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How Warm Does a Wetsuit Keep You?

   October 23rd, 2022   Posted In: Articles  

How Warm Does a Wetsuit Keep You?

Wondering how warm a wetsuit will keep you in cold waters? The goal of any wetsuit is to prevent the wearer from getting so cold in the water that they develop hypothermia, an extremely dangerous drop in body temperature. Nearly 85% of body heat is lost through the skin. So it is essential to wear a wetsuit to keep warm when partaking in surfing, wakeboarding, or snorkeling . By wearing a properly fitted wetsuit, you can maintain your normal body temperature (an average of 98.6 °F) under cold water conditions.

The thickness and length of your wetsuit can determine just how warm a wetsuit will keep you. Other factors aside from water temperature are sun and wind conditions. Both elements can make a difference in how you maintain warmness in your wetsuit.

How Much Warmer Do Wetsuits Keep You

To find out how warm a wetsuit will keep you, it’s important to understand how wetsuits work. Wetsuits are made of a material called neoprene, which acts as a type of insulation. When someone wearing a wetsuit enters the water, a small amount of liquid enters through the neoprene and remains within the wetsuit. The skin that the water is coming in contact with rapidly warms up due to the wearer’s body temperature. This is why it is so important for a wetsuit to fit the body properly and snugly.

Too loose, and the cold water will easily flow in and out, robbing the wearer of the body-temperature water. Too tight and no water will enter the suit to allow the thin layer of water between the suit and skin. Plus, if your suit is too tight, it will be uncomfortable and you’ll have a hard time maneuvering. There are several types of wetsuits available to surfers, SCUBA divers, or any watersport-related activity. While there are many different brands of wetsuits, let’s take a look at the springsuit versus a full-body wetsuit in terms of how warm they can keep you.

How Much Warmer Do Wetsuits Keep You: Springsuit

A spring suit is a wetsuit with shorter sleeves on the arms and legs. These suits are used for cooler seasons, such as spring and fall, when the water temperature is not as cold. The average thickness of a springsuit runs from 0.5mm to 2mm. It is usually worn in water that runs anywhere from 65°F-75°F.

Since the springsuit is thinner than a full-body wetsuit and exposes the skin on the arms and legs, it is best to wear it in warmer water temperatures. Because the material is thin, this suit will mostly retain the wearer’s current body temperature instead of making the body warmer.

How Much Warmer Does a Wetsuit Make You: Full-Body

A full-body wetsuit is exactly what it sounds like—a wetsuit that covers the entire body from the neck down. These suits are usually worn in water temperatures of around 40°F-65°F and have a thickness ranging from 2mm-6mm. Because the full-body wetsuits are thicker, they are more likely to insulate the body better and make the wearer even warmer. Additionally, wearers of full-body wetsuits have the option of including baselayer items. Or other accessories like booties and mittens for an extra layer of warmth on their torso, hands, and feet.

Finding The Right Wetsuit to Keep you Warm in the Water

Now that you know the conditions for which to wear a springsuit and a full-body wetsuit, you can ask yourself these questions when determining how warm you want to be in your wetsuit:

  • What will the water temperature be?
  • What will the weather be like, specifically the sun and wind conditions?
  • What is my tolerance for cold? If my arms and legs are exposed, will I be warm enough?

By answering these questions, you will know exactly what expectations to have for keeping warm in your wetsuit. Be sure to wear the appropriate wetsuit to stay insulated, and always exit the water if you begin to feel an uncomfortable drop in body temperature.

Patrick Thomas is a Coast Guard veteran who grew up surfing and fishing in southwest Florida. Having lived in Puerto Rico and the Outer Banks, NC, he now works as a full-time photographer and author in Austin, TX. More of his work and photography is available at pkthomas.com.

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