Yes, you can jump in the open water and swim in as little as just your birthday suit, but that wouldn't be a pleasant experience in the UK waters (plus you would quite like be removed from the beach by the old bill)! A proper swimming wetsuit can make all the difference for anyone serious about participating in open water swimming, whether in the sea, as part of a triathlon, wild river swimming or in a lake.
We have compiled our list of the best wetsuits for open water swimming to make your time in the water more enjoyable and productive.
Is A Swimming Wetsuit Different From A Surfing Wetsuit?
The types of wetsuits we often see people using for water sports like surfing or bodyboarding aren't the most productive suit to wear when participating in open water swimming or triathlons. The neoprene used in swimming wetsuits is far more flexible around the joint areas, such as knees, hips and shoulders, which increases manoeuvrability and allows you to swim more freely.
Wetsuits for triathlons and open water swimming are coated with a Super Composite Skin, or SCS as it is sometimes referred to, which provides the suit with a smooth feeling to allow the swimmer to be more streamlined. They are also more breathable, ensuring that the swimmer does not overheat.
How Should A Swimming Wetsuit Fit?
In the same way, a wetsuit for surfing should be tight-fitting and comfortable, and so should an open water swimming wetsuit. They work by trapping a small amount of water between the neoprene and your skin, which then warms to your body temperature.
That's why a wetsuit should act like a second skin, modelling and hugging the shape of your body. A poorly fitting suit with baggy areas will leak cold water into your suit and cool your core body temperature down.
For more wetsuit fitting tips, check out our wetsuit sizing and thickness guide, so you can be sure to invest in the right wetsuit for you.
Best Wetsuits For Open Water Swimming
So now you know why you require a specialised wetsuit for open water swimming and triathlons, but which one should you buy?
Orca Core Hi-Vis Open Water Swim Wetsuit - Best Entry-Level Swim Wetsuit
The Orca Hi-Vis swimming wetsuit is a fantastic option for a first-time swimming wetsuit, and it is designed to aid you as much as possible while you learn the basic best practices when open water swimming or training for a triathlon.
The suit is made from 2-2.5mm thick Yamamoto neoprene with an infinity skin high-end internal lining. It is rare to find such high-quality materials in an entry-level suit.
Orca TRN Core - Best Value For Money Swim Wetsuit
The best value for money open water swimming wetsuit has to go to the Orca TNR core swimming wetsuit due to its high-quality manufacturing and design with a reasonable price point.
Once again, this Orca suit is constructed of Yamamoto neoprene, which gives the suit a buttery feeling to the touch. There is 4mm of the hips, 3mm in the torso and 2mm of the shoulders and arms. The use of the thicker neoprene in the legs adds extra buoyancy and assists in keeping the swimmer in a natural swimming position. The thinner neoprene on the shoulders and torso allows for flexibility so you can move through the water with as little resistance as possible.
Orca RS1 Thermal - Warmest Open Water Swimming Wetsuit
Without a doubt, the warmest wetsuit for open-water swimming has to be the Orca RS1 thermal open water swim wetsuit. Compared to the previous two Orca wetsuits, the RS1 is a step up in terms of materials and added features, ensuring you stay warm and comfortable in the water all year round.
Created with the Yamamoto neoprene 40, which is the next level up from the original Yamamoto neoprene, the 40 offers a thicker and warmer wetsuit without compromising on flexibility.
Another difference with the TR1 thermal is installing a neoprene back panel. This sits between the zip and your skin to reduce the ability of water to seep through the suit's entry system. A polypro thermal lining has also been added to the suit to wick away water and keep you comfortable and warm in the icy UK waters.
Zone 3 Advanced Open Water Swim Wetsuit - Best Freestyle Wetsuit
Stepping away from Orca, let's look at Zone 3 advanced open water swim wetsuit. Much like the Orca suits, the Advanced has been designed with swimming in mind. The suit is constructed with 4mm neoprene on the legs and hips, 3mm on the torso and 2mm on the shoulders and arms.
This helps to keep you in the correct swimming position by adding buoyancy to the lower half of your body while allowing for maximum flexibility and movement through the upper body.
Furthermore, this suit is FINA approved, with a pro speed cuff on both ankles and wrists, allowing you to whip the suit off in a speedy fashion. This would be a fantastic suit to compete in.
Zone 3 Aspect - Best Swim Wetsuit For Breaststroke.
Unlike other swimming techniques such as front crawl and backstroke, breaststroke requires different movements from the upper and lower body. That's why Zone 3 has created a wetsuit explicitly designed to aid the movements of breaststroke.
The Zone 3 Aspect open water swim wetsuit is a solid choice. The neoprene panelling and seam placement are different, allowing the swimmer to carry out the open rounded motions this stroke requires. There is also a thinner neoprene in the legs to enable them to fit lower in the water and avoid floating to the surface and kicking out the water.
The Best Open Water Swimming Accessories
Although you can slip into your swimming wetsuit, dive into the open water and have a delightful swim, there are some open water swimming accessories that can take your dip to the next level. Wetsuit Centre stocks a range of open water swimming accessories, including personal floatation devices, swimming caps and changing robes which you can browse online.
We hope you have gained some insight into the best open water swimming and triathlon wetsuits; for more information, you can check out our blogs on open water swimming, such as the UK's best locations for open water swimming.
Alternatively, contact Wetsuit Centre today, and one of our friendly and knowledgeable team can talk you through the specifications of all our available suits.