Wetsuits are used for a vast array of water pastimes, sports, and professional purposes. While the number of specific activities must run into the hundreds, the number of places where you can obtain a wetsuit to take part in them runs to thousands of outlets, websites and stores.
We used the word ‘obtain,’ rather than buy, because you do not have to own a wetsuit to use one. Most water sports clubs and facilities will supply you with a wetsuit as part of your day with them. There are also many companies who instead of selling wetsuits, will rent them out to you for a fee. However, let’s look more into are rental wetsuits sanitary.
Practical Advantages of Renting a Wetsuit
Whether it is watersports, other sports, or hobbies, millions have bought all the gear and equipment that was required, only to find out a short time later it wasn’t for them. Therefore, all over the country there are garages storing unused sets of golf clubs, attics with good as new horse riding equipment, and cupboards under the stairs with empty aquariums that no fish ever had the pleasure of swimming in.
It could be the pleasure of swimming has sparked someone’s interest in getting a wetsuit and taking that hobby a stage further; however, the concern might be that if they don’t stay with it, they are left with a wetsuit they don’t need. This is when renting a wetsuit might be an option, whereby they simply pay for it as they use it, and should they no longer need one, they haven’t paid out for something they’ll never use again.
One other advantage of renting is if you put on or lose weight you can rent the appropriate wetsuit size at that time. This is important given that a wetsuit needs to fit as snuggly to your skin as possible, but not too tightly. Renting the correct size wetsuit will ensure both of those are achieved.
Practical Disadvantages of Renting a Wetsuit
While renting a wetsuit is cost effective in comparison to buying in the short term, if you were to rent more than 2 or 3 times, that advantage is wiped out. For a start, every time you rent a wetsuit, you must pay a deposit and the rental fee. While you get your deposit back when you return the wetsuit, the fee needs to be paid each time.
With respect to the deposit, no matter how careful you are, there is always the chance that the rental wetsuit you are wearing gets damaged, such as an abrasion scraping against rocks, or a small tear caused by a sharp fingernail. The possibility of either of these happening are increased due to another disadvantage of rental wetsuits, and that is their inferior quality.
This is not to say that every rental wetsuit is ‘crap;’ however, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that you are not going to be able to rent a top-quality wetsuit for the kind of fees that are normally charged. There are a few firms who rent out premium wetsuits, but for the privilege, you will pay a premium fee, and a very high deposit too.
How much is that going to compromise your enjoyment of scuba diving, when instead of focusing on the wonders of the ocean floor, you are focused on not snagging your rental wetsuit?
It’s Enough to Make You Go, ‘Yuk!’?
There is one aspect of renting a wetsuit that there is no getting away from, and that is the fact, that it will have been worn by at least one, and likely dozens of other people before. You do not know who these people were, nor do you know whether they were the epitome of cleanliness and hygiene or as filthy as a stray dog, with their only recent wash the time they spent in the water inside the very same wetsuit you are about to wear.
That was maybe an extreme example, but how would you know one way or the other? At the risk of shocking you further, it is common knowledge that people wearing wetsuits do not always get out of the water and walk to the nearest restroom to relieve themselves. To put it bluntly, they urinate while still wearing the wetsuit in the water.
It doesn’t end there, because other body fluids such as oils and sweat emanate from people’s skin. These fluids, and the bacteria and odor that accompanies them, transfer to the inside surfaces of the wetsuit’s material, soak in and remain there. There could even be blood in there if someone cut themselves while wearing that wetsuit.
The Great Unwashed Wetsuits
It would be harsh on wetsuit rental companies to suggest that they simply pass one filthy, smelly, used wetsuit from one customer directly to another. The reputable ones wouldn’t do that, but there are bound to be some rogue ones that do.
The decent rental firms will certainly clean their wetsuits, but this is likely to be in the form of a large washtub where all the wetsuits are washed together. To properly clean a wetsuit, it needs to be washed down individually and with a detergent that is specifically designed for cleaning wetsuits.
The simple fact is that by washing them together in washtubs, rental wetsuits may appear clean, but not all the bacteria will have been killed. If ever there was an answer to the question of whether renting a wetsuit is sanitary, this does so perfectly, and it is an emphatic, no!
Why Buying a Wetsuit Makes Sense
We have looked at four aspects of renting or buying a wetsuit: the cost, the danger of buying one and not needing it, a change in your size or weight, and most important of all, hygiene.
With regards to the cost, if you continue to use a wetsuit, having bought one, it will undoubtedly be the cheaper option, versus continuing to pay ongoing fees. With respect to your size, you should be aware that wetsuits, just like normal suits, can be altered, so they can be made bigger or smaller depending on what way your weight is moving.
If the worst happens and you buy one, but soon realize you don’t want it, then sell the thing. There are plenty of people who will happily buy a nearly new wetsuit although make sure you clean it as described above before you hand it over.
The final, and most important advantage of buying your own wetsuit, versus renting one, is the sanitary aspect of wearing one which you know has been properly cleaned and disinfected after each use. This would never be the case if you were wearing a rented one, and that is surely reason enough to buy your own.