Wetsuit vs Drysuit | Which One Is Perfect For Kayaking?

Kayaking is one of the most exciting sports and enjoyable throughout the year. Whether its summer or during a cold season, you do not need to hang up your kayaking equipment. All you need is the right gear to keep you warm and flexible when paddling in the waters. In some parts of the world, it’s easy because the water is warm when the sun is shining while in others, the water temperatures remain low regardless of the season.

When planning for kayaking in a cold area, the first thing you need to think about is how to stay warm. The dropping temperature can ruin your vacation and immersion in the cold water can turn tragic. Swimming in cold water can give you a shock and cold incapacitation, which can lead to hypothermia.

Both wetsuits and drysuits are similar on the surface. New kayakers can hardly differentiate them. If you are one of them, read on to see wetsuit vs drysuit points and learn the differences between the two.

How Does A Wetsuit Work?

A wetsuit helps your body maintain its temperature. The suit is made of a fabric layer known as neoprene. This fabric is stretchy and semi-permeable, which gives space for a layer of water between it and you. With the water snugly close to your skin, it is heated to your body’s normal temperature. The neoprene and the warm water combine to give you a thermal barrier, which protects you against body heat loss. You do not feel restricted when moving because the neoprene material is stretchy and flexible. This is what makes wetsuits perfect for various paddle sports including kayaking and surfing.

Wetsuits are most suitable during the cold weather where the water can quickly drop your average body temperature dangerously, but the air temperature is not low enough for you to wear a sealed dry suit. Large water bodies tend to have low-temperature water even during the summer when it’s sweltering. So, this makes the wetsuit perfect for immersion, but they are uncomfortable when you get out of the water.

Getting a Wetsuit for Your Kayaking Adventures

In the market, you will find different wetsuits in various styles. So what do you check when buying the best wetsuit for you?


The wetsuit must keep the thin water layer close to your skin, and so it has to fit you snugly. A large one makes the water layer big and hard to get sufficient heat from your body making it useless. A perfect wetsuit should fit you properly without restricting your movements or interfering with blood flow in some body parts.

Neoprene Thickness

Wetsuits are available in different numbers of thickness. The thickness of neoprene determines how warm it is and it’s indicated on the suit. It is presented using three numbers separated by a slash. The thickness of the material is represented in millimeters starting from the chest, legs, and arms. Sometimes, two more numbers representing the torso and the legs.

Naturally, wetsuits are thicker on the torso area for more warmth, but thinner on the legs and arms areas to help you move without any problem. It is always advisable to check in advance the standard water temperature of the destination where you intend to kayak.


A wetsuit alone is not enough to protect you from the cold water. That’s why wetsuits are sold together with other accessories including gloves, boots, and hats to protect your fingers, toes, and ears from the icy water.

Types of Wetsuits

Full Body

This wetsuit is perfect for colder areas because it covers the torso, arms, and legs. You can combine it with accessories such as gloves, cap, and boots to give your extremities total coverage and protection. They are best worn where both the water and the air temperatures are very low.


A spring suit is best worn in areas where the temperature is warm, but the water is cold. It only covers the thighs and the torso leaving most of the extremities exposed to the cold water. It should never be worn in areas where the air temperature is cold.

The Long John

The Long John is a sleeveless wetsuit but is long enough to cover your legs. Just like the spring suit, it is most suitable for warm climates. It is a favorite to the most kayakers and surfers.

Why choose a wetsuit?

  • It is non-restrictive, and you can choose one with the thermal that suits your preferred climate perfectly. They are available in different thicknesses, and they give you sufficient protection.
  • You can choose a wetsuit that covers as little or as much as you would like. They come in different styles and designs.
  • Wetsuits remain efficient even if they get split or torn. This is one significant difference between them and the drysuits.


  • Wetsuits and especially when they get wet, they are extremely hard to wear or take off. You need to take some time and practice how to do it.
  • The wetsuit does not function in the water where the temperature is lower than 45 degrees Fahrenheit. The thermal layer is not enough to protect you.

What is a drysuit and how does it work?

Drysuits keep you dry and usually have gaskets on the wrists and neck and in-built boots to ensure that the whole outfit is completely sealed and waterproof. They do not have an insulating layer, and so you need to wear warm clothes underneath to stay warm and maintain stable body temperature.

When looking at wetsuit vs drysuit, it’s clear that the later works well in cold water regardless of the temperature; it is efficient enough to keep you warm as long as you are dressed warmly underneath. You can immerse in water that is below 45 degrees Fahrenheit in a drysuit. The suit’s flexibility is lower than that of a wetsuit, but it’s the best way to keep you dry and warm when the temperatures are very low during kayaking.

How to buy a drysuit

Drysuits do not come in many combinations like the wetsuits, but you still need to know a few points when purchasing one. Here they are:

There Is a Kayaker’s Drysuit

The best drysuit for kayaking is designed to give you a loose fit, which allows flexibility. It is most perfect for paddlesports. It is heavier and too bulkier than wetsuits when diving plus the air linkages gaskets are uncomfortable for kayakers.

You Must Use the Base Layers

You must wear the base layers because the drysuit cannot keep you warm. You can also buy warm clothing as they are comfortable. When purchasing the baselayers, go for those that wick away the sweat and keep you dry because kayaking is an active physical sport that will make you sweaty.

Why Buy A Drysuit?

  • A drysuit will keep you warm even when the temperature drops to the extreme point, unlike the wetsuits that stop function in such conditions.
  • You can choose the level of protection you want depending on the climate. The clothes you wear determine how warm you will be out there paddling and enjoying kayaking.
  • After kayaking, the drysuit is easy to take off. You do not have to shower or change clothes, and you go home.


  • Drysuits are bulky compared to wetsuits. They restrict your movement and can be uncomfortable because during kayaking you need to paddle and engage in physical activities.
  • If your drysuit gets torn or the gasket stops functioning, it becomes useless and cannot work as intended. It is also very expensive to repair.
  • If you wear very warm base-layer more than what the weather needs, you can become sweaty. The sweat builds up in the drysuit and causes lots of discomforts.
  • A drysuit without a relief zipper can be problematic. Choose one with a zipper to avoid challenges when you need to relieve yourself.

Wetsuit vs drysuit | Which Is The Best For Kayaking?

Kayaking is beautiful and enjoyable regardless of the weather. If you can get the right gear to enable you to enjoy a new opportunity to participate in paddling activities, grab it! Wetsuit vs drysuit brings out the difference that makes each one best for a particular climate. They are the same thing, but suitable for different conditions.

Wetsuits are mainly used in cold water where the air temperature is warm. Deep waters do not get warm even during the hottest summer days. A wetsuit comes handy as it keeps you warm when under the water and does not overheat you in the sun. You can buy Long John or Springsuit if the weather is too hot because they help you control body temperature.

When planning to kayak in areas where the waters are icy, go for a drysuit. It will protect you from cold shock and prevent other dangers such as hypothermia. Though the drysuit is not as comfortable as the wetsuit, it is the best option when kayaking in very cold conditions.

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