Choosing between a front-zip or a back-zip wetsuit is an integral decision when making a wetsuit purchase.
Front zip or back zip? Which Ride Engine wetsuit design is the best? Short answer: there are performance advantages to both! All wetsuits strive for the Holy Grail of flexibility, watertight seal, and ease of entry, and, after years of innovation and design refinement, we’re confident both our front-zip and our back-zip wetsuits have risen to meet that performance challenge of keeping you warm for longer sessions.
A proper fit is absolutely essential and should be your primary concern when deciding on a wetsuit. After that, however, there are key characteristics of each style that’ll steer you toward a confident, informed decision on which wetsuit style is best for you.
Easy on/off: The zipper goes way down the back, providing a much wider opening than a front-zip. This is a paramount consideration if you’re big bodied or have broad shoulders. The easy on/off of a back zip is also nice if you’re riding in cold conditions where numb hands make dexterity challenging.
Adjustable neck tightness: The Velcro closure system around the neck of a back-zip wetsuit allows you to customize the tightness to you preferred level of tension.
Less bulk: With a smooth chest front panel, a back-zip design doesn’t have the overlapping materials of a front zip, giving the suit’s upper body a freer feeling.
Cost: The back-zip design is less complex than a front zip, which makes it less costly to manufacture, which means… you guessed it: less expensive for you.
Flexible: With a front-zip design there is a single panel in the back (unlike a back zip that is split into two), which allows for maximum stretch and freedom of movement in the arms and back. If you’re surfing or doing a lot of grabs while kiting, the superior back flexibility of a front zip is a crucial consideration.
Less prone to flushing: A cold-water flushing is the worst. It’s when water rushes in and you lose the thermal benefit of the suit until you warm back up (this can happen when you crash or are duck diving). Front zips have fewer gaps in the design, thereby reducing the potential for flushing (a proper fit is essential here).
Comfortable neck: With no adjustable closure on the neck, the front-zip design eliminates the Velcro material that can sometimes cause irritation and rubbing, or, even worse, wear out and make the suit prone to flushing. However, the fit of the neck on a front zip must be very accurate to ensure a complete seal since it can’t be adjusted.
Easy zipper access: Having the zipper in front allows you to easily open or close the suit (as well as avoid any long-hair zip-up nightmares).