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How to Buy a Wetsuit for SUP and Kayaking

   August 22nd, 2016   Posted In: How-To   Tags: ,

How to Buy a Wetsuit for SUP and Kayaking

SUP and kayaking are fun and popular water sports; so can’t say that we blame you for enjoying and participating in them. Maybe you’ve got all the gear needed for your stand up paddle board or a kayaking session, but you’re not sure what to wear. With the number of wetsuit tops, bottoms, full wetsuits, rash guards and more that are on the market today, it makes shopping for a SUP and kayaking wetsuit overwhelming.

 

Read on to find out what to look for when in order to buy a wetsuit for SUP and kayaking.

 

As with most watersports, wetsuit thickness and water temperatures are key when it comes to finding the right wetsuit. Wetsuit thickness is measured in millimeters (ex: 3/2mm or 1mm) and it impacts the warmth of the wetsuit. Thinner neoprene means more flexibility and range of motion and is perfect for warm water temps while a thicker suit obviously has more neoprene with less range of motion and works for cool to cold water temps.

 

We like to go off of this handy water temperature chart:

 

Switch to Celsius

40°+ 48°+ 52°+ 58°+ 60°+ 65°+ 72°+ 80°+
General Watersports
(Surf, Wake, Kite, Etc.)
6/5/4mm
Sealed
5/4/3mm
Sealed
4/3mm
Sealed
& Taped
4/3mm
Sealed
3/2mm
Sealed
3/2mm
Flatlock
Springsuit
Neoprene Top
Poly Top
Rash Guard
SCUBA
8/7mm Full
7mm John
& Jacket
7mm Full
7mm John
& Jacket
7mm Full
5mm John
& Jacket
5mm Full
3mm John
& Jacket
3mm Full
3mm John &
Jacket
3mm Full
Springsuit
Springsuit
Lycra
Bodysuit
Triathlon &
Lap Swimming
5/3mm Full 5/3mm John Neoprene Vest
Kayak &
Paddle
5/4/3mm
Sealed
4/3mm
Sealed
3/2mm
Sealed
3/2mm
Flatlock
Neoprene
Top
Neoprene
Vest
Rash
Guard
General
Watersports
(Surf, Wake, Kite, Etc.)
SCUBA Triathlon &
Lap Swimming
Kayak &
Paddle
40°+ 6/5/4mm
Sealed
8/7mm Full
7mm John
& Jacket
5/3mm
Full
5/4/3mm
Sealed
48°+ 5/4/3mm
Sealed
4/3mm
Sealed
52°+ 4/3mm
Sealed
& Taped
7mm Full
7mm John
& Jacket
3/2mm
Sealed
58°+ 4/3mm
Sealed
7mm Full
5mm John
& Jacket
5/3mm
John
3/2mm
Flatlock
60°+ 3/2mm
Sealed
5mm Full
3mm John
& Jacket
Neoprene
Top
65°+ 3/2mm
Flatlock
3mm Full
3mm John &
Jacket
72°+
Springsuit
Neoprene Top
3mm Full
Springsuit
Neoprene
Vest
80°+
Poly Top
Rash Guard
Springsuit
Lycra
Bodysuit
Neoprene
Vest
Rash
Guard

There are a wide range of wetsuit styles for SUP and kayaking. Even though these water sports aren’t directly in the water, you might want something to protect you from harmful UV rays or any chill coming off of the water.

 

Rash guards are popular for SUP and kayaking because they prevent sunburn and offer little warmth which is great for warmer or tropical areas. If the water and air temperatures are a little too chilly for a rash guard, you could always wear a wetsuit top or vest or even neoprene pants or wetsuit shorts. Some people like to wear layers like a long john/jane or a short john/jane with a wetsuit jacket. Others might even prefer to wear neoprene shorts with a rash guard.

 

Another great option is a baselayer. Base layers are usually thicker or offer some type of inner lining for more warmth compared to a rash guard. You might find that you need socks for your wetsuit boots or a pair shorts for insulation and chafing protection. Or maybe a long or short sleeve top that has poly fleece on the inside for quick drying properties and warmth.

 

In cool to cold water temps, we highly recommend a pair of wetsuit boots, neoprene gloves, or even a wetsuit hood. Brands like NRS and NeoSport offer a great selection of kayaking and stand up paddle boarding boots. These types of boots provide great traction for your paddle board or kayak. They also have other features like poly linings and zippers or straps for entry/exit.

 

Kayakers might also want a drysuit which keeps you completely dry! Drysuits are especially great for whitewater kayaking.

 

Again this depends on how warm and protected you want to be. Just pay attention to the weather before you get your paddleboard or kayak out!

 

What else should you look for in a SUP and kayaking wetsuit? Wetsuit seams!

 

Seam construction impacts the warmth and comfort of the wetsuit and comes in three different types:

Flatlock:

Flatlock seams are great for warmer water temps (62F & up) and these seams look like railroad tracks on the inside and outside. Some water does seep in through this type of seam.

Sealed (Glued & Blindstitched):

Sealed seams have very little water seep through and work in cold water temps (55F & up). The seam is constructed by being glued first then stitched. The exterior is similar to flatlock seams but the interior is glued.

Sealed & Taped (Glued Blindstitched & 100% Taped):

For serious durability and preventing any water from seeping in, sealed & taped seams work great for really cold water temps (55F & below).

 

Check out this video below for more on seams!

 

 

Zipper placement can also affect your SUP and kayaking wetsuit shopping.

 

SUP and kayaking wetsuits come with either a back zipper or a chest zipper. Front zippers seem to be the best choice for easy entry and exit while on the water. Front zippers can be found on wetsuit jackets or vests, long johns or short johns, and fullsuits.

 

Back zippers are comfortable and are also pretty easy to get in and out of but this style of zipper is more common for SUP and kayaking full wetsuits or shorty springsuits.

 

Now that you know the basics for buying a SUP and kayaking wetsuit, it’s time to get out there on the water! Questions? Contact our customer service team either via phone (866-906-7848), email (service@wetsuitwearhouse.com), or live chat!

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Lauren Belt

Merchandiser at Wetsuit Wearhouse
Lauren (LoLo) has been picking out the latest and greatest wetsuits and being the social media queen for Wetsuit Wearhouse since 2014. She learned to surf for the first time ever in Costa Rica but she gravitates more towards SUP. When she's not scouring the web for travel deals, you can find her either hiking, running, practicing yoga, studying holistic nutrition or reading a good book outside on a beautiful day.
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22 Comments

  • Avatar Amanda Young says:

    Hi!
    I’m going to be white water rafting on the Kaituna river near Rotorua on October 8th. I’m unsure of the thickness of wetsuit that I require.

    • Avatar Lauren Belt says:

      Hi Amanda,

      Thanks for asking. The thickness definitely depends on the water temperature, do you happen to know what those temperatures will be around that date you will be white water rafting? Please feel free to reach out to our customer service team either via phone, 866-906-7848 or email, service@wetsuitwearhouse.com and they can help you find just what you need! Thank you.

  • Awesome post! This has got to be the most thorough guide to getting paddlers kitted out with a wetsuit on the internet. I’ve linked to you guys on the resources section of my website. Keep up the stand-out content.

    • Avatar Lauren Belt says:

      Thanks for the awesome words on this post, Jamie! We definitely appreciate you linking to us on your website. You’re the best!

  • Avatar Kathy S. says:

    Hi Lauren,
    Boy, do I need help in deciding on what wetsuit to purchase.
    I’m looking for a wetsuit to keep me warm while SUP paddling, kayaking, as well as some swimming in cooler water here in CT in late spring and early fall. Water temp. around 55-65 F. I’m 5’0 tall and weigh 95lbs. Measurements are chest 32 1/2″, waist 26″, and hips 33″. It would be great to be able to use it for a little surfing as well. I generally feel cooler than the average person in the water.
    I appreciate your help and any suggestions you may have.
    Kathy

    • Avatar Lauren Belt says:

      Hi Kathy,

      Thanks for asking! Unfortunately, there’s not one suit for all so I would highly recommend a long jane (or pants) and jacket. They’re great for layering and work really well for kayaking and SUP since you won’t be in the water much and the front zippers make entry/exit super easy. Like I said though, you would need a separate suit for surfing and for swimming since they require different needs wetsuit-wise. Here’s our selection of paddle wetsuits: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/wetsuits/category/kayak-sup-paddle-wetsuits.html

      This is a lot of information so please feel free to contact customer service either phone (866-906-7848) or email, service@wetsuitwearhouse.com. Thanks again, Kathy!

  • Avatar diane isgrigg says:

    I would like some direction in purchasing a wet suit for my son-in-law for Christmas. He stands up boards on inland lakes in Michigan and sometimes on one of the great lakes. Is a top and bottom more practical for this sport or would the O’Neill Superfreak 4/3 one piece be better? Thanks, Diane

  • Avatar diane isgrigg says:

    Hello, I would like to buy a wet suit for my son-in-law for Christmas and need some direction. He stands up boards on inland lakes in Michigan and once in awhile on one of the great lakes. Is a top and bottom wet suit better for his sport or would the O’Neill Superfreak 4/3 be better? Thanks, Diane

  • Avatar Becca says:

    Hi!
    I’m wondering if a Rip Curl G Bomb Long Sleeve Spring Suit Hi Cut springsuit would be a good choice for freshwater SUP boarding in Vermont. I’m a newbie- and imagine ill be falling a fair amount in to the water. I’ve read about just wearing rashguard but I’m afraid I’d be too cold. Would this style suit work well for mobility when paddling, etc?
    Thanks for the help!

    • Avatar Lauren Belt says:

      Hi Becca,

      For SUP in warm water temps, the long sleeve springsuit will definitely work. You’ll get just the right amount of coverage and still have a good range of motion. Here’s our entire selection of women’s long sleeve springsuits: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/wetsuits/category/womens-long-sleeve-springsuit-wetsuits.html. Some have a booty cut and some have a bikini cut; it’s all up to your preference. If you have any more questions, please feel free to reach out to our customer service team either via live chat, phone (866-906-7848) or email (service@wetsuitwearhouse.com). Thank you!

  • Avatar Theresa says:

    I want to purchase a wet suit for my husband. He paddle boards, snorkels and swims. The water temperature varies. He is looking for comfort and warmth. Any suggestions?

    • Avatar Lauren Belt says:

      Hi Theresa,

      Because of the range of water sports and water temperatures, I would recommend contacting our customer service team so they can help you find just what you need for your husband. You can reach them either via live chat, email (service@wetsuitwearhouse.com) or by calling 866-906-7848. Thank you!

  • Avatar Suzi says:

    Hi,
    I’m a medium level kayaker and have in the water for the last 6 years. I want to expand and start getting into cold water kayaking, fall/winter where possible. I need some help with a wet suit. I’m a bigger girl, 200 pounds. My weight has never been an issue. I am flexible, nimble and very active. However, most gear is not for the plus size girl. I don’t even know where to start. I would like to invest in a full wet suit, put a dry jacket over top. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.
    Thanks in advance
    Suzi

    • Avatar Lauren Belt says:

      Hey Suzi,

      Thanks for reaching out! In order to give you a specific size, I need a couple more measurements like your chest, height, and waist. We do not offer any dry tops or bottoms but we do have fullsuits as well as layering pieces! If you’d like to start getting into cold water kayaking, a 4/3mm or even 5/4mm full wetsuit would be best. A custom fit wetsuit may be your best bet for this: https://www.wetsuitwearhouse.com/wetsuits/category/custom-wetsuits.html. If you have any more questions or need additional help, feel free to reach out to our customer service team either via live chat, phone (866-906-7848) or email (service@wetsuitwearhouse.com). Thank you!

  • Avatar Charlotte Silverman says:

    Hi Theresa, I am looking for a wet suit to use with my new sea kayak. I live in Virginia on the Chesapeake Bay and want to be able to go kayaking during the winter. I am 6 ft and weigh 175 lbs, with fairly broad shoulders and non-curvy hips. The wet suit is really just there to ensure that I do not get hypothermia IF I flip over and get submerged, so I am not sure if I should get a “farmer John’s wet suit and then just use a dry jacket on top or if I should get a full wet suit. Leaning towards a 3mm vs a 5mm, but also not sure. Can you give me some advise>

  • Avatar Larry Wilson says:

    hi thank you for sharing with us this tips to choose the best Wetsuit, i have a question please where i can buy the baselayer in new york city

  • Avatar Art Jones says:

    I am interested in buying a wetsuit for water skiing.. I have been looking at your spring water suit short. Will this be suitable for water skiing.

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