Everything you need to know about wetsuits

Photo of author
Written By Gabriela
Gabriela is a science journalist and writer. She has a PhD in biochemistry and a master's degree in science communication. Gabriela has published articles in magazines and newspapers in Mexico and USA, and has also given talks on science subjects.






A wetsuit is a piece of clothing that is designed to keep you warm in cold water. They are made of neoprene, which is a type of synthetic rubber. Wetsuits are usually worn by surfers, divers, and other people who spends a lot of time in cold water.

Wetsuits work by trapping a layer of water between your body and the neoprene. Your body heat then warms up this layer of water, and this helps to keep you warm. However, wetsuits can only keep you warm up to a certain point. If the water is too cold, or if you are in the water for too long, you can still get hypothermia.

Does a wetsuit keep you warm?

A wetsuit is a neoprene insulation suit made for warmth and protection in watersports. Wetsuits work 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.

Wetsuits are effective in waters between 64-68 degrees Fahrenheit. If the water is warmer than that, you won’t need a wetsuit as the layer of water will actually make you too warm. If the water is colder than that, a wetsuit won’t be enough to keep you warm and you’ll need to add a hood, gloves, and booties.

Another factor in how warm your wetsuit keeps you is the thickness. The thicker the neoprene, the warmer you’ll be. But, thick neoprene can also be more difficult to swim in. So, if you’re swimming in really cold water, you’ll want to make sure you get a thicker wetsuit.

Wetsuits are made of different types of neoprene. Standard neoprene is made of synthetic rubber which is mixed with carbon black to make it black. There are also other types of neoprene like closed cell neoprene and open cell neoprene. The difference in these types of neoprene is how well they trap the layer of water against your body. Closed cell neoprene does a better job of trapping the water which makes it a better insulator.

If you’re looking for a wetsuit that will keep you warm, look for one made of closed cell neoprene and with a thicker design. This will ensure that you’re able to stay warm in colder waters.

How much warmth does a wetsuit add?

A wetsuit helps to keep a swimmer warm by providing an extra layer of insulation. It is made of neoprene, which is a synthetic rubber material. The neoprene is foamed with air bubbles, which trap body heat and prevent it from escaping. The thickness of the wetsuit determines how much warmth it will provide.

A 3mm wetsuit will provide some warmth, but is not recommended for use in water colder than 70 degrees. A 5mm wetsuit is better suited for water around 60 degrees. A 7mm wetsuit can withstand temperatures around 38 degrees. And a 9mm wetsuit should be used in water no colder than 30 degrees.

How much warmth does a wetsuit actually add?

It really depends on the thickness of the suit and the temperature of the water. But in general, a wetsuit will add 3-5 degrees of warmth to the water it is used in.

Are wetsuits good for cold water?

Yes! Up-to-date neoprene wetsuit technology allows these thicker fullsuits to keep you warm and keep your performance up while in colder water.

A wetsuit for cold water is great for 35 degree and up water temps and can be worn for watersports like surfing, SCUBA diving, kayaking, and more!

Here are some of the benefits of wearing a wetsuit in colder water:

  • You’ll stay warm: Wetsuits work by trapping a layer of water next to your skin. Your body then heats up this layer of water, which keeps you warm.
  • Improved performance: Wearing a wetsuit in cold water can actually help improve your athletic performance. That’s because cooler muscles tend to work better than warmer muscles.
  • Protection from the elements: In addition to keeping you warm, wetsuits also offer protection from the sun, wind, and waves. Wetsuits are made of durable materials that can protect your skin from abrasions and cuts.

If you’re looking for a way to stay warm in cold water, a wetsuit is a great option. Just make sure to choose a wetsuit that’s appropriate for the conditions you’ll be swimming in.

Are wetsuits worth it?

Yes! If you’re a triathlete, you’ve got to like wetsuits. They keep frigid water from paralysing your arm and leg muscles and sinking your ship before you make it to shore, and they can improve swimming speed by 3 to 7 per cent, enough to give you a 50- to 100-metre edge over a suitless competitor in a 1500-metre swim.

See also  Gas going bad: How long does it last?

Wetsuits are made of neoprene, a closed-cell foam rubber that’s buoyant and resists tearing. They trap a layer of water next to your skin, which is warmed by your body heat and provides insulation. The neoprene also compresses your muscles, which reduces fatigue and makes you more efficient in the water.

There are full-body wetsuits, which cover your arms, legs, torso and sometimes head; shorties, which come down to your waist; sleeveless suits, which have no sleeves; and Farmer John suits, named for their resemblance to the one-piece coveralls farmers wear. All have zippers in the front or back.

Here are some things to consider when choosing a wetsuit

  • The water temperature. In very cold water, you’ll want a full-body suit with a hood. In warm water, a sleeveless or shorty suit may be all you need.
  • The type of swimming you’ll be doing. If you’re mostly doing open-water swimming, a full-body suit will give you more warmth and buoyancy. If you’re doing triathlons, a sleeveless or shorty suit will be more comfortable for the biking and running portions of the race.
  • Your body type. Wetsuits are made in men’s and women’s styles and come in a range of sizes. Full-body wetsuits can be difficult to put on, so if you’re on the large side or have broad shoulders, look for a suit with a back zipper.
  • The thickness of the neoprene. Wetsuits are made with 3mm, 5mm or 7mm neoprene. The thicker the neoprene, the warmer the suit, but the more constricting it will feel.

How to put on a wetsuit?

    1. Start with the arms. Put one arm in at a time and work the material up your body until it’s covering your shoulder. Repeat with the other arm.
    2. Pull the wetsuit up your torso. Some suits have a front zipper that you can use to open up the suit and make it easier to get into. Others have a back zipper that you can use to adjust how tight the suit fits around your chest.
    3. IMPORTANT: Make sure that you get the suit zipped up before you try to pull it on over your head!

Can you swim in winter with a wetsuit?

Wetsuits are most effective for warming you adequately when the water temp is between 65-78 degrees. Colder than that, you can swim in a wetsuit but your head, face, feet, and hands will not be protected. Warmer than 78 degrees Fahrenheit, and you risk overheating.

When the water is cold, a wetsuit acts as an insulator by trapping a layer of water next to your body. Your body then heats up this layer of water, which keeps you warm. The thicker the wetsuit, the more insulating power it has.

Wetsuits are made of neoprene, which is a synthetic rubber. They come in different thicknesses, usually 3mm to 5mm. The thicker the wetsuit, the warmer it will be. A 5mm wetsuit will keep you much warmer than a 3mm wetsuit.

However, even a 5mm wetsuit won’t keep you warm if the water is too cold. If the water temperature is below 65 degrees, you will need a drysuit. A drysuit is a waterproof and insulated suit that seals at the neck and wrists. It will keep you dry and warm even in cold water.

If you plan on swimming in cold water, make sure you have the proper gear. A wetsuit alone will not keep you warm in very cold water. You may also need a hood, gloves, and booties to keep your head, hands, and feet warm.

Can you get hypothermia in a wetsuit?


Hypothermia: Signs and Symptoms But heat loss in cold water can also be a problem for surfers in wetsuits. Ninety percent of the body heat loss happens through the skin and 10 percent through your lungs. That is why surfing in 3/2 mm wetsuits in 50 °F (10 °C) will slowly lead you to mild and moderate hypothermia.

The first sign that hypothermia is setting in is usually shivering, which is an instinctive reaction to try to generate heat. Other early signs can include:

      • Exhaustion
      • Confusion
      • Slurred speech
      • Fumbling hands

If hypothermia progresses, it can lead to more serious symptoms, such as:

      • Problems thinking or speaking
      • Memory lapses
      • Excessive shivering
      • Decreased ability to move arms and legs

Severe hypothermia can be fatal.