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Do Wetsuits Keep You Warm?

   March 13th, 2021   Posted In: Articles  

Do Wetsuits Keep You Warm?

This is probably one of our most commonly asked questions – do wetsuits keep you warm? In short, yes, wetsuits do keep you warm. But they won’t completely protect you from hypothermia or from the chills.

Read on to find out how and why.

How Do Wetsuits Keep You Warm?

Along with being asked if wetsuits keep you warm, we also get asked if wetsuits keep you dry. It’s kind of typical to assume that if a wetsuit can keep you warm, then it can keep you dry. That cannot be farther from the truth though, as wetsuits do not keep you dry. We don’t want to create any confusion!

However, thanks to neoprene and when it’s combined with water and body heat, you can be warm while wearing a wetsuit. When you’re wearing a wetsuit and you get into the water (whether it’s a crisp 45 degrees F or a brisk 68 degrees F), the water that gets trapped between your skin and the wetsuit is warmed by your body heat. This layer ultimately becomes like a liquid layer of warmth for you.

Even though the initial shock of getting into the water while wearing a wetsuit may hit you at first, once you get moving and give the wetsuit a chance, you will start to get warm.

how do wetsuits keep you warm

Thicknesses Are Your Best Friend

Now that you know the answer to ‘Do wetsuits keep you warm?’, let’s discuss how the thickness of a wetsuit affects just how warm you’ll be.

A 1mm wetsuit top or a 2mm shorty springsuit will certainly add warmth while you’re out there adventuring in the water. But those thicknesses will only keep you comfortably warm in as low as 68 degrees F water, depending on your cold tolerance. The lower the water temps though, the higher you’ll need your wetsuit thickness to be.

For instance, are you planning on surfing in New England in the winter? A 2mm or 3/2mm thick wetsuit will simply not cut it with those conditions. Consider wearing a 5/4mm, 5/4/3mm, or even a 6/5mm wetsuit instead. The thicker the neoprene, the more protection, and warmth you’ll have.

Something Else to Note

Wetsuits in the higher mm range – 3/2mm & thicker, almost always have poly fleece-type linings in either the front panel, the back panel, both panels, or some even have fleece linings throughout the entire wetsuit. These quick-drying and comfy linings wick water away. Therefore your body has to work less to stay warm because there’s less water against your skin.

Seams also make a difference. A flatlock, standard seam always lets water seep in, hence why it’s found in warmer water wetsuits. Sealed & taped seams and even sealed & external liquid taped seams are your best defense against cold water seeping into the wetsuit. Therefore, you’ll be a bit warmer and can stay in the water longer.

Now that you know the final answer to the question ‘Do wetsuits keep you warm?’, just keep in mind that wetsuits were designed to keep you comfortable and warm for longer periods of time so you can enjoy your favorite watersport. But also remember that they do not 100% protect you from hypothermia. You have to use your own cold tolerance and discretion as to when your body tells you it’s time to get out before you get too cold!

Lauren (LoLo) has been turning words into blog posts for Wetsuit Wearhouse since 2014. She learned to surf for the first time ever in Costa Rica but she gravitates more towards SUP. When she's not scouring the web for travel deals, you can find her either hiking, running, gardening, tending to her animals, or reading a good book outside on a beautiful day.

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