Open Water Swimming swimming wetsuits

10 Best Wetsuits For Swimming In Cold Water- Expert Guide

Swimmer with wetsuit in cold water

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If you’ve decided to challenge the arctic waters of your local cold water lake or pool, then you better make sure that you have the right wetsuit to get the job done. In today’s article, we will be taking a look at some of the best cold-water wetsuits currently available so that you can stay nice and warm while completing your cold water swim.

10 Best wetsuits for swimming in cold water pinterest

Coldwater is generally classified as water in the temperature range of 75℉ or 23℃ and below. Different cold water wetsuits are used for different water temperatures with the fabric becoming thicker and thicker as the water becomes colder. 

Wetsuits are designed to keep you warm in the water by insulating you in cold water temperatures. This is generally done by utilizing a material called neoprene, which is a rubbery, water-resistant fabric that will trap a thin layer of water around your skin, allowing it to heat up through your body heat and keep you warm in icy waters.

Water temperature and wetsuit thickness

Before choosing your wetsuit you should have a rough idea of the water temperature you are looking to swim in. This will help you to decide on the ideal thickness of your wetsuit to keep you warm in the cold water.

Below is a quick chart I put together so that you can see what the thickness of your suit needs to be, but don’t worry the wetsuits in this guide are also placed under the temperature ranges they are designed for. This is just to give you some added guidance on what you’re looking at.

For those of you who aren’t completely sure what temperature the water is you are looking to swim in, I recommend purchasing a suit out of the 62-68℉/16-20℃ range or to be safe out of the 58-63℉/14-17℃ rage. These are the most common cold water temperatures. 

I, however, also recommend checking online to see if you can find the water temperature range for the area where you want to swim to help you make the best possible decision when purchasing your wetsuit.

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Water TemperatureWetsuit thicknessRecommended wetsuit typeSeal type
65°-75℉ / 18°-23℃0.5mm – 2/1mmSleevelessFlatlock
62°-68℉ / 16°-20℃2mm – 3/2mmSleeveless / FullsuitFlatlock
58°-63℉ / 14°-17℃3/2mm – 4/3mmFullsuitSealed
52°-58℉ / 11°-14℃4/3mm – 5/4/3mmFullsuitSealed and taped
43°-52℉ / 6°-11℃5/4mm – 5/4/3mmFullsuitSealed and taped
42℉ / 5℃ and below6/5mm – 6/5/4mmFullsuitSealed and taped

Understanding the thickness of your wetsuit is quite simple. For example, for a 5/4/3mm wetsuit, it would mean that the torso is 5mm thick, the legs 4mm, and the arms 3mm. The order is universal for all wetsuits. If a wetsuit only has 2 values, for example, 6/5mm, it would mean the torso is 6mm and the arms and legs are both 5mm.

You may also choose to purchase additional equipment to keep you warm like boots, gloves, and a hood. This may be required for very cold water.

The wetsuits we are looking at in this article will mostly include triathlon or open water wetsuits since these are the most ideal for swimming performance. There may, however, also be a suit or two that isn’t necessarily a triathlon or open water wetsuit, but I decided to include it if it still allows for good swimming performance while providing you with ideal insulation from cold water.

Best wetsuits for swimming in cold water by temperature range.

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WetsuitCold Water Temperature Fabric ThicknessTypeOur RatingView Latest Price On SwimOutlet
Orca RS1 Open Water Wetsuit65°-80°F/ 18°-26°C2mmSleeveless9/10>View Price
Zoot Wave 1 / Wahine 1 Tri Wetsuit 60°-80°F/ 15°-26°C4/3mmSleeveless8/10>View Price
Xcel 3/2mm Axis Back Wetsuit58°-80°F/ 14°-26°C3/2mmFullsuit7/10>View Price
TYR Hurricane Cat 1 Tri Wetsuit50°-80°F/ 10°-26°C1.5-5mmFullsleeve9/10>View Price
Blueseventy Fusion Tri Wetsuit50°-80°F/ 10°-26°C1.5-5mmFullsleeve10/10>View Price
Rip Curl Dawn Patrol 3/2mm Wetsuit50°-80°F/ 10°-26°C3/2mmFullsuit7/10>View Price
Zoot Wave 2/ Wahine 2 Tri Wetsuit50°-80°F/ 10°-26°C4-5mmFullsuit10/10>View Price
Xcel 4/3mm Infiniti Front Wetsuit49°-58°F/ 9°-14°C4/3mmFullsuit7/10>View Price
O’Neil Psycho 4/3mm Wetsuit49°-58°F/ 9°-14°C4/3mmFullsuit7/10>View Price
Blueseventy Thermal Reaction Tri Wetsuit47°-70°F/ 8.5°-21°C1.5-5mm + Zerconium linerFullsuit10/10>View Price
Suits on this list are ordered 1-10 with tempretures that the suit can handle decreasing as you move further down the list. Don’t look at these numbers as a ranking of the suit.

1. Orca RS1 Openwater Sleeveless Wetsuit

The Orca RS1 Openwater Sleeveless wetsuit is ideal for swimmers who are looking for thermal insulation and protection while still having great buoyancy and flexibility in the water. Orca RS1 Openwater Sleeveless Coldwater Wetsuit

The suit is constructed with neoprene fabric to ensure ideal insulation while swimming in cold water. It features 2mm Yamamoto panels with 39-cell SCS lining on the forearms, shoulders, and arms integrated with a flexible liner. This helps you to maintain a good body position in the water while still having great flexibility in your wetsuit.

The SCS coating on the neoprene fabric of the suit lowers drag in the water and helps you to swim faster while the neck lining also reduces friction as well as the likelihood of chafing. This is achieved by utilizing a soft material ideal for contact with your skin.

The Hydrolite 39-cell panels situated on your lower legs allow for faster transitions by making the suit easy to remove if you want to use it to compete in triathlons.

Coldwater Temperature range

  • 65°-80°F/ 18°-26°C

Pros

  • 2mm neoprene panels allow for ideal insulation in cold water.
  • Comfortable neck lining reduces water friction and your likelihood of chafing.
  • The design allows the suit to enhance performance for triathlon and open water swimmers.
  • Comfortable and lightweight fit.

2. Zoot Wave 1 Men’s Sleeveless Tri Wetsuit / Zoot Wahine 1 Women’s Sleeveless Tri Wetsuit

The Zoot Wave / Wahine 1 wetsuit is a great wetsuit for swimming in cold water while allowing for maximum flexibility and range of motion from the arms due to the sleeveless design.Zoot Wave / Wahine 1 Sleeveless Tri Cold Water Wetsuit

However, if you are someone who is on the sensitive side when it comes to cold water, you may be better off with a sleeved suit.

The Zoot Wave / Wahine 1 wetsuit is a great wetsuit allowing for decent insulation in cold water without breaking the bank. It has a 100% neoprene composition with a wide range of different thicknesses ranging mostly between 3-4mm, which is ideal for its listed cold water temperature range.

In terms of performance, this suit features an SCS hydrodynamic finish allowing for reduced friction and a better glide as you swim. It also has a DORSALflex zipper allowing for improved lung expansion. 

In terms of buoyancy, the suit features AQUAlift panels in the lower core and torso to put your body in the most optimal position for maximum swimming power and speed. The OKD (optimal kick design) also helps to enhance your kick velocity, frequency, and efficiency allowing you to swim faster.

Coldwater temperature range-

  • 60°-80°F/ 15°-26°C

Pros

  • Neoprene design with panels ranging between 3-4mm is ideal for insulating yourself in the given cold water temperatures.
  • Gender-specific ergonomically shaped panels ensure that the suit is optimal for both males and females.
  • The design of the suit allows for enhanced and optimized swimming performance allowing you to push your swimming to new heights.
  • Budget price range.
  • Comes with gloves if you order on SwimOutlet.

3. Xcel 3/2mm Axis Back Zip Fullsuit Wetsuit

Designed for cold water temperatures the Xcel 3/2mm Axis Back wetsuit is a great option. The wetsuit features new and improved thermo lite and nanoprene lite fabrics that provide lightweight performance, comfort, and insulation as you conquer the cold waters.Xcel 3/2mm Axis Back Zip Coldwater Fullsuit Wetsuit

The suit is created using 100% neoprene fabric with a 3mm thickness on the torso and 2mm thickness on the arms and legs to keep you warm and insulated.

A nylon collar is found in the neck area and will make sure to stop any rashes from occurring. The suit allows for comfort and flexibility while swimming and is also reinforced using FusionX taped stress points to allow for maximum durability of the wetsuit.

Coldwater temperature range-

  • 58°-80°F/ 14°-26°C

Pros

  • 100% 3/2mm neoprene fabric is ideal for the given cold water temperatures.
  • Nylon collar and nanoprene lite fabric ensure optimal comfort all around.
  • Watertight back zip ensures that no water enters or exits the suit.

Cons

  • Mostly designed with surfing in mind.

4. TYR Hurricane Cat 1 Fullsleeve Tri Wetsuit

The TYR Hurricane Cat 1 is one of the most popular sleeveless wetsuits out there. The design of the suit will ensure that you stay warm in cold water by featuring a neoprene fabric design with thickness ranging from 1.5mm near the arms and ankles all the way to 5mm on the torso and legs.TYR Hurricane Cat 1 Fullsleeve Triathlon Cold Water Wetsuit

The suit also allows for maximized swimming performance. This includes quick-release ankle-cuffs allowing for quick removal of the suit, speed wrap paneling which is a lightweight neoprene that improves your buoyancy and body position and reduces drag, and also the construction of the suit which allows for unrestricted range of motion as you swim.

The fabric is also durable and will allow for a long-lasting wetsuit that will insulate and protect you while swimming in cold water.

Coldwater Temperature range-

  • 50°-80°F/ 10°-26°C

Pros

  • 5/1.5mm neoprene panel design ensures optimal insulation in cold water.
  • Durable coated neoprene fabric.
  • Ensures maximum range of motion while swimming.
  • Enhances swimming performance utilizing quick-release ankle cuff, speed wrap paneling, and free range of motion zones.

Cons

  • A rashguard may be required to protect your neck.

5. Blueseventy Fusion Fullsleeve Tri Wetsuit

The Blueseventy fusion full-sleeve tri wetsuit delivers great swimming performance, buoyancy, and insulation at a mid-range price. The suit has a 100% neoprene composition with the thickness panels as follows: 5mm on the torso and hips, 4mm on the legs, 3mm on the chest, 2mm on the neck, and 1,5mm on the arms. Aqua-seal cuffs in the suit also completely seal out water and insulate you on the inside for added warmth.Blueseventy Fusion Fullsleeve Triathlon Coldwater Wetsuit

The suit features innovative side panels that allow for an improved and comfortable fit that compliments the torso and back buoyancy panels. It also has a flexible collar ensuring reduced chafing while swimming.

The super composite skin legs of the wetsuit provide a highly durable hydrophobic barrier that will maintain the performance of the suit while providing outstanding durability. 

Other performance features include buoyancy technology, assisting in lifting your lower body for reduced drag and optimal body position as well as a flexible design allowing for a complete 4-way stretch.

Coldwater temperature range-

  • 50°-80°F/ 10°-26°C

Pros

  • 100% neoprene design allows for optimal insulation in cold water temperatures.
  • The buoyant and flexible design promotes enhanced swimming performance.
  • Flexible collar reduces chafing in the neck area.
  • Affordable mid-range price point.

6. Rip Curl Dawn Patrol 3/2mm Back Zip Fullsuit Wetsuit

The Rip Curl Dawn Patrol wetsuit is packed with features to assist you with your swimming performance while keeping you insulated in the cold water. The suit features a 100% neoprene fabric composition with thickness at 3mm on your torso and 2mm on your arms and legs, allowing for maximum range of motion while swimming.Rip Curl Dawn Patrol 3/2MM Back Zip Coldwater Wetsuit

The wetsuit features E4 neoprene, which is a premium high stretch neoprene that allows for a comfortable fit. It also includes free flex neoprene which is specifically developed to maximize your performance and range of motion while maintaining its durability.

All in all, this is a great wetsuit for swimming in cold water.

Coldwater Temperature range-

  • 50°-80°F/ 10°-26°C

Pros

  • 100% 3/2mm neoprene design keeps you completely insulated in cold water.
  • The fabric is highly durable.
  • Comfortable fit while wearing.

7. Zoot Wave 2 Men’s Tri Wetsuit / Zoot Wahine 2 Women’s Tri Wetsuit

Featuring a sleeved design, 100% neoprene fabric composition, and panels ranging mostly between 4-5mm this wetsuit is ideal for swimming in the given cold water temperatures while still receiving optimized swimming performance.Zoot Wave / Wahine 2 Tri Cold Water Wetsuit

The Yamamoto GlideFlex panels in the wetsuit allow for maximum lung expansion and unrestricted range of motion while swimming. The suit also features an SCS hydrodynamic finish to reduce your friction in the water and allow for faster swimming. Other features include AquaLift buoyancy panels for ideal body position and maximal power as well as an optimal kick design aimed at increasing your kicking speed and freqeuncy.

The flexible design of the suit also ensures that you are able to reach a full range of motion during the catch and recovery phases of your stroke while reducing shoulder fatigue as you swim.

Coldwater Temperature range-

  • 50°-80°F/ 10°-26°C

Pros-

  • 100% neoprene fabric with panels between 4-5mm and a sleeved design allows for ideal insulation while swimming in cold water.
  • The wetsuit enhances swimming performance and allows for unrestricted movement as well as maximum lung expansion.
  • An affordable mid-range price range for a wetsuit.
  • It comes with a changing mat and gloves when ordered on SwimOutlet.

8. Xcel 4/3mm Infiniti Front Fullsuit Wetsuit

The Xcel 4/3mm Infiniti Front wetsuit is a great wetsuit featuring premium features to keep you warm and insulated in cold water conditions while still allowing for ideal swimming performance. Xcel 4/3mm Infiniti Front Zip Cold Water Fullsuit Wetsuit

The Japanese limestone neoprene fabric allows for a light, soft, and warm fabric. The suit features a 4mm thickness on your torso and a 3mm thickness on both the arms and legs.

Something I really like about this wetsuit is the glide skin color and NexSkin ankle seams that minimize the flushing of water and maximize your insulation. Other features include a 100% performance stretch, FusionX Taping, and a Semi-dry zipper all designed to maximize your warmth and performance in the water.

Coldwater Temperature range-

  • 49°-58°F/ 9°-14°C

Pros-

  • 4/3mm neoprene fabric makes the suit ideal for the given cold water temperatures.
  • The suit provides a comfortable fit.
  • Ideal performance in the water by providing a compressive fit and maximum range of motion.

Cons-

  • Designed for surfing which slightly limits its swimming capabilities.

9. O’Neil Psycho Tech 4/3mm Fullsuit Wetsuit

O'Neill Psycho 4/3mm Back Zip Cold Water WetsuitThe O’Neil Psycho Tech wetsuit is a great option for those swimmers who are looking to stay insulated and protected in some pretty cold water temperatures. The suit features a 100% neoprene composition with innovative technology designed to keep you warm.

This includes TechnoButter Neoprene fabric allowing for a quick-drying fabric. The SuperSeam weld technology used in this wetsuit also allows for a really lightweight feel while swimming while air insulation increases your warmth in the water.

Coldwater Temperature range-

  • 49°-58°F/ 9°-14°C

Pros-

  • 100% Neoprene fabric ensures ideal insulation.
  • TechnoButter neoprene allows for a quick-drying wetsuit.
  • The SuperSeam weld provides a lightweight wetsuit.

Cons-

  • The suit is designed for surfing, consider going with one of the suits above or below if swimming performance is a top priority for you.

10. Blueseventy Thermal Reaction Triathlon Wetsuit

The Blueseventy Thermal Reaction wetsuit is designed for elite swimming performance in cold water temperatures. In fact, this is easily one of the best performance swimming wetsuits for cold water currently available.Blueseventy Thermal Reaction Tri Cold Water Wetsuit

This suit features a 100% neoprene composition with a 4mm chest panel, a 5mm panel on the core, hips, and lower torso, a 1.5mm panel on the arms and 2mm panels on the back and legs.

Thanks to the design of the suit you’ll also be able to use it in slightly “warmer” cold water temperatures, making it a versatile wetsuit.

The suit has been insulated with a thermal zirconium liner for ideal warmth and it provides some of the best flexibility and compression out of any wetsuit, making it ideal for swimming in cold water or using it in triathlon or swimming competitions.

Coldwater temperature range-

  • 47°-70°F/ 8.5°-21°C

Pros-

  • Promotes elite swimming performance ensuring that you stay warm while crushing your competition or cold water swim.
  • Zirconium jersey liner has a very comfortable fit and allows for quick drying.
  • Split neoprene panels offer more stretch and easy breathing.
  • Reactive stretch technology ensures great mobility and reach from your shoulders.

Cons-

  • High price point.

42°F and below / 5°C and below Wetsuits.

Swimming in these temperatures is quite uncommon, although surfing does frequently take place in these water temperatures due to the cold ocean water. Since most people won’t be swimming in these temperatures we simply put together a quick list of wetsuits that will be ideal for swimming in these cold water temperature ranges for all of those crazy swimmers out there!

WetsuitCold Water TempretureFabric ThicknessTypeOur RatingView Latest Price On SwimOutlet
Xcel HydroFlex 7/6mm Wetsuit42°F / 5°C and below7/6mmFullsuit10/10>View Price
Xcel Men’s Polar Thermoflex Hooded Wetsuit42°F / 5°C and below9/7/6mmHooded Fullsuit9/10>View Price
Mares Women’s She Dives Flexa Wetsuit42°F / 5°C and below8/6/5mmFullsuit9/10>View Price
You probably also want to pick up some gloves, boots, and a hood when swimming in these water temperatures.

Conclusion

Swimming in cold water can be a challenging experience and making sure that you have the right wetsuit for getting the job done is a critical part of the process. Something to keep in mind for colder water temperatures is that you might also require gloves and booties to stay warm, not just a wetsuit. 

Additionally, if you’re in search of some goggles I recommend checking out my article on the 10 best outdoor goggles for swimmers, and if you’re looking to spice up your training check out my article covering these 12 awesome endurance workouts for swimmers.

So, with that said, what are you waiting for? Get out there and go swim!

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About the author

Benjamin

Benjamin

I am Benjamin, a competitive swimmer with many years of experience in the sport of swimming. I am very passionate about competitive swimming and love sharing everything I have learned about the sport. I specialize in swimming butterfly and my favorite event is the 100m butterfly with the 50m and 200m fly closely following.

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