What thickness wetsuit do I need?
When choosing a wetsuit, there are several factors to take into account:
- Water temperature
- Water conditions
- Wind speed
The water temperature is the primary factor in selecting the most suitable thickness of wetsuit for you. Wind chill is shortly followed as a secondary factor.
You can look at the average water and air temperatures for your area across the year from any detailed weather report. Once you know which temperatures you will be out in, you can use our wetsuit thickness chart below to choose the right wetsuit with combination of wetsuits and accessories suitable to keep you in the water all year round.
In general, you should taketh following into account when making a decision:
- Your level (if you fall easily into the water the wind will cool you down easily),
- The water conditions (if you go wave riding or flat water on a lake)
- The weather conditions (for example if the wind comes from a northern direction that is colder).
- The features of the wetsuit (if there is a thermal linned inside, the type of seams, tape, overhead backup, glideskin Neck etc.)
STAND UP PADDLE
If you are Stand Up Paddle boarding, as a rule of thumb, the perfect wetsuit outfit that we recommend for is a Long John/Jane and then you can always wear a neoprene hoodie on top. This way you keep the high flexibility in the shoulders and you can easily adjust the heat by adding wool underwear underneath. Same for your feet where you can add wool socks inside your shoes.
Summer is usually not the biggest issue here. You can easily feel the weather and knows if you should go out in board short, wear a Longh John/Jane, or a 3/2mm short sleeve. Again, a neoprene Hoodie on top can do miracles.
If it is a very cold winter with water temperatures below 10°C or you go wave riding, you should definitely choose a 5/3mm wetsuit and minimum 6.5mm shoes. And if there is wind, we recommend to wear a Neoprene Hoodie on top.
But remember a 5mm wetsuit is not just a 5mm wetsuit. The wetsuit can be build with lots of different features such as thermal linned inside, glideskin double neck, overhead backup etc. We have designed our wetsuits for cold water conditions that is usual in scandinavian countries like Denmark, Norway, and Sweden (not for wave surfing in winter where integrated hood is recommended).
If you go when water temperature are below 5°C, you can easily wear a layer of wool underneath your wetsuit, and of course add the neoprene hoodie on top.
If you practice a watersport where wind is the main factor, it is important to take the wind direction into account as a wind from north is typically colder than a wind from south. Of course, it depends on how the low pressure and the high pressure move, respectively.
The weather can vary a lot during the summer and for windsurfing and Kitesurfing it may be necessary to have both a 3/2mm short sleeve and a 3/2mm long sleeve wetsuit. If you are on a budget we recommend to wear a 3/2mm long sleeve for scandinavian countries.
As soon as we enter autumn and the air temperatures reach 15°C, you should go for a 5/3mm wetsuit – preferably with thermal linned inside the chest, back and upper legs. And then minimum 6.5mm shoes, also with thermal linned. This way, you will only need one wetsuit for the whole winter by adding a neoprene hoodie on top and some wool underwear for the very cold days.
What is the different type of stitching?
Wetsuits are constructed by stitching together different shaped pieces of neoprene. A well fitting wetsuit and the type of seams is essential to stay warm as stitching involves making holes in the neoprene to pass a thread through and the water will pass these holes. So the type of stitching is important when considering how warm and strong a wetsuit will be.
There are three main types of stitching used in wetsuit construction.
1. Overlock stitching is the simplest way of joining two pieces of neoprene, but is the least effective at keeping water out. This stitching method is not used on high-end wetsuits and would only be found on summer wetsuit or cheaper wetsuits. The two edges of the panels are rolled together and then stitched to hold them together. The overlock drastically reduces the flexibility of the seam. It also leaves a bulge on the inside of the wetsuit, which can be uncomfortable and result in chafing.
2. Flat lock stitching is the overlapping of two pieces of neoprene and then stitching the seam together. This zigzag stitching method is traditionally used on summer wetsuits because the holes left by the stitching makes them more breathable and cooler to wear.
3. Glued Blind stitched (GBS) wetsuits are of a higher quality. Neoprene segments are glued together and then stitched halfway through the material to make the seam as watertight as possible. Because the stitching doesn’t go all the way through the wetsuit and leave any holes, the amount of water absorbed is kept to a minimum. Any water trapped inside the wetsuit only serves to warm the body further, making GBS an efficient method to use on winter wetsuits.
Glued seams increase the strength of the seam and creating a waterproof seal.
Further features are also important:
Spot Taped Seams: Tape is glued to the inside of the seam in critical areas to add additional strength where needed (recommended).
Fully Taped Seams: Tape is glued to the inside of every seam. Neoprene tape ensure to keep the high flexibility of the wetsuit and minimise water entrance (recommenced).
Liquid Seam: A special liquid rubber is applied to the outside seam which makes the wetsuit 100% waterproof but makes the wetsuit loose some flexibility (only recommended for normal surfing in cold water).
Wetsuit gloves are a good way to help keep your hands warm in winter. The gloves should be close fitting to avoid too much cold water entering and causing your hands to freeze, and at the same time loose at the wrist to avoid acidification of the forearms. Check out our Hyperwarm Gloves especially designed for SUP.
Neoprene shoes are essential for the winter season and can also be worn in warmer water to protect the soles of your feet from rocks and other potentially pain causing objects. It is more likely to wear boots/swimming shoes in winter with thermal lined inside and low angle shoes in summer. Like all wetsuits, the neoprene shoes should be as tight fitting as comfortably possible to prevent them filling with water, resulting in heavy and cold feet.
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