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Thread: Wetsuit for cold water

  1. #1
    Participating Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2003

    Wetsuit for cold water

    Any rec’s on a wetsuit that will keep you warm in sub 60 water and still be able to swim 2-3 miles?

  2. #2
    Very Active Member ForceDJ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Portsmouth, RI

    Re: Wetsuit for cold water

    Jim -- IMO the answer to your question isn't quite that simple. Obviously, the style and composition of the wetsuit is obviously more important than the brand. At the very least you're going to want long sleeves/legs. Below 60°F you may also find that you need booties and gloves too. And, perhaps even a hood. Every body has different tolerances to the water temps. Keep in mind that most swimming wetsuits are constructed for racing (triathlons). That triathlons they frequently allow wetsuits at temps when one really isn't necessary. Triathletes like to wear them anyway because they make you float higher in the water, and thereby swim faster. And so, the wetsuits often have thicker neoprene in the front, and legs, but thinner in the arms and back. So, to answer your question, you can check this list, or others you can find for suggested thicknesses --
    You might also want to consider the weather when/where you're going to swim. Frequently in the spring and fall when I'm wearing a wetsuit, at the same water and air will feel completely different on a clear sunny day than you will on a cloudy or overcast day. The solar radiation absorbed by the black wetsuit really makes a difference. Hope that helps.


  3. #3
    Very Active Member ourswimmer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Oakland, California

    Re: Wetsuit for cold water

    For a contrary perspective: I have never felt the need for booties or gloves and I swim when the water is down to the low 50s. I also hate sleeves; they restrict my range of motion on recovery and fatigue my shoulders and neck very quickly.

    You want a swimming wetsuit, not one for paddling or surfing. Several manufacturers make good sleeveless swimming wetsuits (Orca, Roka, BlueSeventy, Xterra, Arena, TYR, probably others) but you will have to try them on to figure out which one fits your body best.

    Here is my advice on things to add to a normal pool swimming outfit to keep warm, in order of importance. The most important thing is the one you would wear in the warmest water and then you'd add the others as the water gets cooler. I also note the approximate water temperature at which I would add each item but you may be more or less cold-tolerant than I am.

    1. A latex or silicone swim cap if you usually swim with a bare head. Choose a bright color (lime green, yellow, pink, white).
    2, 75F. Earplugs. I hate these in the pool but they really help in cooler water.
    3, 70F. A second latex or silicone cap.
    4, 65F. A neoprene cap instead of the inner latex or silicone cap
    5, 58F. A sleeveless wetsuit, maybe. I might wear one in slightly warmer water on a cloudy day, or skip the wetsuit down to 55F or so in hot late summer after a few months of cold-water acclimation. Nowadays I'm wearing one but I hope to stop soon.

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