Best Wetsuit For Kayaking – Top 8 Wetsuits For Staying Warm On The Water

Kayaking is an incredible on-the-water activity; we can all agree on that. But it also leaves the paddler exposed to the elements – wind, water, and sun’s UV rays – all at once.

That’s where the best wetsuit for kayaking comes in as your first line of defense.

How do you pick the right wetsuit, though?

What thickness do you need? Should you go with a full-body cut or something a bit more open, like a Long John wetsuit for kayaking? And how tight should it fit, anyway?

Get all your answers – along with wetsuit reviews and recommendations – in this buying guide!

We may receive a commission if you click a link on this page and then go on to purchase something, but at no extra cost to you. Learn more here.

In A Rush? The Winner After 38 Hours Of Research:

Hevto 3mm Wetsuit

Hevto 3mm Wetsuits

Our Rating: ★★★★★

Check Price on Amazon

Why is it better?

  • The suit is made from a blend – neoprene bonded with two layers of nylon fabric – that makes it more stretchy and comfortable on the skin
  • The 3-millimeter thickness provides thermal protection in water temperatures ranging from 50 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit
  • The full-body wetsuit design limits exposure to the elements, including water, UV rays, and abrasions, providing comprehensive protection
  • You’ll have a full range of motion, which is essential for kayakers
  • The extended pull tab makes donning the suit relatively easy despite the rear entry zipper
  • It’s a simple-but-efficient, reasonably priced kayak wetsuit

Do I Need A Wetsuit For Kayaking?

Man in kaya wetsuit holding paddle

Wait, isn’t a wetsuit something that a diver would wear?

Well, you’re technically correct. Does that mean that, as a kayaker, you don’t need to wear one, though? 

Nope. There are several reasons why you should consider wearing one as a paddler, too – and it comes down to the conditions you’ll be kayaking in, such as the air and water temperature. 

Many choose to wear it year-round as a form of general protection from the elements. 

But if there’s a risk of cold shock and hypothermia, wearing appropriate clothing becomes a matter of safety – and wetsuits becomes every bit as important as your PFD

Wetsuit or Drysuit When Kayaking in Cold Waters?

When To Wear A Wetsuit For Kayaking

One of the primary purposes of specialized paddling suits – wetsuits and drysuits alike – is to help maintain the paddler’s core body temperature in the water.

The plan is to stay inside your ‘yak, where you’re safe and dry – but we all know that taking an accidental swim is always a possibility.

And sure, that might not be that big of a deal on a sunny day when it’s 80 degrees outside. But when temperatures drop below a certain point or you’re paddling on a large body of water, the risk of hypothermia becomes real – and so does the need to wear a wetsuit.

As a general rule, you should wear a wetsuit for kayaking when the water temperature is low enough to affect your core body temperature if you capsize – think 60 degrees Fahrenheit and lower.

And while kayakers should always dress for the water, not the weather, don’t forget to factor in air temperature when deciding if you need to wear a wetsuit or not.

If the weather is warm but the water is cold, a sleeveless wetsuit might be a better choice. Also, when the water is warm enough but combined with air temperature falls below 120 degrees Fahrenheit, you need to wear a full-body wetsuit. 

How To Choose A Kayaking Wetsuit: Things You Need To Consider

Man in kayak wetuit and red PFD

Materials: Neoprene As The Go-To Choice

Most wetsuits for kayaking, from cheaper to high-end options, are made from the same material – neoprene.

Neoprene’s a form of synthetic rubber that features millions of microscopic air bubbles that give the fabric its insulating properties.

Unlike a drysuit that provides a waterproof outer layer with the warmth coming from the base layers worn underneath it. A wetsuit works by trapping a thin layer of water between your skin and the neoprene – a layer that acts as insulation – meaning that a wetsuit doesn’t prevent you from getting wet. What neoprene does is keep you warm despite the wetness.

There are some exceptions to this rule – not all kayak wetsuits are made of 100% neoprene. Some manufacturers will incorporate other materials, such as nylon and Lycra, into the mix.

Why?

Pure neoprene tends to get a bit stiff – especially when it’s on the thicker side. Nylon and Lycra can add a touch of flexibility to the suit, making it easier to put on and more comfortable for paddling – sometimes referred as ‘stretch neoprene’ 

You’ll also find kayak wetsuits that feature a fleece lining or base layer to add warmth, softness and make the suit more comfortable by preventing it from sticking to your bare skin.

Wetsuit Thickness Determines Warmth

The thicker the neoprene, the warmer the kayak wetsuit; it doesn’t get much simpler than that.

You see, neoprene is a closed-cell foam material – a type of synthetic rubber that’s essentially made of tiny air pockets that trap heat. So, the thicker the neoprene, the better the insulation it provides – and the warmer the suit.

You’ll find the information about the wetsuit’s thickness on the label, and it will typically look something like this:

4 (Torso) / 3 (Legs) / 3 (Arms)

Neoprene thickness, measured in millimeters, is shown as one, two, or three numbers. The numbers indicate how thick the neoprene is around the torso, legs – and if there’s a third number, the arms.

Keep in mind that most kayak wetsuits will be ticker around the chest area to keep your core temperature under control. As for arms and legs, thinner neoprene helps maintain flexibility and freedom of arm movement, which is essential for paddling. 

Design & Cut

When you think of a wetsuit for kayaking, your mind jumps straight to the full-body style, huh? 

But there are several other different cuts of kayak wetsuits, all designed with varying conditions in mind. You can choose among four styles of wetsuits for kayaking:

  • Full Wetsuits – This style offers the most protection, covering the paddler’s entire body, except for the hands, feet, and head. You’ll need a full suit in colder climates and water temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Shorty Wetsuits – The so-called “spring suits” are essentially the shorter version of a full-body wetsuit, featuring short sleeves and short legs. These are a better choice when you still require coverage but the weather’s too warm for a full wetsuit.
  • Short John Wetsuits – Short farmer John or farmer Jane wetsuits are sleeveless and will only cover the torso and thighs, leaving the arms exposed. This style of one-piece kayak wetsuits is an excellent choice for warm climates.
  • Long John Wetsuits – The long John cut also leaves the arms exposed, but unlike the short farmer John style wetsuits, it fully covers the legs, reaching down to the ankles. This cut strikes the perfect balance between insulation and mobility for kayakers, keeping the lower body warm while also allowing a full range of movement in the arms.

One-piece wetsuits are not your only option, though.

You can buy a wetsuit as a two-piece – some models are available as a separate wetsuit jacket and bottom – that allow you to choose the level of protection and what parts of your body you want to cover. 

Size & Fit: How Should A Wetsuit For Kayaking Fit? 

Okay, let’s get one thing clear:

Wetsuits have to be skin-tight to work. If it’s not, it can’t trap a layer of water – and, in turn, can’t keep you warm.

But there’s a fine line between skin-tight and uncomfortably tight to keep in mind when choosing the best kayak wetsuit.

How should a wetsuit for kayaking fit, then?

You don’t want the suit to be so tight that it gets uncomfortable and restricts movements – especially in the upper body. But it should never be loose, either, because you’ll constantly have cold water seeping in, making it harder to stay warm. 

Wetsuit Guide: Knowing The Right Fit

You don’t want anything pinching you, restricting movement, or causing chaffing – especially not around the chest, neck, bottom, and armpits.

It should feel like “second skin.”

The fastest way to test the fit is to squat down and lift your arms above your head. Seriously, it’s that simple. If you can’t do it, go up a size or two.

Now, for the good news:

Choosing the right size shouldn’t be that hard. Most manufacturers provide a sizing chart that helps you pick the right size based on your height, weight, and body measurements.

Zippers, Seams & Other Special Features

It’s a zipper – what’s there to talk about, right? 

You’re in for a surprise. Zippers play a more significant role than most kayakers might realize.

Getting in and out of a wetsuit is hard; the positioning of the main – so-called entry – zipper can make all the difference convenience-wise. A front entry zipper is a lot easier to manage on your own. 

How To Put On A Wetsuit | A Step By Step Guide

Also, unless it comes with a relief zipper – and most wetsuits for kayaking don’t – make peace with the fact that you’ll probably be peeing in your suit.

Seams are another feature to consider when choosing the best kayak wetsuit. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but that’s because you haven’t experienced seams that rub against the skin with every stroke of the paddle.

There’s one heck of a difference between “regular” stitched seams and sealed – blind-stitched and glued – ones. The latter not only feel more comfortable on the skin but prevent water from seeping in and lowering your body temperature, too. 

Lastly, check if the suit comes with knee pads or similar reinforcements in high-wear areas. It’s a tiny detail that makes a big difference in the suit’s durability.

Top 8 Wetsuits for Kayaking Of 2021 – Reviews & Recommendations 

1. Hevto 3mm Wetsuits

Hevto 3mm Wetsuits
  • Overall Best Wetsuit for Kayaking 
  • Rating: ★★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★★
Check Price on Amazon

The Guardian (I) Warrior – that’s the official name of this Hevto wetsuit – is technically a scuba diving suit. Still, it works for a variety of on-the-water sports, including kayaking.

It’s one of the most comfortable kayak wetsuits due to two reasons:

One, it’s made from neoprene bonded with two layers of nylon, making the fabric very stretchy and comfortable.

And two, it’s not overly thick – it measures 3 millimeters around the chest panel– and, as a result, not excessively restricting, despite the full-body cut.

It’s not a suit you’d wear in extreme cold. But for water temperatures in the 50 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit range, the Guardian (I) Warrior is a hard-to-beat wetsuit for kayaking – especially at this price point.

Technical Specs

  • Full-body wetsuit style
  • Neoprene and nylon material
  • 3-millimeter thickness
  • Rear entry zipper

Pros

  • The fabric blend is super-stretchy and comfortable
  • It doesn’t restrict your movement when paddling
  • Suitable for temperatures from 50 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Reasonably priced, value-for-money wetsuit

Cons

  • Some may find the size chart a bit confusing
  • Not ideal for kayaking in frigid waters 
  • Lacks reinforced pads on knees and elbows

Safe, stable, versatile, and predictable – in a good way – Baffin P3 is an excellent choice for taller paddlers looking to get out on the open sea.

Check Price on Amazon

2. Stohlquist Men’s Storm John Wetsuit

Stohlquist Men's Storm John Wetsuit
  • Best Long-John Wetsuit For Kayaking
  • Rating: ★★★★☆
  • Price: ★★★★☆
Check Price on Amazon

Next up is a long-John-style wetsuit by Stohlquist – the only kayak wetsuit I tested with a relief zipper. Believe me, when nature calls, this little addition will make all the difference.

Thickness-wise, it’s the same as my previous pick – 3 millimeters thick fabric in the torso area – but unlike the previous model, it’s made entirely out of neoprene.

The arms are left exposed – and, in turn, free to paddle – and there’s ample room in the armpit area. I never once felt “restricted” by this suit.

The reinforced SupraTex padding on the knees and backside is more than welcome regarding abrasion resistance.

But all that’s going to cost you. Stohlquist’s kayak wetsuit isn’t the most budget-friendly pick on my list.

Technical Specs

  • Long John wetsuit style
  • Neoprene material
  • 3-millimeter thickness
  • Front entry zipper

Pros

  • SupraTex knee and backside padding for abrasion resistance
  • Features a relief zipper
  • U-shaped cuff openings and front-entry zipper for convenience
  • Ample room around the armpits for easier paddling 

Cons

  • The sizing chart seems a bit off, and the suits run small
  • It’s one of the priciest kayak wetsuits on my list

Stohlquist’s long John kayak wetsuit is an impressive all-around model – from the quality to the nifty features that make it super-convenient. If you have the money, go for it!

Check Price on Amazon

3. NeoSport 7mm Waterman Winter John Wetsuit

NeoSport 7mm Waterman Winter John Wetsuit4
  • Best Wetsuit For Kayaking In Winter
  • Rating: ★★★★☆
  • Price: ★★★★★
Check Price on Amazon

Remember the whole “the thicker the neoprene, the warmer you’ll be” thing? Well, how about a kayak wetsuit made of 7 millimeters thick neoprene? That’s bound to keep you warm no matter how challenging the conditions get.

This NeoSport wetsuit boasts a long John cut – but that doesn’t make it any less winter-friendly. Paired with the optional paddling jacket of equal thickness, it amounts to 14 millimeters of neoprene around the chest.

I’m also a fan of the thermal-bonded knee pads and the internal key pocket. Front-entry Velcro closures seem convenient – although a bit unconventional.

I’m not too thrilled about the flat-lock seams, as the stitching can be uncomfortable – but at least they’re spot taped at stress points. 

Technical Specs

  • Long John wetsuit style
  • Neoprene material
  • 7-millimeter thickness
  • Front Velcro entry

Pros

  • Above-average thickness for protection in extreme conditions
  • Reinforced knee pads for comfort
  • A handy internal key pocket
  • Spot-taped seams for improved durability at stress points

Cons

  • The flatlock seams, although durable, can get a bit irritating on bare skin
  • It has to be paired with a neoprene paddling jacket for full-body protection

If you plan on hitting the waters in not-so-great weather, you’ll need a thick neoprene wetsuit for protection – and what’s better than a 7-millimeter, winter-friendly NeoSport Waterman?

[Check Price on Amazon

4. NeoSport Women’s Premium 3mm Jane Wetsuit

NeoSport Women's Premium 3mm Jane Wetsuit
  • Best Kayaking Wetsuit For Women
  • Rating: ★★★★☆
  • Price: ★★★★☆
Check Price on Amazon

And now, something explicitly made for the ladies.

This NeoSport wetsuit has a few things in common with my previous pick – like the sleeveless design – but with an anatomical cut pattern that’s better suited for women.

It’s a neoprene-made long Jane wetsuit, although thinner, measuring 3 millimeters in thickness. That’s not necessarily a deal-breaker; you have the option of pairing it with a paddling jacket.

Much like the previous NeoSport suit, it features spot-taped intersecting seams for durability around major stress points. It also comes with thermal-bonded knee pads, a hidden key pocket, and an adjustable collar.

I’m not sure about the Velcro closure – but I guess it’ll make donning the suit a lot more convenient.

Technical Specs

  • Long Jane wetsuit style
  • Neoprene material
  • 3-millimeter thickness 
  • Front Velcro entry

Pros

  • Thermal-bonded knee pads add comfort and protection
  • Features spot taped stress points on intersecting seams
  • It has a hidden key pocket
  • Front Velcro closures for easier donning

Cons

  • Thinner neoprene and sleeveless design make it unsuitable for extreme cold conditions
  • You’ll have to pair it with a paddling jacket for full-body protection

Ladies, if you want something comfortable, convenient, and thick enough for moderate weather and water temperatures, this NeoSport long Jane wetsuit might be your best bet!

Check Price on Amazon

5. Seavenger Navigator 3mm Neoprene Shorty Wetsuit

Seavenger Navigator 3mm Neoprene Shorty Wetsuit
  • Best Shorty Wetsuit For Kayaking
  • Rating: ★★★★☆
  • Price: ★★★★★
Check Price on Amazon

This budget-friendly wetsuit boasts the so-called “Shorty” cut, meaning it features short sleeves and covers thighs rather than the entire leg. That, plus the 3-millimeter fabric – a blend of nylon and neoprene – makes for an excellent choice for warm weather kayaking.

If the water is nice, this is a kayak wetsuit you want to wear. I mean, it’s called a “spring suit” for a reason.

Although relatively inexpensive, the suit feels durable – and, as a bonus, it has anti-abrasion shoulder pads.

I was worried about the 3-millimeter thickness throughout the entire suit and figured it might be a bit restrictive. However, the super-stretch panels in the armpit area allow for excellent mobility when paddling.

Technical Specs

  • Shorty wetsuit style
  • Nylon II Neoprene material
  • 3-millimeter thickness
  • Rear entry zipper

Pros

  • Features anti-abrasion shoulder pads to prevent wear and tear
  • Super-stretch panels in armpit areas ensure mobility for paddling motions
  • Extra-long pull tab for convenient zipping
  • Reasonably priced kayak wetsuit

Cons

  • The Shorty cut limits the suit’s usability to warmer weather only
  • The rear entry zipper can make donning the suit a bit trickier

As long as the water temperatures don’t go below 65 degrees Fahrenheit, the Seavenger’s Navigator Shorty-style wetsuit could be the perfect choice for your kayaking environment!

Check Price on Amazon

6. SUPreme Men’s Blade Paddling WetSuit

SUPreme Men's Blade Paddling WetSuit
  • Best Wetsuit For Stand-Up Paddle Boarding
  • Rating: ★★★★☆
  • Price: ★★★★☆
Check Price on Amazon

Next up is a suit designed specifically for paddling – as in stand-up paddleboarding – but I found it to be suitable for kayaking, too.

SUPreme is a full-body suit made of Quantum Foam neoprene fabric with a thickness of 4 millimeters around the chest. It features thinner neoprene – 3 and 2 millimeters – for legs and arms, respectively.

What’s cool about this suit is that it also features a thermal microfleece lining, coupled with wind-proof, fast-drying neoprene around the chest and back, adding to the overall protection. It also features a front-zip entry and four-way stretch knee pads.

It’s not expensive per se, but it’s pricier than some other options you’ll find on my list. Keep that in mind budget-wise.  

Technical Specs

  • Full-body wetsuit style
  • Quantum Foam neoprene material
  • 4-millimeter thickness
  • Front entry zipper

Pros

  • Includes a thermal microfleece lining
  • Wind-proof, quick-drying panels on the chest and back
  • Four-way stretch knee pads for added durability
  • Front-zip entry for easier donning

Cons

  • t’s one of the most expensive kayak wetsuits on my list
  • The adhesive in the chest area doesn’t seem like it will hold up

UPreme is an excellent albeit relatively expensive suit with all the features a paddler might need – from solid insulation and knee reinforcements to easy-to-use front-zip entry.

Check Price on Amazon

7. O’Neill Men’s Reactor-2

O'Neill Men's Reactor-2
  • Best Kayak Wetsuit For Warm Weather
  • Rating: ★★★★☆
  • Price: ★★★★★
Check Price on Amazon

Here’s a thinner suit designed by O’Neill for warm weather and water temperatures:

The neoprene is a mere 2 millimeters thick, and the suit is sleeveless, so this really shouldn’t be your go-to choice for cold weather conditions. O’Neill’s Reactor II is an impressive long John wetsuit for warmer waters, though – and a highly recommended option for lake kayakers.

It features a front entry zipper and is made from extra-stretchy neoprene, making donning a lot easier and adding flexibility. The stitching is kept to a minimum in specific areas, too – a feature called “Seamless Paddle Zones” – to ensure comfort and mobility for paddling.

However, if you’re a sea kayaker, this isn’t the suit for you. It won’t offer thermal protection in the open waters.

Technical Specs

  • Long John wetsuit style
  • Neoprene material
  • 2-millimeter thickness
  • Front entry zipper

Pros

  • The thin, sleeveless design is excellent for warm weather paddling
  • The front-entry zipper makes donning easier
  • Designed with “Seamless Paddle Zones” for improved comfort

Cons

  • Not suitable for cold weather kayaking
  • The thin neoprene won’t work for sea kayakers
  • Relatively pricey compared to some other models I reviewed

If you’re primarily into lake kayaking during the warmer months, O’Neill’s Reactor II is probably the best kayak wetsuit you could go for – thin but comfortable.

Check Price on Amazon

8. Scubadonkey 2.5mm Neoprene Wetsuit for Kids

Scubadonkey 2.5mm Neoprene Wetsuit for Kids
  • Best Kayaking Wetsuit For Kids
  • Rating: ★★★★☆
  • Price: ★★★★★
Check Price on Amazon

If you’re thinking of making kayaking an outdoor activity for your whole family, something simple but efficient, like the Scubadonkey wetsuit for the youngest paddlers, could be a good fit.

It’s designed for head-to-toe protection, not just from the water but also from the sun’s UV rays, jellyfish, and sharp rocks.

This kids-friendly wetsuit’s made from 2.5-millimeter thick neoprene, which should provide some insulation without the discomfort that may ruin your child’s fun day on the water.

It’s available in three colors and a range of sizes for kids ages 2 to 14 – and works for both boys and girls, too.

The rear entry zipper isn’t ideal and doesn’t seem durable – but at least it has an extra-long pull tab for easier donning.

Technical Specs

  • Full-body wetsuit style
  • Neoprene material
  • 2.5-millimeter thickness
  • Rear entry zipper

Pros

  • Optimal balance between protection and flexibility
  • Provide excellent sun protection and a barrier from abrasions, and jellyfish
  • An extended pull tab for easier donning
  • Unisex design with three color choices

Cons

  • The zipper seems like it’s of poor quality and won’t last long
  • Getting the kids used to the skin-tight fit might take some time

You likely won’t be taking your kids kayaking in extreme conditions. So, although it’s only 2.5 millimetres thick, this kids-friendly Scubadonkey wetsuit could be all the protection they need!

Check Price on Amazon

Best Wetsuit For Kayaking: Final Thoughts & Recommendations

Kayak wetuit, life vest and kayak show drying on a rock

The main takeaway from today’s discussion about kayak wetsuits is that you can’t expect this to be a one-size-fits-all type of recommendation. Choosing the best wetsuits for kayaking comes down to the conditions you expect to encounter on your paddling trip.

You want to get the right amount of thermal protection based on your paddling environment – it’s that simple.

I’m happy to recommend the Hevto 3mm Guardian (I) Warrior Wetsuit for temperatures ranging from 50 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit, though.

It’s a 3-millimeter full-body suit that strikes the perfect balance of comfort, thermal protection, and flexibility – without costing a small fortune.