Wetsuit Thickness Guide

It can be challenging for those 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. We cover all thicknesses from summer shorty suits to women’s and men’s winter wetsuits!


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2mm Wetsuit Thickness and below

Water Temperature: 19°C

2mm wetsuits come more often than not in a shorty wetsuit style and vary between 1mm and 3mm in thickness. The recommended temperature range is anywhere from 15°C and above for the use of a shorty wetsuit.

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.

Our 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:

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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.

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3mm Wetsuit Thickness

Water Temperature: 16.5°C

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

Our 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!

Wetsuit Accessories

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

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4mm Wetsuit Thickness

Water Temperature: 14.5°C

4mm is the go-to wetsuit if you go in the water for most of the year. They are perfect for temperatures below 14.5°C to around 12°C, covering most of the year from April until late November.

Our 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 4:3. It is created from 30% Xtend neoprene and 70% Free Flex neoprene; it provides 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.

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.

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4.5mm Wetsuit Thickness

Water Temperature: 12°C

Just slightly thicker than a 4mm, it possesses similar benefits for the user and is perfect for the months at the start of winter and the end of autumn, where water temperatures in the UK tend to settle at an average of around 10.5°C.

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.

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5mm Wetsuit Thickness

Water Temperature: 11°C

5mm are winter wetsuits and are used in the depths of winter. If temperatures drop below 10°C to around 9°C or 8°C then you’ll 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 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:

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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.

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5.5mm Wetsuit Thickness

Water Temperature: 9°C

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

Wetsuit Accessories

All winter wetsuit accessories are necessary and you will need a hood, gloves and boots to ensure you stay warm in the sea.

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6mm Wetsuit Thickness

Water Temperature: 6°C

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 Wetsuit Recommendations

The Rip Curl Flashbomb Heat Seeker is one of the warmest wetsuits out there. It creates warmth by generating its own heat as you move in the wetsuit and acts as a step above its famous sister suit, the Flash Bomb.

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 rashie 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.

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7mm Wetsuit Thickness

Water Temperature: 5°C

7mm wetsuits are specifically used when temperatures are close to freezing, i.e. 1°C, 2°C or 3°C. You will also find that diving wetsuits tend to be thicker, such as our Cressi Fast Monopiece 7mm wetsuit.

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.

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. You can also check out our video below for more information: