As spring rolls around it is time to think about putting away your thick winter wetsuit and putting on something thinner and stretchier! With the increase popularity of stand up paddleboarding and kayaking there are now so many different options you can wear to keep you warm in the water. Whether it is wearing a full 3/2mm suit, a long john or independent neoprene top and pants there is lots choice to suit everyone.
Firstly, it is important to remember that although it is spring you still need to wear enough neoprene to start warm. After all, the water in the UK is still relatively cold apart from the middle of the summer! Check out this guide (below) from O’Neill Wetsuits and how this compares with the average water temperature at one of our local beaches, Mersea Island, Essex.
Once we hit May you are looking at still wearing either a 5/4mm or 4/3mm full wetsuit to stay warm. However, once we move into June and onwards there are more wetsuit options available. See below.
We will discuss some of the key wetsuit options that are available and what wetsuit is best for the watersport you’re doing.
3/2MM FULL WETSUIT
This is most worn wetsuit for spring/summer watersports in the UK. The 3/2mm refers to the thickness of the suit, the chest and back panels will be 3mm and the arms/legs will be 2mm. This suit will keep you warm while giving you lots of flexibility and stretch to take part in all watersports. These wetsuits are great for windsurfing and kitesurfing where you want no restrictions while keeping you warm for a whole session. Some people do wear these for paddleboarding and kayaking however they can sometimes be too warm as you’re not spending as much time in the water as with wind sports.
PROS– warm, flexible, perfect for early spring (May/June) and wind sports.
CONS– can we too warm for paddle sports due to not spending much time in the water (hopefully!)
LONG JOHN / LONG JANE
Long John/Janes have made a resurgence in recent years because of the increased popularity of paddle sports. We have found that many of our customers have been opting for this type of wetsuit during the summer instead of a 3/2mm full suit. This is due to various reasons; they are easy to get on and off, they offer restriction free paddling and they start at a lower price point.
In addition, most brands are now selling matching front zip neoprene tops to wear with your long John/Jane so you can keep warm if the air or water temperature are lower. This gives you the choice of wearing the top or long John/Jane independently or in combination. This option is great for kayaking and stand up paddleboarding.
PROS– restriction free paddling, versatile, can be combined with neoprene tops, perfect for paddle sports
CONS– Not as water tight as a 3/2mm full wetsuit, not as suitable for wind sports.
It is all in the name! The shorty is a very popular summer wetsuit, great for when the water is warmer but you need a bit of protection and neoprene for warmth. The shorty is a short arm and leg version of the 3/2mm full wetsuit discussed above. However, they are usually 2mm of neoprene throughout the whole suit which makes it ideal for flexibility. This option is great for all watersports from wind to paddle sports.
PROS– flexible, cheaper start price, great for all watersports, very easy to get and out of
CONS– only summer use otherwise too cold, no lower leg protection for wind sports
As we discussed above wetsuit tops are very versatile and can we worn with long johns/janes. But they are also ideal to wear independently to give you that extra bit of warmth on the water. Equally you can wear them with a pair of wetsuit bottoms depending on the conditions. We have found that tops are really popular with people taking part in paddle sports in Essex. They are less popular in the wind sports population unless it is the middle of summer as they usually don’t provide enough warmth for a long session. They can come in pullover, half zip or full zip styles depending on your preference.
PROS: provide extra warmth during paddle sports, can we worn with long John/janes and wetsuit bottoms
CONS: summer only, don’t offer much warmth
These are one of the most popular neoprene options for us at Fluid Lines, especially with women. They vary between 1 and 2mm are ideal for paddle sports. They are light, stretchy and warm giving the versatility you need with paddleboarding or kayaking. They can we combined with various tops from neoprene to rashvests. Wetsuit bottoms can be worn from spring onwards!
PROS– light, stretchy and warm. Can we worn with a variety of different tops depending on conditions
CONS– not great for wind sports
An essential product for everyone for whatever watersports you’re doing. The main function of rashvests is sun protection, with most brands offering up to 50+ UPF. They are great for summer weather during paddle or wind sports and will stop you getting burnt. Some people choose to wear them under wetsuits for rash protection, especially ones with high necks (turtle neck). The main downside of rashvests are that once they are wet they actually make you colder (unless very warm!) until it drys out. They can come in long and short sleeve.
PROS– Sun protection, colourful, cheap price point, rash protection
CONS– Colder when wet
Thanks, The Fluid Lines Team
Fluid Lines are an independent, family run snow and water sports shop based in Colchester, Essex.