The modern Winter Wetsuit has become a vast technological competition between manufacturers. One of the biggest differences in approaches is zippers. For this post, we are going to try and fill in the grey area on zippers, and give you a better understanding of what makes your ideal Winter Wetsuit.
We're sure at some point in the relatively recent past you will have heard statements like; 'A proper Winter Wetsuit must have a chest zip nowadays as it is warmer', but is this claim actually true? The answer for us here at Boylos is no. It is the Thickness of the neoprene, seam quality along with inner and outer lining material that makes the difference on how warm a wetsuit is.Having a Winter Wetsuit with a chest zip doesn't make it any warmer than a back zip. However, we do think having a chest zip on a Winter Wetsuit is better for extreme colds and different types of surfers. The reason for this is suitability for individual surfing styles, body types and surfing environment.
One of the biggest benefits of using a chest zip, is that it almost entirely eliminates 'flushing', an occurrence in surfing where cold water rushes down the back of your wetsuit. This is a massive advantage in the winter when the water temperatures can get very low, as it stops your body losing vital heat when 'flushing' occurs and then wasting energy trying to reheat your body. Some manufacturers also argue that using a chest zip also makes your Winter Wetsuit more comfortable to manoeuvre. This we can agree with, but only for a certain style of surfing and surfers. Performance shortboard surfing usually requires a relatively hunched stance, stooping for a barrel or keeping low leaning forward for fast rail to rail turns. A chest zip takes away the feeling of the zip being pressed against you back in these situations, making it more comfortable. For a surfer with a more upright stance, such as long boarders or surfers who prefer to cruise and surf easy. The element of the back zip pressing on your back isn't so prominent and therefore the chest zip makes very little difference on comfort.
So does this mean that back zip Winter Wetsuits should be kept purely for the less performance orientated surfer? No, not at all. The back zip featured on a good Winter Wetsuit are more than capable of rivalling the performance characteristics of a good chest zip Winter Wetsuit. It's purely what you find more comfortable to surf in. Most modern back zip wetsuits also come with a pull over internal 'flush' barrier. This feature stops 'flushing' in the same way as the chest zip Winter Wetsuits, although you could argue that chest zips are more effective, due to the thicker material layer between body and water. Quite a lot of women can find that paddling in a chest zip wetsuit can be uncomfortable, as they are laying on the zip in an uncomfortable area. If you find yourself in the same situation a back zip will probably suit you better.
Where we feel the situation can really be resolved is; Rather than judge which Winter Wetsuit is warmer, look for the one that suits your surfing best. If you are a shortboarder who is going to spend a lot of your paddling time duck diving (prime 'flushing' territory), then it would suit your surfing more to have a chest zip Winter Wetsuit. As it will be most effective in eliminating the chance of flushing. Hardcore winter surfers, in the coldest waters, will also prefer chest zip suits as you can purchase built-in hoods on a Winter Wetsuit with a chest zip.
If though, you are a passionate long boarder. The back zip Winter Wetsuit may be a better purchase, as you are not going to be in as much risk of 'flushing'. Also long boarders often lay as flat as possible when catching the wave to keep the nose of the board low and maximise paddling efficiency. This is where a chest zip could get in the way, or be uncomfortable.
Hopefully this article has answered some of the questions or queries you have over which zipper would be best for your Winter Wetsuit. But if you have any questions on what Winter Wetsuit would suit you best then don't hesitate to contact us through the website, or the shop in Lyme Regis where one of the Boylos staff will be happy to help! Happy surfing!
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