MSW Wetsuit Guide: Front Zip or Back Zip?

Mid Budget Mid Budget

In the good old days you zipped your wetsuit up on your back. There were three disadvantages:

  • Firstly and most importantly zips don’t stretch, by placing the zip across the back you create a big stretchless zone right between the shoulders, the bit that moves the most as you paddle.
  • Secondly to seal the wetsuit at your neck you relied on a velcro enclosure, the same velcro snagged and pulled the nylon coating on the neoprene every time you opened and closed the wetsuit limiting its lifespan and irritated your neck if tight, letting in water if not.
  • Thirdly it’s a pain to do up or undo a zip on your back in a car park on your own with cold hands!

The front zip solves all these problems, a ‘scallop’ opening allows you to climb into the top of the suit (remember how much these suits stretch, it’s no struggle) a flap comes over your head and zips neatly on your chest.

For our money Front Zip is simply better if you can afford it (the slightly more complex construction can add a little to the price). Some surfers claim back zip suits are easier to take on and off, we don’t agree - but personal preference will, of course, dictate your choice.