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January 28th, 2016
Posted In: How-to
Tags: Kayak, SCUBA, Surf, Triathlon
Selecting the appropriate wetsuit thickness for your water sport can be a little intimidating and sometimes even confusing. No one wants to waste time and money trying to figure out the best thickness. This chart below should help you make the right decision based on your sport and water conditions:
Some factors other than water temperature could affect the wetsuit thickness needed, so you should consider the following:
Tolerance For Cold
Depending upon your tolerance for cold, a thicker or thinner wetsuit may be required or desired. If you are someone that tends to feel cold, err on the side of going with a thicker wetsuit. Otherwise, using the wetsuit thickness table should be a very good place to selecting the right wetsuit style and thickness.
An early morning surfer hitting the water as the sun rises may want to consider a slightly heavier suit or more coverage. Without the warming rays of the sun and a higher ambient temperature or mid or late day, sometimes it can feel a bit chilly. Which leads to…
Time Spent in Water vs. Out of Water
Also relating to air temperature is the amount of time spent in or out of the water. Air temperature will become even more important for a wakeboarder or waterskier, since most of the sport is out of the water.
For a wakeboarder, if the air temps are 80+ but water only in the 60’s, a wetsuit top or springsuit could still do the job for most people. Conversely, a cool or cold fall day while the water is still warm could mean needing more coverage than usual.
Wearer’s Performance Expectations
This also relates to the previous two considerations. Something you will have to take into account is the demand for high performance. The less wetsuit (meaning thinner and less coverage) worn will translate to high performance. If performance is at the top of your wetsuit requirement list, you may be inclined to buy a slightly thinner wetsuit or go with reduced coverage as applicable. Alternatively, if budget can accommodate, a higher-end wetsuit can provide you with appropriate insulation and very high performance.
Here is a quick overview of different wetsuit products:
Lycra Rash Guards, Poly Fleece, Baselayers, etc.
These items are primarily worn under wetsuits or alone, as sun and/or abrasion protection. These items do not provide thermal protection when worn alone, so they are only appropriate for water that is typically 75F+.
Shop for: Men’s Rashguards, Women’s Rashguards, Kids’ Rashguards, Baby Rash Guards
Shorty Wetsuits, Wetsuit Tops (Jackets), and Wetsuit Bottoms
These items provide wetsuit coverage to areas of the body. When a little insulation is needed and water temps are in the high 60’s, these types of products would be perfect. They also work well in heated swimming pools that just aren’t quite heated enough!
Shop for: Men’s Shorty Wetsuits, Women’s Shortys, Kids’ Shorty Springsuits
Long Johns & Long Janes
Johns (men’s) and janes (women’s) are essentially sleeveless fullsuits. This style of suit is popular in layering applications, like SCUBA and kayaking. Johns & janes are also a popular style in triathlon/swimming style wetsuits, as this cut allows for full range of motion in the arms and shoulders.
Shop for: Men’s Long John Wetsuits, Women’s Long Jane Wetsuits
Fullsuits come in a variety of thicknesses for all water temperature conditions. In most cases, the thickness will be described with two numbers, such as 3/2mm. This means the majority of the suit is made of 3mm neoprene (wetsuit material) and the flex points 2mm. Manufacturers do this to enhance the comfort and flexibility of the suit.
Fullsuits come with different seams. For water in the 60’s, flatlock stitching will work well. Flatlock stitches contain no glue, and will allow water to freely enter the suit at the seams. For that reason, you generally will not find flatlock stitches on anything thicker than 3mm.
Sealed seams add glue into the construction. The seams are glued and stitched. This gluing helps dramatically reduce the amount of water that enters into a wetsuit. The less water entering your wetsuit, the warmer you will be! Liquid taping on top of sealed seams takes your wetsuit to another level! A rubber bead is applied to the outside of the seams to add durability to the seams and also further reduce the chance of cold water trickling into the suit.
Shop for: Men’s Fullsuits, Women’s Fullsuits, Kids’ Fullsuits
From here you should be well on your way to choosing the right wetsuit for your sport and water conditions. If you need some more help, we’ve got you covered! Give us a call, email, or live chat. We can assist you personally.
I have a question. Should my shorty suit be the same size as my full suit?
It depends. The easy answer is probably. However, if you are comparing different brands, or say a winter thickness wetsuit (like a 5/4/3 or 6/5/4) then it may be different. Every brand fits differently and sometimes a winter suit is one size bigger. If you’re unsure, give us a call (866-906-7848) or shoot us an email (email@example.com) with more specifics and we’ll get your size figured out!
I am 5’9″ & 235lb want size of suit should I wear? 3-4m
That depends on what type of suit you’re looking for and the brand in which you’re looking at. You can check out our blog post on sizing, which might help you: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/blog/choose-wetsuit-size/. And please feel free to reach out to our customer service and they will better help you find exactly what you need! You can either call, 866-906-7848, live chat, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
I am 5 foot 10, 150 lbs women. I swim in cold lake water all year round. What type of wetsuit should I purchase for the coldest months with warmth being the highest priority with some flexibility to swim? I have begun using 2 wetsuits recently: a shorty under a 3/2 hyper flex full suit which works quite well but would be easier to just use one suit re keeping warm on exit from lake to re-clothing? Thank you!
Thanks for asking. Since you want a wetsuit strictly for swimming, we recommend this triathlon wetsuit: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/PROD/S853WB-04.html#.WFRAbn1WUV0. This fullsuit is 5mm thick so it should keep you pretty warm while giving you that range of motion you need for swimming. Feel free to contact our customer service team for any help with sizing. Call us at 866-906-7848, or email email@example.com. Thank you!
I am a female, 5′ 6′, 145 lbs. I need a wetsuit for southern Mexico, water temp apparox 68+degrees. It would be used for snorkeling and possibly kite surfing. I tried 2 wetsuits size large, that have not been worn in several years, that I used for surfing. I am about the same size I was but the suits seem very tight. Does neoprene shrink with age? One is a shorty and the other is a full suit. thanks
Thanks for reaching out! Neoprene does lose elasticity with age, so that is probably why they feel tight. As far as a fullsuit goes, for what you need, we recommend this 3/2mm back zip fullsuit: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/PROD/SX832WB.html#.WFgAOX1WUV0. And for a 3mm shorty, we recommend any of these: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/wetsuits/category/womens-scuba-springsuits.html#/?_=1&filter.sports_combined=SCUBA&page=1&filter.thickness=3%2F2mm&filter.thickness=3mm. If you need help finding exactly what you need or help with sizing, please feel free to contact our customer service team either via phone (866-906-7848) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Hope that helps and thanks again!
Hello, I am a 55 year old female looking for a fullsuit for our trip to the Galapagos in Feb. I understand that the water can be quite cold in some areas (70 degress ). I tend to get cold in the water so I want to make sure I am warm enough. I am 5′ 7″ and weigh 135. I am looking at the Hendersen 5mm in a size 8 or 10. Do you think this is a good choice and if so what size would you suggest. Thank you
Thanks for asking! The 5mm Henderson is a great choice for what you’re using the wetsuit for. As far as sizing goes, we’d need your bust measurement to give you the best fit but, from your height and weight, it sounds like you should try the size 8. If you need more help with sizing, please feel free to contact our customer service team either by phone, 866-906-7848, or email, email@example.com. Hope that helps!
I am trying to get a wet suit for a partner 5 feet 7 inches weighs 160 waist 34 . He swims in chlorinated pool 4x’s a week making laps swim in an outside pool 45+ temp. He likes front zip . What should I get him. Thank you.
Because he is lap swimming, we always recommend going with a full triathlon wetsuit for that purpose and those water temps. Unfortunately, we do not have any front zip triathlon suits in stock. If he is OK with not getting a front zip suit, here is our selection of tri suits: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/search.html#/?_=1&filter.gender=Men%27s&page=1&filter.sports_combined=Triathlon&filter.suit_type=Fullsuits. If you have any more questions or need more assistance with finding the right suit, please feel free to contact our customer service team by either phone, 866-906-7848, or email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
I am looking for a wetsuit to carry on my sailboat…to be used on an infrequent basis (hopefully) for emergency scuba dive and/or underwater maintenance purposes…anticipate time in water to be 15-20 minutes max’ at a time, perhaps 2-3 times in succession, with breathers in between (e.g., to unwrap a line fouling the prop/drive shaft. I sail in the Puget Sound/Salish Sea waters that are about typically around 45 – 55 degrees F (winter vs. summer). I am 5’9″, hover around 170 lbs., have a long upper torso, 29″ inseam, 33″ waist, and wear a size medium polo shirt). Can you point me in the right direction for style, thickness, material(s), etc. in a durable, but not overly costly wetsuit? Thanks!
Based on what you wrote, you could get away with this 5mm Men’s NeoSport XSPAN Fullsuit in a size Large: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/PROD/SX850MB.html#.WIYljH1WUV0 or, if your budget is a little higher, this 5mm Men’s O’Neill suit: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/PROD/2377.html#.WIYlpn1WUV0 in a size LS. If you still need additional help or have any questions, feel free to contact our customer service team either via phone, 866-906-7848 or email, email@example.com. Thank you!
Im six ft three. Never wore a wetsuit. All I need is warmth in the pool and ocean playing w grandson. Is .5 all I need?
It would depend on the water temperature. If the water temps are always going to be over 70, you could get away with just wearing a wetsuit top, which will vary in thickness from .5-2.5mm and you can find those here: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/search.html#/?_=1&filter.gender=Men%27s&page=1&filter.suit_type=L%2FS%20Tops&filter.suit_type=S%2FS%20Tops&filter.suit_type=Vests.
If you don’t like the cold water, or the water will be below 70, consider a shorty (one piece, short sleeve, short leg) or a 3/2mm full wetsuit. Find the shorty springsuits here: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/search.html#/?_=1&filter.gender=Men%27s&page=1&filter.suit_type=Shorty%20Springsuits and the 3/2mm full wetsuits here: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/search.html#/?_=1&filter.gender=Men%27s&page=1&filter.suit_type=Fullsuits&filter.thickness=3%2F2mm.
Need additional help? Please feel free to reach out to our customer service team either via phone, 866-906-7848 or email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
Hi my wife is wanting to do work out with weights In our unheated pool. We live in so cal. Water can get to around 60 winter then 80 summer. She is 5’5 120 lbs. she hints that she needs a full suit Thanks
We would recommend the 3/2mm Women’s NeoSport XSPAN Fullsuit: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/PROD/SX832WB.html#.WPEEN2e1uUk. In order to get an exact size, we would need more measurements from her. Please feel free to contact our customer service team either via live chat, email (email@example.com), or call 866-906-7848. Thank you!
I have some questions about purchasing a wet suit.
Please call 254-498-0953
We have passed this information on to our customer service team. Someone will be in contact with you shortly. Thank you!
Should I buy a “skin suit”? Will that add warmth?
Hey Bob! Typically, skin suits are made of lycra and not neoprene, so they don’t provide any added warmth. Some skin suits can be made of polyfleece which serves as a baselayer under your wetsuit at best. You’re better off with a sufficient wetsuit to meet all of your needs!
Hi! How much buoyancy can I expect from a 3mm jacket or best alone. I’m thinking of getting one for a big guy 4XL to use for snorkeling. The snorkel vests I’ve seen don’t come that big. Thanks.
You’ll probably expect nothing noticeable. A lot goes into calculating wetsuit buoyancy (individuals weight, thickness of suit and type of suit) and with such little coverage as a vest gives, and its relatively thin neoprene, I would not expect you to notice any significant buoyancy. Hope that helps!
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