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Wetsuits

Discussion in 'Tech Tips and Gear' started by RossK, May 2, 2017.

  1. RossK

    RossK

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    Hi,
    I bought a wetsuit which unfortunately is only 3mm, so I'm looking for one for long, swimming canyons that get no sun, so probably 5mm at least. I know next to nothing about them but there are lots on eBay.
    Presumably scuba wetsuits are fine as I guess that's what most are for? Is there much difference in weight between different brands for the same thickness?
    Anyone have a rough idea on how much more a wetsuit weighs for each extra mm of thickness, as weight is an issue not only for carrying in dry parts of canyons, but also for airlines with just a 21kg hold baggage allowance on international flights with 2 weeks' vacation gear.

    Is there anything else I should be aware of or look out for when looking for a wetsuit for canyoneering?

    Thanks in advance. Ross
  2. John Styrnol

    John Styrnol

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  3. Ram

    Ram

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  4. 2065toyota

    2065toyota

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  5. Tom Collins

    Tom Collins

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    The Cyclone 2 that Tom has on his site has been d/c'd and it's getting harder to find them in the standard sizes. The replacement model from Hyperflex is the vyrl.
    RossK likes this.
  6. RossK

    RossK

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    I had thought about that, but unless I'm going past to collect in person then shipping to the UK would be pretty expensive.

    Is 4mm warm enough for all canyons as I don't want to end up having to buy a third one. Although I've no plans to do them at present, do people use just 4mm for Choprock, Heaps and West, or do they need 5 or 6mm in spring or fall (bearing in mind I'm skinny).

    After writing my post someone also told me diving wetsuits wouldn't be good for canyoneering as you can't move your arms around too well, and swimming and triathlon ones would quickly get wrecked canyoneering. Don't know if that's true? Suppose that means a surfing one is best.
  7. Tom Collins

    Tom Collins

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    A 4/3mm suit is what I wear, and it was fine for pretty much everything I did. I get a little chilled in some of the colder canyons, especially once it got some holes in it, but as long as I keep moving I'm usually fine.
    RossK likes this.
  8. joeb

    joeb middle aged guy who lies around alot

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    Ross - here is comment I posted on earlier wetsuit discussion:

    Having spent thousands of hours surfing, diving, life guarding and canyoneering in the darn things where is what I have learned:
    1. The most important point is whether it fits properly or not. A well made, high quality 2/3mm wetsuit that fits you is far better than a cheap 5mm one that doesn't. Try several different types on prior to buying one.
    2. You get what you pay for! more money = better suit
    3. panel construction - more panels/pieces general means better body contour, therefore better fitting
    3. sewn & taped seams - look at the seams where the panels come together - the better quality wetsuits will have the panels sewn together and then a glued 'tape' over the seam versus a simple gluing.
    5. Zipper location and zipper covering - the two general options are up the middle of the back and across the shoulders. This is weak point of the wetsuit and where cold water wants to get in. There should be an overlapping piece of wetsuit under the zipper to seal off your body from water coming in. The zipper itself should be big and move easily back and forth.
    6. Types of wetsuits
    Diving suits - generally 5mm to 7mm range, quite warm but downside of less flexibility and range of movement as you generally just let your arms trail behind you while diving. I don't like using my dive suit for canyoneering as it is a battle to coil rope, downclimb, etc in the darn thing.
    Surfing suits - my favorite for canyoning, far more flexible than dive suits but generally more expensive as to make it more flexible and contouring requires a lot more panels, seams and taping.
    Tri-athlon suits - haven't yet tried one yet for canyoneering but they are designed for maximum arm motion and extra flotation, may be worth trying
    7. Different makers, styles - Try on several different ones and see what fits you best. Should be snug around every body part but not so tight you can't move in it. In general, once you find a size that is "comfortable" try one size smaller as they will be more flexible/comfortable when wet.
    8. Gloves & booties make the difference! don't go cheap on these two items, I would rather have good gloves and booties and a thinner wetsuit than the other way around. Nothing worse than being fumbling around with numb hands trying to get your ropes set.

    My 4/3 O'Neil surfing wetsuit with gloves and booties is good for anything in summer and for spring time I throw over it a 2mm farmer john shortie to keep my core warm.

    If you are fortunate to live in Southern California, I highly recommend going to the Dive N Surf "yard sale" where they literally have thousands of wetsuits & dry suits of all types on sale - they have it every year in late February

    Cheers and with wet suit technology where it is today, there is no reason to be out there miserable & cold
    Mike Rogers and RossK like this.
  9. joeb

    joeb middle aged guy who lies around alot

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    Ross
    Looking at your posting - if your 3mm fits well - get a short "farmer John" 2 or 3 mm wetsuit - either with no arms or short sleeve as well as short legs. Depending on the fit of the 3mm full suit, you can wear this inside or outside of the other one. I generally wear my shortie on the outside so it takes the beating and abrasion from the canyon. This will keep your core warm and still give you flexibility of movement for the long cold canyons. also as I noted above - quality gloves and booties are critical. Another item is a 'surf shirt'. A polypro shirt about 1mm thick, this is another way to add extra insulation.
    RossK likes this.
  10. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    I generally run colder than most I canyoneer with.

    I have a surfing 5 or 6 mm suit (I think it's 6/5). It even comes with a hood I never wear. I wear it in cold canyons.

    I also have a 3/2 I wear in other canyons or at warm times of the year.

    I think having multiple options is great and trying to get one suit to do it all is a little tough. But if I was going to get one suit to do it all, it would be a 4/3.

    Bear in mind you can also layer. You can throw on a neo shirt and neo shorts on top of a 3/2 or 4/3 and beef it up a bit.
    RossK likes this.
  11. RossK

    RossK

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    Thanks all. Great advice and that's a great guide @joeb seems you chose well as a water sports shop said O'Neil are probably lightest for equivalent thickness ( but pricier)
  12. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    The suits I carry are made by Henderson Aquatics, which run the brands NeoSPORT and HyperFlex. Just got the new Vryl suits in, but also have some of last year's suits. Main feature of the new suits is they cost 10$ more. But supposed to be stretchier rubber.

    These surfing suits have thicknesses like "3/2", "4/3" and "5/4". Which means much of the body is made in the first thickness for warmth, but some panels (arms in surfing suits) are made 1mm thinner for greater flexibility.

    The 3/2 suits are made to a different (cheaper) standard than the thicker suits. Seams are not glued, different zipper.

    The weight differences between the 3/2, 4/3 and 5/4 are pretty small.

    In my posse, we generally use the 4/3 most of the time. After several canyons, they get holes in various places - then we have 2 levels of warmth available: 1. HOLY 4/3 and 2. TIGHT 4/3. When going into a colder canyon, we take the tight one and "boost" it. You can make a shortee by taking your worst holy suit and cutting the legs and arms DOWN.

    Boosters:
    A. Pull a shortee suit on over your regular suit. Might want to go up a size if you can.
    B. Hooded Vest: I sell a 5/3 Hooded vest which I used yesterday and was very very very happy I had. One size larger than my suit, but note that I fill my L suit completely, though pride keeps me from moving up into the XL.
    C. Ski underwear (Capilene) underneath: adds a significant bit of warmth.
    D. Eating cookies and drinking water: keeping your engine operating well makes a huge difference.

    I also usually wear elbow and knee pads which protect the elbows and knees of your TIGHT suit from getting holed, but also add a noticeable amount of warmth. Tight neoprene shorts do the same.

    Tom
    Rapterman, Kuenn, 2065toyota and 4 others like this.
  13. RossK

    RossK

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    Thanks Tom. Useful advice. If coming from the Vegas end again next time - rather than Denver or Phoenix - I'll definitely put in an order & collect. The hooded vests look particularly useful. As both on your site are 5mm/3mm what is better about the X-Span? Also looks like there's no tax added to your quoted prices? If I can get it shipped to an American resident to pass to me, how much is a hooded vest to mail to a US address please?

    (And I assume above when you talk about having a holy wetsuit and a tight wetsuit choice, you mean originally they were identical wetsuits (ie identical sizes, thickness and tightness to start with), but ended up as one with holes and one without holes (the latter being the one you refer to as tight)
  14. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Your assumption is correct.

    I rarely use the hooded vest, as the hood is very tight. But it sure was useful yesterday. The hooded vests are not popular as a booster - most people use a shorty wetsuit of some kind when they need a boost.

    X-Span is their brand of especially stretchy neoprene.

    In the USA, the sales tax is managed by each State, and not quoted with the price. If the delivery address is in Utah, you will pay a sales tax of 6.95%. If outside of Utah, then there is no sales tax when you buy from me. I have a fixed shipping fee of $12.00, unless your order is just a few small items, in which case the shipping fee is $6.00.

    Tom
  15. 2065toyota

    2065toyota

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    I prefer the hooded vest / neo short stacking method as its eaiser to adjust mid canyon to regulate temps
  16. RossK

    RossK

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    @ratagonia Tom, although you said you rarely use the hood, I like the sound of your alternative idea of rolling it down to make a turtlehead, and as you said the hood's a good last resort when really cold.

    Is the Capilene top you use a 1, 2, 3 or 4 (which I think Patagonia later called light, middle and thermal/expedition) as the materials sound different with 4 warmest when dry, but I'm not sure about which when swimming ?

    I have a Mountain Equipment Co-op (I think they're Canadian brand) Polartec Power Dry vest which doesn't feel like a polyester shirt, but doesn't feel quite like a fleece either, and I read Patagonia later introduced Polartec power dry fabric technology into their Capilene 1 and 2, so I'm wondering if the Mountain Equipment is the same as your Patagonia Capilene
  17. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Capilene history

    Yvon Chouinard saved Malden Mills. They made teddy bear fake fur, CHEAP teddy bear fake fur and were 9/10 dead when Yvon/Patagonia connected with them to make polyester knits for outdoor fabrics. Patagonia developed the Capilene treatement for polyester that makes it hydrophobic, and makes it work really well for long underwear. Capilene is Patagonia's trademark for that treatment. The deal with the mill was that Patagonia got an exclusive on the fabric and treatment for X years, and then MM could sell it to other customers.

    So the technology is all the same across brands, with slight variations. I use "Capilene" as a general term to mean technical treated polyester knit fabrics, in recognition of Patagonia's development of this tech. "Ski underwear" is another way to say it. Whatever... It may not be all the same, under several different brand names, but it is pretty much the same.

    The stuff I used I would say is in the "3" range on the 1-4 scale. The materials on them are all the same treated polyester, but with different fiber styles and weave styles. In relation to water, the stuff is all the same.

    Tom
  18. Phavant

    Phavant

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    Tom have you had a chance to try out the Vryl suits yet? Whats your overall opinion on how they will perform? I have loved the Hyperflex disappointed its going away.
  19. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    I just got them in; have not taken one for myself. I bought a front-zip (shoulder to shoulder) to try and don't like it - seems smaller than the Large I was wearing before, which I fill up all the way. Seemed just as hard to get into, if not harder. Better neck seal... no big advantage.

    But, I consider the Vryl to just be a slight upgrade on the Cyclone. Word is the rubber is stretchier, which is always good. TJ Cottam / Adventure Plus also has these suits - might have used them in the field.

    Tom
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