs. And Short John style with short legs.
Thickness: Our wetsuits come in a number of thicknesses and are measured in millimeters, such as 1.5mm, 2/2, 3/2, 3/3 or 4/3. The first number indicates the core thickness of the suit (the body), with the second number for the arms. For example a Glued 3/2 suit is 3mm in the body, 2mm in the arms and 3mm in the legs. Our 3/2 Flatlocked wetsuits are 3mm in the body and 2mm everywhere else. Generally, the thicker the suit the warmer you will be but the thicker you go the more you compromise on flexibility.
Construction: The way a suit is constructed really effects warmth. With advances in wetsuit technology, we can now make thinner but warmer suits. For example, a glued & sealed 2/2 is warmer than a flatlocked 3/2 — so thickness isn't everything. Make sure you think about how a suit is constructed and what kind of seams it has.
Firm or Loose: The firmer the fit, the warmer the suit. If you're in the water, a firm fit is essential. A bad or loose fit will flush/ let in water and 'pool' at any air pockets inside your wetsuit. However, if you are out of the water (on a jetski, kayak etc) then you can get away with a looser fit than, say, a surfer or swimmer.
Standard: Seventhwave make a full range of standard sizes in men's, women's and youth.
Custom-fit: We've found approximately a third of people don't fit a standard sized wetsuit. Tailored to your specific colour, size and body shape and hand-crafted on site — the warmest, best fitting and most flexible wetsuit is one that is custom made.
Our suits really are different to other brands. Basically it comes down to the rubber we use — other brands use a Chinese or Taiwanese made rubber (Sheico etc) which has an air count of 60% and is petroleum-based, meaning the longer you are in the water the more water it absorbs and the less warmth it holds. It is also made using a highly chemical process involving messy and hazardous petro-chemicals. Only a handful of companies around the world use the premier rubber we use — Japanese Yamamoto — which is made from limestone and has a closed-cell content of 94% Nitrogen air, is better for the environment, and is longer lasting.
What this means in simple terms is that our suits have a lot more air bubbles inside the rubber than other brands (30% to be exact), don't soak up the water, weigh nearly identical wet or dry, and are quick drying. All this makes for a really warm, light suit great for surfing and other sports. Our 3mm rubber would be as warm as Chinese 4mm, simply because of the thermal properties of the air inside our rubber. Add Titanium and you really are cooking!
There is a big difference — flatlocked seams are breathable, whereas glued and sealed seams are water tight.
Flatlocked seams are achieved by lapping the neoprene together in order to create a flat, comfortable and breathable seam perfect for spring, summer and autumn waters in New Zealand (or water temperatures around 15˚ upwards). The breathable seam allows a thin layer of water inside the suit, which is trapped and heated between the rubber and your body. This is not really suitable for cold, winter waters.
Glued and stitched (G&S) seams are glued, blindstitched and/or taped, making a tightly sealed seam that will not let much water pass through at all. Therefore G&S seams are perfect for colder waters, and when combined with the right neoprene thickness can ensure comfortable activity in 6-8˚ waters.
Our sealed seams are created by a double coating of glue, butted together and then blindstitched on the outside and fully tape on the inside. Blindstitch is created with a curved needle and does not penetrate through to the other side of the neoprene. A glued seam is flat, supple, watertight and flexible.
We have four main steamer models — "Vortex", "Enduro", and "Max"—each with different features.
We start off our range with the Vortex 3/2 steamer. It's one of four different steamer suits we make.
Our most economical model, the Vortex is made from Yamamoto standard stretch neoprene. It features breathable overlocked seams, back zip, ankle zips, and armatek kneepads, and with care and maintenance will give you 5 plus years of service.
The Viper 3/2 is a versatile model constructed from breathable, flatlocked seams. It features a mix of standard neoprene through the torso and legs and super-stretch neoprene through the arms and shoulders, for flexibility and paddling power. The back zip version includes an extended v-neck seal. The neck entry version has a chest zip, and ensures more stretch, a better seal through the shoulders, and less flushing. Like the back zip Viper it has superstretch through the upper half, flatlocked seams, and has a titanium-lining in the arms and shoulders.
The Enduro 3/3 is the sealed version of the 3/2, or referred to as glued & stitched construction. It is a neck entry, fully titanium lined winter wetsuit, and features glued and sealed, water-tight seams. It is made of a combination of neoprene's. Standard stretch neoprene, through the legs and torso and super stretch neoprene through the arms and shoulders.
The MAX is our most high performance, ergonomic and lightweight wetsuit. It comes in back zip or neck entry, and is totally made from superstretch, yamamoto neoprene. It features flexible Kevlar kneepads and curved, flatlocked seams for added comfort and stretch. The MAX is fully titanium lined - increasing warmth by up to 40%.
The MAX model is even stretchier, and can be made in a super light 1.5mm competition model. Our MAX winter model can be made as a neck entry or back zip and in a number of different thicknesses, and features fully glued, sealed and taped seams.
Our entire range can be made in men's or women's models, colours, and custom-fit to your unique measurements.
Stretchy! Being a lighter material also means performance and stretch is increased. Our Viper model has a superstretch rubber in the shoulder, arm and underarm panels, while our MAX model is 100% superstretch rubber — giving our suits amazing elasticity, memory, and multi-directional stretch capacity.
While Chinese rubber can be made to feel super soft, it often stretches after a few seasons and ends up being a size or two larger than when you purchased it. Our superstretch rubber is both soft AND has what is called 'memory' — meaning our wetsuits mold to your body shape and doesn't get loose over time. It also has an elongation of 480-580%. Compare that to the elongation of the human skin under the arm, which is 60-70%, and you get an idea of how stretchy the MAX model is. And if you get a custom fit, your performance is maximised!
Our wetsuits are made to perform. Another advantage of Japanese rubber is its lifespan. Because of Yamamoto's independent closed-cell content, cell walls aren't connected and will not tear as easily as standard rubber — meaning our wetsuits are a lot more durable, harder wearing and longer lasting. Most people find our wetsuits last twice as long as their other suits. We find if you use them a lot and take good care of them between surfs' you should get 2-3 seasons from a Max, 3-6 seasons from a Viper and even longer from a Vortex. All our wetsuits are made in New Zealand and are covered by our limited warranty on materials and construction.
Unfortunately, zips can let in water and don't stretch. That's why we also make chest zip wetsuits. A chest zip wetsuit really is warmer, simply because of the complete seal around the neck and the elimination of the cold, metal object (zip) down your back. Also having no back zip means greater freedom of movement in the back panel, allowing more stretch and a wetsuit that feels like a second skin.
Chest zip wetsuits are entered through a super stretchy and durable neck panel. You then stretch the 'bib' over your head from the back shoulders, which then seals and zips into place high on your chest. With good technique a chest zip suit is easy to get in and out of, and adds a number of benefits back zip suits don't have.
What's the best option for me?
'Smoothie' has become a common way to describe single-sided nylon neoprene. This is neoprene with a nylon (fabric) finish on one side and a rubber finish (smoothie) on the other. The trend over the last 20 years has been to use smoothie in the center chest panel and center back panel. It was originally used in these panels to lower the wind chill factor, as after immersion in water the smoothie drained away any water particles. Because the smoothie did not hold water the wind chill factor against the chest was much lower.
Because Seventhwave uses non-absorbent Limestone neoprene, we have found we no longer need to use smoothie. So on some wetsuits we offer you the choice of having smoothie or not. To help you decide what option is best for you, check out this helpful information on what smoothie is and how it works.
Ordering and Returns
We pride ourselves on exceptional customer service. Without customers we are nothing! zilch! nada! walla-isshi! So we've made sure all your delivery, returns, and privacy concerns are covered. You can see our terms here.
Most of us after finally doing the measuring thing and ordering a new wetsuit, can't wait for it to arrive. Once it does, we dash home to try the wetsuit on. "Great, fantastic, awesome!" are the usual replies we get but for a small percentage of you we have had small problems affect you getting your perfect fit first time round. Well the good news is we are very keen to get any sizing issues corrected and as soon as possible. More Info Here