If you’re a frequent diver or generally like being on the waves and in the water, chances are high that you have your own wetsuit you go around with. However, if you forgot yours or are a casual diver, there’s the option of borrowing one or buying a used wetsuit as it’s much cheaper.
Buying a used wetsuit has its benefits and downsides as well. While the wetsuit will be much cheaper than buying a brand new one, they might have defects that may render them unusable for some people. Also, given that wetsuits need to be broken in and adapted to your body shape, they’ll not fit right away as they would have been broken in by someone else.
In an ideal world, we would advise you to go right in for a new wetsuit. However, some situations can make buying a used wetsuit a good option even better than going for a new one. Below, we assess the situations in which you would be better off with a secondhand wetsuit, and ones in which you’re better off with a new one.
How long does a wetsuit last?
Before you go into buying a used wetsuit, you need to know exactly how long a wetsuit lasts. This helps you decide whether it’s a worthy venture or not. This answer is a bit subjective given that the longevity of a wetsuit will depend on its quality and the number of times it has been used. The care routine is also important as wetsuits that are poorly take care of will be in poor quality when bought as second-hand options.
A high-quality wetsuit is expected to last you a whole season if you use it lots of times. This means that if you use it more than 3 times each week, the wetsuit isn’t expected to last for more than 2 seasons at best. If you use it much less, it can serve you up to five good seasons.
Whether you use a wetsuit frequently or not, it will still degrade with time. While the one used frequently will deteriorate due to being stretched many times, the one that isn’t used many times will tend to harden and shrink up each time it’s put on.
The reason we chose on a high-quality wetsuit is that it’s the most comfortable given how much it stretches and adapts to your body. However, these good quality wetsuits have shorter lifespans compared to their lower quality alternatives. The reason for this is that high stretching rubber often breaks down faster than the harder and stiffer type of rubber. For this reason, buying a wetsuit is usually a tradeoff between flexibility and longevity.
The other aspect that determines how long a wetsuit lasts is the care routine. For example, the wetsuit needs to be rinsed in fresh water after every use and then dried in the shade. If the one you’re going for has been used without rinsing or rinsed in salty or chlorinated water then dried in the sun, it won’t last that long.
When to Buy a used Wetsuit
Some reasons you might need to buy a used wetsuit include the following:
- When you’re a beginner diver. If it’s among your first times diving or wearing a wetsuit and you’re not sure whether to commit to the sport or not, a used wetsuit seems like a good non-committal investment. When you make up your mind, you can always get a new one or ditch the sport altogether.
- When you’re low on cash. A used item such as wetsuit would obviously be cheaper than the brand-new product. For this reason, you can save lots of cash buying a used wetsuit without interrupting your financial plans.
- You have another wetsuit. You might not have planned on getting into the water but the waves are just too cute to resist. Given that you haven’t carried along your wetsuit, spending a little cash on a used wetsuit is a great idea of hitting the waves without breaking the bank.
- If you have damaged your primary wetsuit. If, during your time on the waves you damaged your wetsuit, a used wetsuit is a good one a it’ll save on time and money and let you finish up your session on the water.
In these cases, a used wetsuit would be a great idea especially when it comes to cutting costs while getting a good wetsuit.
When NOT to Buy a used Wetsuit
You shouldn’t buy a wetsuit that has already been used for the following reasons:
- It’s in bad condition. While you’re making a tradeoff by getting a used wetsuit anyway, you should go for one that’s still in good condition. Getting one that is worn out defeats the purpose of a wetsuit as you’ll lose the heat preservation and general protection.
- You have sensitive skin. We obviously expect that anyone selling you a used wetsuit has cleaned it thoroughly. However, you might find one that has been used by someone with a skin condition which can infect you. The risk is higher when you have a sensitive skin.
- If you surf a lot and have no wetsuit. Rather than going for a second-hand option which will cost you less but last even less, just save up for a proper wetsuit that will last you several seasons.
- If you are disgusted with wearing a wetsuit worn by someone else. A lot of people pee in their wetsuits and if that scares you, then you shouldn’t get a second-hand wetsuit.
- If you’re always updating your wetsuits. If you’re an early adopter who’s always getting the best and the latest wetsuit, don’t buy a used one as it’ll quickly bore you down.
Under these conditions, you’re better off just saving for a new wetsuit.
Second-hand vs Brand New Wetsuits
When comparing the two types of wetsuits, you should focus on the following pros and cons for each:
Brand new wetsuits Pros & Cons
With brand new wetsuits, the aspects are as follows:
- The wetsuit will be in perfect condition.
- It’ll have better performance than a used wetsuit.
- You can buy it on a financing program making the total cost less of a burden.
- You can exchange the wetsuit when it gets old with a new one and add some money.
- You get the exact wetsuit in terms of the size, brand and type as you wanted it to be.
- A new wetsuit will have a much higher resale value than if you’d bought it as a second-hand one.
- It’ll last much longer than a second-hand wetsuit bought at the same time and subjected to the same usage rate and care routine.
- A new wetsuit will often have a warranty and some type of guarantee of its quality.
- You’ll be the first user and no one would have spoiled it.
- It costs more than a second-hand wetsuit.
- It’s a bigger risk as it might not fit yet costs a lot.
- Most wetsuits are bought online hence might not fit in person and the return policies for different manufacturers are different. Some might not even work.
- Damaging such a wetsuit is costlier than a second hand one.
- Not friendly to the environment as it means there is more neoprene in circulation. Being non-biodegradable, neoprene adds to the amount of waste in circulation.
These aspects should help you decide on whether you want a new wetsuit or not.
Second-hand Wetsuits Pros & Cons
As for second-hand wetsuits, here are the aspects to take note of:
- It’s usually cheaper than a brand new one.
- Given that it’s cheaper, you won’t worry too much about damaging it.
- Not so big of a risk as it might not fit and won’t be such a large loss.
- You can get a great wetsuit for a low price.
- It has less damage on the environment.
- Given that most second-hand purchases occur in person, you’re likely to try on the wetsuit to gauge if it fits or not.
- It may not have been looked after properly hence of a poor quality.
- May not be the exact type of wetsuit you need or imagined it would be.
- The material might have hardened up.
- You can’t buy it through a financing method as few vendors allow that.
- It can be compromised such that you can’t use it properly. For instance, it could have holes and torn regions. These make it less likely to offer protection from the cold and objects.
- The performance will be less than what you get from a new wetsuit.
- You won’t get a guarantee or warranty with a second-hand wetsuit hence anything happening to it is up to you to fix.
- The wetsuit might have been misused including being peed in.
These aspects can help make up your mind on a secondhand wetsuit.
Used Wetsuit Buy Guide (what to look for when choosing)
When seeking to buy a wetsuit that has already been used, look for the following aspects:
The condition of the neoprene
Neoprene changes looks with use and age. As such, you can easily tell when it’s old or new. For example, neoprene will get thin in areas that experience lots of stretching such as the shoulders, knees and others. If you notice this, it means that these regions will be loose and likely to tear apart.
Besides that, it means you’ll feel colder in these regions given that the neoprene in them will be compromised.
If the color of the neoprene in some parts of the wetsuit is pale when compared to the other areas, it means thee regions are compromised and are of a poor quality. Another part to be pale on an old neoprene wetsuit is the black double lining.
Seams, stitches and holes
The seams and stitches of your wetsuit determine how good it is in providing protection for your body against the cold and objects. On a used wetsuit, check to ensure that there aren’t any torn or worn-out seams and stiches as this could spell disaster for you.
Torn areas and holes in a neoprene wetsuit are quite difficult to fix and seeing some on the wetsuit should dissuade you from buying it. Torn areas and holes will only get worse with use as you stretch the wetsuit further and further.
Holes are a particularly delicate issue with deal with. If they’re smaller than 4 inches wide, they can be repaired quite well. If larger than that, it’s quite difficult to fix them and retain the integrity and looks of the wetsuit. It’s also tough knowing the exact size of the hole. As such, just keep away from wetsuits with holes.
The flexibility of the neoprene
Neoprene gets hard and stiff with time. For a second-hand wetsuit, this is important given that it determines how resilient the wetsuit is and how flexible it is in fitting to your body. You can easily test this but stretching a part of the wetsuit with your hands. If it feels tough and stiff, don’t buy it. If it still stretches with ease, it’s a good one.
You should also consider the following aspects:
- You should at least see it in real life to decide whether it’s what you want or not.
- You should also try on the wetsuit then gauge how much it fits and how flexible it is.
- Check to make sure the zips are in good condition before buying.
- Check the thickness to ensure it’s the right one for the type of water youre going to use the wetsuit in.
You should also haggle over the price to get the best one for yourself.
Where to Buy Used Wetsuits
Used wetsuits are found in physical wetsuit shops as very few online stores offer them. You can even find them close to the beach.