Buying Used Wetsuit – 4 Things To Check Before Reaching For Your Wallet

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How to buy a used wetsuit? If you’ve read the complete wetsuit guide you should already know a great deal about wetsuits in general. Here you can find some tips and tricks that will help you avoid being screwed when buying a used wetsuit.


It Stinks

When you buy a used wetsuit you have to know that older wetsuits tend to get a bit smelly from the constant wetness and sea water. You also need to get over the fact that most wetsuit owners pee in their wetsuits. I know people that really never pee in their suit but they are really rare.

Why? It makes you feel warm on a cold day (yuck!) and there is just too much hassle to get out of the water, undress, pee, get dressed again, get back in the water… also cold water makes you pee more often or better, if you feel cold you pee more often. So if you are too disgusted by this, you should get a new wetsuit. But reasonably new used wetsuit, washed with piss-off liquid and/or even washed in a washing machine once (you can make one exception to the no washing machine rule) – should smell nice and fresh.

Then pee in it yourself and mark your territory :).

How long does a wetsuit last?

What is an average lifespan of a wetsuit? It is good to know, when buying a used wetsuit, that wetsuits do not really last that long. It depends on the abuse the owner puts on his wetsuit, how often does he or she use it and how good do they take care of their wetsuit.

A top-of-the-line high-performance wetsuit should last a season if you’re a hardcore user and you use it more than 3 times a week and two seasons if you use it less. If you do not use it very much it can last 3-5 seasons or even more, but the thing with neoprene is that it will age and deteriorate if you use it or if you don’t. The elasticity of a wetsuit will change even if it is hung in your closet all the time. A suit that is used daily will stretch out over time, but a suit that is never used will begin to harden and seem to have “shrunk” when put on.

Top of the line wetsuit? If you noticed, we mentioned top of the line wetsuit. Lifespan of a high performance wetsuit with super stretchy and soft rubber is shorter that a lifespan of a slightly lower-end wetsuit. That is because high tech stretchy rubber breaks down quicker than the harder, cheaper stuff. So there is a trade off between warmth and flexibility on one side and longer lasting wetsuit on the other.

Taking care of the wetsuit is a really big issue here. If a wetsuit is rinsed in fresh water and dried in a shade after every use, that can extend its life for quite some time. On the other hand, if it is dried in the hot sun, it will die much sooner. Sun is the wetsuits biggest enemy.

At the end it is also a matter of perspective, one mans old wetsuit could be just the thing a beginner needs.

4 Things To Look For When Buying Used Neoprene Wetsuit

Let’s say that you know what kind of used wetsuit you want – a used shorty, used longsuit, how thick you want your neoprene to be, what other features etc. Now let’s say you are holding a used wetsuit that you like in your hands. What to look for?

  • General look of the neoprene and
  • Neoprene flexibility
  • Stitches
  • Holes


If you know how new neoprene feels like, you can quickly tell the difference between new and old neoprene:

  • Old neoprene gets thiner in places with a lot of streching – less warmth, looser neoprene and more chance of a tear,
  • If neoprene has colored outside lining, the color of the nylon will be pale, if the wetsuit is old,
  • If the wetsuit is really old, also black double lined neoprene will be pale.


Make sure you know if you are buying a wetsuit made of ordinary neoprene or more elastic neoprene, the difference is evident. Then test how flexible the neoprene still is. The harder, stiffer and more stretched out the neoprene, the older it is (or it was drying in the sun a lot). Less flexible neoprene means worse fit, less comfortable wetsuit and more constricted movement. Neoprene deteriorates with age, so the age of the suit is also an issue.


Inspect the seams and bear in mind the type of stitches we mentioned in the wetsuit guide. The better the construction, the warmer and more expensive the wetsuit. Then look for any tearing of the seams and cracking of the glue that helps hold neoprene panels together. This can be a little harder to repair, plus tearing and cracking of the seams in one place can tell you they will soon start to behave the same in other places too.


Holes in neoprene itself are cheap to repair if they are not to big (around up to 4 inches), so if you can get a good deal on an otherwise good wetsuit with a hole – go for it. This is the most obvious mistake a wet can have and can help you get a better price even if it’s not that big of a deal. Of course – if you want to your your new used suit right away, then stay away from the holes.

Hope this helps, if you have any questions – put them in the comments.


  • Matt H says:

    Im allergic to neoprene is there anything other options ?


  • aga says:

    You can use duct tape and thick rubber gloves on top of regular gloves

  • Michael says:

    I know there are many variables regarding things made (of neoprene in this case) such as thickness, sewing etc. But is there a way of testing neoprene–to see if it is actually neoprene for ex.? Why am I asking this. As we know many things are made in China now. And some items are a lot cheaper and still of similar or equal quality while others are cheaper because they are fake or of inferior quality hence my asking. Thank you

    • K says:

      Uf, well a person that has some experience with neoprene and wetsuits could recognize the difference when holding different quality neoprene. Look, feel, stretch… But since quality depends on number of air bubbles, rubber content, how stretchy it is… I dont think there is a “test” that would give you a definite answer.

  • Scott says:

    An old board, I know, but I was looking at buying an older wetsuit (2-3 years old) that has apparently never been used. There seems to be some creasing in some parts but overall, do you think a wetsuit (nineteen brand) would still be good over the years?

    • K says:

      Sure, 2-3 years is not that old. If it was stored right, out of the sun and light, its good. Creases are probably there because it was folded the same way for a long time.

  • Bracetty says:

    I just bought a fullbody wetsuit from goodwill for 2$ the brand is Oneill. Ive never owned a wetsuit before but i am going on a trip and need one. I am normally a size S-M in clothes but this one is sized XXL but when i tried it on it fit great. There are creases on the chest an in one ankle i heard a tearing sound as i put my leg through but no visible tears. The neopreme feels ok to me but its a size XXL and alittle stiff but not so much. fits very snug. Do you think it will work ok? it must of shrunk because theres no way i can fit a size XXL in anything.

    • K says:

      Hey, there is no way a XXL wetsuit would shrunk into a S-M size:) It must be a kids wetsuit. But if it fits and feels snug then it doesn’t matter. If you are going into colder waters maybe you can test it in a bathtub to see it does not leak to badly.

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