New dhb wetsuit for open water swimming


If you plan to try open water swimming or a triathlon, you’ll need a wetsuit designed for swimming. We review dhb’s new wetsuits.

Dhb is Wiggle’s in-house brand and has traditionally been focused on cycling. Now it is branching out into triathlon products, including the new dhb wetsuit for men and women.

What is a swimming wetsuit?

A swimming-specific wetsuit is different from a surfing wetsuit. It needs to be flexible around the shoulders and arms for efficient and non-restrictive swim strokes yet also insulating enough to keep you warm in chilly lochs, rivers and oceans.

A wetsuit is usually a fairly costly item, with most priced at more than £100, so it’s vital that you choose one that fits well and is the right one for your purposes at the outset.

The dhb swimming wetsuit is aimed at entry-level open water swimmers and triathletes and is priced at £90.25 from Wiggle.

Dhb triathlon wetsuit features

The dhb designers have clearly thought about the design of this wetsuit, especially for triathletes. The main areas of the wetsuit that offer the most insulation, so the chest, back, mid-torso and legs, are made with 3.5mm neoprene.

I find Scottish waters chilly and wear 3mm to 5mm neoprene depending on the time of year. In the areas of the wetsuit where more flexibility is required, the neoprene is thinner.

So the neck area is 2mm while the under arms there is 1.5mm neoprene. In addition, the ankles areas are created with 3mm “Speed Cuff” panels for quicker transitions. (This means that if you are doing a triathlon you can exit the wetsuit quickly and easily.)

When the wetsuit is on (see below for how to get it on) it should feel flexible around the shoulders and upper arms, which the dhb wetsuit does. This is exactly what you want for a swimming wetsuit.

Taking it off is easier than other wetsuits I have tried so the Speed Cuff panels do seem to work. I sometimes cut the arms and legs of wetsuits shorter for even easier exiting.

There is also a YKK Zipper with a long tie-cord so that it’s possible to pull up or pull down the zip from behind by yourself.

What size of wetsuit to buy

The key measurement when choosing a size of wetsuit is your weight so the buoyancy level is correct.

As a rule of thumb with a dhb wetsuit if you are between sizes after you have checked the weight, go a size down if you have an athletic build, or size up if you’re not so athletic.

How to get into a wetsuit

A swimming wetsuit should be tight fitting. It should actually be fairly difficult to get on. The thing is that neoprene is very malleable and so while it will feels tight on you it will be flexible once you are in the water.

If the wetsuit fits tightly it offers the best form of insulation. Insulation is created by a thin layer of water forming between your skin and the neoprene. This warms up to help to keep you warm.

The neoprene used by dhb is Yamamoto coated neoprene. It feels durable and although you need to be careful to avoid nicks from your nails as you pull on the wetsuit I found that it withstood lots of pulling and pushing.

However, it’s worth wearing thin gloves to protect the suit from sharp nails, especially if you are new to putting a wetsuit on

To get into the wetsuit, pull it over your feet and up your legs as high as it will go. Make sure that your legs are fully inside the leg holes.

Once your legs are in, work the neoprene up over your hips and pull/shuffle it up as high as you can before putting your arms in.

When you push in your arms you again want to shuffle as much neoprene up the top of your arms and your shoulders to allow enough movement for zipping up the wetsuit.

It usually takes a bit of wriggling around and shuffling of more neoprene to get into a swimming wetsuit and even then it can feel really tight.

However, when you get into the water and adopt a swimming position, the wetsuit usually feels pretty comfortable. If it doesn’t after a few swimming sessions you’ll know that you have bought the wrong size but mostly people find they choose correctly, even if it doesn’t feel like this on the first fitting.

Swimming in a dhb wetsuit

You’ll know within the first session whether you have the right wetsuit. It should feel flexible enough around the shoulders yet insulating enough in the water.

The addition of skin lubricant around the neck area will help to avoid common wetsuit rubs, too.

The buoyancy of a wetsuit feels odd at first because you will find that you lie higher in the water. Many men, who have a greater tendency to drag their legs while pool swimming, find the more buoyant legs particularly refreshing, as it will improve their swimming.

The 3.5mm wetsuit is a good thickness for mid-summer to late-summer open water swimming in Scotland. You could add neoprene gloves, boots and a hood if you feel the need for more warmth.

The neoprene used in the dhb wetsuit is also suitably flexible, in all the right places, and thick enough for good insulation in other areas. For a starter wetsuit, and even as an “intermediate” wetsuit, the dhb is a good buy.

Buy from Wiggle at £90.25

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