How Frequently You Should Replace a Wetsuit
There are several factors that can dictate how frequently you should replace a wetsuit. We will go over several of those considerations, as well as ways to extend the life of your suit. The biggest factor is the amount of use the it sees. After that the age is a big consideration. One of the biggest impacts on how long a wetsuit lasts is how it is cared for.
Frequency of Wetsuit Use
Easily the biggest impact of how well a wetsuit works is how frequently the suit is used. Neoprene is a rubber that has small air pockets within it to help insulate a diver. The more frequently a wetsuit is used the more these bubbles get compressed and destroyed. These bubbles are what helps insulate the diver, more so than the rubber. If you are diving multiple times a week all year long your suit will compress, and be less effective sooner than if you only were diving once or twice a month. You can see how the amount you dive can dramatically impact how long your suit will last and how frequently you will need a new one. If you are diving multiple times a week you will likely need to replace your suit every year or two.
The Age of the Suit
Even if you don’t use your wetsuit very frequently it still breaks down over time. The neoprene is a rubber, and it stiffens with age. Every once in a while you may have to buy a suit for a trip to somewhere cold. That suit may only get used every year or two, but it will still start to become less effective after a few years. Other than the neoprene getting stiffer, another factor in this is that these suits are held together by glue and stitching. That glue has a shelf life and will break down before the rest of the wetsuit. Even with effective stitching you will get water intrusion that makes the suit feel colder. Even if you take perfect care of your suit, they tend to loose effectiveness within about five years from when they were manufactured.
Extending the Life Of your Wetsuit Through Proper Care
Taking proper care of a wetsuit can dramatically increase the life of it. One of the reasons wetsuits can loose their ability to keep a diver warm is from not being washed. We mentioned before that neoprene keeps a diver warm by having air pockets encased in rubber. Those air bubbles can become clogged with your skin cells, sweat, urine, and debris. As these air pockets get saturated with all of this they loose effectiveness to insulate you. Using wetsuit shampoo and cleaner and properly washing and drying your wetsuit cleans out these air pockets and extends the life of the wetsuit. DO NOT USE DISH DETERGENT. Any type of de-greasing soap will harm your wetsuit. Wetsuits are made of rubber, which is a petroleum product. If you use de-greasing detergent on your wetsuit it will start to fall apart.