Wetsuit For Kayaking
We are all in agreement that kayaking is a great pastime that takes place on the water. However, this leaves the paddler open to all the elements at once, including the wind, the water, and the UV rays from the sun. Your first line of protection against the cold should be a high-quality wetsuit explicitly designed for kayaking. But how exactly do you go about selecting the best wetsuit? Which thickness do you need exactly? When choosing a wetsuit for kayaking, should you go with a full-body cut or something a little more open, like a Long John? And just how snugly should it fit in any case? This purchasing guide provides you with all the necessary information, including wetsuit testimonials and suggestions.
I'm sorry, but wouldn't a diver be expected to wear some wetsuit? You are, to put it simply, absolutely right. Does it imply that you don't need to wear one if you're paddling a kayak, though? Nope. There are several circumstances in which you should think about donning one as a paddler, the most important of which is the temperature of the air and the water in which you will be paddling your kayak. As a kind of broad protection from the weather, many people opt to wear it throughout the whole year. However, if there is a possibility of cold shock and hypothermia, then wearing suitable clothes becomes an issue of safety; in this case, wetsuits become just as necessary as a personal flotation device (PFD).
Wetsuit or Drysuit When Kayaking in Cold Waters?
The ability of specialist paddling suits, whether wetsuits or drysuits, to assist in keeping the paddler's core body temperature stable in the water is one of the most important reasons for their use. The strategy calls for you to remain inside your yak, where you will be protected from the elements and dry, but we are all aware that going for an unplanned swim is always possible.
On the other hand, it may not seem like such a significant concern on a clear day when the temperature is at 80 degrees. While temperatures dip below a particular threshold or when you are paddling on a huge body of water, the danger of hypothermia becomes real; at this point, you must wear a wetsuit to protect yourself against the condition.
If the water temperature is below sixty degrees Fahrenheit, you should consider wearing a wetsuit when kayaking. This is because the water temperature can alter your core body temperature if you capsize your boat. When determining whether or not you need to wear a wetsuit, be sure to take into account the air temperature. Even though kayakers should always dress for the water and not the weather, it is important to remember to consider air temperature.
If the air temperature is high, but the water temperature is low, a wetsuit without sleeves may be more comfortable to wear. In addition, you need to put on a full-body wetsuit if the air temperature is below 120 degrees Fahrenheit and the water temperature is above the minimum required for swimming safely.
How To Choose A Kayaking Wetsuit: Things You Need To Consider
Neoprene is used in the construction of the vast majority of kayaking wetsuits, ranging in price from more affordable to more premium alternatives. As it's made, neoprene is full of microscopic air bubbles that disperse throughout the material. These bubbles give the material its insulating characteristics and make it possible for the material to be stretched.
In contrast to a drysuit, which acts as a waterproof outer layer and derives its warmth from the base layers worn below it, a wetsuit does not give any additional insulation. Because a wetsuit works by trapping a tiny layer of water between your skin and the neoprene - a layer that functions as insulation — a wetsuit does not prevent you from getting wet because it creates a layer that acts as a barrier between your skin and the neoprene. What neoprene does is keep you toasty despite the moisture.
This general rule has a few notable exceptions; contrary to popular belief, not all kayak wetsuits are made entirely of neoprene. Particular producers will include other materials in the mixture, such as nylon and Lycra. Why? Neoprene tends to become somewhat rigid, mainly when it is of thicker consistency. Sometimes referred to as "stretch neoprene," nylon and Lycra may impart a degree of flexibility to the wetsuit, making it simpler to don and enhancing the wearer's comfort level while paddling.
Wetsuits almost typically have a nylon lining. Anyone who has worn a wetsuit on bare skin or struggled to put one on knows how little genuine comfort nylon or polyester gives. Because of this, it's generally a good idea to wear anything below your wetsuit, such as swim shorts or a rash vest. However, you can also purchase winter kayak wetsuits with a fleece lining or base layer. This adds warmth and softness to the suit and makes it more comfortable by keeping the case from clinging to your naked skin and making it less likely that you will slip and fall.
It's not possible to oversimplify the relationship between the thickness of the neoprene and the amount of warmth provided by the kayak wetsuit. Because of this, neoprene is classified as a closed-cell foam material. Neoprene is a form of synthetic rubber made up of tiny air pockets that trap heat. Therefore, the greater the thickness of the neoprene, the more the insulation it offers and the warmer the suit will be.
On the label of the wetsuit, you will be able to discover information on the thickness of the wetsuit, and it will normally look something like this: 4 (Abdomen) / 3 (Hips) / 3 (Arms)
One, two, or three numbers may be used to indicate the thickness of neoprene, which is measured in millimeters. Numbers represent the thickness of the neoprene-wrapped around the torso, the legs, and the arms if there are three numbers. It is important to remember that most kayak wetsuits will have a tighter fit around the chest region to regulate your core temperature better. When it comes to the arms and legs, using thinner neoprene helps to retain flexibility and freedom of movement, which are necessary for paddling.
When you think of a wetsuit for kayaking, the full-body type is probably the first thing that comes to mind, is that right?
Despite this, there are also several different shapes of kayak wetsuits, each of which is intended with a specific set of circumstances in mind. When it comes to wetsuits, kayakers have their pick of four different styles:
However, there are several types of wetsuits than those worn in one piece. You may purchase a wetsuit as a two-piece set; some models even come with a jacket and bottom that can be purchased separately. Having this capability allows you to choose the amount of protection you want and the specific areas of your body that you want the suit to cover.
Let's get one thing out of the way first:
For a wetsuit to be effective, it must closely fit the user's body. If it isn't, it won't be able to hold a layer of water, which means it won't keep you warm. When looking for the finest kayak wetsuit, you need to remember that there is a narrow line between having a wetsuit that is skin-tight and one that is painfully tight. If that's the case, how should a wetsuit for kayaking fit?
You don't want the suit to be so snug that it causes discomfort and limits your range of motion, particularly in the upper body. But it should never be loose either since if it is, you will have a steady stream of chilly water seeping in, which will make it more challenging to keep warm.
Wetsuit Guide: Knowing The Right Fit
You don't want anything to poke you in the skin, limit your range of motion, or cause chaffing, and this is particularly true in the areas around your chest, neck, bottom, and armpits. You should feel as if you are wearing nothing at all. Squatting down and lifting your arms over your head is the quickest approach to determine whether or not the item is a good fit. In all seriousness, the process is just as easy. If you cannot complete the task, try going up a size or two.
Now, for some uplifting news: It shouldn't be too difficult to choose the appropriate size. Most manufacturers include sizing charts on their websites, which may assist you in selecting the proper size depending on your height, weight, and other body parameters.
It's just a zipper, so there's hardly much to say about it, is there? You're in for a surprise. Zippers have a far more essential function than most kayakers are probably aware of. It may be challenging to put on and take off a wetsuit; the location of the main zipper, often known as the "entry" zipper, can make a significant difference in ease. A zipper that opens at the front is much simpler to use single-handedly.
How To Put On A Wetsuit | A Step By Step Guide
Make peace with the idea that you will most likely have to urinate while wearing your wetsuit if it does not come equipped with a relief zipper, which is the case with the vast majority of wetsuits designed for kayaking. When searching for the ideal kayak wetsuit, seams are another factor to consider. Initially, it may not seem like a huge issue, but that's simply because you haven't dealt with seams that irritate your skin every time you stroke the paddle. Seams sewn "regularly" as opposed to ones that are sealed by being blind-stitched and bonded are vastly different from one another.
The latter not only provides a more pleasant sensation when worn on the skin, but they also stop water from penetrating, which prevents your core temperature from dropping. Check whether the suit has knee pads or other comparable reinforcements in high-wear areas. This is the last step, and it's a little change, but it may significantly impact the garment's longevity.
This Hevto wetsuit, referred to by its official name, the Guardian (I) Warrior, is a piece of equipment used for scuba diving. However, it is suitable for several activities on the water, including kayaking. Two factors contribute to this wetsuit's status as one of the most comfortable options for kayaking:
One advantage is that it is incredibly soft and elastic since it is constructed from neoprene that has been combined with two layers of nylon.
And two, it's not highly thick — it measures 3 millimeters across the chest panel — and consequently, it doesn't limit movement too much, even though it's sliced across the body.
This is hardly a coat that would keep you warm in subzero temperatures. However, if you're going to be kayaking in water with temperatures between 50 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit, the Guardian (I) Warrior is a wetsuit that will be tough to beat, particularly at this price point.
The Baffin P3 is an attractive option for taller paddlers who are interested in venturing out into the wide water since it is secure, sturdy, adaptable, and predictable in a positive manner.
The next wetsuit is from Stohlquist, and it is a long-John style. This is the only kayak wetsuit I tried that has a relief zipper. Believe me when I say that just one little change will make a difference when nature calls. It has the same thickness as my previous recommendation, which is 3 millimeters thick fabric in the torso region. In contrast to the previous model, this one is entirely constructed from neoprene.
The arms are allowed to remain uncovered, giving the wearer the freedom to paddle, and there is a lot of space around the armpits. This garment never once made me feel "limited" in any way. Regarding abrasion resistance, the enhanced SupraTex cushioning on the knees and rear is more than welcome. On the other hand, all of it is going to cost you. The kayak wetsuit offered by Stohlquist is not the option on my list that provides the best value for the money.
The Long John kayak wetsuit that Stohlquist sells is a fantastic model in every way, from its high level of quality to the clever design details that make it very user-friendly. My advice is to go for it if you can afford it.
Do you remember what everyone said about how the thicker the neoprene was, the warmer you would be? How about a wetsuit for kayaking constructed of neoprene that is seven millimeters thick? Regardless of how cold it might get or how difficult the circumstances may be, It is unquestionably true that it will keep you warm. This NeoSport wetsuit has a long John cut, but it is still well suited for use throughout the colder months. When combined with the optional paddling jacket of the same thickness, the total thickness of the neoprene surrounding the chest is 14 millimeters.
Both the thermally bonded knee pads and the inside key pocket are features that I like. Front-entry closures that use Velcro seem practical, even though they are a little bit odd. I'm not crazy about the flatlock seams since the stitching may be irritating, but at least they're spot taped in the areas that are likely to see the most strain.
You will need a thick neoprene wetsuit for protection if you intend to go out on the water when the weather is less than ideal. What could be better than a NeoSport Waterman that is winter-friendly and has a thickness of 7 millimeters?
And now, something that was developed with the women in mind specifically. This NeoSport wetsuit has a few characteristics with my last recommendation, such as its sleeveless design; however, the anatomical cut pattern on this one is tailored more specifically to the needs of women. It's a long Jane wetsuit made of neoprene, but the thickness is just 3 millimeters, so it's not quite as thick as other versions. The fact that it does not come with a paddle jacket is not necessarily a deal breaker since you can wear one with it.
It is similar to the NeoSport suit in that it has spot-taped intersecting seams to increase its endurance at key stress spots. In addition to that, it has knee pads that are thermally bonded, a key pocket that is concealed, and an adjustable collar. Although I'm not entirely sure about the Velcro fastening, I believe it will make wearing the suit a great deal more quickly and easily.
This NeoSport long Jane wetsuit may be your most acceptable option, ladies, if you are looking for something that is not only handy and comfortable but also thick enough to withstand mild weather and water temperatures.
This wetsuit is known as a "Shorty" because it has short sleeves and covers the thighs rather than the wide leg as other wetsuits do. It is also very affordable. When combined with the fabric's thickness of 3 millimeters, a combination of nylon and neoprene, you have an ideal option for kayaking in warm weather. This is the kayak wetsuit you want to wear if the water is pleasant to paddle in. Do you think there is a reason why they call it a "spring suit" don't you? The suit contains shoulder padding resistant to abrasion, which is an added plus even though it is not very costly. I was concerned about the thickness of the suit, which was 3 millimeters over the whole thing, and I thought it could be a little constricting. When paddling, however, the super-stretch panels in the armpit region enable the wearer to have outstanding movement.
The Seavenger's Navigator Shorty-style wetsuit may be the best option for the conditions in which you will be kayaking as long as the water temperature does not drop below a temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
The next item is a suit that was created only for paddling activities, such as stand-up paddleboarding, but I could use it for kayaking without any problems. The SUPreme is a full-body suit constructed out of Quantum Foam neoprene fabric and has a chest area 4 millimeters thick. Neoprene is used that is three millimeters and two millimeters thick for this product's legs and arms.
The fact that this suit also has a windproof, quick-drying neoprene band across the chest and back, in addition to the thermal microfleece lining, is a nice element that contributes to the total level of protection offered by the suit. In addition, it has knee pads stretching in all directions and a front zip entry. It is not pricey, but compared to some of the other choices on my list, it is more costly than others. Remember this concerning your finances.
The UPreme suit is outstanding, despite its somewhat high price, and it comes equipped with all of the features that a paddler might want or need, such as knee reinforcements and a front-zip entrance that is simple to use.
O'Neill has developed a suit with less volume precisely for warmer water and air temperatures. Because the neoprene is just 2 millimeters thick and the suit does not have sleeves, this is not the best option for use in environments where the temperature is shallow. However, O'Neill's Reactor II is a superb long John wetsuit designed for warmer conditions, and it is an alternative that lake kayakers are strongly encouraged to consider.
It is constructed from very elastic neoprene and has front zipper access, both of which make wearing it a lot simpler and contribute to its flexibility. In addition, the amount of stitching in some locations is reduced to a minimal; this design element is referred to as "Seamless Paddle Zones," and it serves to maintain the wearer's comfort and mobility when paddling. On the other hand, if you paddle kayaks on the ocean, you should look elsewhere for a wetsuit. On the open seas, it will not provide any kind of thermal protection.
If you want to spend most of your time lake kayaking during the warmer months, the O'Neill Reactor II is perhaps the finest kayak wetsuit you could get since it is not only lightweight but also comfortable.
If you are considering introducing kayaking as a new outdoor sport for the entire family, one solution that is not only straightforward but also effective is the Scubadonkey wetsuit, which is designed specifically for younger paddlers. It protects the wearer from the neck down, not only from the water but also from the sun's ultraviolet rays, jellyfish, and jagged rocks. It covers the entire body.
The neoprene that this wetsuit for children has a thickness of 2.5 millimeters, which should provide some insulation without the discomfort that could prevent your child from having a good time while playing in the water. For children ages 2 to 14, this jacket is available in various sizes and colors and can be worn by boys or girls. Additionally, it is gender neutral. Even though the rear entry zipper isn't ideal and doesn't appear to be very durable, it has a pull tab that's extra long, so it's easier to put on.
You will unlikely take your children kayaking if the circumstances are challenging. Therefore, even though it is just 2.5 millimeters thick, this kid-friendly wetsuit from Scubadonkey might provide them with all the protection they want!
Best Wetsuit For Kayaking
The most important thing I learned from our conversation regarding kayak wetsuits today is that you can't expect my proposal to be a one-size-fits-all solution to your problem. The weather you anticipate experiencing on your kayaking vacation is the most important factor when selecting the finest wetsuits for kayaking. I think it is as simple as ensuring enough thermal protection for the type of paddling you do, especially if you are floating in colder climates.
However, if the water temperature is between 10 and 20 degrees Celsius (50 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit), I strongly suggest going with the Hevto 3mm Guardian (I) Warrior Wetsuit. It's a full-body suit that's 3 millimeters thick and offers the ideal blend of comfort, thermal protection, and flexibility at an affordable price.
Skin-tight wetsuits are ideal for cold water surf sports since they allow you to move more freely than dry suits. When used alone, dry suits are completely waterproof but do not provide warmth. The dry suit fits loosely like a big ski jacket and keeps all water out like a shell.
Even in the sunniest parts of the year, deep water will often have a low temperature, so wearing a wetsuit will keep you warm in the water without overheating. You can always invest in a Springsuit or Long John-style wetsuit if the weather is particularly hot.
Typically, kayakers wear Farmer John wetsuits with full legs but no sleeves. Farmer Johns is more comfortable and less constricting to wear when paddling, but they are not as protective as wetsuits with full sleeves and hoods.
The simple answer to this surprisingly common question is wearing nothing under your wetsuit. Most surfers follow this approach.