Wetsuit thickness and water temperature guide (2023)






This is how you find the right neoprene thickness for your needs, season, and more.


Ask yourself: what thickness of wetsuit do I need? What wetsuit for what water temperature is best for me? What is a 3/2 wetsuit? We have written the ultimate guide to wetsuit thickness and water temperature for you. You will also find wetsuit temperature charts and wetsuit thickness charts for each water sport to help you make the best decision when buying your wetsuit.

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Wetsuit Thickness Basics

OThe thickness of the wetsuit affects its thermal properties and flexibility.. In addition to our physical condition, both are crucial for thefatigue factor.

Both cooling and overheating lead to high power dissipation. Thus you save a lot of energy with good thermal properties and therefore an adequate thickness. So if you're shopping for a wetsuit, make sure you have it.right balance of thickness and flexibility. However, when in doubt, you should go for the warmer and slightly thicker wetsuit variant. You will lose some flexibility and gain strength through movement, but the cool down is usually easier than the warm up. And there's nothing more frustrating than getting out of the water in the middle of a perfect session because your whole body is shaking like it's in a freezer.

OThe risk of injury is also lower with slightly warmer wetsuits.. Muscles, ligaments, and tendons heat up and become more flexible. And your mom would be happy too, because you won't catch a cold so easily.Wetsuit thickness and water temperature guide (3)

observation: The thicker the neoprene, the warmer and less flexible the wetsuit.

The thickness of the wetsuit is always given in millimeters (mm). It is specified with two numbers. For example, 3/2mm means the neoprene is 3mm thick in the torso and 2mm thick in the legs and arms. Most of the wetsuits have a difference of 1-2 mm, because the effect of heat on the body is more important, and flexibility in arms and legs.

Surf Wetsuit Temperature Chart & Guide

The special thing about surfing is that you spend most of your time in the water. You paddle or sit on the board and wait for the next hot ride. As a result, you are less exposed to the wind and the outside temperature than when kitesurfing, wakeboarding or windsurfing. In this sense, there are small differences.

water temperature
em °C/°F
wetsuit thicknessMeta
> 24°C
> 75,2 °F
Diving suit not required
Lycra o rashguard
such as UV protection etc.
Bali, Sri Lanka, Hawaii, Philippines
22 – 24 C
71,6 – 75,2 °F
1 – 2mm neoprene
Be a meditator or Ocean City/USA in summer
19 – 22 degrees
66,2 – 75,2 °F
2 mm corto or
spring outfit
meditador Mar Mid Season, Gold Coast / AUS no inverno
17 - 20 degree
62,6 – 68 °F
2 mm monos,
Long John o Jane
Portugal Algarve in summer, Jeffreys Bay / South Africa
13 to 18 grade
55,4 – 64,4 °F
2 mm o 3/2 mm
South Atlantic Ocean of Spain, Algarve, France in winter, Cape Town
10 – 14 C
50 – 57,2 °F
terno completo 4/3mm
+ 3mm boots
+ luvas de 2-3mm
+ optional hood or cap
California/USA in winter, England, Ireland
8 – 12°C
46,4 – 53,6 °F
5/4mm hooded
+ 5mm gloves
+ 5mm boots
Cornwall / England in winter, Vancouver Island / Canada
< 8°C
< 46,4 °F
6/5 or 6/4 with hood
+ 7mm gloves
+ 7mm boots
to AntarcticaWetsuit thickness and water temperature guide (4)

Kitesurfing, windsurfing, wakeboarding, water skiing, SUPWetsuit Temperature Chart & Guide

When kitesurfing & Co. most of the time you are above the surface of the water. With the damn starters, it might look a little differentWetsuit thickness and water temperature guide (5)However, this phase should not influence the decision on the thickness of the wetsuit. Therefore, it is permanently exposed to the wind and the outside temperature. Most of the time you get wet while driving which is also a cooling factor. The intensity of sunlight has a slightly greater impact than surfing and even more than diving. Experience shows that a slightly thicker outfit is needed for the aforementioned water sports than for surfing.

water temperature
em °C/°F
wetsuit thicknessMeta
> 25°C
> 77 °F
Diving suit not required
lycra or rashguard how
UV protection etc
Bali, Sri Lanka, Hawaii, Philippines, Brazil, North Carolina in summer
22 – 24 C
71,6 – 75,2 °F
2mm neoprene
up or short
Mediterranean in summer, Florida except in summer
19 – 23 C
66,2 – 73,4 °F
2 mm corto or
spring costume
full suit 3/2mm
Mediterranean shoulder season, Gulf of Mexico, Cape Town in summer
15 – 20 C
59 - 68 °F
full suit 3/2mmrate / spain
12 – 15 C
53,6 – 59 °F
4/3mm o 5/3mm
Catsuit + botas 3 mm
+ luvas de 2-3mm
+ optional hood or cap
San Francisco, Cape Town in winter
7 – 13°C
44,6 – 55,4 °F
Full suit with 5/4mm or 6/4mm hood + 5mm gloves + 5mm bootsEngland, Holland in winter
< 7°C
< 44,6 °F
Full suit with 6/5 or 6/4 hood + 7mm gloves + 7mm bootsin GreenlandWetsuit thickness and water temperature guide (6)

Guide and temperature table for diving wetsuits for scuba diving

When diving, on the other hand, it depends almost exclusively on the temperature of the water and the depth of the dives. You are almost constantly underwater and are usually within a few to many meters of the water's surface. Therefore, the sun, the wind and the outside temperature have a minimal influence.

water temperature
em °C/°F
wetsuit thicknessMeta
> 28°C
> 82,4 °F
diveCaribbean, Indonesia, Maldives, French Polynesia
25 – 27 C
77 – 80,6 °F
2 mm cut or
1mm full suit
Mediterranean sea in summer, Egypt
22 – 24 C
71,6 – 75,2 °F
terno completo de 3mmGalapagos, Margate / South Africa
17 – 21 C
62,6 – 29,8 °F
5mm full suitSouth Africa, South Atlantic Europe in summer
10 – 16 C
50 – 60,8 °F
Uniforme 7mm –
8/7 mm semiseco
South Atlantic Spain / Algarve in winter, Cape Town
5 – 10°C
41 - 50 °F
8/7 dry seeds
or dry suit
British Columbia/Canada and Norway in winter
< 5°C
< 41 °F
diving suitto the arcticWetsuit thickness and water temperature guide (7)

Triathlon/Open Water Swimming Neoprene Temperature Chart & Guide

When swimming, you are submerged with most of your body. Only the arms and legs move regularly out of the water. However, you are always moving slightly below or slightly above the surface of the water. Therefore, the temperature of the water is crucial. Outside temperature, wind and solar radiation have a relatively small influence. Ultimately, it all comes down to speed, so it's advisable to buy a wetsuit that's as thin as possible, and therefore sufficient for the water temperature in question.

Observation:You can also wear a regular swim/triathlon surf suit, but this is not ideal. It depends on your level and ambition what kind of wetsuit you should buy. Triathlon wetsuits are relatively thin and at the same time have very good buoyancy.

water temperature
em °C/°F
wetsuit thicknessMeta
> 20°C
> 20°C
No wetsuit or 1mm short or full wetsuit required
Hawaii Ironman, New York or Noosa Triathlon
17 - 20 degree
62,6 – 68 °F
1mm full suitLondon triathlon in summer, Challenge Roth / Germany
13 – 17 C
55,4 – 64,4 °F
2mm full suitSan Francisco Triathlon Escape from Alcatraz the Wildflower, Welsh Triathlon
8 – 13°C
48,2 – 57,2 °F
terno completo de 3-4mmNorseman triathlon in Norway

< 8°C
< 46,4 °F

4-5mm full suit

Neptune's Staircase a Glasgow

Note on all diagrams: Individual sensitivity to cold, weather (wind force, sun/clouds, outside temperature, etc.), water sports, manufacturer quality can vary greatly, as can individual demands for wetsuit thickness.

Regulations for competition triathlon wetsuits

First of all, we want to clarify that the following is not legal advice and for full information, please refer to your triathlon federation's websites.

General regulations:

– The maximum thickness allowed in triathlon competitions is 5 mm.

– A wetsuit can cover all parts of the body except the face, hands and feet.

– Gloves are not allowed

– Steering devices are not allowed

– If the race director does not provide you with a hat, you can wear your own.

O(International Triathlon Union):

Elite, Under-23, Youth, and Junior Athletes

The bathdistance

Forbidden if more thanMandatory
< 1500m20°C< 15,9 °C/60,62 °F
> 1500m22°C< 15,9 °C/60,62 °F

age group athletes

swimming distanceIt is not allowed if there are more thanMandatory
< 1500m22°C< 15,9 °C/60,62 °F
> 1500m24,6°C< 15,9 °C/60,62 °F


age group athletes

These athletes can use wetsuits at a maximum temperature of 25.56°C. Between 25.56°C/78°F and 28.89°C/84°F, wetsuit use is permitted, but you will not receive awards or prizes.

elite athletes

swimming distanceForbidden if more thanMandatory
< 3000 m20°C< 15,9 °C/60,62 °F
> 3000m22°C< 15,9 °C/60,62 °F

inner lining in your wetsuit

Some extra heat? Thermal textiles are processed into fibers in various wetsuits. The fibers contain minerals and are activated by body heat. They convert it into infrared energy, which achieves a good heating effect. This widens the scope. For example, if you have a liner for a 5/3mm wetsuit, you can use it in waters where a 6mm wetsuit is actually recommended.

This should also improve your own performance. Thermal material is usually incorporated into the wetsuit in the upper body area. Quicksilver and XCEL work with this technology, where the thermal properties of the respective models again differ in the relationship between flexibility and heat resistance.

CHECKLIST Wetsuit Thickness

– What is the water temperature at my travel destination at the selected time of year?

– How is my sensitivity to cold?

(Video) How to Choose a Wetsuit Thickness, Fitting, & Type

– Is it a quality neoprene?

– What is my water sport?

– Does it have an inner lining?

(Video) Wetsuit thickness guide: What thickness wetsuit do you need?

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