Best Wetsuits for Outdoor Swimming In The UK
Swimming in open water can be an exhilarating experience, but it can also be challenging. One of the most important pieces of equipment for any open water swimmer or triathlete is a wetsuit. Not only can a wetsuit help you stay warm in colder water, but it can also improve your body position in the water and help you swim more efficiently. In this article, we will explore the best wetsuits for outdoor swimming, wild swimming and triathlon training and what to look for when choosing one.
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Neoprene Open-Water Swimming Wetsuit
What Makes Neoprene Material Ideal for Wetsuits?
Neoprene is the material of choice for wetsuits due to its insulating properties and flexibility. The material is able to trap a layer of water between the skin and the suit, which is then warmed by body heat, providing a layer of insulation. Additionally, its flexibility allows for ease of movement in the water. How does a wetsuit work? Read our guide.
What to Look for in an Outdoor Swimming Wetsuit?
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a wetsuit for open water swimming is the thickness of the neoprene material. A thicker wetsuit will keep you warmer in colder water, but it may also restrict your range of motion. Conversely, a thinner wetsuit may be more flexible, but it may not provide enough insulation in colder water. The solution is a wetsuit made up of different neoprene panels of varying thicknesses. For example a 4/3/2 wetsuit.
What is a 4/3/2 neoprene wetsuit?
A 4/3/2 neoprene wetsuit refers to the thickness of the neoprene material used in different parts of the wetsuit. The first number (4) refers to the thickness of the neoprene used in the torso and upper legs, the second number (3) refers to the thickness of the neoprene used in the arms and lower legs, and the third number (2) refers to the thickness of the neoprene used in areas that require more flexibility, such as around the shoulders and underarms.
So, a 4/3/2 wetsuit is a wetsuit with varying thicknesses of neoprene material in different areas of the wetsuit to provide different levels of warmth and flexibility. The thicker neoprene in the torso and upper legs provides more insulation and buoyancy, while the thinner neoprene in the arms and lower legs allows for greater flexibility and ease of movement. The even thinner neoprene in the areas that require more flexibility allows for maximum mobility and range of motion.
This type of wetsuit is commonly used in swimming wetsuits as the thicker neoprene provides more warmth, buoyancy and insulation whilst the thinner neoprene provides flexibility and range of motion.
The buoyancy should be distributed in a way that helps your swimming style. For example, if you’re a weaker swimmer, you may benefit from a wetsuit with more buoyancy in the chest and torso area. The right amount of buoyancy is essential for a good swimming wetsuit. It should provide enough lift to keep you in a good swimming position, but not so much that it hinders your movement. A wetsuit with thicker material around the hips and thighs can help keep your lower body in the optimal position.
A good wetsuit should allow for a full range of motion in your arms, shoulders, and legs. Look for a wetsuit that is made of flexible and stretchy neoprene and has panels designed to allow for easy movement.
A swimming wetsuit that fits well is crucial for comfort, flexibility, and performance. Make sure to measure yourself accurately and follow the manufacturer’s sizing chart. You want it to fit like a second skin! When trying on a wetsuit, it should feel snug but not too tight. Make sure the suit fits your body properly, leaving no gaps or folds in the material. Additionally, ensure that the wetsuit is comfortable to move around in and allows for natural swimming movement.
Ease of putting on and taking off:
Look for a wetsuit with a zipper that’s easy to operate and a design that allows you to quickly and easily take it off when finished swimming. Getting warm quickly is very important after outdoor swimming. Check our changing robe guide and our changing mat guides.
It’s important to find a wetsuit that fits comfortably and doesn’t chafe or rub, however, this is most likely unattainable (read our guide to chaffing). Look for a wetsuit with a comfortable collar, seams that are placed strategically, and a flexible zip.
Brightly coloured wetsuits or wetsuits with reflective panels can help make you more visible in open water, increasing your safety. Also, consider swimming with a tow float! What is the most visible water safety colour? Read our guide.
Full Wetsuit vs. Sleeveless Wetsuit
Another consideration when choosing a wetsuit is whether to opt for a full wetsuit or a sleeveless wetsuit. A full wetsuit covers your entire body and provides more insulation, while a sleeveless wetsuit allows for a greater range of movement in your arms. The choice ultimately comes down to personal preference and the temperature of the water you’ll be swimming in.
A triathlon or swimming wetsuit can be a significant investment, so you want it to last. Look for a wetsuit with high-quality neoprene and sturdy zippers. A wetsuit with reinforced seams will also be more durable. However, due to the nature of these swimming wetsuits, most are far more fragile than a standard wetsuit that you may wear for SUP, surfing, etc. This is due to the neoprene only being coated on one side with nylon, exposing the outer surface for its hydrodynamic properties. This sacrifice for performance makes the suite more suitable for nail tares and general tares. A lot of triathlon wetsuit wearers use gloves or bags to put on the suit without damaging it.
Hydrodynamics refers to the wetsuit’s ability to reduce drag and increase speed in the water. Look for a wetsuit with a smooth (smooth skin) and streamlined design that reduces resistance and drag, allowing you to move more efficiently through the water.
Smoothskin neoprene is a type of neoprene that has a smooth, almost rubber-like surface that repels water and reduces drag. It is often used in the wetsuit’s outer layer or in areas that require maximum hydrodynamics, such as the arms and shoulders. Wetsuits with smooth skin neoprene can be more expensive than those without, but they offer better performance and faster swimming times. They are also more delicate and require more careful handling to prevent damage to the smooth outer layer.
Construction and Stitching.
There are two main methods of wetsuit construction: stitching and glueing.
Stitching involves sewing together the panels of neoprene using a special stitch that prevents water from seeping through the seams. There are two types of stitching commonly used in wetsuit construction: flatlock stitching and blind stitching.
Flatlock stitching is commonly used in entry-level wetsuits and involves overlapping the panels of neoprene and sewing them together using a flat seam. This type of stitching is less effective at preventing water from seeping through the seams, but it is more flexible and less expensive.
Blind stitching, also known as glued and blind-stitched (GBS), involves glueing the panels of neoprene together and then stitching them together from the inside using a curved needle. This type of stitching is more effective at preventing water from seeping through the seams, but it is also more expensive and less flexible than flatlock stitching.
Glueing involves bonding the panels of neoprene together using a special glue or adhesive. Glueing is often used in conjunction with stitching to create a more watertight seal. It is commonly used in high-end wetsuits and in areas that require maximum flexibility and hydrodynamics, such as the shoulders and underarms.
In addition to stitching and glueing, wetsuits may also feature taped seams or liquid seals to provide additional protection against water seepage. Taped seams involve applying a strip of waterproof tape to the inside of the seam, while liquid seals involve applying a liquid adhesive to the seam.
Overall, the type of construction used in a triathlon wetsuit will affect its durability, comfort, and overall performance. Consider the type of stitching or glueing used, as well as any additional features like taped seams or liquid seals when choosing a wetsuit that best meets your needs and budget.
Swimming wetsuits are some of the most expensive wetsuits available on the market. These can cost from £130 up to £1000 depending on the brand and the features. The high end is only recommended for those who are actively competing at the highest levels.
Best Open Water Swimming Wetsuits For Wild Swimming, Swimpacking and Triathlon
Huub Alpha-Beta Wetsuit £130 - £200
- 1.5mm underarm thickness for maximum flexibility
- Flatlock construction for a comfortable fit
- 2:3 buoyancy combination for improved body position and reduced drag
- Scientifically researched neoprene thickness combination
- Glide skin neoprene for reduced surface drag
- Specific panel placements for flexibility and efficiency
- Speed cut ankle and smooth skin cuffs for ease of exit
Introducing the HUUB Alpha-Beta Open Water Swimming wetsuit – designed with your comfort and performance in mind. Our team at HUUB has utilized our extensive knowledge, experience, and scientific testing to create a wetsuit that is second to none.
One standout feature of the Alpha-Beta wetsuit is the 1.5mm underarm thickness, allowing for maximum flexibility and ease of movement. Additionally, the flatlock construction ensures a comfortable fit that won’t irritate your skin during those long swims.
We understand the importance of buoyancy in open water swimming, which is why we’ve incorporated a 2:3 buoyancy combination in the Alpha-Beta wetsuit. This unique ratio improves body position and reduces drag, allowing you to swim more efficiently and with less effort.
Our wetsuit is crafted with scientifically researched neoprene thickness combinations and Glide skin neoprene, which reduces surface drag and helps you move through the water with ease. Specific panel placements provide added flexibility, while the speed cut ankle and smooth skin cuffs make it easy to exit the suit quickly.
In summary, the HUUB Alpha-Beta Open Water Swimming wetsuit is the perfect choice for those looking for a wetsuit that offers superior flexibility, buoyancy, and comfort. With its advanced design and premium features, this wetsuit is sure to take your open water swimming to the next level.
HUUB Agilis 3:3 Wetsuit - £670
- Swim as if you’re not wearing a wetsuit throughout the full stroke cycle
- Achieve maximum lift for hips and legs
- Unprecedented Rotational Freedom, allowing your swimming style to mimic your natural style without a wetsuit
- Fastest transitions with a breakaway zipper
- Huub’s exclusive +43 buoyancy foam provides 43% more lift than standard neoprene
- Arms Neutral technology reduces the maximum stretch cycle by 50%
- Highest-grade neoprene and pressed neck edge for comfort
- No-compromise suit for race day with unmatched performance
Huub has collaborated with the Brownlee brothers to develop the ultimate triathlon wetsuit designed for elite performance. Alistair and Jonny Brownlee aimed to swim as if they were not wearing a wetsuit during the entire stroke cycle, while also achieving maximum lift for their hips and legs.
The Agilis wetsuit features a new Arms Neutral position that reduces the maximum stretch cycle by 50%. This innovation allows your swimming style to mimic your natural style without a wetsuit, providing unprecedented Rotational Freedom. The Brownlee brothers describe it as a game-changer.
The wetsuit has a zipper fastening, long sleeves, and buoyancy materials that meet regulatory standards. Huub’s exclusive +43 buoyancy foam provides 43% more lift than standard neoprene. Unlike other wetsuits that concentrate buoyancy on the thighs and hips, the +43 material extends beyond the center of buoyancy, resulting in the highest possible lift for your legs.
The wetsuit was designed with the input of Alistair, Jonny, and Professor Huub Toussaint, and the brand confidently claims that there is no faster wetsuit available. The Arms Neutral technology is patent-pending and exclusive to Huub, providing unmatched Rotational Freedom. The highest grade neoprene, a breakaway zipper, and a pressed neck edge for comfort all make this wetsuit ideal for race day.
In summary, the Agilis wetsuit is a no-compromise suit that delivers unprecedented buoyancy and freedom of movement. The wetsuit has been designed with the Brownlee brothers’ extensive input and exclusive technologies from Huub, making it a game-changer for triathletes looking for the ultimate performance wetsuit.
Zone3 Advance Wetsuit - £170 to £300
- The Zone3 Advance Wetsuit is one of the best entry-level wetsuit on the market.
- It has won the ‘Best in Test’ award from 220 Triathlon Magazine.
- It features the world’s highest-performing YAMAMOTO foam for superior performance.
- Despite its modest price tag, it uses 10 different materials for maximum performance, comfort, and durability.
- The wetsuit has a Speedflo and Smoothskin mixture used according to the panel position to reduce drag and improve speed.
- It has a 4mm buoyancy panel on the torso and legs for core support and enhanced buoyancy.
- Compared to the 2020 model, the weight has been reduced by 16% while offering the same buoyancy and warmth.
- It is ideal for beginner or intermediate swimmers who want a comfortable and high-performing wetsuit for training, racing or leisure in open water.
Introducing the Zone3 Advance Wetsuit – the ultimate entry-level wetsuit on the market. Awarded the coveted ‘Best in Test’ accolade by 220 Triathlon Magazine, the Advance is praised for its incredible value and superior performance.
Made with the world’s highest-performing YAMAMOTO foam, this latest edition of the Advance takes performance to the next level. With a 16% weight reduction compared to the 2020 model, the wetsuit offers the same buoyancy and warmth, making it ideal for beginner or intermediate swimmers who want a comfortable and high-performing wetsuit for training, racing or leisure in open water.
Designed with 10 different materials to maximize performance, comfort, and durability at an affordable price point. A Speedflo and Smoothskin mixture is used in different panel positions to reduce drag and improve speed. The wetsuit also features a 4mm buoyancy panel on the torso and legs to provide core support and enhance buoyancy.
If you’re looking for a high-quality wetsuit that won’t break the bank, look no further than the Zone3 Advance Wetsuit. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to take their open water swimming to the next level. Don’t wait, order yours today!
Orca Athlex Float Wetsuit- £170 to £250
- The Athlex Float triathlon wetsuit provides a balanced combination of high buoyancy and high elasticity.
- Its buoyancy-enhancing features, such as 4.5mm neoprene in the legs, keep you horizontal and elevated in the water for longer.
- The high elasticity of the wetsuit’s upper body materials lets you swim freely and perform each stroke with ease.
- The wetsuit’s SCS technology improves your speed and hydrodynamics while training and competing.
- Its thinner upper body and thick leg materials make it perfect for tackling triathlons with confidence.
Introducing the new Athlex Float triathlon wetsuit, designed to provide swimmers with the perfect balance of buoyancy and elasticity. If you’re looking for a wetsuit that can help you correct your positioning in the water, this is the one for you!
One of the key features of the Athlex Float is its high buoyancy, achieved through the strategic placement of materials of different thicknesses. The 4.5 mm neoprene in the legs helps keep you horizontal and elevated in the water, so you can maintain your swimming technique for longer and perform your best in triathlon competitions.
In addition to its buoyancy, the Athlex Float also boasts high elasticity in the upper body, thanks to the materials used in the shoulder, arm, and back areas. With this wetsuit, you can swim freely and perform each stroke with ease, without any restrictive feeling.
Lastly, the Athlex Float wetsuit is built with SCS technology, which means you can improve your speed and hydrodynamics while training and competing. This technology works by treating the materials in the wetsuit to reduce drag and increase speed in the water.
With its thinner upper body and thick leg materials, the Athlex Float wetsuit is designed to help you tackle triathlons with confidence. Choose the Athlex Float and experience the perfect balance of buoyancy, elasticity, and hydrodynamics in your next competition!
Lomo Prime Wetsuit: £140
- Women’s 4/3/2mm swimming wetsuit
- Suitable for wild swimming and triathlon
- Smoothskin flexible neoprene
- Extra flexibility around the shoulders and armpit for shoulder rotation.
- Best for plus size swimmers
The Lomo Prime wetsuit is designed for open water swimmers and triathletes. It features a 4mm neoprene thickness on the torso, legs, and hips, and 3mm thickness on the arms and shoulders. 2mm on the shoulders. The wetsuit is made of smoothskin neoprene throughout to reduce drag and enhance buoyancy. The Lomo Prime has a rear zipper and is the best priced swimming wetsuit on test. The female version of the prime is the most inclusive plus size swimming wetsuit.