Going into the water for anything about sports requires a reasonable amount of comfort and convenience for you to enjoy the process. This is true for sporting or recreational activities like diving, snorkeling, or even something as subtle as surfing.
To be able to achieve your desired level of comfort for a wonderful performance, you need a good and reliable wetsuit. When it comes to choosing wetsuits, there are many types like the back zip and chest zip wetsuit.
I will be putting an end to the debate about which of these wetsuits suits better in this article. And I will do this by putting them up against each other on a scale.
The major difference between these two types of wetsuits is the closure type, which is usually a zipper closure for most wetsuits.
It is some kind of technical programming that seeks to provide the wearer with a good amount of comfort and flexibility.
While the chest zip wetsuit has its closure sewn into the front, precisely on the chest; the back zip wetsuit on the other has its closure constructed rather at behind the wetsuit, just along the spine.
What is a Chest Zip Wetsuit?
The not-so-common type of wetsuit is the chest zip wetsuit, which is starting to gain the preference of divers when choosing a suitable wetsuit.
The chest wetsuit has a resemblance to the front zip wetsuit but has a lot of good features that make it stand out.
This is the type of wetsuit that runs from just below your bosom or breast and up to your shoulder blade. In some cases, the new design now makes it in such a way that the zip makes a detour on your neck and closes off on one side of the neck.
In some designs, the zip is sewn as a slating line on the chest region with a clip to hold the zip opener, but this depends on the type of designer and the company’s taste.
Most chest wetsuits especially those from companies like O’Neill comes with a hole strategically placed in some spots of the suit like on the lower back, which performs the duty of draining water as a result of excessive flossing of water into the wetsuit.
This type of wetsuit is the most preferred type of wetsuit if you are a solo diver or you are considering being one because you will not require the aid of somebody to zip up or you zip after your diving exercise.
Nonetheless, chest zip wetsuits are not an everyday sight on the beach or even in the hiring shop. This is because they are pretty much seen as more hard to put on and less accessible.
Albeit, chest zip wetsuits are very much useful just like their direct opposite which is the back zip wetsuits. They offer unprecedented support around the neck, which often becomes an avenue for irritation when there is a large amount of neoprene or velcro.
The Velcro length and intensity on the chest zip wetsuits are less which promises comfort and less irritation. Due to the technicality used in the production of the chest or front zip wetsuits, they are a tad expensive.
This probably clears your curiosity as to why you seldom see them in the hiring shop or hear the shopkeeper ask if you want them.
What Is a Back Zip Wetsuit?
The very opposite of the chest zip wetsuit, is the popular and most used type of wetsuit, the back zip wetsuit.
This particular wetsuit has been named and termed a lot of things ranging from being the traditional wetsuit to being a diver’s one true friend. But either way, it lives up to any positive term which is accorded to it.
The back zip wetsuit refers to the type of wetsuit which has the zip of the wetsuit at the back, just as the name implies. It is the most used and purchased type of wetsuit.
In the back zip wetsuit, the zip runs from the back of the neck down to the base of the spine where it starts. It is supported by Velcro which has enough length to aid easy zipping up after wearing it.
While the back zip wetsuit has the advantage of being easy to wear, it is also very affordable. This explains why it is a common sight among divers or snorkelers and is the most offered type of wetsuit when you go to the hire shop to get one.
The back zip wetsuit has a special feature of a wetsuit that is void in other types of wetsuits and that is the wide-body opening through which you can easily make your way into the wetsuit.
It also can prevent the influx of water during swimming exercises in cold water or water bodies of sub-zero temperature. This show how well-built this wetsuit is, in the quest to regulate the temperature of the body.
Importance of Zip Wetsuits
Sweating or the accumulation of heat is what happens regularly with us as we wear clothes, especially in an environment of higher temperatures.
The same thing applies to wearing wetsuits which increase the temperature of the body in no time after a few minutes of wearing.
But that single metabolism is what gives rise to the invention of zip wetsuits, which were to serve the purpose of regulating the temperature of the body.
Take, for instance, assuming you are wearing a chest zip wetsuit on a hot summer afternoon, your best way of making sure you don’t get uneasy with the wetsuit is to let in a little bit of water into the suit through the front zip.
Even if you didn’t unzip, the stitching pattern of the zip (both chest and back zip) allows for flushing but in a minimal quantity.
Chest Zip vs Back Zip Wetsuit: Head-to-Head Comparison
This is the part where I bring in my judicious scale of comparison to work, for me to ascertain the unique features of these types of wetsuits and how well they work.
I will be doing this by using some crucial factors as a yardstick to measure the compatibility of these two types of wetsuits, and these factors include;
So I am starting this with the technicality of each type of wetsuit. As this s going to be my first basis of comparison, I think I will have to take your mind back to the production process of these two wetsuits.
It is usually easy and less critical to construct the shape and mold of the body from the angle of a back wetsuit, which is undoubtedly the most used type of wetsuit.
The traditional wetsuit is sewn from the back of the spine up to the neck where it ends, creating a larger Velcro and a pile of neoprene on the back.
Also, the use of different pieces of neoprene to construct the wetsuit is less on the back zip wetsuit, because it is like a one-way sewing process.
It is a different case altogether for the chest zip which is made with what I call a designer patchwork. I used this term because most chest zips need a tad constructive mind to make.
Although it comes up a bit as an improved type of wetsuit, there are a lot of rigors in the production process which makes it both hard to make and expensive to procure.
Cost of Purchase
Talking about procurement, I think this factor in choosing between the back zip and chest wetsuit has been an all-around factor.
As a lot of people tend to flow with the traditional wetsuit which is the back zip wetsuit than the chest wetsuit.
Their choice is nothing to get bewildered about because that is humans being humans. Who wouldn’t want to spend less than $200 on getting a wetsuit that is going to serve for like the next two years? I guess nobody.
This places the back zip wetsuit more advantageous over the chest zip wetsuit which is often priced at over $250, a price tag that scares off an average diver whose aim is just to have a good time and reconnect with nature.
Cost of Maintenance
Moving over to the cost of maintaining these wetsuits, which determines the fate of the wetsuit just in case anything goes wrong.
Maintenance with the back wetsuit suit is less straining and complicated to resolve in cases of split zipper or torn overlap because you can mend it easily by following the same simple and detailed seams of the manufacturer.
Meanwhile, things are different with the chest zip wetsuit which is already hard to produce and will certainly prove stubborn to mend.
The chest wetsuit is sewn in such a way that the zip is drawn slanting down sideways, with an overlapping neoprene which is only pulled over when the zipper is opened.
So, if there is any form of zipper malfunction in that area, mending it will be a problem given that the overlapping neoprene will need to be scraped open and the zipper replaced.
Also, there is more patchwork of neoprene done on the front of the chest zip wetsuit, which means that the multiple seams implored will need to be revised altogether.
This is not even a case of debate or comparison, but I will have to add it for those who would want to try out any of these wetsuits for the first time.
On that note, I believe the chest zip wetsuit is the most suitable if you are looking forward to having your movement smooth and less friction.
This is because if you are doing any movement which requires that you apply pressure at the back, it might come off back for the zipper at the back, which stands a chance of ripping open if used for quite a long time.
Contrary to that, a chest zip wetsuit is your best bet for flexibility in that manner because you will have less pressure on the back and less friction on your lumbar vertebrae.
Also, the back zip wetsuit is more preferred if you have a broader chest or you are chubby, because it has a bigger body space, unlike the chest zip which is narrow on your neck, a feature which is beneficial to slender fellows.
The temperature maintenance is another factor that will decide the effectiveness of each of these types of wetsuit. And this factor directly points to which of these wetsuits can keep off water during diving or snorkeling.
For this function, the chest zip wetsuit is a better option because it has a feature that caters to this function. There is a piece of neoprene at the back of a chest zip wetsuit that covers the neck and has a small hole around it.
The first feature makes sure that water does not come in that much into the wetsuit, while the second feature ensures that excess water flushed into the wetsuit is drained.
But, the back wetsuit does not do well in making sure that flushing is reduced, due to the larger neck opening on the back of the neck where the zipper is fastened.
Also, there is no advanced technology that puts holes strategically on the body of the wetsuit to aid the draining of water.
Ease of On/Off
Most of us usually find it important to remove our wetsuit immediately, particularly after a long dive in salt water.
So, that becomes a problem if the type of wetsuit you’re wearing doesn’t support this quick action.
The back zip wetsuit is my best bet for this function because it is easier to remove, you just have to reach out to the Velcro at the back and pull it down.
See? As easy as that. But the chest zip wetsuit is going to be a tough one because you will have to wrangle and wiggle yourself before you get off.
Similarly, having a back zip wetsuit is preferable as it is easier to wear than the chest zip wetsuit which requires you to stretch the neoprene unto your body until you fit in well.
Okay, this is the part I put down the two wetsuits from my weighing scale and decide which passes the test of comfort, flexibility, and cost (very important to me).
On that note, I give the credit to the back zip wetsuit. Although it is the traditional type of wetsuit that has been used for a long time, I still believe it has a good place in the closet of a diver. It is affordable, comfortable to some extent, and flexible.
This is where I call it a day in the comparison between the chest zip and back zip wetsuit. If you are to choose a wetsuit, make sure you are the factors of flexibility, production and cost into consideration.
This is because all these will determine if you get a good one or end up purchasing another wetsuit after a month or two.