Cold water in terms of wetsuits is that which is 21°C (70°F) and below. This is water that would make you freeze out and it can either be in the cold polar regions or your local lake during the winter. Without the right wetsuit gear, you may find it very uncomfortable swimming or diving in such waters.
The best wetsuit for icy waters is one that is built with enough levels of thicknesses especially, on the torso and midsection, to keep you warm and comfortable. For waters with temperatures below 5°C or 42°F, 6/5/4mm full suit wetsuits are the most ideal. 4/3mm-5/4/3mm for medium temperatures and 3/2mm for high temperatures. In addition to thickness, a good wetsuit should be made out of strong, durable and flexible materials.
The following is a review of the top wet suits for cold waters plus a guide on what features you should look for.
1. O’Neill Epic 5/4mm Chest Zip Full Wetsuit
A first one from one of the pioneer firms in the area of wetsuits, the Epic Wetsuit packs among the best features when it comes to dealing with the cold. It’s simplistic in nature yet highly effective in keeping you warm and protected in the cold waters. With a stretch factor of 150%, you’re guaranteed a comfortable fit no matter your size.
The seams of this wetsuit are both blind stitched and glued to keep out any excessive water that may try to enter the wetsuit. The FUZE (Front Upper Zipper Entry) system also ensures that no water enters the wetsuit through the zipper to maintain a warm inside. The neck features a double super seal which has a 360° smooth skin interior that is secure to the water and is easily adjustable.
With this wetsuit, you also get strategically placed paddle zones for easy movement and also prevents rashes from your skin. The Krypto knee padz added provided extra cushioning for the knees to prevent injuries from kneeling or being hit by objects. The external key pocket added has a high stretch factor and is resistant to abrasion. You can this easily access it from the lower leg and won’t worry about your key getting lost.
- 5/4mm thickness for warmth in cold waters.
- Uses 100% UltraFlex DS neoprene with a stretch factor of 150% and is resistant to abrasion and other forms of damage.
- Seams are glued and blind stitched to keep out excessive water.
- FUZE system zip ensures there’s no water that enters the wetsuit through the zipper.
- Had a double superseal neck that is comfortable and watertight.
- Strategic seamless paddle zones to increase comfort and reduce chances of getting rashes.
- Krypto knees padz for comfort, protection and flexibility.
- Has an external key pocket with a loop.
- A bit stiff at the joints.
This wetsuit is the best if you’re not into the very costly ones that have cutting edge technology yet you still want to take a dive in the warm waters.
2. NeoSport Wetsuit Premium Neoprene Full Suit
If you are looking for an affordable wetsuit that not only keeps you warm in the coldest waters but also comfortable and durable, NeoSport premium wetsuit is a perfect choice.
This a versatile 7/5-millimeter Full Suit perfect for all icy water activities be it diving, snorkeling, standup paddle boarding, kiteboarding, wakeboarding, kayaking, canoeing or any other water sport
It is constructed with premium neoprene to give a soft and comfortable fit. Uses lycra trimmed arm, neck and waist openings that bring in extra comfort.
- Thermal bonded knee pads for abrasion resistance hence comfort
- Adjustable collar that provides a comfortable, non-confining stretch fit
- Internal key pocket.
- Spot taped at stress points and flatlock seams provide a smooth interior and exterior surface to ensure maximum comfort and reliability during dives and other water activities.
- Heavy duty YKK back zip
- At 7mm, it is quite bulky compared to modern wetsuits that less bulky but keep you warm.
- Some users have sizing issues.
3. Scubapro Everflex Steamer 7/5mm Men’s Wetsuit
This thermal wetsuit comes with many tested features along with superb comfort, stretch, fit and flexibility. It is made out of premium EverFlex neoprene which does a good job in keeping away cold water.
While this wet suit can be worn by a wide range of individuals who participate in most cold-water activities, it is most ideal for scuba divers.
Features and Pros
- Single blind stitched inner seams for comfort against the skin and double blind stitched outer seams for durability and comfort.
- Thermal-lined Diamond Span inner lining’s water-draining material enhances cold-water protection. Later versions have the inner lining combined with an additional lining for improved stretch, making donning and doffing that much easier.
- Metal main zipper slider is sturdy yet easy to operate. Compression molded combination zipper flap and spine pad minimizes water intrusion and protects spine and back from heavy tank load.
- Diagonal rear closure that moves the zipper’s bulge away from your lower spine. The bulge is known to create a pressure spot where the buoyancy compensator rides on the zipper
- Highly flexible panels in areas of a wetsuit requiring the greatest mobility for the diver, including knees, elbows, calves, shoulders, and thighs.
- Nylon webbing thumb loop at the base of all back zippers: strategically placed for ease of closing without buddy assistance.
- Integrated Tatex kneepads on the knees and shoulders for abrasion resistance
- Double smooth-skin seals at wrists and neck; smooth-skin seals with zips at ankles.
- Rawcut collar neck line which uses a double-sided smooth-skin ring against the front of the neck — the thicker surrounding panel is notched to provide a comfortable watertight seal.
- ISAFE patch allows divers to thread their wrist computers through it ensuring added instrument protection
- Available in 3/2, 5/4 amp; 7/5 mm thickness, in men’s and women’s sizes
- It also comes with minor but cool features including a reinforced seat, clip for hood at hip and a zippered key pocket
A bonus point is that ScubaPro is a highly reputable brand when it comes to diving equipment and accessories. With this brand, you can be assured of quality and reliability since its products are rigorously tested.
The most obvious downside of this wetsuit is that it highly priced. Which makes it the least favorite for light cold-water activities such as snorkeling.
4. Synergy Triathlon Wetsuit 5/3mm
Another one approved by both the IRONMAN and USAT, this wetsuit from Synergy packs some of the best features as far as comfort and protection are concerned.
With a thickness of 5/3mm, your torso will be warm with the 5mm-thick neoprene while your legs will have 3mm and the arms and shoulders 2mm of thickness and which is enough for cold waters for triathletes.
It has Hydrodynamic neoprene made from Yamamoto #39 with SCS silicone coated SyPrene. This gives the wetsuit exceptional functionality such as having 680% flexibility which is the best in its class.
At 5mm of thickness, you get the best buoyancy for faster movement in the water. No wonder this wetsuit won the Triathlete Magazine Editor’s Choice and the Lava Magazine Best Value Wetsuit awards.
- 5mm thick to tackle cold waters.
- Various levels of thickness for comfort and flexibility.
- Approved by the USAT and IRONMAN.
- Highly flexible with a 680% level of flexibility for easier movement.
- Low neck with smooth skin to keep out water and remain comfortable to wear for long.
- Non-corroding YKK zipper put on the inside to reduce the drag.
- Provides maximum buoyancy at 5mm of thickness.
- Not easy to take off like the previous items.
If you’re an athlete on a budget, look no further than this one.
5. Orca Openwater Full Sleeve Smart Wetsuit
Peaking out at a thickness of 3.5mm, this wetsuit isn’t for the coldest of waters but will keep you warm and snug in waters about 60°F and above. It made our list of the best owing to how much detail has gone into creating it.
It has various levels of neoprene thickness around the body to provide the needed warmth while also allowing for ease of movement in the water and on land. The thicknesses are as follows:
- Arms and shoulders: 1.5mm
- Chest: 3mm
- Back: 3mm
- Upper legs: 3.5mm
- Lower legs:
- Lower legs: 2mm
Given that it’s an open-water type of wetsuit, it has sections made of brightly colored neoprene so that other users in the water can easily see and avoid you. You should always have a warning flag, the diver down flag, each time you’re in the water for the best safety. It also adds various types of modern technologies such as the Emerid System which allows uses NFC (Near Field Communication) to provide the information of the athlete.
- Peaks out at 3.5mm for use in waters at 60°F and above.
- Various levels of thickness to provide the needed warmth and flexibility in water.
- Emerid system for easy extraction of information.
- Restube ready (not included).
- Highly visible due to some sections having bright colors.
- Not suitable for the very cold waters.
6. Henderson Women’s Thermoprene Pro Wetsuit Fullsuit
The thermoprene Pro by Henderson is the most stretchable cold-water wetsuit in this list. It is a professional level wetsuit that is created to offer maximum warmth, comfort and flexibility.
Features and Benefits
- Super soft, 250% stretch neoprene melts in your hands and contours every curve of your body.
- Soft aqua Silk lining on all interior panels for comfort.
- Larger neoprene panel and minimized seams keep cold water out and warm water in.
- Double glued and double sewn seams (interior & exterior) provide longevity, durability and performance in the most demanding conditions.
- DuraTex stretch knee pads provide long-lasting durability, enhanced flexibility and comfort.
- Attention-grabbing new colors, contemporary graphics and classic styling will be certain to make you look great in and out of the water.
- Proven self-sealing zipper closures
7. Bare 7mm Reactive Men’s Full Wetsuit
This is an exceptionally watertight wetsuit that not only gives you maximum comfort, but also flexibility and protection
The elastek stretches up to 200% more than standard neoprene allowing extra big individuals to put it on/off with little effort. Thanks to utilization of modern neoprene laminates
Features & Pros
- The Elastek’s zipper flap uses compressed neoprene that joins with a smooth-skin flap for a seal that neither let’s water in nor out.
- Although the zipper is slightly shorter than many of the other rear-zip suits, donning and doffing are aided by the lining, which is a relatively smooth material that does a good job holding water
- Reinforcement panels at knees, shoulders and elbows for additional protection
- Knee pads provide exceptional grip and durability
- Neck seal with adjustable 5 mm smooth-skin collar that includes velcro closure
Overall, bare elastek checks most of the boxes of a good wetsuit icy waters. Though it isn’t as pricy as ScubaPro’s EverFlex, it is still pricier that other winter wetsuits.
8. Blueseventy Men’s Thermal Reaction Triathlon Wetsuit
First up is the Blueseventy Men’s Thermal Reaction Triathlon Wetsuit with a thickness profile of 5/4mm. That means the wetsuit is 5mm thick on the torso and 4mm thick on the legs and arms. It’s well suited to the cold waters but that’s just half the story.
As its name suggests, it’s a wetsuit focused on providing the best conditions for triathlons.
For this reason, it has various adjustments meant to improve on thermal regulation while still making it easy to use in different conditions. The thicknesses are as follows:
- Chest panels: 4mm
- Core, hips and lower torso: 5mm
- Legs: 4mm
- Arms: 1.5mm
- Side panels: 2mm
- Back: 2mm
These thicknesses make the wetsuit ideal for triathlons and others as it allows for high levels of flexibility, quick removal all while keeping out the cold (and looking cool).
The chest region is also lined with a layer of Zirconium material which makes it comfortable and very warm. It also uses the Reactive Stretch Technology (RST) at the back which allows for great mobility and easy reach from the shoulders. All these features are focused on giving you the best wetsuit for cold waters and any conditions you face in a triathlon.
- 5/4mm thickness to tackle cold waters.
- Has split neoprene chest panels for comfort and ease of breathing.
- 4:5:4 buoyancy profile improves your level of floating.
- 2mm side panels allow for ease of swimming.
- 4mm Aquaseal 4-way stretch silicon cuffs allow for ease of removal and prevent the entry of water into the wetsuit.
- Has a back zipper for ease of reach.
- Legs at 2mm of thickness allow for ease of movement and removal.
- Zirconium jersey layer on the chest region make it both comfortable and warm. It also dries quite fast to keep out the cold.
- The Reactive Stretch Technology allows for flexibility and easy reach in the back region.
- Knees at 2mm of thickness and with Knee Flex rubbed panels make the suit flexible allowing for fast running and other motions.
This wetsuit does all the things you’d want it to do the right way. When put on, it feels like a second skin while offering you the best protection from the cold and anything else you might run into on your watery escapades.
9. Roka Men’s Maverick Pro Thermal Wetsuit
This wetsuit is USAT, IRONMAN and ITU legal which shows you just how good it is in the water and on land in terms of protection and flexibility. At 5mm of thickness and crafted with triathlons in mind, you get lots of great features while keeping out the cold in the water and on land.
It features zero shoulder restriction which ensures that your arms don’t face any resistance when swimming since the wetsuit is crafted with the arms upwards rather than downwards. The RS2 centerline buoyancy ensures that the body has a free and natural rotation about the waistline for the best movement.
It also has a graduated buoyancy profile which ensures that the lower body is buoyed upwards for a faster swim. The inner lining of this wetsuit is also cleverly crafted with the liners providing flexibility, comfort and low water absorption. The independent neck suspension does away with seams making for a flexible neck for comfort and speed.
- 5mm thick for warmth in cold waters.
- Zero shoulder restriction for ease of upper body movement.
- RS2 centerline buoyancy allows for a more natural type of rotation.
- A graduated buoyancy profile adds buoyancy to the lower body for a more balanced floating and faster movement in the water.
- Inner lining adds comfort while reducing the absorption of water.
- Independent neck suspension makes for a faster movement and comfort in the neck.
- Super Composite Skin (SSK) Hydrophobic Nano Coating Super Composite Skin (SSK) Hydrophobic Nano Coating improves on the speed and durability of the suit by reducing the amount of drag on it.
- Employs Yamamoto neoprene at various thicknesses to provide a comfortable and flexible fit for the body.
- Quick release ankle panels make for faster removal of the wetsuit when you’re in speed.
- A bit of an overkill for casual users.
For the very best of triathlon wetsuits, this one stands above a lot of them.
10. Huub Aegis III Thermal Women’s Suit
Another one of the suits to give you an edge in cold water when on a triathlon or just enjoying yourself, the Aegis III stands out when it comes to features and how well they’re implemented. With varying levels of thickness around the body, the wetsuit is crafted to provide protection from the elements while keeping you agile and flexible.
The thickness starts at 5mm for the torso region and changes on various parts of the body with a focus on keeping warm while remaining flexible. A notable feature is the X-O skeleton. This is a built in skeleton which ensures the proper body alignment and swimming stoke efficiency. This will allow you move faster in the water when swimming.
It also comes with a 3:3 body buoyancy which ensures that you remain in a position which gives you the fastest speeds in the water. You won’t experience a sinking lower body as is the case with other wetsuits. A sinking power body has the effect of slowing you down and requiring more energy to move ahead.
- 5mm thickness with variations around the body to provide the best protection against the cold.
- The neoprene used allows for maximum stretching.
- Extra rotational freedom for the upper and lower body for ease of movement.
- HUUB Exclusive X-O Skeleton ensures the superior stroke efficiency and body alignment.
- 3:3 buoyancy for faster movement in the water.
- Breakaway zipper that can be easily accessed for ease of suit removal.
The features of this wetsuit are perfect whether you’re a triathlete or a casual swimmer.
For very cold waters, you should always combine these wetsuits with some other gear such as gloves, boots and hoodies to keep yourself warm and focused on the water.
Some of the aspects to consider when shopping include the following:
Most importantly, your wetsuit will be determined by how cold or warm the water is.
Knowing the temperature of the water you intend to dive in is of paramount importance as it helps you decide on the thickness of the wetsuit as shown in the guide below.
|Water Temperature||Wetsuit Thickness||Ideal Wetsuit Type||Wetsuit Seal Type|
|5°C or 42°F and below||6/5mm – 6/5/4mm||Fullsuit||Sealed and taped|
|6-11°C or 43-52°F||5/4mm – 5/4/3mm||Fullsuit||Sealed and taped|
|11-14°C or 58-63°F||4/3mm – 5/4/3mm||Fullsuit||Sealed and taped|
|14-17°C or 58-63°F||3/2mm – 4/3mm||Fullsuit||Sealed|
|16-20°C or 62-68°F||2mm – 3/2mm||Sleeveless or Full suit||Flat lock|
|18-23°C/ or 65-75°F||0.5mm – 2/1mm||Sleeveless||Flat lock|
For a wetsuit with two figures such as 3/2mm, the torso would be 3mm thick while the arms and legs would be 2mm thick. For one with three figures such as 3/2/1mm, the torso would be 3mm, the legs 2mm thick and the arms 1mm thick.
Back in the days, it was known that a thicker wesuitt provided more warmth. Nowdays, thicker does not always mean warmer. Technology has progressed so much that a modern high performance 5/4 can be much warmer than a traditioal and not-so-technical 6/5mm or 7/6mm.
You can check out the temperature of the water online or simply use a thermometer to gauge the temperature of the water then get the appropriate wetsuit.
The type of wetsuit
We focused on the fullsuit for this exercise since they’re the best when it comes to cold waters. You can, however, get another design of wetsuit especially when the water isn’t too cold or you’re used to the temperature. Some wetsuits may also be sleeveless or with short legs so that they can be used in the summer as well.
The zipper used
For cold waters, you’ll need a zipper that’s sealed and taped to keep out as much of the excessive water as possible. A good number of wetsuits will have a sealed zipper which can be a good option as well. However, the addition of taping makes it much better in keeping away excessive water fork reaching your body.
When getting a wetsuit, the purpose makes a major difference in terms of what type of wetsuit you’ll get. This is because normal wetsuits for casual use are worlds apart from the premium ones meant for triathlons. For example, while a normal wetsuit will have either a single, double or triple thickness on it, a triathlon wetsuit will have so many levels of thicknesses to give you the best edge.
Triathlon wetsuits also have various materials in the parts with the highest level of movement such as the hips, arms and others. You also get a well-balanced level of buoyancy with triathlon wetsuits to help you move faster in the water. Lastly, they usually have a liner inside to increase the comfort, prevent chaffing and make it better to take off the wetsuit when the need arises.
The wetsuit fabric used
On the surface, all wetsuits are made of neoprene or some of their rubbery material. However, neoprene has many types with the Yamamoto type being one of the highest quality. For athletes and other performers in wetsuits, getting wetsuits with Yamamoto neoprene of a high cell value gives them the edge. This is because they make them faster, more buoyant, and are much easier to take off.
With these aspects, you can make the right decision as far as the wetsuit you need goes. It should be noted that one’s own response to water temperatures can be subjective although these are standard estimates.
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