I’ve lost count of the number of people I know who manage to destroy a new (and expensive) wetsuit in a very short space of time. Many people seem to require a new wetsuit every season. I’ve a suit that is still pretty much like new after four seasons. The secret is to take care of it – not difficult to do, and can save a lot of money.
- If you have long nails, use a pair of cotton gloves to put on your wetsuit – I’ve seen more suits ruined by the wearers nails than by anything else. Even a slight nick with a fingernail can do a lot of damage to a wetsuit.
- Repair any damage immediately. I use Black Witch neoprene adhesive to repair any cuts in mine. Incidentally, store the neoprene adhesive in the freezer between uses to prevent it hardening in the tube.
- As soon as you return from a swim, rinse the wetsuit with fresh cold water. I always rinse mine well with a garden hose, then hang in over a washing line to dry. Always allow it to dry inside out – the inside soaks water, while the neoprene coating on the outside doesn’t, so you need the inside to dry. Also, the outside is easily damaged by UV rays, so I always store mine inside out.
- Don’t store your wetsuit in a car in hot weather – the heat can melt the joints, and a hot wetsuit can be very easily damaged when being pulled on.
- Never, ever pull off the wetsuit by standing on the legs to pull them off – I’ve seen several people ruin wetsuits during triathlon transition by doing this (just because you saw a pro do it, doesn’t make it right – he or she will get a new suit from their sponsor for every race!). Avoid putting on or taking off your wetsuit on gravel or sand if you can.
- Store the wetsuit in its own bag, separate from the rest of your tri gear – nose clips, cycling cleats, race belts etc. can puncture a wetsuit if it is thrown in a bag with them.
- Never swim in a pool with your wetsuit – chlorine is your wetsuits enemy. For the same reason, never pee in your wetsuit either. It’s just gross too.
- If you use a lubricant to avoid chaffing (and you should!), ensure it is compatible with your wetsuit material – NEVER use petroleum jelly with a wetsuit.
- Never store your wetsuit if it isn’t fully dry, and never let it sit in your gear bag or car for a few days after a swim.