Do wetsuits age, and do they lose their elastic qualities over time? Wetsuits are expensive, but they have become an essential part of surfing. They are considered a good investment. But how long do wetsuits last?
Ultimately, the length of your wetsuit’s life depends on the watersport you use it for and how often you use it. On average, a good wetsuit from a trusted manufacturer lasts anywhere between two years and five years. Cheaper wetsuits can last you a good season or two before ripping or getting loose seams.
How Long Do Wetsuits Last According To Different Water Activities
Aside from care and maintenance, how you use your wetsuit tells a lot about how long it will last.
Wetsuits for surfing can last anywhere from a single season to a few years, depending on their quality, how you care for them, and how you use them.
If you hit the waves almost every day, a high-performance stretchy surfing wetsuit can last a maximum of one year. After which, it may lose some of its elasticity. But, if you are an occasional surfer and wear it only when you get the chance, it may last a year or two.
Moreover, if you buy it and keep it unused until the next season, the suit may begin to harden and appear shrunk when put on. This is because of the rubber’s own life span, which deteriorates whether you use it or not.
Paddling and Kayaking
Frequent users must invest in stretchy and high-quality wetsuits. Too many movements while paddling and kayaking puts force on the wetsuits seams and may cause wear and tear over time. The best wetsuits for this water activity are one with reinforcement around the bottom and knees areas.
Another water activity that gives some use and abuse to a wetsuit, diving, requires a neoprene made of compression-resistant materials. Like surfing, if you dive only a few times a year, your budget-friendly suit may last you a year. Otherwise, invest in a higher-quality neoprene. You will definitely feel your money’s worth out of it.
Triathlon not only abuses a wetsuit. It beats it. During runs, triathletes usually rush to get in and out of their suits. The wetsuits get stepped on, thrown onto things and surfaces, you name it. In addition, they are also used in often chlorinated pool water, which is a challenging foe for neoprene.
Triathlon wetsuits are extra stretchy and soft thus are susceptive to tears, especially during the usually rushed method of getting in and out of it during a race. Ripped or holed neoprenes are almost always not as effective as they are brand new.
Wetsuit Care and Maintenance
The best way to extend the life of your wetsuit is to proper care and maintenance. The neoprene that wetsuits are made of gets even stretchier when wet. Therefore, the first step in caring for it lies in how you wear it and take it off.
Keeping your wetsuit clean is another factor. Even before taking off your wetsuit, it is a good practice to rinse it at the showers. This practice is to make sure salt residue is removed. Saltwater degrades not only the neoprene but the glue that holds it together.
After wearing, finish rinsing both sides with fresh water to wipe out any trapped salt water. Do not use hot water. Try as much to deep clean it with wetsuit shampoo every once in a while. Doing this keeps the wetsuit fresh and free of bacteria.
Lastly, hang it up to dry. Do not put it in the dryer or leave it under the sun to dry.
Two to five years is a reasonable length of time for a wetsuit to serve its function. That is if you provide it with the utmost care it needs. Remember, the better you take care of the wetsuit, the less damage it gets, and the longer it lasts.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: How do you know when to replace your wetsuit?
A: Over time, the neoprene’s insulating air pockets can begin to erode your wetsuit and will make it feel thinner and lightweight. This feeling is your signal to put that wetsuit to rest and get a new one. Moreover, a regular touch test can tell you if the neoprene starts to feel stiff or crumbly. Those are good telltale signs that they are good to go.