Choosing the Right Wetsuit
Wetsuits come in a dizzying array of styles, thicknesses, constructions, technologies, and designs, but all of them share the same simple goal: insulate you from the cold. The key then is using the right wetsuit for the conditions. Choose wisely and you’ll have a long session on the water with nary a notice of the cold (translation: you’ll be stoked). Choose poorly and your time on the water will be drastically reduced due to a plummeting core temp (translation: you’ll be bummed). Choose very poorly and you’ll not even be able to get in the water due to fear of hypothermia (translation: you’ll be super bummed).
Here’s a wetsuit guide with simple explanations of the Ride Engine wetsuit styles and their performance attributes. Let’s dial you into correctly choosing the ones that are best for you and the temperatures where you ride.
Important note: For the sake of simplicity, we segment our wetsuits in water-temperature ranges, but when contemplating your wetsuit selection, it’s important to consider all of the elements—not just water temperature but also air temperature and wind level. This is especially true for kiters and windsurfers, who don’t spend as much time actually in the water as compared to surfers but are out in far windier conditions.
When conditions are truly frigid, you can absolutely still get out on the water but you’ll need a thick wetsuit that provides full protection from the cold, including a hood (or prepare to suffer through the mind-altering “ice cream headache”). These suits come with a Thermalux Poly Fleece lining to keep your body as warm and dry as possible. You’ll also want to add in booties and gloves to keep your extremities from numbing out.
If temperatures are at the upper end of the cold range (merely cold and not brutally cold), you’ll still want the booties and gloves, but you could possibly opt for a no-hood wetsuit. With a 5mm/4mm thickness available in either front-zip or back-zip styles, these wetsuits will still deliver maximum body insulation (thanks to the glued and blind-stitched construction and premium Neospan S-Foam Neoprene), and you can always add our 4mm hood in as an accessory just in case.
48°F to 55°F (9°C to 13°C)
Ok, so now we are getting into some more civilized temperatures! Nevertheless, you’re still going to need plenty of insulation if you want to be out for a multi-hour session. These wetsuits have just the right balance of thick insulation in the core and slightly thinner insulation in the arms and legs for freedom of movement. And for your personal preference, you can add in booties, gloves or a hood to keep you on the water feeling warm and toasty.
60°F to 65°F (16°C to 18°C)
Yewwww! Now things are warming up! Providing just the right amount of insulation for the temperatures the vast majority of us ride in, these 3/2 wetsuits are the most common around the world. A 3mm core and 2mm of neoprene in the extremities make these versatile suits perfect for the not-too-cold, but not-warm-enough dawn patrols and sunset sessions we all enjoy.
Above 65°F (18°C)
These are the warm temps we’ve been dreaming about! And with the warmer temperatures come a variety of wetsuit options from long-sleeve Spring suits to tank tops. These wetsuits are ideal for keeping the chill at bay when the water may be warm but the air and wind make it a bit too cold to go without some insulation.