Swimming Wetsuits

9 Best Wetsuits For Swimming In Cold Water- 2020 Pro 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 wetsuits for swimming in cold water currently available so that you can stay nice and warm while completing your cold water swim.

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Cold water is generally classified as water in the temperature range of 70℉ or 21℃ 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 marked 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.

Best wetsuits for swimming in cold water by temperature range.

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Wetsuit.Cold Water Temperature Range.Fabric.Wetsuit Type.Zipper.Our RatingView Latest Price
Blueseventy Thermal Reaction Wetsuit42°-70°F/ 6°-21°C#40 Cell Yamamoto Neoprene; 5/4mmFullsuitSealed and Taped10/10>View Price
Roka Maverick Pro Thermal Wetsuit42°-70°F/ 6°-21°CYamamoto Neoprene Combination; 5mmFullsuitSealed and Taped10/10>View Price
Orca Openwater Smart Wetsuit50°-75°F/ 10°-24°C.#39 Cell Yamamoto Neoprene; 4/3mm.FullsuitSealed10/10>View Price
Blueseventy Fusion Wetsuit50°-80°F/ 10°-26°C#38 Cell Yamamoto Neoprene; 5/4/2mm.FullsuitSealed9/10>View Price
Synergy Triathlon Open Water Wetsuit50°-80°F/ 10°-26°C.#39 Cell Yamamoto Neoprene; 5/3mmFullsuit/ SleevelessSealed8/10>View Price
TYR Hurricane Cat 1 Wetsuit50°-80°F/ 10°-26°C.Coated Yamamoto Neoprene; 5/2mm.Fullsuit/ SleevelessSealed8/10>View Price
Orca RS1 Openwater Wetsuit60°-80°F/ 15°-26°CYamamoto #39 Cell Hydrolite Neoprene; 2mm.SleevelessSealed8/10>View Price
Orca S7 Wetsuit55°F -80°F/ 12.5°C -26°C.Yamamoto #39 Cell Neoprene; 2mmFullsuitSealed8/10>View Price
Rip Curl Dawn Patrol Wetsuit50°-80°F/ 10°-26°C100% Neoprene; 3/2mmFullsuitSealed7/10>View Price

1. Blueseventy Thermal Reaction Triathlon Wetsuit.

When it comes to wetsuits, Blueseventy is one of the go-to brands among swimmers and triathletes. Their wetsuits and swimming gear are of the highest grade, so you can always be sure that you’ll get great value for money.Blueseventy Men's Thermal Reaction Triathlon Wetsuit

The Blueseventy Thermal Reaction wetsuit is designed for optimized swimming performance in cold water temperatures. In fact, this is the best swimming wetsuit for cold water currently available capable of keeping you warm in water temperatures as low as 42°F (6°C) all the way to water temperatures of about 70°F (21°C).

Build: The Blueseventy Thermal Reaction Wetsuit features a 100% neoprene fabric composition ensuring ideal insulation in the coldest of waters. The wetsuit features a 5/4mm design making it one of the thickest swimming wetsuits out there.

On top of that this wetsuit is also lined with a thermal zirconium liner adding an extra layer of insulation to keep you warm by trapping in your body heat. The wetsuit also features back zipper access with an attached cord which makes taking the wetsuit on and off feel like a breeze. The zipper is also taped and sealed for additional warmth.

Performance: The Blueseventy Thermal Reaction Wetsuit guarantees optimal swimming performance featuring reactive stretch technology allowing for great range of motion and flexibility in the water. The split neoprene chest panels on this suit ensure easy breathing while the 4-way stretch silicon cuffs prevent water from entering the suit and slowing you down.

Additionally, the buoyancy on this wetsuit is excellent. It features a 4:5:4 buoyancy profile which will optimize your body position, technique, and speed while swimming.

Specifications:

  • Temperature range: 42°-70°F/ 6°-21°C.
  • Fabric: #40 Yamamoto Cell Neoprene; 5/4mm.
  • Range Of Motion: Reactive Stretch Technology.
  • Buoyancy Profile: 4:5:4.
  • Zipper: Sealed And Taped Back Zipper (cord attachment for easy on and off access).
  • Price Range: Top-range.

2. Roka Maverick Pro Thermal Wetsuit

Up there with Blueseventy is Roka. This is another great swimming brand when it comes to wetsuits as well as triathlon-, and open water swimming gear. The Roka Maverick Pro Thermal is their top of the range wetsuit for cold water swimming and will be able to keep you insulated in temperatures ranging between 42°-70°F ( 6°-21°C).Roka Maverick Pro Thermal Wetsuit

This wetsuit comes in at about the same price as the Blueseventy Thermal Reaction wetsuit. Both wetsuits are great in terms of design and specs, but if I had to pick one I’d go with the Blueseventy Thermal Reaction. It just provides a bit more in terms of performance, usability, and fabrics.

That said, if you are a Roka fan, then you can definitely still go with this wetsuit and you’ll probably be more than satisfied.

Build: The Roka Maverick Pro Thermal Wetsuit is constructed from a blend of different Yamamoto neoprene fabrics. This creates a great insulative environment to keep you warm while swimming in cold waters. This fabric is also very durable and offers a great insulation-to-weight ratio ensuring that you don’t feel weighed down while swimming.

On the back of the suit you’ll locate a easy-to-use sealed and taped zipper which is going to lock you into the wetsuit ensuring that you have a comfortable fit as well as further insulating you.

Performance: The Roka Maverick Thermal Wetsuit features an arms-up construction ensuring that you have zero shoulder restriction while swimming. This will allow you to execute each stroke with maximal power and perfect technique.

In terms of buoyancy, the suit features patented RS2 centerline buoyancy panels that optimize your body position while swimming and ensure natural rotation in the water. Furthermore, the suit cuts down on drag by utilizing an SCS hydrophobic nano-coating that reduces friction and increases speed in the water.

Specifications:

  • Temperature range: 42°-70°F/ 6°-21°C.
  • Fabric: Limestone-based Yamamoto Neoprene.
  • Range Of Motion: Unrestricted.
  • Buoyancy: Fullbody.
  • Zipper: Sealed And Taped Back Zipper.
  • Price Range: Top-range.

3. Orca Openwater Smart Wetsuit.

The Orca Openwater Smart wetsuit is a great swimming wetsuit for cold to medium range water temperatures ranging from 50°F (10°C) to about 75°F (24°C). This wetsuit is great for swimming featuring an openwater design and full flexibility allowing you to effortlessly execute each stroke and kick as you swim.Orca Openwater Full Sleeve Smart Wetsuit

Build: The Orca Openwater Smart Wetsuit is designed using a 100% neoprene composition featuring #39 Cell Yamamoto Neoprene layered in a 4/3mm thickness for optimal insulation and buoyancy in the water. The wetsuit features an easy-to-use back zipper and is available in a wide range of sizes ensuring you find the perfect fit.

Furthermore, this suit is highly focused on the safety of the swimmer and features high visibility when swimming as well as a universal identification system providing all of the athlete’s information making it great for swimmers that train in busy waters.

Performance: The Orca Openwater Smart Wetsuit is constructed from a combination of different thicknesses of neoprene panels allowing for a wide range of motion and flexibility in the water. The fabric of the suit also allows for added buoyancy helping you to maintain a good body position in the water as well as helping you to swim with perfect technique.

Specifications:

  • Temperature range: 50°-75°F/ 10°-24°C.
  • Fabric: #39 Yamamoto Cell Neoprene; 4/3mm.
  • Range Of Motion: Unrestricted.
  • Buoyancy Profile: N/A.
  • Zipper: Sealed Back Zipper.
  • Price Range: Mid-range/ Top-range.

4. Blueseventy Fusion Fullsleeve Tri Wetsuit.

Next, we have another Blueseventy wetsuit. This time we’ll be taking a look at the Blueseventy Fusion Fullsleeve Tri Wetsuit, a great high-performance, mid-range option coming in at a more affordable price than the Blueseventy Thermal Reaction, but still offering good swimming performance and value for money.Blueseventy Fusion Fullsleeve Triathlon Wetsuit

Build: The Blueseventy Fusion Wetsuit features a high-quality #38 cell Yamamoto neoprene composition with a 5/4/2mm design. This allows for some good insulation in the temperature ranges of 50°-80°F (10°-26°C). Aqua-seal cuffs in the suit also completely seal out water and insulate you on the inside for added warmth.

Something I really like about this suit is the collar design, allowing for more comfort and flexibility around your neck while reducing chafing. The thinner side panels also allow for an improved fit and additional comfort while swimming.

Performance: The Blueseventy Fusion Wetsuit will ensure great swimming performance in the water. The suit allows for exceptional flexibility featuring a 4-way stretch design while the super composite skin (SCS) leg construction creates a hydrophobic barrier that lifts your lower body and optimizes body position, technique, and speed as you swim.

Specifications:

  • Temperature range: 50°-80°F/ 10°-26°C.
  • Fabric: #38 Cell Yamamoto Neoprene; 5/4/2mm.
  • Range Of Motion: Highly Flexible 4-Way Stretch.
  • Buoyancy: Lifts Lower Body.
  • Zipper: Sealed Back Zipper.
  • Price Range: Mid-range.

5. Synergy 5/3mm Triathlon Open Water Wetsuit.

The Synergy 5/3mm wetsuit is one of the most popular and best value for money cold water wetsuits out there. This suit features a high-quality design with premium features and technologies while coming in at an affordable mid-range price.

Furthermore, the suit also claimed the Triathlete Magazine editor’s choice award as well as the Lava Magazine’s best value wetsuit award.

Build: The Synergy 5/3mm wetsuit comes in 2 designs, both for men and women, namely- a full sleeve and sleeveless design depending on how much insulation you want when swimming. The wetsuit also features high-quality Yamamoto #39 neoprene fabric with an SCS coating for added hydrodynamics in the water.

In terms of fabric thickness, the core features a 5mm thick buoyancy panel while the legs and lower back have a 3mm neoprene split, and finally the arms and shoulders feature a 2mm neoprene split. There is also a high-grade anti-corrode YKK zipper sealing you into the suit ensuring more than enough insulation when swimming in cold water temperatures.

In terms of comfort, the suit has a super soft low neck smoothskin design making it feel as if there is barely anything around your neck while also reducing your chances of chafing. Lastly, this wetsuit is available in a wide range of sizes, making sure that you find the perfect fit for you.

Performance: The Synergy 5/3mm wetsuit doesn’t fail to deliver in terms of performance either. This suit guarantees some of the best range of motion in the water with a 680% flexibility rating. In terms of buoyancy, the suit features a 5mm buoyancy profile which is the highest allowed in triathlon competitions. This added buoyancy will allow you to swim with a higher body position and better technique, resulting in faster swimming times and a reduction in energy usage in the water.

  • Temperature range: 50°-80°F/ 10°-26°C.
  • Fabric: 5/3mm Yamamoto #39 Neoprene
  • Range Of Motion: Full range of motion. (680% flexibility rating).
  • Buoyancy: Maximum buoyancy technology.
  • Zipper: Anti-corrode YKK internal zipper.
  • Price Range: Mid-range/ budget-range.

6. TYR Hurricane Cat 1 Wetsuit.

The TYR Hurricane Cat 1 is by far the best budget and entry-level wetsuit out there. Featuring great specifications this wetsuit will allow for optimal swimming performance and insulation in cold water supporting you in temperatures ranging between 50°F (10°C) and 80°F (26°C). TYR Hurricane Cat 1 Fullsleeve Triathlon Wetsuit

Build: The TYR Hurricane Cat 1 is available in 2 designs, namely a full-sleeve design as well as a sleeveless design. The full-sleeve will allow you to get maximal insulation while the sleeveless design is more flexible and recommended for temperatures of 60°F (15°C) and up.

The suit is designed using a 100% coated Yamamoto neoprene fabric. This is some of the most durable fabric out there and your wetsuit will likely last for years to come. The wetsuit features a back zip closure as well as wrist- and ankle cuffs to seal water out.

Performance: The TYR Hurricane Cat 1 guarantees optimal swimming performance in the water. It features free range-of-motion zones creating the perfect balance flexibility and buoyancy as you swim ensuring that you don’t feel restricted in any way.

Additionally, the suit features speed wrap paneling allowing for lower levels of drag and improved body position while you swim.

Specifications:

  • Temperature range: 50°-80°F/ 10°-26°C.
  • Fabric: 100% Durable Coated Yamamoto Neoprene; 5/2mm.
  • Range Of Motion: Free Range-Of-Motion Zones.
  • Buoyancy: Fullbody.
  • Zipper: Sealed Back Zip.
  • Price Range: Budget/ Mid-range.

7. 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. This wetsuit features a sleeveless design, allowing it to be used in cold water temperatures of 60°F (15°C) to about 80°F (26°C).Orca RS1 Openwater Sleeveless Wetsuit

Generally, if you are looking for a budget range wetsuit, then I’m going to recommend the TYR Cat 1 but seeing as this suit offers some good and unique features and specifications it is definitely worth considering.

Build: The Orca RS1 Openwater Sleeveless wetsuit is constructed from Yamamoto Hydrolite #39-cell panels and features a 2mm neoprene thickness. The suit features a very comfortable and secure fit and has a special neck lining to reduce chafing.

Performance: The Orca RS1 Openwater Sleeveless wetsuit features SCS coating on the neoprene fabric ultimately reducing friction and increasing speed in the water by repelling water as you swim. In terms of range of motion, the entire wetsuit contains a flexibile liner helping you to swim with maximum flexibility and zero restrictions.

Specifications:

  • Temperature range: 60°-80°F/ 15°-26°C
  • Fabric: Yamamoto #39 Cell Hydrolite; 2mm.
  • Range Of Motion: Unrestricted.
  • Buoyancy: Fullbody.
  • Zipper: Sealed Back Zipper.
  • Price Range: Budget/ Mid-range.

8. Orca S7 Tri Wetsuit.

Similar to the TYR Hurricane Cat 1, the Orca S7 is a great budget wetsuit option. This suit is ideal for beginner swimmers looking for some extra insulation in the water while still getting optimal swimming performance.Orca S7 Swimming Wetsuit

Build: The Orca S7 Tri Wetsuit Tri Wetsuit features a full-sleeve design and is constructed from #39-Cell Yamamoto neoprene with a 2mm thickness across the majority of the suit. This fabric is going to allow for insulation between 55°F -80°F (12.5°C -26°C) and is also super durable ensuring that your wetsuit stays in prime condition for a long time.

The wetsuit features a sealed back zipper for added insulation while the fabric is made to fit comfortably and reduce skin irritation that may occur when wearing a wetsuit.

Performance: The Orca S7 Tri Wetsuit is coated in a Nano SCS coating. This coating effectively lowers drag when you swim and ensures for optimal buoyancy ultimately helping you to swim with better body position and technique as well as swimming faster.

The interior of the suit features infinity skin lining providing the feeling of complete freedom of movement while you are in the water. This ensures that you are able to effectively execute each stroke and kick without feeling restricted or limited while swimming.

Specifications:

  • Temperature range: 55°F -80°F/ 12.5°C -26°C.
  • Fabric: Yamamoto #39 Cell Neoprene; 2mm
  • Range Of Motion: Complete Freedom Of Movement.
  • Buoyancy Profile: Fullbody.
  • Zipper: Sealed Back Zipper.
  • Price Range: Budget.

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

Although not specifically designed for swimming, the Rip Curl Dawn Patrol is still an excellent wetsuit for swimming in cold water temperatures. Featuring good range of motion and a durable neoprene construction capable of supporting you in chilly waters ranging from 50°F (10°C) all the way to 80°F (26°C), this wetsuit is definitely one to consider.Rip Curl Men's Dawn Patrol 3/2MM Back Zip Wetsuit

Another benefit to picking up this wetsuit is the very affordable price range. Although some of the other wetsuits are also classified in the budget range, this suit is even cheaper making it a good option for anyone looking for something inexpensive and effective.

Build: The Rip Curl dawn patrol is constructed using a 100% neoprene fabric composition featuring a 3mm thickness around your torso and a 2mm thickness on your arms and legs. The suit’s design is highly durable due to the combination of technologies and fabrics such as E4- and free flex neoprene that are glued and blindstitched together.

On the back of the suit you’ll also find an easy to use sealed zipper that adds extra insulation and allows for a comfortable fit.

Performance: As mentioned, the Rip Curl Dawn Patrol wetsuit isn’t specifically designed for swimming, but still makes a good fit. The suit will allow for unrestricted range of motion due to its premium high stretch neoprene fabrics such as E4- and Freeflex neoprene which are both specifically designed to maximize flexibility in the water.

Furthermore, the suit features great buoyancy and will allow for optimal swimming performance with enhanced swimming technique and speed.

Specifications:

  • Temperature range: 50°-80°F/ 10°-26°C.
  • Fabric: 100% Neoprene; 3/2mm.
  • Range Of Motion: Freeflex Technology.
  • Buoyancy Profile: Fullbody.
  • Zipper: Sealed Back Zipper.
  • Price Range: Budget.

How to choose a wetsuit for swimming in cold water.

Now that we’ve covered some of the best wetsuits for swimming in cold water, let’s take a quick look at some markers to look at when purchasing your cold water swimming wetsuit.

1. Water tempreture.

Picking a wetsuit that will be able to support the cold water temperature range that you want to swim in is very important. Generally, wetsuits covering the 50°-80°F (10°-26°C) temperature range will be more than sufficient for the majority of swimmers.

If you are crazy enough to swim in temperatures lower than this I recommend going with the Blueseventy Thermal Reaction wetsuit. This is a popular option and provides great performance and insulation. It’s rated for swimming in water temperatures between 42°-70°F (6°-21°C), giving you plenty of room to play with.

2. Wetsuit purpose.

What do you want to use your wetsuit for? Are you planning on competing in a competitive triathlon or open water race? Or are you just looking to train in some colder water temperatures?

If you want to use your wetsuit for training and competition, then we recommend going with one of the top of the range wetsuits or at least with a mid-range wetsuit at the very least. These suits feature higher and better specifications and will give you a bit more of an advantage over your competitors.

If on the other hand, you are just looking for a training wetsuit then we recommend going with a mid-range or budget option since you don’t really require the best specifications. My recommended option would be anything between the TYR Hurricane Cat 1, Orca RS1, Or Synergy 5/3mm wetsuit.

3. Wetsuit design.

There are 2 main types of wetsuit designs to pick from. The first being the fullsuit design and the second the sleeveless design. Both designs are good options but there are some differences that you may want to take into consideration when choosing your cold water wetsuit.

Sleeveless wetsuits are ideal for cold water temperatures between 62°-68℉ (16°-20℃) and above. This makes them a good option if you live in a warmer region and want to be able to use your wetsuit year-round. They also offer more range of motion and feel a bit more flexible in the water.

Fullsuit wetsuits, on the other hand, are recommended for water tempertures below 60℉ (15°C). They provide better insulation and aren’t quite as flexibile as sleeveless suits but will still provide optimal range of motion for most swimmers.

4. Wetsuit fabric.

As you’ve probably noticed throughout the article, different wetsuits are designed from different fabrics. Although all of the wetsuits feature some type of neoprene fabric design, there are, in fact, differences between these neoprene fabrics.

Yamamoto neoprene is the highest-quality neoprene fabric and is ideal for swimming performance. There are different variations of Yamamoto neoprene indicated by its cell value. The higher the cell value, the higher the quality of the fabric.

5. Wetsuit Zipper.

Most of the wetsuits feature sealed zippers which are ideal for insulating you in cold water. For temperatures under 50℉ (10°C) you’ll, however, require a sealed and taped zipper design as this provides more insulation.

Related: 13 Best Wetsuits For Open Water Swimming.

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. 

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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