Choosing the Right Wetsuit Thickness for Different Water Temperatures

When it comes to water sports like surfing, diving, or snorkelling, wearing a wetsuit that matches the water temperature is crucial for both comfort and safety. The thickness of the wetsuit you choose can significantly affect your body temperature and overall experience in the water. This guide will help you understand how to select the appropriate wetsuit thickness based on different water temperatures.

Understanding Wetsuit Thickness

Wetsuit thickness is typically measured in millimetres (mm) and often comes in a combination format, such as 5/4/3 mm. This indicates the thickness of the neoprene used in different parts of the wetsuit: 5 mm on the torso, 4 mm on the legs, and 3 mm on the arms. The thicker the neoprene, the warmer the wetsuit will be. The variation in thickness helps balance warmth with flexibility: thicker neoprene offers more insulation but less flexibility, while thinner neoprene offers less insulation but greater flexibility.

Wetsuit Thickness Guide by Water Temperature

Cold Water (Below 55°F / 12.8°C)

  • Thickness: 5/4 mm to 6/5/4 mm
  • Type: Full suit with hood, gloves, and booties recommended

For very cold waters, especially those below 55°F (12.8°C), a thicker wetsuit is necessary to ensure adequate insulation against the cold. Wetsuits in the 5/4 mm to 6/5/4 mm range, along with additional accessories like hoods, gloves, and booties, are ideal to maintain body heat.

Cool Water (55°F to 65°F / 12.8°C to 18.3°C)

  • Thickness: 4/3 mm to 5/4/3 mm
  • Type: Full suit

In cool waters, a full suit with a thickness between 4/3 mm and 5/4/3 mm will provide substantial warmth without sacrificing too much flexibility. This range is suitable for most surfers and divers in waters like those found in early spring or late fall in temperate climates.

Mild Water (65°F to 75°F / 18.3°C to 23.9°C)

  • Thickness: 3/2 mm to 4/3 mm
  • Type: Full suit or spring suit

For water temperatures that are a bit warmer, but still not tropical, a full suit with a thickness of 3/2 mm to 4/3 mm offers a good balance of warmth and mobility. In the higher end of this temperature range, a spring suit—which may have short legs and short or long sleeves—can also be a comfortable option.

Warm Water (75°F to 85°F / 23.9°C to 29.4°C)

  • Thickness: 2 mm to 3/2 mm
  • Type: Spring suit or shorty

As water temperatures increase, wetsuit thickness can decrease. In warm waters, a thinner wetsuit or a spring suit will provide enough insulation while allowing for greater freedom of movement. These suits are ideal for summer seasons in warmer climates.

Tropical Water (Above 85°F / 29.4°C)

  • Thickness: 0.5 mm to 2 mm
  • Type: Rash guard or thin full suit

In tropical water conditions, the main purpose of wearing a wetsuit is to protect against the sun, abrasions, and stings rather than to insulate against the cold. A thin full suit or a rash guard, which is often made of very thin neoprene or other materials, can provide this protection without causing overheating.

Additional Considerations

  • Air Temperature: Consider the air temperature as well as the water temperature. If you’re going to be spending a lot of time in the water in a windy or cool air environment, you may want a slightly thicker suit.
  • Activity Level: The more active you are in the water, the more heat your body generates. Active swimmers or surfers might prefer slightly thinner suits for flexibility and comfort, while static divers might want thicker suits for increased warmth.
  • Personal Tolerance to Cold: Individual tolerance to cold varies widely. If you know you get cold easily, opt for a thicker wetsuit than the guidelines suggest.

Choosing the right wetsuit thickness is essential for your comfort and safety while enjoying water activities. Always ensure that your wetsuit fits correctly—a snug fit is vital to prevent excessive water from flowing into the suit, which can reduce its insulating effectiveness. By using this guide and considering your personal needs and the specific conditions you will encounter, you can select the perfect wetsuit for your next aquatic adventure.

Find Your Perfect Wetsuit Thickness with Sharkskin™

At Sharkskin™, we understand that the right wetsuit thickness is crucial for your comfort and safety during water activities. Our wetsuits are designed to fit snugly, minimising water inflow and maximising insulation, so you can focus on your aquatic adventure without any distractions. Whether you're diving, surfing, or engaging in any water sport, Sharkskin™ provides technically superior products that are essential for an enjoyable experience.

Explore our range, and find the perfect wetsuit that meets your specific needs and the conditions you'll face. Embrace the elements with confidence and comfort—choose Sharkskin™ for your next water adventure. Stay warm and protected with gear that’s designed to be indispensable for any water enthusiast. Explore Sharkskin™ today and elevate your water sports experience!