I would be happy if I could just figure out how to seal the seams with that black seams they do at the factory. I've tried taping and gluing with aquaseal but its not nearly as good as a factory model. Either of those options would allow me to get the cheapest suit that GBS and then just seal or tape the seams for durability. I don't care about the fleece part of a wetsuit as I just wear thermal underwear from walmart that was maybe $15 and does the same thing.
Ahmmmm- a few things. From the top;
Aquaseal sucks. It doesn't stretch with the rubber, I don't like it for repairs, let alone doing seams, as it makes a non-stretching place on the suit that encourages tears and failures around it.You might as well use silicone sink and tub goo.
Next- what about sticking the tape on with wetsuit glue? Yeah, I've done it, sticking failed seam tape back on with neoprene cement or contact cement. Trick is getting decent impregnation in the fabric of the tape and on the inside of the suit, not too much, as that gets stiff and inflexible and chafes, or too little which breaks loose again.
Awright, what about doing it like the factories do it, with heat. The seam tape is impregnated with something like a hot glue, that the heated rollers the factories use squeezes into the fabric on the inside of the suit and that particular adhesive has a little stretch to it. But you have to get the heat and pressure just right, this isn't an iron-on transfer on a t-shirt. A lot of the early suits didn't get it quite right, which is why I found myself fixing taped seams...or I should say trying to... with neoprene cement.
And then...well, ya can't do it on the cheapest suits. They have overlock seams that won't work with tape.
Okay, so you wind up going with blindstitched or flat seams that are also glued to a fare-thee-well as part of the manufacturing process. The flat seams have a seam that's on a diagonal with a gazillion stitch holes in there that might weep water and where taping the seam might be of benefit. Though they're kinda rare, the blindstitched are more common. And the tape will work with both.
Now, you might tape it yourself. You might do a good job, you might not. Fair chance you'll ruin the suit. The other thing is, the blindstitched suits these days tend to be taped already. Buy a taped suit.
Couple other things-
The fleece lining in suits? Yeah, well, that's marketing. How much function it has is open to question, keeping the water trapped against your skin inside the suit from moving around. If the suit is genuinely watertight, neat, some insulation might be a good thing. On the other hand, if you're wearing wet thermals I can pretty well guarantee they will fold and bunch up and chafe. Ungood.
Lastly, if you really want to save some money- I mentioned marketing. Look, the wetsuit companies bring out a new model about every Tuesday. As the technology is fairly mature, improvements in said new model will be incremental at best, marketing hype more probable. But that means the older model is 'obsolete' and discounted heavily. Not only do the makers sell them off cheap on their websites, the smarter surf shops buy them up to sell cheap or sell them at a discount to make room fo the new models. Which is when you swoop in and pick up a good deal. Or end-of-season sales, when Fred's Surf Shop needs to raise cash to pay for the new load of [email protected] they will get suckered into buying at a trade show. 'Cos it's a rare surf shop owner that doesn't fall for the industry hype just as much as the most starry eyed beginner.
hope that's of use