What to look for when buying a wetsuit this summer

In some parts of the world, such as Ireland, water temperatures are too low to stay in the water for a long period of time without a wetsuit. So unless you are one of the lucky ones surfing every day in warm tropical waters, a wetsuit is a must.

When looking for a wetsuit it is important to find one that caters specifically to individual needs. There are several key factors to judge by: durability, flexibility, warmth provided, comfort, and style.

Wetsuits are made of a flexible material called neoprene, a type of rubber which is stitched together in panels for each part of the body. A wetsuit works by trapping a thin layer of water between the rubber and your skin, which your body then heats which in turn insulates you. Wetsuits are measured for the conditions by their thickness, basically the colder the water the thicker the neoprene required. A single wetsuit can have varying thicknesses of neoprene to allow more flexibility and the panels can be varied.

Portwest, based in Westport, Co Mayo, has been producing clothing and outdoor wear for the Irish market since 1904 and is Ireland's only manufacturer of wetsuits. Its range caters specifically for Irish waters which tend to be cold practically all year round. Portwest wetsuits use 3/2mm neoprene fabric and feature titanium mesh chest panels on all suits, which are made from a slick rubber which helps reduce wind chill.

The amount of movement made while surfing makes flexibility a necessity. This, too, depends on the thickness and quality of the wetsuit. A surfing wetsuit with few seams, usually at the arms and the legs, will provide more flexibility than a wetsuit with more seams. Portwest uses preshaped arms and legs on its suits to ensure comfort when moving.

With so many different designs out there, choose a wetsuit that looks appealing. The Portwest range of affordable wetsuits features great designs and is suitable for all the family. Children's wetsuits come in bright fun colours so kids are easily identified on the shore or in the water. Adult suits feature lime and pink chest panel designs and look great when out on the waves. Portwest wetsuits come in both full and shorty versions and are available for children as young as 12 months up to adult sizes 18 in women's and 3XL in men's.

Portwest wetsuits are available for purchase from the Portwest store in Galway and at www.outdoorshop.ie

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