Wetsuits are practical choices for paddlers. In the past, kayaking enthusiasts tended to stick with drysuits, because they believed that wetsuits would restrict their movements too much.
Today, wetsuits have come a long way, thanks to advances in technology and design. Plenty of them do work well for kayaking. Also, they are typically more affordable than drysuits, so they are good choices for budget-conscious paddlers.
Our guide to the 9 best wetsuits for kayaking will make it easier for you to find the perfect wetsuit.
- 1 Top Qualities of a Good Wetsuit
- 2 9 Wetsuits to Consider
- 2.1 O’Neill Women’s Reactor 3/2mm Back Zip Full Wetsuit
- 2.2 Hyperflex Wetsuits Men’s Access 3/2mm Full Suit
- 2.3 Lemorecn Wetsuits Mens Neoprene 3/2mm Full Suit
- 2.4 O’Neill Men’s Epic 4/3mm Back Zip Full Wetsuit
- 2.5 Ivation Womens Wetsuit Lycra Full Body
- 2.6 Realon Wetsuit Men (Full, 3mm)
- 2.7 Kokatat NeoZip Long John Neoprene Kayak Wetsuit
- 2.8 Dark Lightning Men’s Wetsuit
- 2.9 Seavenger 3mm Neoprene Wetsuit with Stretch Panels
Top Qualities of a Good Wetsuit
Wetsuits come with different features. Some wetsuits are meant for diving or surfing, while others are ideal choices for kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. To help you find a wetsuit which makes it easy to stay dry, warm and comfortable as you paddle (or use a SUP), let’s look at the top qualities of good wetsuits for kayaks/SUPs.
Premium Seam Construction
Wetsuit seams should be top-notch. The construction of the seams will play a role in how warm and comfortable the wetsuit is. There are three main categories of seam types and they are:
- Flatlock Seams – These seams are appropriate for water temperatures of 62 Fahrenheit or higher. The seams resemble railroad tracks. A bit of water tends to get in with these types of seams, so they aren’t the best choices for really cold water conditions.
- Sealed Seams – These seams are blind-stitched and glued. Their heavy-duty construction means that they let in very little water (or let in no water at all). They are perfect for chillier water temperatures, from 55 Fahrenheit up. Seams are glued and then stitched. The outsides of these seams look like typical flatlock seams. However, the insides are glued and don’t look like railroad tracks.
- Sealed and Taped Seams – These seams are the most durable. They are high-performance seams which are designed to stop all water from getting into wetsuits. These seams are constructed via a three-step process, which includes gluing, blind-stitching and taping. Sealed and taped seams are appropriate for cold water conditions of 55 Fahrenheit or lower.
To find the right seams, consider local water temperatures and then look for wetsuits with seams that work well for that temperature range.
Optimal Zipper Placement
The placement of a zipper will also impact the performance and comfort of your wetsuit. The most common zipper placements for kayaking wetsuits are chest zipper placements and back zipper placements. Front zippers permit easy entry and exit, even when a paddler is out on the water. Back zippers are comfy and they are fairly simple to put on and take off, but not as easy to put on and take off as chest zipper designs.
Proper Neoprene Density
The thickness of a wetsuit’s neoprene material will determine just how warm it is. When neoprene is thinner, it’s quite flexible and this facilitates movement. Thinner neoprene is appropriate for warmer water temperatures. Thicker neoprene may not offer the same range of motion. However, it will provide more protection in colder water conditions.
To figure out whether a wetsuit is thick or thin, or something in between, look for a thickness measurement in millimeters.
A top or shorty will typically have a neoprene thickness measurement between 0,5mm and 2/1 mm. A springsuit or full suit will usually have a neoprene thickness measurement between 2mm and 3/2mm. A full suit and boots will generally have a neoprene thickness measurement between 4/3mm and 5/4/3mm.
If you’re going to kayak or use a SUP in colder water, look for a wetsuit with a neoprene thickness measurement that is on the higher end of the scale. If the water will be warmer, you can go for something a bit thinner.
Now, let’s look at the best 9 wetsuits for kayaking.
9 Wetsuits to Consider
These styles have all of the right features. They provide a good blend of comfort and performance to kayaking and SUP enthusiasts.
We’re showcasing a variety of wetsuits at different price points. One of them will meet your needs.
O’Neill Women’s Reactor 3/2mm Back Zip Full Wetsuit
This sleek, good-looking women’s wetsuit comes in basic black and is also available with colorful accents. It features the famous O’Neill logo. Its neoprene density is on the high end of the range for full wetsuits, so this design will be appropriate for colder water temperatures.
Wear it alone or combine it with accessories in order to access protection from wind, cold water and UV rays. This design zips up in the back and comes with a convenient hidden pocket for keys. It has a “super seal” collar which is easy to adjust. Its flatlock seams are breathable and should keep out most water.
This wetsuit is made from thirty percent FluidFlex neoprene and seventy percent FluidFoam neoprene. The neoprene used in this wetsuit is exclusive to the O’Neill brand. This wetsuit fits into the budget to mid-range price bracket.
Hyperflex Wetsuits Men’s Access 3/2mm Full Suit
The Hyperflex Men’s Wetsuit is a good choice if you’re looking for something economical. It’s a budget to mid-range design which features 3mm neoprene thickness. If you want something warm to wear in your kayak, you’ll appreciate the thicker-than-average neoprene density of this men’s wetsuit from Hyperflex.
Stylish and rugged, this sporty design is suitable for all sorts of watersports, including kayaking. It’s a back-zip design which is equipped with a high-quality YKK “number ten” zipper. This affordable wetsuit is crafted with low-profile, flat lock seams which stop skin irritation and keep most water out,
Other impressive features include “storm force” knee pads, chill-breaker mesh skin panels, an adjustable neck and flex-cuff leg openers.
Lemorecn Wetsuits Mens Neoprene 3/2mm Full Suit
This men’s wetsuit from Lemorecn typically retails for well under a hundred bucks. It’s a multi-sport design which is versatile enough to work well for kayaking, diving, paddle boarding, scuba and surfing. This budget-friendly suit is spot-taped at stress points, so it’s very durable. It features flatlock seams for a smooth, comfortable fit.
Crafted from premium neoprene, this style is designed to offer superb fit. The neoprene thickness of this wetsuit is 3/2mm. It is very protective in cold-weather conditions. The chest panel features a neoprene thickness of 3mm and the arms feature a neoprene thickness of 2mm. This means that the torso of the wetsuit is nice and warm and the thinner sleeves are very easy to move around in. The sensible design of this wetsuit will help you to perform well and feel good while you’re paddling.
Equipped with an extra-long, easy-reach leash, as well as an “easy on” back zipper, this popular wetsuit is easy to use and has all of the right features.
O’Neill Men’s Epic 4/3mm Back Zip Full Wetsuit
This men’s wetsuit from O’Neill is perfect for kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. It features a back-zip system which is easy to get in and out of. The back zipper comes with a water-tight seal. Crafted from ultra-stretch neoprene, this mid-range design is very soft and feels great against the skin. It’s flexible and assists with athletic performance.
Every Epic wetsuit features sealed seams. These tough seams are made with a blind-stitching and triple gluing process. The seams keep out water and boost durability. This garment comes with “firewall” panels of O’Neill FluidFlex material. These insulating panels provides lots of protection from cold air and water.
Ivation Womens Wetsuit Lycra Full Body
This lightweight Ivation wetsuit isn’t right for the coldest conditions, but it’s a good choice as a nice base layer when it’s chilly outside. It’s made from Lycra, so it’s not a neoprene design. It will provide some warmth and also give a woman protection from sea lice and jellyfish.
This suit is a full-body style which is made from eighty percent nylon and twenty percent Spandex. It blocks the sun’s rays and it is easy to get in and out of, thanks to its long-front zipper.
The legs come with stirrups. The stirrups stop the legs from riding up while the suit is being worn. This wetsuit is designed to promote superb range of motion, in and out of the water.
Realon Wetsuit Men (Full, 3mm)
The Realon Wetsuit for Men is a warm and comfy choice for kayaking. It has a neoprene density of 3mm, so it’ll provide plenty of protection in cold water/cold weather conditions. Use it for kayaking and other watersports, such as swimming or surfing. It’s versatile enough to work for a lot of different activities. This wetsuit is crafted with flatlock stitching, which is comfortable, durable and designed to keep out almost all water.
One practical feature of this Realon wetsuit is its back zipper, which is a 10V design that is ultra-rugged. As well, we appreciate the nylon panels which are added to the sides of this neoprene wetsuit. The panels stretch and make it easier for paddlers to move around. This wetsuit is an ergonomic style which fits the body well.
Kokatat NeoZip Long John Neoprene Kayak Wetsuit
This wetsuit is a little bit different. It’s sleeveless. While you may wonder, “Will I stay warm in this wetsuit?”, you’ll be pleased to know that a lot of kayakers really enjoy wearing sleeveless wetsuits. They add layers over them (such as hoodies or windbreakers) when they want to keep their arms warm. If it gets warmer while they’re out on the water, they remove their top layers and then enjoy sleeveless comfort.
The key advantage of a sleeveless design is that it’s very easy to move the arms while it’s being worn.
If you aren’t planning on kayaking in truly frigid waters, but still want a bit of warmth and protection, this kayak wetsuit may be just right for you. Another option is wearing it in cold water, with a neoprene zip-up jacket or pullover.
This design is mid-range in price and it’s made from 3mm, two-sided neoprene. It has a front-entry zipper made from nylon, which makes it easy to take the wetsuit on and off. The wetsuit has seamless armholes for superior comfort.
Dark Lightning Men’s Wetsuit
This Dark Lightning wetsuit is made from a ninety percent Neoprene, ten percent Elastane nylon blend. The thickness of this black wetsuit is 3mm, which is a good neoprene thickness for kayaking in cold water. When you choose this design from Dark Lightning, you’ll be selecting a style which resists abrasions and comes with knee padding that is flexible.
The back-zip wetsuit has a long and strong zipper which is gusseted. The zipper has a smooth glide, so it’s very easy to use. The seams of this reasonably-priced wetsuit are glued and blind-stitched. These strong seams repel water and don’t have a lot of “sew-through”, which means that they are very comfortable against the skin.
Seavenger 3mm Neoprene Wetsuit with Stretch Panels
This budget-friendly wetsuit from Seavenger was designed for snorkeling and warm-water diving, but it’s a good choice for kayaking, too. It does provide a lot of warmth, due to its thick neoprene (3mm) material.
It’s a wetsuit that is built to last. Its knee and shoulder pads boost wetsuit strength and resist abrasions. These wetsuits are available in men’s and women’s designs and each wetsuit comes with flat lock stitching in the armpit and knee areas. This stitching boosts range of mobility. It also prevents chafing.
This garment is equipped with a tough, easy-to-use zipper (#10 YKK). When you order this Seavenger garment, you’ll receive an extra-long leash.
That brings us to the end of our top wetsuit picks.
Do you have a favorite that we haven’t mentioned?
Drop us your recommendations below!