Wetsuit Thickness Guide

Someone surfing in a wetsuit

It can be challenging when you’re just starting in the world of watersports to know which wetsuit thickness is the most suitable for you.

Too thin, and you’ll be sat in the waves shivering. Too thick, and what was meant to be a relaxing day at the beach turns into a sweaty chore. So, to prevent any repeats of these unmitigated disasters in the future, we’ve compiled our very own wetsuit thickness guide to ensure that you always have the best possible experience at the beach.


What Wetsuit Thickness Do I Need?

The main factor when considering what wetsuit thickness you need is the water temperature. After all, a wetsuit’s first job is to keep you warm, and the colder it is, the thicker the wetsuit will need to be to perform!

Everyone has slightly different cold thresholds, so individual preferences can vary. However, the table below outlines the widely recommended thicknesses for different water temperatures.

Wetsuit Thickness Guide by Wetsuit Centre

When picking the thickness of your wetsuit, you might also want to consider when in the year you’ll be surfing. Some wetsuit thicknesses can work across multiple seasons or temperatures, especially with the help of some accessories.

Below, we run through the details of each wetsuit thickness in more detail, so you can make the best choice for you!

2mm Wetsuits

2mm Wetsuits (and Below)

2mm wetsuits come more often than not in a shorty wetsuit style and vary between 1mm and 3mm in thickness.

Shorty wetsuits are perfect for warmer climates or the height of UK summers. Taking less room to pack than full-length wetsuits, they are the ideal companion for those who enjoy family summers on the beach and spending their days in and out of the water.

What Temperature for 2mm Wetsuit?

The recommended temperature range for a 2mm wetsuit is anywhere around 19°C for the use of a shorty wetsuit.

Our 2mm Wetsuit Recommendations

There are many shorty wetsuits available, differing in lengths, budgets and thicknesses. We provide a great breakdown of our top recommendations in our blog below:

Check out our guide: The Best Shorty Wetsuit

Shorty Wetsuit Accessories

If you are using a shorty wetsuit in the summer months, you won’t need much else in terms of wetsuit accessories! Just remember to have a swimming costume or shorts to wear underneath and invest in a rash vest, should you need extra protection for your skin under your wetsuit.

3mm Wetsuits

3mm Wetsuits

This thickness is perfect if you feel the chill and a shorty wetsuit isn't warm enough in the summer. They are especially handy if you surf at dusk or dawn and need something more protective than a shorty wetsuit, or as the end of the summer season develops into the autumnal months.

What Temperature for 3mm Wetsuit?

As the temperature drops between 16.5°C and 15°C, you may want to consider a full-length 3mm wetsuit.

Our 3mm Wetsuit Recommendations

If you are after an entry-level 3mm wetsuit, we thoroughly recommend the O’Neill Reactor. Firstly, it is incredible value for money and one of the most budget-friendly models on the market. Secondly, it is created from 100% super stretch neoprene throughout the suit which means not only is it super flexible but it also provides an incredibly accurate fit - keeping you warmer for longer.

You can discover the range for the whole family, we have men’s, women’s and kid’s sizes available on our site!

Check out our O’Neill Reactor II Wetsuit Review

3mm Wetsuit Accessories

When using a 3mm wetsuit, it is unlikely you will need any extra neoprene accessories for warmth.

4mm Wetsuits

4mm Wetsuits

4mm is the go-to wetsuit if you go in the water for most of the year. A 4mm wetsuit can be suitable for summer surfing in the UK, while it can also last into the early winter for some, especially with the help of some accessories.

What Temperature for 4mm Wetsuit?

3mm wetsuits are perfect for temperatures below 14.5°C to around 12°C, covering most of the year from April until late November.

Our 4mm Wetsuit Recommendations

The range of 4mm wetsuits is vast, and which one you choose will entirely depend on what you require from your wetsuit.

If you are just starting, we would recommend the C-Skins Legend. It is created from 30% Xtend neoprene and 70% Free Flex neoprene, providing both an excellent fit and flexibility. The addition of a glide skin collar means that no water can enter the suit, reducing the chance of flushing. The women’s alternative is the C-Skins Surflite that comes with the same benefits.

Check out our C-Skin Legend wetsuit review

4mm Wetsuit Accessories

If you are surfing in waters of around 14.5°C, gloves and a hood aren’t necessary at this temperature, but it would probably be beneficial to add some boots to your wetsuit, so your feet aren’t at risk of wind chill or chilblains.

4.5mm Wetsuits

4.5mm Wetsuits

If you would like a bit of extra warmth for autumn and early winter surfing, you might want to consider a 4.5mm wetsuit.

What Temperature for 4.5mm Wetsuit?

A 4.5mm wetsuit is a good choice for water temperatures around 10.5°C In the UK – this will usually be around the end of autumn and the start of winter.

4.5mm Wetsuit Accessories

As a result of this drop in temperature and clouds tending to cover the sun during this period of the year, we’d suggest that you buy a wetsuit with a hood, while also purchasing some gloves and boots for you to wear in the water.

5mm Wetsuits

5mm Wetsuits

5mm wetsuits are commonly designed for winter surfing. They will often come with a range of features specifically designed to keep you warm as the water temperature starts to seriously dip.

What Temperature for 5mm Wetsuit?

If temperatures drop below 10°C to around 9°C or 8°C, then you’ll likely need to upgrade your wetsuit thickness to 5mm. This is to accommodate the drop in water temperatures and the cold weather when you’re out of the water and on the beach.

Our 5mm Wetsuit Recommendations

There are many winter wetsuits available, all providing different features to ensure warmth, such as thermal linings, glued and blind stitched seams and chest zip entry systems. For an entry-level choice that offers a bit more, we would recommend the O’Neill Epic.

If you want to discover more about winter wetsuits on a budget, check out our blog below:

Check out our blog on what is the best winter wetsuit to buy on a budget?

5mm Wetsuit Accessories

If you are surfing in the UK winter, wetsuit accessories are a must!

Be sure to purchase any accessories that might help you keep warm such as hoods, gloves or boots. If you especially feel the chill, you may want to consider a thermal rash vest too for an extra layer of insulation.

5.5mm Wetsuits

5.5mm Wetsuits

5mm and 5.5mm wetsuits are commonly used in the same waters. If you particularly feel the cold, you may choose to opt for this thickness instead.

What Temperature for 5.5mm Wetsuit?

5.5mm wetsuits offer slightly more insulation than 5mm ones and are usually used in water temperatures around 9°C, although a 5mm wetsuit would also suffice in this climate.

5.5mm Wetsuit Accessories

All winter wetsuit accessories are necessary for the depth of winter. You will want a hood, gloves and boots to ensure you stay warm in the sea.

6mm Wetsuits

6mm Wetsuits

A 6mm surfing wetsuit is designed for use during the coldest winter months. This thickness is one of the thickest offered by the well-known brands and these suits commonly include a hood for additional warmth.

What Temperature for 6mm Wetsuit?

6mm thick wetsuits should be used in the height of winter when water temperatures fall as low as 6°C.

This is generally between November, December and January, and depending on how cold the year has been in general, it may even last as far as into February. If you live in northern England or Scotland, you will undoubtedly require a 6mm wetsuit for the winter season as conditions are harsher and colder.

Our 6mm Wetsuit Recommendations

C-Skins winter wetsuits are some of the most popular on the market. With a great range of technology included in every suit, it’s a great place to start if you’re looking for a quality winter wetsuit.

6mm Wetsuit Accessories

You will need all of the winter wetsuit accessories, including boots, gloves and hood, and if you especially feel the cold, you may even want an extra layer in the form of a thermal rash vest to keep you warm.

However, winter wetsuits are specially engineered with warmth at the centre of the manufacturing process - it is unlikely that you’ll require extra layers under your wetsuit.

7mm Wetsuits

7mm Wetsuits

When the weather is at its most extreme, 7mm thick wetsuits should be used, mainly if there’s chronic rain or snowfall when you’re intending to go out on the waters.

You will also find that diving wetsuits tend to be thicker, such as our Cressi Fast Monopiece 7mm wetsuit.

What Temperature for 7mm Wetsuit?

7mm wetsuits are specifically used when temperatures are close to freezing (1°C, 2°C or 3°C, for example).

7mm Wetsuit Accessories

As you would expect, all wetsuit accessories will be required when using a 7mm wetsuit.

If you have any further questions on choosing the right wetsuit for you, feel free to get in touch with our friendly team! We have over a decade of online experience and can help you with any questions you may have.

If you know what thickness you require but are unsure about sizes, be sure to check out our wetsuit sizing guide!