What makes a good Spearfishing Wetsuit?
A quality spearfishing wetsuit is the most important part of your spearfishing gear
Selecting your spearfishing wetsuit is more than picking a pretty camouflage and hitting the water. There are a variety of quality of neoprenes, cuts and builds on the market and they all matter for the type of diving you're doing and longevity of the wetsuit. For the sake of this article we will focus on Torelli wetsuits as they are one of the market leaders for freediving wetsuit quality.
What makes Torelli wetsuits good quality?
Neoprene: The Torelli wetsuits for starters are assembled from Yamamoto neoprene which is made in Japan. However, there are quite a few grades of Yamamoto so don't be tricked into purchasing a lower grade Yamamoto neoprene. The Torelli wetsuits are made in the grade 39 neoprene, which is the perfect mix of nitrogen and neoprene for softness, warmth and durability. If you are looking for a stronger suit that will last significantly longer under high pressure, e.g. Commerical diving or Scuba diving, a Yamamoto 45 grade wetsuit will be more suitable. The other grades that are suitable are 40 and 38. #38 being the least desirable, with 50 and 88 being close to awkwardly stiff reducing movement in the water (88 is only really suitable for dry suits). It is worth noting that the higher grade neoprenes are significantly more expensive. Beware there are a lot of lower quality neoprenes on the market, they will not have the longevity of better quality Japanese neoprene and likely fall apart or crush earlier in their use. The quality of the suit is often reflected in the price.
If you're diving colder water you want to purchase Open Cell wetsuits, as these adhere closely to your skin and prevent water movement. This keeps you significantly warmer than "steamer" style wetsuits. The wetsuits that have fabric on the inside (Double Lined) not only reduce flexibility, but allow water to flow through the wetsuit. The idea of this is a layer of water will stay in the wetsuit, acting as insulation, warming your body. However, what happens in reality while diving is you continuously flush this water making yourself cold. These wetsuits are suitable for surfing, but you should almost always prefer a open cell wetsuit for freediving, spearfishing, and even scuba diving.
Camouflage: Does camo really matter for spearfishing? This is a tough question, the idea of camo is that it breaks up your body shape or merges you into the background. However, how well this works in achieving this is debatable. Potentially a more interesting camo could capture the curiousity of fish rather than hiding your presence. Furthermore you could argue that being in a patchy coloured wetsuit makes you look much less like a Seal.
Accessories: Diving wetsuits should always have attached hoods and be preferably two-piece. You'll note that all the quality brands: e.g. Torelli, Rob Allen, or Cressi will include this by default. The other handy features are knee pads, loading pads and knife/torch pockets.
Thickness: You may be familiar with double lined steamer style wetsuits, if this is the case you will likely greatly overestimate the thickness of the required wetsuit. Open Cell spearfishing and freediving wetsuits are much warmer.
My rule of thumb is:
5mm for water < 15C-16C,
3-3.5mm for water 16C-21C,
1.5mm for water 21C-24C
Rash Guard for water > 25C
Our spearfishing shop sells all the above thicknesses in suitable open cell wetsuits. We also offer some Commercial 45 grade wetsuits for scuba or commercial divers.
See our Wetsuit range here