What to look for when buying a winter wetsuit: GlideSoul 3mm wetsuit review
Alexa Hohenberg (Still Stoked) - 30th August 2017
As summer draws to an end in Australia, I realised it was time to undertake a task I generally dread…I had to get on with buying a winter wetsuit (steamer), to get me through the winter months. I’ve owned a few different brands of wetsuits and have never really found that one I want to keep going back to. So, having loved GlideSoul’s line of neoprene bikinis, I thought I would try out one of their 3mm full wetsuits.
A bit about the GlideSoul brand
GlideSoul waterwear is designed for the female athlete who appreciates the city life and loves to get out on the water. They create their waterwear with a design aesthetic for the girl who loves adventure and pushing herself, but still wants what she wears to reflect her personality and help her standout in the surf. The brand is based in London, UK- which means they know a thing or two about cold water conditions (and style) – and they have offices around the world.
We previously reviewed their range of neoprene bikinis and found that the brand has achieved that hard to find balance of style and function in a surf bikini – no easy feat from our experience.
I decided to go for the 3mm full wetsuit with chest zip
After 1 month of surfing in it – I love it. Here’s why…
The wetsuit material
GlideSoul makes their 3mm full winter wetsuit with S-FOAM neoprene. Neoprene is an elastic synthetic rubber material with good insulation properties. How warm your wetsuit is depends on how thick the neoprene is.
I’d actually never heard of S-FOAM (or the L-FOAM they previously used), but a quick Google search told me that there are actually several grades of neoprene. S-FOAM is one of several neoprene types that are designed for water sports.
What are the benefits of S-FOAM vs L-FOAM neoprene?
- 20% lighter than L-FOAM (the standard type of neoprene used for wetsuits)
- Softer and stretchier
- Easier to put on and take off (a big win when getting out of a wet and cold wetsuit in the winter)
- Much greater freedom of movement
I find this wetsuit really comfortable to surf in, allowing for a good range of movement when paddling and it really is easy to get in and out of.
This wetsuit keeps you warm
The main thing a winter wetsuit should do is keep you warm in the water in the winter months. Not only does this make your time in the water more enjoyable, it also keeps you out there longer. This 3mm wetsuit does just that. And how does it keep you so warm?
- Glue blind-stitching
- Fully taped interior inseams
- 3mm versus a 3/2mm
- Chest zip option vs back zip option
I wasn’t sure why I was so warm in this 3mm wetsuit versus previous brands I had worn. So I started comparing the above features against my previous steamers. In case like me, you weren’t sure how a wetsuit actually kept you warm or why the above is important, I thought I’d explain.
How does a wetsuit work?
Your wetsuit keeps you warm by catching a thin layer of water between your skin and the neoprene. Your body heat warms this layer of water. The better the fit of the wetsuit, the warmer you are. Because cold water will keep trying to enter your wetsuit when you are in the water (think duck dive and falls), flushing the warm water out. That is how we get cold so fast in the surf. Cold water can penetrate the wetsuit in a number of places:
- The spaces for your head, hands and feet
- The stitches that keep the wetsuit together
- The zipper.
I could go on for pages about the various thicknesses available and the types of stitching you can buy, but for the purposes of this review I will just explain why the above features are important.
Glue blind-stitching means that before the neoprene is stitched, it is glued together. Blind-stitching means that the needle never punctures the neoprene completely, so no real holes are created. The result is watertight.
Fully taped interior seams
Of course, over time the elasticity may wear out and the salt and sun may cause the glue to separate and open the stitch from the inside. To help combat some of the wear and tear your wetsuit will experience, GlideSoul has also taped all interior seams. This means that all the inner parts of stitches are completely covered and glued at high temperature and with special tape. That means no opening of the stitches and no water. This type of stitch is very time consuming to make and also expensive.
3mm versus 3/2mm
The GlideSoul full wetsuit is 3mm – this means that it is 3mm all over the wetsuit – your body, legs and arms. Some winter wetsuits are 3/2mm. This means that the body is 3mm in thickness, but the legs and arms are only 2mm.
Chest zip option vs back zip option
I’ve only ever used back zip steamers in the past – mostly because it tended to be difficult to find chest zip steamers for women. Many people prefer the back zip option as they feel it’s easier to get in and out of. But as I explain above, you want to keep water out of your wetsuit. Zippers allow more space for cold water to get into your steamer. The chest zip option protects you from water flushing into your wetsuit. And in my opinion, was actually easier to get in and out of than fiddling with a back strap to do up a zipper.
This wetsuit looks different
I loved that this wetsuit had both a splash of bright colour and a subtle pattern. GlideSoul’s 3mm wetty helps you to stand out in the water, without being too loud. It has a unique design that made me feel like I was incorporating a touch of my personal style into my functional water gear. And it isn’t your standard black and isn’t so loud that you feel like you can only wear it if you can paddle into 6ft barrels.
GlideSoul actually does a pretty unique range of swimwear, activewear and wetsuits for every season that are all tough and feminine and have a touch of personality with loads of functionality.
I would totally recommend investing in a GlideSoul wetsuit to keep you warm in the water in the winter months. It is comfortable, durable and warm – and it looks rad as heck. It comes in at an affordable price and from what I can tell, will definitely last me through the winter season in Australia.
You can check out their range of wetsuits, springsuits, vests and swimwear
Glide Soul wetsuits come with a 12 month warranty on all stitching, materials, construction and tapered seams.
Items can be returned or exchanged within 30 days of purchase.
They offer free shipping to a wide range of countries.
Read the full review and find out the score it got on Alexa's Blog Still Stoked.