Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Wet Suits: How Much Do They Do to Keep You Warm?


  1. They trap layer of water between your skin and the neoprene suits inner layer which your body heat warms. A lot of their effectiveness is determined by the suits thickness and the water temperature. I white water kayaked for years wearing a farmer john type of wet suit with thin neoprene.

  2. They can work pretty well as they trap the water against your skin and insulate it.

    It depends on the thickness of the suit and the surrounding water temperature, as well as duration.

    In a rather thick 7mm suit I was ok in 40 degree water for about half an hour and then was done and ready to get out and warm up. In a 3 mil suit, I could dive the Caymans all day perfectly comfortably but it wouldn't be good for 40 degree water at all.

    For real enjoyment in colder water, as drysuit is a must.

  3. A bit. As I'm sure you know, they work by keeping a layer of water heated by your body, near your body.

    Unfortunately, the water is not perfectly trapped.

    For water much below 55F or so I much prefer not diving, or diving in a dry suit. A dry suit with proper insulation under it allows diving in near-freezing temperatures.

  4. Depends on the wet suit. There are 1/8" 1/4" and 3/8" thick suits. Each and all also come with & without sleeves, hood, gloves & socks. Be sure to have oversized fins if you use the socks. In general with mine (a 1/4" suit)they are protective enough for a two to six hour dive, depending on your tolerance to cold, but that first plunge, when water seeps down into your back and into the armpits and pants can be a shock. I have used mine for under ice and to depths of 100' (and a bit more) and I hate (hate!) to be cold. (* note: also be sure that air or water does get into the hood if you are wearing one as the pressure needs to be equal outside & inside of the ears) Hope this helps..! Jim

  5. My one experience with a wet suit was rafting on the Payette in April; the river level was above normal from snow melt, the air was cold and damp, and I'm sure it wouldn't have taken long in normal clothes to get thoroughly chilled, if not hypothermic. But in a wetsuit, although soaked to the skin, I was perfectly comfortable the entire day, even my extremities.

  6. The neoprene does the insulating, so the thickness determines the ultimate warmth. The incoming water is cold until your body warms it, so a tight fit means less water to warm.

    What I found windsurfing in a wet suit was that I would fall down, warm up the water while getting reorganized, then drain all the (warm) water back out when I got back up. Every fall repeated the cycle. I eventually bought a dry suit for really cold weather. Same insulation value, but less water warming.