Kayaking is an incredible sport that has often paddlers experiencing the elements of wind, water and sun — often all at once. If this sounds like you, you should consider investing in a wetsuit to keep you warm while you paddle. But how do you choose the best wetsuit for kayaking when there are so many cuts, thicknesses, materials and features on the market?

Here at The Adventure Junkies, one of our top goals is to find out which wetsuits are worth the price and highlight everything you should look out for when choosing a wetsuit for kayaking. In this guide, we’ll tell you how to choose the best wetsuit and show you the best models of the year.

 

 

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THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO FIND THE BEST WETSUIT FOR KAYAKING

PICTURE
WETSUIT
BEST USE
THICKNESS
CUT
PRICE
RATING
PICTURE
WETSUIT
BEST USE
THICKNESS
CUT
PRICE
RATING
Kokotat NeoZip
Overall
3.0 mm
Sleeveless
$$
4.7
NRS Farmer John
Overall
3.0 mm
Sleeveless
$$
4.7
SUPreme Blade
Overall
3.00 mm/2.00 mm
Short-sleeve
$$
4.6
Henderson Thermoprene
Overall
3.0 mm
Steamer
$$
4.7
Sharkskin Chillproof
Warm water
0.5 mm
Steamer
$$$
4.8
Oceanic Lavacore
Warm water
0.5 mm
Steamer
$$
4.9
O'Neill Epic
Cold Water
4.00 mm/3.00 mm
Steamer
$$
4.7
Henderson Aqua Lock Jumpsuit
Cold Water
5.00 mm
Steamer
$$$$
4.8
NeoSport Premium John
Budget
3.0 mm
Sleeveless
$
4.8
Stohlquist Rapid
Budget
3.0 mm
Sleeveless
$
4.5

 

 

WETSUITS FOR KAYAKING 101

 

5 THINGS TO CONSIDER TO FIND THE BEST WETSUIT FOR KAYAKING

 

1. MATERIALS

Most wetsuits are made with neoprene, a synthetic rubber that insulates your body by keeping a thin layer of warm moisture between your skin and the material. Pure neoprene is typically stiffer than neoprene mixed with lycra or nylon. If you want a flexible suit that’s easy to slip into, choose a wetsuit with a neoprene mix or ultra-flexible neoprene.

Many wetsuits pad the inside of the wetsuit with a layer of microfleece for extra softness and protection.

 

2. THICKNESS

The thickness of a wetsuit is typically measured in millimeters, especially when made with neoprene. Thin neoprene (less than 3 millimeters) tends to be more flexible and is perfect for tropical water and can guard your body against wind and sun without being too warm.

Some wetsuits are made with mostly nylon or lycra, are very thin, and act as an exposure suit. These very thin wetsuits have a smooth surface and can easily be layered under thicker wetsuits for when you need some extra warmth.

Thick wetsuits, (4 millimeters and above) are best for cold water kayakers who need something that will keep their bodies very warm as they paddle. These tend to be much stiffer than thinner wetsuits — making it harder to paddle. However, if you’re in icy temperatures, they’re a must-have.

If you are paddling in near-freezing conditions, a wetsuit will likely not be warm enough. In that case, you might consider investing in a kayaking drysuit. Go Kayak Now has an article on drysuits vs. wetsuits if you’re not sure which one is right for you.

 

3. CUT

Wetsuits come in virtually every combination. You can buy a wetsuit as just the top, bottom, or as a full suit. Steamers provide the most warmth and have long sleeves and long legs. There are short sleeves, short sleeves and legs, long sleeves and short legs, and more. If you can think of it, it’s probably out there.

Kayakers tend to like the farmer-john style sleeveless wetsuits, with no sleeves and long legs. This allows kayakers to have a full range of arm motion and a warm body as they paddle. Paddling in a steamer sometimes causes chaffing in the armpits if the wetsuit isn’t fitting properly or if you’re out for a long paddle.

 

4. SPECIAL FEATURES

What features you’d like in a wetsuit totally depends on personal preference. High-quality wetsuits tend to have glued and stitched seams to prevent water from seeping in. Reinforced knees add to the lifespan of a wetsuit and provide protection — a great feature for kayakers constantly docking in and out of the water.

Some wetsuits also have relief zippers for those who hate peeing in their wetsuits, locking systems where you can pair your wetsuit with other accessories, and even internal heaters. Thicker wetsuits often have leg zippers to help ease into your suit. What you choose completely depends on the conditions that you plan to paddle in.

 

5. SIZE

Getting the right size is one of the most important things you need to consider when buying a wetsuit for kayaking. If it’s not offered in your size, don’t purchase it. The wetsuit needs to fit snug — think of it like a second skin — but not too snug where it will cause pinching and chafing.

While it’s usually okay if the sleeves and legs are the wrong length, you need to watch for a snug fit around the torso. If the torso is too baggy, water will pool inside and make you cold. If the neck opening is the wrong size, you risk having water flush into the suit too easily — or getting a rash if it’s too tight.

When you try on the wetsuit, it should be flush against your body without pinching any areas or sagging. Some key areas to look at are the armpits, bottom, neck, and chest.

If you have a great fitting wetsuit, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of kayaking without feeling cold.

 

westsuit must-have for kayaking

Photo by istockphoto.com/portfolio/welcomia

 

BEST WETSUIT FOR KAYAKING REVIEWS

 

KOKOTAT NEOZIP

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Paddlers who want flexibility and full arm mobility

WOMEN’S VERSION: NeoZip Long Jane Wetsuit 

THICKNESS: 3 mm

CUT: Sleeveless

MATERIALS: 2-sided neoprene

PROS: Seamless arm holes for less chaffing, knee pads, front entry zipper

CONS: Tends to run large – especially in women’s version

 

 

 

NRS FARMER JOHN

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Paddlers wanting a top-of-the-line wetsuit for a great price

WOMEN’S VERSION: NRS 3.0 Farmer Jane Wetsuit

THICKNESS: 3.0 mm

CUT: Sleeveless

MATERIALS: High stretch neoprene

PROS: Glued and stitched seams, comfortable, extremely flexible, great value

CONS: Can be tight for some

 

 

 

SUPREME BLADE

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | LeisurePro

BEST FOR: Multisport paddlers wanting a great all-around wetsuit

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

THICKNESS: 3/2.0 mm

MATERIALS: Quantum foam neoprene, fleece interior

PROS: Flat lock construction to guard against chaffing, windproof, fast trying, knee pads, easy on-and-off

CONS: Material tends to stretch after heavy use

 

 

 

HENDERSON THERMOPRENE

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | LeisurePro

BEST FOR: Multisport kayakers in variable conditions

WOMEN’S VERSION: Henderson Thermoprene 3mm Women’s Jumpsuit

THICKNESS: 3.00

MATERIALS: Nylon II neoprene mix

PROS: Stretchier than a typical wetsuit, great value, durable, comes in plus sizes, flexible knee pads

CONS: Not as warm as traditional neoprene

 

 

 

SHARKSKIN CHILLPROOF

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | LeisurePro

BEST FOR: Warm water kayakers needing a suit that protects against sun and wicks sweat.

WOMEN’S VERSION: Sharkskin Ladies Chillproof Back Zip Full Wetsuit 

THICKNESS: 0.5 mm

CUT: Steamer

MATERIALS: 3-layer composite made with a fleece liner and lycra/nylon outer blend

PROS: Makes a great under-layer for thicker wetsuits, protects against stingers, machine washable, wind-proof, rear zip

CONS: Too thin for cold water, size runs small

 

 

 

OCEANIC LAVACORE

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | LeisurePro

BEST FOR: Warm water paddlers needing a wetsuit that protects them against the elements

WOMEN’S VERSION: Lavacore by Oceanic Women’s Full Suit 

THICKNESS: 0.5 mm

CUT: Steamer

MATERIALS: Fleece inside layer, polyurethane mid layer, lycia outer layer

PROS: Flexible, comfortable, wind-resistant, can be worn under thicker wetsuit, easy to put on

CONS: Too thin for cold-water paddling, fleece pills after heavy usage

 

 

 

O’NEILL EPIC

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Multisport paddlers in cold water

WOMEN’S VERSION: O’Neill Wetsuits Womens Epic Full Suit

THICKNESS: 4.00/3.00 mm

CUT: Steamer

MATERIALS: Ultra-flex neoprene

PROS: Double-seal neck closure, great value, glued and stitched seams, knee pads

CONS: Neck area can be very tight

 

 

 

HENDERSON AQUA LOCK JUMPSUIT

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | LeisurePro

BEST FOR: Cold water and white-water paddlers who need extra warmth

WOMEN’S VERSION: Henderson Aqua Lock Women’s Back Zip Full Jumpsuit 

THICKNESS: 5 mm

CUT: Steamer

MATERIALS: Neoprene, fleece interior

PROS: Interlocking wrist, ankle, and neck openings compatible with other accessories, seams double glued and sewn, flexible

CONS: Challenging to put on and take off for some

 

 

 

NEOSPORT PREMIUM JOHN

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Paddlers looking for a wetsuit that can handle very heavy use

WOMEN’S VERSION: N/A

THICKNESS: 3.0 mm

CUT: Sleeveless

MATERIALS: Neoprene

PROS: Easy Velcro shoulder entry, durable stitching and seams, pairs perfectly with jacket, great value

CONS: Knee pads wear around the edges

 

 

 

STOHLQUIST RAPID

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Paddlers in moderate temperatures wanting a high-flex wetsuit

WOMEN’S VERSION: Stohlquist Rapid Jane Super-Stretch Wetsuit

THICKNESS: 3.0 mm

CUT: Sleeveless

MATERIALS: Ultra-stretch neoprene

PROS: Glued and stitched seams, extra wide arm holes, relief zipper, padded knees, reinforced back and seat

CONS: Tends to run small

Best Wetsuit for Kayaking - Best Kayaking Gear Articles – Kayak Accessories and Gadgets – Kayak Products and Ideas for Men and Women – Packing Lists for Kayaking Trips
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