Posted on Leave a comment

Wetsuit Thickness and Water Temperature Guide.

Wetsuits from Watersports Warehouse in Cape Town, South Africa

Are you wondering about the right wetsuit thickness for your needs? Unsure which suit is suitable for the water temperature you’ll be in? Curious about terms like “3/2 wetsuit”? Look no further! We’ve put together a guide to help you find the right suit thickness based on the water temperature that you plan on being in. We’ve included some charts tailored to each water sport to help you in making an informed decision.

Importance of Wetsuit Thickness

The thickness of a suit plays a crucial role in determining its thermal insulation properties and flexibility. These factors are pivotal not only for comfort but also for minimizing fatigue during water sports activities.

Thermal Efficiency and Flexibility

Effective thermal insulation and flexibility are essential for conserving energy while engaging in water sports. Optimal thermal properties help regulate body temperature, preventing both overheating and excessive cooling, which can lead to decreased power output. Additionally, flexibility ensures ease of movement, allowing for efficient performance on the water.

Balancing Thickness and Flexibility

When selecting a suit, it’s vital to strike the right balance between thickness and flexibility. While thicker suits provide superior warmth, they may sacrifice flexibility, requiring more effort during movement. In cases of uncertainty, opting for a slightly warmer and thicker suit is advisable, as it offers better insulation and comfort in colder conditions.

Consideration for Injury Prevention

Warmer suits help in injury prevention by promoting muscle, ligament, and tendon flexibility. The heat generated by thicker suits helps keep them supple, reducing the risk of strains, sprains, and other injuries. Additionally, maintaining optimal body temperature minimizes the likelihood of sudden muscle contractions and cramps.

Understanding Wetsuit Thickness Measurements

Suit thickness is typically measured in millimeters (mm), with specifications indicated by two numbers. For example, a suit labeled 3/2 mm indicates a neoprene thickness of 3 mm on the torso and 2 mm on the legs and arms. This variation in thickness caters to the differing thermal and flexibility requirements of various body parts.

Kitesurfing or Windsurfing Wetsuit Temperature Guide

In kitesurfing and similar activities, such as windsurfing, riders spend a significant amount of time above the water. Although beginners might experience a few extra dips, this aspect shouldn’t define your suit thickness decisions. Despite being out and above the water, you’re continuously exposed to wind and external temperatures. Additionally, the cooling effect of being wet while riding further factors into your comfort. Moreover, sunlight intensity plays a more pronounced role compared to surfing or even diving. Based on experience, a slightly thicker wetsuit is often recommended for these water sports compared to surfing.

Water TemperatureWetsuit ThicknessDestination example
> 25°C (> 77°F)No wetsuit required, Lycra or RashguardBali, Sri Lanka, Hawaii, Philippines, Brazil, North Carolina in summer
22 – 24°C (71.6 – 75.2°F)2 mm neoprene top or shortyMediterranean Sea in summer, Florida except summer
19 – 23°C (66.2 – 73.4°F)2 mm shorty, spring suit or 3/2 mm full suitMediterranean Mid-Season, California Gulf of Mexico, Cape Town in summer
15 – 20°C (59 – 68°F)3/2 mm full suitTarifa / Spain
12 – 15°C (53.6 – 59°F)4/3 mm or 5/3 mm full suit + 3 mm boots + 2 – 3 mm gloves + optional hood or capSan Francisco, Cape Town in winter
7 – 13°C (44.6 – 55.4°F)5/4 mm or 6/4 mm hooded full suit + 5 mm gloves + 5 mm bootsEngland, Netherlands in winter
Below 7°C (Below 44.6°F)6/5 or 6/4 hooded full suit + 7 mm gloves + 7 mm bootsGreenland / Arctic

Surfing Wetsuit Temperature Guide

Surfing distinguishes itself by the amount of time that you spent immersed in the water. Whether you’re paddling out or patiently waiting for your next wave, your exposure to wind and external temperatures is lower than activities like kitesurfing, or windsurfing.

Water TemperatureWetsuit ThicknessDestination
> 24°C (> 75.2°F)No wetsuit required, Lycra or RashguardBali, Sri Lanka, Hawaii, Philippines
22 – 24°C (71.6 – 75.2°F)1 – 2mm neoprene topMediterranean Sea or Ocean City/USA in summer
19 – 22°C (66.2 – 75.2°F)2mm shorty or spring suitMediterranean Sea Mid Season, Gold Coast/AUS in winter
17 – 20°C (62.6 – 68°F)2 mm full suit, Long John or JanePortugal Algarve in summer, Jeffreys Bay/South Africa
13 – 18°C (55.4 – 64.4°F)2 mm or 3/2 mm full suitAtlantic Southern Spain, Algarve, France in Winter, Cape Town
10 – 14°C (50 – 57.2°F)4/3 mm full suit + 3 mm boots + 3 mm gloves + optional hood or capCalifornia / USA in winter, England, Ireland
Below 8°C (Below 46.4°F)6/5 or 6/4 hooded full suit + 7 mm gloves + 7 mm bootiesCornwall / England in winter, Vancouver Island / Canada

Wetsuit Inner Lining

Looking for some extra warmth during your water adventures? Many suits incorporate thermo textiles in the form of fibers into their design. These fibers, infused with minerals, are activated by your body heat. They then convert this heat into infrared energy, providing effective insulation. This innovation broadens the suit’s versatility. For instance, if you have a wetsuit with an inner lining designed for a 5/3 mm thickness, you may comfortably wear it in waters where a 6 mm wetsuit would typically be recommended.

Moreover, these inner linings aim to enhance your overall performance of the wetsuits and your enjoyment. Typically integrated into the upper body area of the wetsuit, brands like O’Neill and Mystic employ this technology. However, the thermal properties of these models may vary in terms of flexibility and thermal strength.

Remember to work your way through the below checklist when choosing your next wetsuit.

Wetsuit Thickness Checklist:

  • What is the water temperature of my destination during the chosen time of year?
  • How sensitive am I to cold?
  • Is the wetsuit of high quality?
  • What water sport will I be engaging in?
  • Does the wetsuit feature an inner lining?

If you get stuck or are still unsure give us a call, drop us an email or stop by the shop and we’ll happily assist you in finding the correct wetsuit. Also remember to give us a follow on Instagram and Facebook for regular updates.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *