Are you looking to buy a wetsuit?
A wetsuit allows you to stay in the water much longer than you would be able to without one. In extreme cold you wouldn’t be able to enter the water at all without one.
Wetsuits are made of a flexible material called neoprene, which is a synthetic rubber that contains thousands of tiny air bubbles. Wetsuits are different than the drysuits that divers sometimes wear. Wetsuits keep you warm by trapping a layer of water between the neoprene and your skin, which your body then heats up. Occasionally this water flushes out and is replaced by a new layer of water which your body must re-heat. This sometimes happens when you duck dive under a wave or wipe out. Please remember this when you feel some water coming down your back- this is not due to the fit of the wetsuit being wrong as some can assume!
We have listed some useful information here to help you buy the perfect wetsuit for you.
The Magic Numbers
The suit thickness is usually designated by two numbers which represent the neoprene thickness in millimeters. The first number is the thickest neoprene that is used around your torso and sometimes the upper legs. The second is a thinner grade neoprene that is used around the arms, shoulders and legs that allows you a bit more flexibility in paddling and riding. The way this works is- the thicker the neoprene- the longer you will be able to stay in the water when its colder. Neoprene also adds buoyancy.
2/1mm and 1mm spring suits are very thin, offering mild protection from the wind and chilly water. Best used in the summer months, or for the brave year round swimmers who like to feel the cold water but want to add a layer of protection.
3/2mm wetsuits come in short or full wetsuits. These are great in the early spring and autumn and aren’t too restrictive. Good for keeping that chill out during those warmer months and a good option for sea swimming.
4/3mm suits are a good all-rounder suit. They can be worn all year round for keeping you warm in the water and are great for a range of sports such as swimming, surfing, kayaking or paddle boarding. In the colder winter months, you might need a thermal trash vest underneath a 4/3 wetsuit, for that extra layer of warmth, but as the Irish sea never really gets warm they work great through summer if you plan to be in the water for longer periods of time.
5/4mm and 6/4mm suits are the thickest. They are commonly used from winter into spring- because the water is coolest in early spring. That being said, as previously mentioned, the thicker the neoprene the longer it will keep you warm. So, if you are doing water sports such as kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing, wake boarding etc, where you are in the water for up to 2 hrs, people will usually wear a 5/4 from October to May. With cooler water and wind chill you will never be too warm in a 5/4mm wetsuit when you are out for prolonged periods!
For anyone from swimmers to surfers, boots, gloves and a hat or hood are key to surviving the cooler months. It’s very hard to get dry when your fingers are frozen solid so keep them warm in gloves, and that brain freeze when your head isn’t protected is painful- so grab a hat or a hood to protect you!