Wetsuits | Which wetsuit and when?


Whatever watersports you are in to, a wetsuit is a key piece of gear needed to keep you warm with the fresh water conditions we experience in Britain. We have put together a wetsuit guide so you know what suit to wear depending on the season.

How do wetsuits work?

Effectively wetsuits provide heat insulation.  A wetsuit traps a thin layer of water between your skin and the wetsuit itself.  Your body temperature causes this thin layer of water to get warm and hence provides insulation to keep you nice and warm!

When do we wear a Winter wetsuit or a Summer Wetsuit?

This overview from O’Neill explains it perfectly.

Our water temperatures change a fair bit over the year! Here’s an average monthly temperatures graph for West Mersea, Essex!

What does 5/4, 4/3 or 3/2mm actually mean?

These numbers refer to the thickness of the wetsuit panels.

For example: in a 3/2mm wetsuit the back and chest panels will be made with 3mm neoprene and the arms/legs will be 2mm thick. Thicker panels are used on the chest and back to keep the core of your body warm whereas thinner neoprene is used on the arms and leg as this is an area where you want maximum flexibility.

Winter. It’s COLD!

So, as you are hopefully aware, in the middle of Winter on the East cost it’s pretty chilly! It’s often only the brave amongst us that will get out on the water in these bitterly cold months.  Anyway…if you do, you almost certainly need a 5 or 6mm wetsuit with all the added extras… 5mm boots, gloves and hood! 

Spring… starting to warm up but still pretty cold from those winter months!

Initially you are still going to need that 5mm winter suit.  But as it warms up you can take off the hood, gloves and boots as we start to hit summer.  A lot of the time it does depend on the air temperature! Do remember, it certain locations you will want to wear something on your feet all year round… the West Mersea Oyster beds certainly don’t let up! 

Summer… if only it was tropical!

Generally you can put on your 3/2mm for those barmy summer months.  It can actually get pretty warm, especially in the Blackwater as the tide comes in over the mersea mud!  On those particularly hot days you may be able to stick a shorty wetsuit on, or once in a blue moon, a pair of boardies!

Autumn… Getting Cold!

Although it is starting to cool down, you may be able to keep your 3/2mm on til October, depending on the air temperature.  The water has warmed up all summer so the beginning of autumn we don’t have to rush to get a 5mm wetsuit on again.  Once Autumn’s in full flow, the water has had time to cool down and its best to chuck on your 4/3mm or 5/4mm! 

So, to get on the water all year round, which wetsuits do we need?


Key Suits/Accessories: We definitely need a summer and winter suit…

  • Summer Suit – 3/2mm – June through till September/October.
  • Summer Accessories – 2mm shoes
  • Winter Suit – 5/4mm – From November/December through to May.
  • Winter Accessories – Hood 3mm, gloves 2-3mm, boots 5mm

Added extras…

  • Spring Suit – 4/3mm – April/May/June and October/November
  • Shorty Summer Suit – 2mm – July / August

We hope this helps with your wetsuit choices! We have a huge range of suits from O’Neill, Ripcurl, ION, C-Skins, Patagonia and Mystic. Come by the shop and have a chat if you’re unsure or just keen to chat all things watersports!

Shop Men’s Summer Wetsuits | Shop Women’s Summer Wetsuits

Shop Men’s Winter Wetsuits | Shop Women’s Winter Wetsuits

Hope to see you on the water soon!

Fluid Lines Team

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