When you go kayaking or surfing or any other sport and recreational activity that involves…
When it comes to activities like bodyboarding, kayaking, and surfing, wetsuits are one of the most vital pieces of equipment that you can take with you. Even though the weather may seem warm, lots of bodies of water are much colder than you may have originally thought.
By the time you’re in the water, it’s too late to warm yourself up without drying off. By taking a wetsuit you can ensure that you keep yourself safe whilst out and about in the water. But do wetsuits keep you warm and how do they do it?
Let’s find out today! Keep reading to find out if wetsuits keep you warm and everything you need to know about them.
Do Wetsuits Keep You Warm?
The simple answer is yes, wetsuits do keep you warm. A lot of people think that wetsuits are designed to keep you dry but that’s virtually impossible without wearing a full-body diving suit. Wetsuits are made of a thick layer of neoprene, with tiny bubbles in the fabric of the material. This is the most important part of the wetsuit to keep you warm, which we’ll explain in the next section of our guide.
It’s crucial that wetsuits are resistant against scraping and scuffs from sharp and hard natural features like rocks and coral. This way the suit ensures that no water can find its way in and out of the suit, keeping you warm.
This material, neoprene, is a type of rubber that can stretch and allow the wearer to move around freely whilst staying warm. These suits are so tight because of the design for their purpose.
Do Wetsuits Keep You Dry?
As previously mentioned, wetsuits don’t keep you dry and do the exact opposite. Many people believe that wetsuits are named and designed to make sure that you prevent yourself from becoming wet, however, they use your biggest enemy to your advantage. Because of the bubbles in the neoprene material, wetsuits allow water to get under the layer of material that you’re wearing.
This cold water is then trapped between the wetsuit and your body, which you’d think makes you feel cold. Wetsuits are clever and use the human body’s natural body heat to warm the water in contact with the skin. This creates a bubble of water around the body which is warmer than the water outside of the wetsuit.
This is why wetsuits are so tight, so they can make sure that this water doesn’t escape away from the body and keeps you well insulated.
Of course, wetsuits only work between certain temperatures, so don’t go jumping into pools of ice water because your body heat will be too low to heat the water within the wetsuit. The wetsuit almost acts as an extra layer of skin around the body to ensure that you stay within a safe temperature range.
What Are The Best Temperatures For Wetsuits?
There are different types of wetsuits and additional features that can be included to suit different temperatures and environments. The standard wetsuit with short sleeves and more exposure on your legs are suited best to water temperatures of around 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit and will work for you in most warm temperatures.
As mentioned earlier, although the weather may seem warm, the water can be a lot colder and deceive you.
The next variation of wetsuit that works in higher temperatures of cold water is the spring suit or full suit. This is where the short sleeves are replaced with long sleeves and the pants section of the suit stretches down to your ankles.
These are best suited to temperatures of around 62 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit and will keep you warmer than the short wetsuit. This is because the longer features allow you to fit more water under the suit and will have a larger amount of water trapped between the suit and your body.
With regards to having a full suit, you can include boots that act in a similar way to the rest of the wetsuit. The feet are one of the main areas where heat can leave the body, so when the situation calls for it, including boots is a great way to keep body heat.
Boots are usually implemented when in an environment with sharp or rough natural features like coral and rocks. However, the best temperature for boots is somewhere between 58 and 63 degrees Fahrenheit.
Other features that you can include along with the wetsuit’s boots are gloves and a hood. Much like with the feet, we lose a lot of heat from the top end of our body through the head. A hood is used to fit over the top of your head and ears so that the water will warm the surrounding area around your head.
Gloves are important because we use our hands so much, so having cold hands is a huge hindrance. These features tend to be used in any temperature between 52 and 58 degrees Fahrenheit.
How Thick Is A Standard Wetsuit?
With the frequently seen spring suits with short sleeves and leggings you’ll see that they usually have a thickness between 0.5mm and 2/1mm. This keeps them lightweight enough that you can use them in mild conditions and still enjoy yourself.
Alternatively, spring suits or full suits with long sleeves and leggings usually come in at a thickness between 2mm and 3/2mm. This is still relatively lightweight but offers a bit more protection and warmth.
The other variations of the suits get progressively thicker to suit the lower temperatures and will keep you a lot warmer.
Of course, when a material is thicker then it’s likely to offer more warmth, but this is at the sacrifice of some mobility and flexibility. It’s all about finding the right balance that suits you and your adventures best, however, lower temperatures will often force someone to prioritize warmth over mobility.
Wetsuits are a great thing to bring with you whenever you’re thinking about spending time in the water. Again, it’s important to be more safe than sorry when it comes to wearing a wetsuit. When water is especially cold then you find a lot of heat leaving your body in a short space of time and can send you into shock.
Of course, wetsuits won’t warm you up instantaneously but will offer a lot more protection against the elements than not wearing a suit.