There are different wetsuit thicknesses to consider when buying a wetsuit online or at the store. Some great pre-determining factors for deciding on what thickness of wetsuit you would like would be: time of year you will be using it, location(s) you will be in and average water temperatures for those locations. As wetsuit technology gets better each season, the thickness of suits is becoming increasingly efficient to lower water temperatures. You always get what you pay for. Wool/fleece and other lining is very effective in 3mm+ wetsuits to keep the core of the body warmer. There are also GBS (Glue and Blind Stitched) seams that work efficiently to keep maximum amounts of water from leaking into the already warm wetsuit. On top of these seams there is often times another layer of sealant that lines crucial seams on the outside of the suit adding another barrier to water entry into the wetsuit. It is a good idea to think about how much freedom of movement you will be needing for your water activities.
Looking at the left column of the chart above labeled “Wetsuit Thickness” you will see scale ranging from 1mm – 7mm+ in thickness. On the upper column you can see suggested water temperatures for each thickness of wetsuit listed. Below is a quick breakdown and some suggestions for gearing up with your new fullsuit, springsuit, booties, gloves, tops and/or hoods!
1-2mm Wetsuit Thickness:
Most wetsuits purchase that are this thickness will be either tops, vests, springsuits, (shortys) and short sleeved fullsuits. There are also neoprene “booties”, hoods, gloves and bottoms in the the 1-2mm thickness range as well. All mentioned products in this thickness range can be layered underneath a thicker wetsuit or added accessories for added warmth.
Season: Spring/Summer (70-85 Degree Water)
3mm Wetsuit Thickness:
Wetsuits in the 3mm range are mostly fullsuits covering the full body including long sleeves and long bottoms. These can be layered underneath with thinner wetsuit tops, rashguards and complimented with booties, gloves and hoods for added warmth in the water. This range of wetsuit can also be used alone without layering.
Water Temp: (65-80 Degree F Water)
4-5mm Wetsuit Thickness:
Wetsuits in the 4-5mm thickness range are all fullsuits and hooded fullsuits. There are also booties and gloves that are this thickness to add extra heat. This is a lot of rubber to be wearing if you are engaging in a more active sport or activity and most wetsuits are becoming more lightweight and flexible as new blends of materials are being developed each year and incorporated into the neoprene wetsuits.
Water Temp: (60-75 Degree F Water)
6-7+mm Wetsuit Thickness:
If you are doing some arctic temperature surfing, consider a 6mm+ suit to keep your core at a healthy temperature. In suits of this thickness you can probably be comfortable in 50 Degree F water but we were being conservative with a 55 Degree rating on the cart. You will most likely also be needing a hood, booties and gloves to keep your extremities (hands, feet and head) as warm as your body.
Water Temp: (55-65 Degree F Water)
You will want to wear a drysuit for any temperatures colder than 50-60 degree water temps
Water Temp: (35-60 Degree F Water)