Wetsuits are an amazing tool that let kiteboarders, kitesurfers, surfers, windsurfers, swimmers, and water lovers alike stay in the water all year long. Choosing the right thickness of wetsuit for the area and activity that you will be doing is the first step to staying warm and happy, ready to focus on fun and progression!
A wetsuit is a neoprene insulation suit made for warmth and protection in watersports. It functions by trapping a thin layer of water between your body and the suit. This layer of water is warmed by your body which prevents you from losing too much heat while in the water. Water molecules conduct energy (heat) 25-40 times faster compared to air molecules. For example, on a 60 degree day you probably feel comfortable outdoors with jeans and a shirt whereas you will probably start to shiver within minutes while swimming in the same temperature water.
Wetsuits are not meant to keep you entirely dry. Neoprene is made of small closed cells that are filled with air which provide insulation against cold water by trapping heat in. The thicker the suit's neoprene, the warmer the suit will be because it has more heat trapping insulation. It is important to research the water temperature (keeping in mind the different seasons and swells) in the region where you will primarily use your wetsuit. If the temperatures are cold enough to make your extremities go numb, think about using boots, gloves and hoods too. If the temps are extremely cold, kiteboarding drysuits are also an awesome solution.
One of the most important aspects when considering wetsuit warmth is the thickness of the neoprene. Wetsuit thickness is measured in millimeters, represented with two or three numbers separated by a slash. The first number represents the thickness of the neoprene in the torso area, the second number represents the thickness of the neoprene in the extremities (or just the legs if there is a 3rd number), and the third number (if present) represents the neoprene thickness in the arms. The thicker neoprene (the first number) is used for your torso in order to maintain your core body heat. Your core heat is extremely important to maintain in order to prevent hypothermia. The thinner neoprene (the second/third numbers) are used for your extremities. The thicker the neoprene, the more warmth but less flexibility; thus the thicker neoprene is placed where you need less flexibility (your core) and the thinner neoprene is used where your body is constantly in motion (arms and legs).
|Water Temperature Range (°F)||Wetsuit Thickness||Wetsuit Type||Seal Type|
|65°- 75°||0.5 mm - 2/1 mm||Top / Shorty||N/A|
|62°- 68°||2 mm - 3/2 mm||Springsuit / Full Suit||Flatlock|
|58°- 63°||3/2 mm - 4/3 mm||Full Suit + Boots||Sealed|
|52°- 58°||4/3 mm - 5/4/3 mm||Full Suit + Boots + Gloves + Hood||Sealed and Taped|
|43°- 52°||5/4 mm - 5/4/3 mm||Full Suit + Boots + Gloves + Hood||Sealed and Taped|
|42° and below||6/5 mm - 6/5/4 mm||Full Suit / Drysuit + Boots + Gloves + Hood||Sealed and Taped|
In addition to water temperature consider the following:
Please Note: For cold air temperatures, more wind, an activity with less movement or if you get cold easily, consider a thicker wetsuit. These are general temperature guidelines. Many brands will provide their own temperature recommendations that may differ slightly from those listed above.