A wetsuit is an insulation suit made from neoprene designed for warmth and protection while exercising water sports.
Its warming function works by trapping a thin layer of water between your body and the suit. This water is warmed by your body and prevents you from losing too much heat. Wetsuits exploit the fact that water molecules conduct energy (heat) much faster than air molecules in a very clever way. Neoprene is made out of small closed cells that are filled with air. This protects the warm water inside the suit from the cold water surrounding it and traps the heated water inside the suit. The thicker the suit´s neoprene, the warmer you will be because it has more heat trapping insulation.
A wetsuit also protects you from a number of things while being in the water. The main thing, which also has to do with you staying warm, is the wind chill factor. Since the neoprene is made of closed cells, there is very little air going through the suit which means you will stay warm that much longer.
Best 7 Kayak Wetsuits for Both Men & Women
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NeoSport Men’s Premium Wetsuits is going to keep you warm no matter how bad the cold the water is. NeoSport Men’s Premium Wetsuit is heavy and it is thick too. To get the maximum benefits, you can out on a dive skin underneath it. You might feel a slight tightness around your knees and neck but other than that it offers snug fittings.
Make sure you have emptied your bladder before you put this one because NeoSport Men’s Premium Wetsuit does not have any fly in front. Getting in and out of this wetsuit will take some time and therefore, you need to exercise some patient unless you don’t want to get into some mess. The 2-foot-long zipper makes the job a bit easy.
NeoSport Men’s Premium Wetsuit has got 5mm neoprene in the arms and legs and 7mm neoprene in the chest which is more than enough to keep you protected from the icy cold water. NeoSport Men’s Premium Wetsuit helps maintain core body temperature by adding thick padding in the chest area. To make it easier for you to paddle for long hours, NeoSport Men’s Premium Wetsuit has reduced padding in the arms and legs.
Cressi Men’s Front-Zip Full Wetsuit is made from premium quality neoprene and thus allowing you to enjoy both flexibility and comfort. Best of both worlds, huh? Double-lined neoprene is used in the making of this wetsuit. Attached to the pull-tab is a front zipper closer that makes getting in and out of this Cressi Men’s Front-Zip Full Wetsuit as easy pie.
Cressi Men’s Front-Zip Full Wetsuit will stay attached to your body like a second skin and you will hardly feel any discomfort while wearing it for long hours. To stop the water from entering the wetsuit, cuff seals are included. The areas around the shin and the knees are reinforced with extra paddings to keep those areas protected. Cressi Men’s Front-Zip Full Wetsuit comes with a -year limited warranty which is impressive.
O’Neill Men’s Epic 4/3mm Back Zip Full Wetsuit flaunts lumbar seamless design and it is made from ultra-durable UltraFlex neoprene that adds to its longevity. It has got a stylish look and it is extremely stretchable by nature. In order to cut down on water flow, Covert black-out zipper is included in the design.
O’Neill Men’s Epic 4/3mm Back Zip Full Wetsuit should be in your closet if you are an avid paddler. It will keep you warm and protected from icy cold water. Getting in and out is easy and it offers great fittings too. You don’t have to wear anything else like a rash guard to keep yourself protected while paddling in cold water. You might feel a little tightness in the neck when you are dry but the tightness goes away automatically as soon as this wetsuit gets wet.
Quiksilver 4/3mm Syncro Series Men’s Full Wetsuit looks as cool as a cucumber. This wetsuit is the outcome of hundreds of hours of research and development and thus, it can be safely said that it will keep you protected from cold weather while paddling in remote places. F’N Lite neoprene is used in the making of this Quiksilver 4/3mm Syncro Series Men’s Full Wetsuit. This wetsuit is extremely flexible and lightweight. Hardly will you realize that you are in fact wearing it for long hours. On the back panel and chest, WarmFlight x1 Far-Infrared thermal lining is applied.
Lockys Sports Womens Full Wetsuit is made from premium quality neoprene-synthetic rubber which is highly stretchable by nature. You can use its pull zipper to get in and out of it without losing your mind. Lockys Sports Womens Full Wetsuit is a bit on the heavier side but you can easily ignore that. Flatlock seams add to the comfort quotient. Both the exterior and the interior surfaces of this women’s wetsuit appear smooth and thus ensuring 100% comfort.
In order to eliminate drag in the water, the company has come up with a form-fitting design for this wetsuit. You will be able to move your hands and legs without feeling any constrain whatsoever. Overall, Lockys Sports Womens Full Wetsuit is a decent one that is abrasion-resistant and also available at a cheap price.
Scubadonkey 1.5 mm Neoprene Women’s Shorty Wetsuit is a decent wetsuit for those girls who just want to get into cold water without losing body heat in the process. It is perfect for those who want to paddle at the beginning or at the end of the season. It will not make you feel too hot rather it will help you maintain your body heat.
Scubadonkey 1.5 mm Neoprene Women’s Shorty Wetsuit offers protection from UV rays, jellyfish attacks, and abrasions. The ideal temperature to wear this wetsuit is somewhere around 72°F.
Roxy Womens 5/4/3Mm Syncro Back Zip Wetsuit Erjw103028 does not put any restriction on your movement and that too without making any kind of sacrifice on its ability to retain body heat. It is made from super durable F’N Lite neoprene and has back panels. To lock the heat inside, Roxy Womens 5/4/3Mm Syncro Back Zip Wetsuit Erjw103028 has got WarmFlight X1 infrared thermal lining on the back and also on the chest.
The best thing about this wetsuit is that it does not have too many seams. It is known for its legendary water-tightness.
Keeping You Warm
Even though neoprene is not the most durable material known to man, the wetsuit still acts like a kind of armor. It will protect you from jellyfish stings, abrasions, cuts and many other things. I personally feel that wearing a wetsuit puts me in a better mental state when I jump in the water. I feel safer, warmer and more protected. This makes me calm which is a major factor in preserving energy and staying safe while being in the ocean.
Winter Wetsuit/One Piece Wetsuit (often called a Winter Steamer or Winter Full Suit). This style of wetsuit always has long arms and legs. Typically it is made with a 5 mm thick body/torso with 4mm and 3mm arms and legs to boost flexibility. Hence the terms 5mm wetsuit , or 5/3 wetsuit.
The warmth of a suit can be increased with the use of a hooded or non hooded Thermal Vest. You’ll need this style of suit when water temperatures are below about 12 deg c, however, low day/night air temperatures and wind chill may force you to use this wetsuit on days when the sea temperature is higher than 12deg c.
In some parts of Northern Europe and The UK – such as Northern Ireland, Scotland, Northern Wales and Northern England many people use a Winter wetsuit even in the summer due to the lower water temperatures. Equally if you can only afford one suit to use all year, then you’ll have to buy a winter suit first.
Wetsuit Size Guide
By far, the most important aspect to look at when you acquire a new wetsuit is the size, or rather, how it fits YOUR body. To take full advantage of the wetsuit´s technology it must fit perfectly or the warming and streamlining effects will be lost. If the suit is too big, the suit will fill up with too much water creating drag and destroying it´s warming function. If the suit is too small, it will limit your movement and create discomfort by compressing your body making it hard to breathe. A perfectly fitted wetsuit will make your time in the water that much more enjoyable and will make you able to focus on the task at hand.
A wetsuit is supposed to be tight!
Let me be very clear here. A wetsuit is supposed to act like a second skin. Therefore, it should be tight and very tricky to put on, especially when both your body and the wetsuit is wet. If you have never used a wetsuit before you´re in for a very interesting experience!
Trying out your new wetsuit
Naturally, to get the perfect fit on your suit you need to try it on. More experienced users have a good idea of what parameters to look for and can usually buy a suit without actually putting it on but if you are new to the wetsuit market or not 100% sure on what size or model to get, this step should not be overlooked! If you live close to a shop with a good selection of wetsuits it´s a very good idea to go there to try out different sizes, models and brands.
However, not all of us have that option and we are left with looking at different size charts, fitting tips and recommendations which will vary depending on what brand or website you´re looking at. The thing to remember here is that even when you buy a suit online you have the right to try it on and send it back if the fit is not perfect. Sure, this may feel like a hazzle but if you do the fitting process properly the first time it will be way easier next time around.
Using a size chart
So, if you don´t have the option of going to a store and trying out different sizes of suits you are left with trying to figure out your size with the help of a size chart. It´s important to know that the size chart only can be used as a rough guide. To get a perfect fit you ultimately have to try on the suit. The first step is to find out your body´s exact measurements, so get your messuring tape and a scale.
The first 2 things you need are your weight and your body length. The weight is the more important aspect! You will be ok with a suit that is a bit too long or short (short being better) as long as you have a perfect fit. With these 2 parameters you will have a general idea of what size you need but to be sure you must take a few more measurements.
Leg length, arm length, waist and chest. Write down all of these measurements and you are ready to start looking at different size charts. All the big brands have created size charts for their products which you can find on their website. However, to make it easier for you to find, I have gathered most of them right here.
Instructions on how to read a size chart you can find here and how to put on/take off your suit is right here.
If your measurements end up right on the limit between two sizes, always go for the smaller one, since the suit will expand a bit when it gets wet. And it will also expand with usage over time.
Types of Wetsuits
Winter wetsuits are also much more flexible than they used to be. You’ll need gloves or mitts, boots and hood / hooded vest for the winter too.
Summer Wetsuit /One Piece Wetsuit – 3/2 mm wetsuit or one piece (often called a Summer Steamer or Summer Full Suit). Usually this wetsuit will have 2mm arms and legs. This suit has long arms and legs.There are two versions:
- Standard model with flatlock seams.
- Warmest version with blindstitched seams and/or liquidseam seals.
Summer Shorty Wetsuit
Usually 3/2mm or 2/1mm thick. It has short arms and legs and is used on the warmest summer days when the water temperature is at least 18c.
How to Put On a Wetsuit
The techniques of putting on a wetsuit are many and varies from person to person. However, they all follow the same basic principles which can be summed up like this:
- Start by getting your feet and legs in the suit. Make sure that you stretch out any wrinkles.
- Get the suit over your hips. Make sure it’s a tight fit on the crouch area.
- Pull the suit up your torso.
- Get your arms through the sleeves. This is usually where it gets really tricky. It often takes a bit of wiggling, pulling and patience to get the sleeves all the way up to your armpits.
- Get your head through the neckband
- Close the zipper
When the suit is finally on it usually takes a bit of minor adjustments to get it perfect.
Arthur G. Moore is a veteran paddler. He has over 10 years of whitewater kayaking experience in his kitty. When he was young, he used to love kayaking in rapid III and rapid IV but as time went on, he decided to concentrate mainly on covering long distances on a standard touring kayak. He is currently working as a senior editor for Kayak Manual.