Wetsuits are made from neoprene, which is a type of rubber compound. The thickness can vary, and therefore provide different levels of heat. A single nylon suit has nylon on the inside and is the warmest option. However, double nylon models are more durable and have a longer lifespan, which makes them popular.
Usually the thickness used on different parts of the wetsuit varies. A 5/3 wetsuit has a thickness of five millimetres on the body itself, and three millimetres on the arms. The reason for this is to keep you warm but not impair the movement in your arms.
0.5–1.5 millimetres primarily provides protection against chafing and sun. These wetsuits are used in tropical parts of the world that have a water temperature of over 23 degrees.
2 millimetres is for use in water with a temperature of 20 to 23 degrees, such as the Mediterranean.
3/2 millimetres is a good alternative when the water is about 14 to 20 degrees, as is often the case during the British summer.
5/3 millimetres is suitable as an all-round suit, and is a good choice if you want to extend the surfing season at home this autumn.
Thicker than this is suitable as a winter suit and will keep you warm in really cold water, such as during winter.
How thick your wet suit needs to be also depends on your swimming style. For crawl, you should wear a full suit that measures three millimetres. If you swim on breast stroke, it is recommended that you wear a three-millimetre shorty, i.e. a wet suit with short sleeves and legs. This reduces the risk of your swim strokes splashing water into the suit. If you’re heavy in your feet while swimming, it’s a good idea to wear a full suit even if you do breast stroke.
Having a zip or not is entirely a matter of taste. Wearing a zip-free wetsuit gives you maximum mobility and stretch – but it’s harder to put on and take off. A wetsuit with a zip at the back (back zip) is much easier when dressing or undressing. Some variants have a horizontal zip over the chest (chest zip), which has the same benefit.
In case you need to wash you wetsuit, you can read more over at Quiksilver.com for expert advice.