Kids wetsuits is a growing and thriving newer addition to water gear. More and more parents are looking for ways to not only keep their kids safe but warm while enjoying the water. Wetsuits have been around since the 1950’s but have only recently been made for the smaller crowd. Now kids can enjoy wake boarding, surfing, scuba diving or snorkeling, and swimming just like mom and dad and stay warm and happy while doing it. Here are a few things to consider before you purchase one.
How does a wetsuit work
A wetsuit needs to have a tight fit, it should gently squeeze you all over. Upon entering the water a small amount of water will squeeze between you and the wetsuit. It is then warmed up by your body heat. Now that the suit is “full” it prevents more water from getting in and keeps you warm.
The most important element is the thickness since it provides warmth in cooler water. The thickness is based on water temperature. The warmer the water the less protection you need to stay warm. It is measured by body and arms/legs.
- 2mm: is for water temperature above 85F
- 3mm: is for water temperature of 70-85F
- 5mm: is for water temperature of 60-70F
- 6.5mm: is for water temperature of 50-60F. (It is not recommended that children be in water colder than 60F.)
When you look at a label or tag on a wetsuit you may see two numbers like 4/3. The first number is the thickness of the torso or core. This number should be higher to keep you warm. the second number is the thickness in the arms and legs with it being a smaller number this allows for greater movement and comfort.
There are three different types of wet suits for kids.
- Full Suits- one piece that cover the whole body to your wrists and ankles and offers the most protection and warmth. Best for water temperatures between 60-72F. It is the style that is most common in diving, and cooler water swimming.
- Shorty/shortie/spring suits- one piece that has short sleeves and end just above the knee it is the most popular for swimming. They offer warmth but also provide greater flexibility. Best for water temperatures between 72-85F.
- Farmer john suits- is a two piece suit that has full legs but are sleeveless much like bib overalls.
Things to know before you purchase
Seams and stitching
Wetsuit seams is the second most important in kids wetsuits. In good quality suits the seams are kept away from areas with high flexibility. They should not run along the shoulders or under the arm. When they are more seams it does provide a better fit. The seams can be glued to prevent water from coming in. It does however reduce your flexibility and increases the likely hood of chaffing. The seams should fit together tightly and lay down so they are smooth.
When there are less seams it does provide a poorer fit but companies are remedying that with greater use of neoprene. It also decreases the amount of water that will enter the suit. There are several different types of seams and they vary by company.
Types of stitching
- Flatlock– laying one panel edge over the other then stitching through the neoprene. Pros of this are the seams are strong and flexible. The cons to this are that creates a lot of holes and it is prone to higher water penetration. Best for summer or warm water.
- Blindstitching– edges are placed end to end and glued together. They are stitched on inside but it does not go all the way through to the outside. This makes for a water tight seal and flexible seams. You will find this on higher end wetsuits. It is best for cold water.
- Double blindstitching– same as above but it is also stitched on the reverse side. This is for thicker suits that are made for colder water temperatures.
Types of seams
The seams are almost all newer suits are now sealed. When you seal a seam it increases the warmth and the overall strength of the seams.
- Glued-the seams are glued together prior to stitching thus creating a waterproof seal.
- Spot taped– tape is glued to the inside of the seam in critical areas to add extra strength where needed.
- Fully taped– tape is glued to every seam on the inside. Neoprene tape can be used and there is no loss in flexibility.
- Liquid taped– it is a special liquid rubber that is applied to inside seam making it 100% waterproof. This is the ultimate way to go.
They are several accessories to consider depending on the activity that your child is engaging in. Although it is not recommended that child be in water that is colder than 60F this is for you as a parent to see fit. Some activities such as surfing, body boarding or wake boarding are going to vary by location. I live in Michigan and if you have ever been up the Lake Superior it’s cold water no matter what the temperature outside is.
- Hats/hoods- these are a must have for cold water diving since over 40% of heat loss is loss through the head.
- Booties/gloves- these can give extra insulation on those extremities, can even make fins more comfortable for diving and offer protection against abrasions.
- Vest/jacket- these are great for when weather conditions change and you need to add extra layers to stay warm.
Proper fit for a kids wetsuit needs to be snug or tight fit and should gently squeeze all over their body. This is going to allow for maximum protection and warmth. You should always try the wetsuit on in a store to get the best idea of what brand and or size will work for your child. Look for the best coverage, protection and one that allows for maximum mobility. A proper fitting wetsuit will be hard to put on when dry. Things to do to ensure the proper fit:
- Have them cross their arms in front of their chest, if the movement is restricted than you need to go up a size.
- Lift your arms over your head and stretch out your shoulders. This move should only be slightly restricting. If you feel a lot of pressure during this movement then the suit is too small.
- You should be able to squat down and move your arms easily (if under a 5/4mm).
Always remember that it is meant to snug for the best fit if a suit is too loose water will run freely and cause the suit to lose its insulating properties.
Most wetsuits are made from neoprene or Lycra. Neoprene is a synthetic rubber that is waterproof, insulated and flexible. Lycra is made from nylon is used in thinner suits and is more flexible. There are three types of neoprene used.
Standard, super stretch neoprene, and super stretch water repellant neoprene. The label will say things like 30%, 60% or 100%.
- 30%- equals the back, shoulders, and arms where you need the flexibility and the other 70% is standard neoprene.
- 60%- it extends down to the knees and covers all major flex points. It is lighter and tends to fit better.
- 100%- is the ultimate combination of fit and flexibility while decreasing bulk. This is the ideal stretch.
Most wetsuits are lined on both sides for comfort and stretch. However, some will have an inner lining made of a moisture wicking fiber for added warmth, heat retention, and a drier experience. There are four kids of inner liners used in wetsuits.
- Poly fleece- is in interior fleece material it wicks away moisture and retains heat.
- Quick dry poly fleece- it wicks away moisture and retains heat and an added benefit it dries much faster.
- Merino wool lining- is very warm but has even better moisture wicking and it dries quicker. The main advantage is in neoprene thickness, when it is added to a 2mm suit it can perform up to a 3mm or even possibly a 4mm but with less bulk. Less bulk means greater flexibility and warmth to boot.
- Water repellant neoprene- it is also called hydrophobic neoprene it is 100% super stretch neoprene that is constructed using a tighter weave that wicks away from the suit much like how Rain-X works, where the water beads away from your kids wetsuit. The end result is a drier and warmer kid. However, it is only available on the highest end suits.
Finally the last piece of information to know about it the extras or options that you can now get. There are many to choose from and this could be a final part in which wetsuit to buy.
- anti-flush gaskets and zippers
- wind resistant chest and or back
- ankle zips
- water resistant zipper
- spine pad with zipper seal
- titanium layer
Also Read: Best Underwater Scooter
How to pick the best suit
The first to consider is the activity that your child will be doing such as diving, swimming, and or surfing. You need to consider what the water temperature is going to be for the most part. The thickness of the suit is decided on by water temperature.
The second thing to consider is the type of suit. They make full suits, shortie suits and farmer john ones. Each one has a specific need or activity that it fits best.
The next thing is the stitching and seams. The wetsuit should have blind or flat look stitching and are reinforced by glue or more fabric. This will ensure that you are purchasing a quality suit.
Finally the material type and the amount of stretch. You will also have the extras and accessories to decide on if need be.
I hope that this information is helpful and allows you to make the best decision when purchasing kids wetsuits.
8 Best Kids Wetsuits Reviews
1. Henderson Juniors 3mm Thermoprene Shorty Wetsuit Review
The suit is made from Henderson’s specially designed Thermoprene neoprene. It is 180% super stretch and offers a greater range of motion, flexibility, and comfort. This suit offers excellent performance at an affordable price. The suit is laminated with pill and abrasion resistant fabric for extra durability. The seams are sealed, which is glued and blindstitched to prevent cold water from getting in the cold. The edges at the cuffs are Lycra trimmed for comfort and chafe resistance. There is a durable full back zipper with a spine pad to protect the back and the zipper is sealed to prevent leakage. It also features an adjustable collar and durable knee pads.
This is a great suit. It will keep you warm and offers phenomenal flexibility and fun. Reviews are glowing on this suit. People who bought it love that it is a wonderfully long lasting suit. It offers a true to fit sizing as well. It also is comfortable to wear all day long. This is a great suit and its at a great price.
2. Rip Curl Boys Aggrolite 2mm Spring Suit Review
This suit is constructed with 100% super stretch neoprene. It offers greater flexibility and less chafing. The 2mm thick suit is great for warm water surfing, swimming, wake boarding and water skiing. It features a adjustable collar to keep the suit from flushing. Flatlock stitched seams provide great durability. Wind resistant chest and back panels. The full back zipper allows for easy entry and exit. It has a variety of colors for high visibility in the water or pool.
This suit will keep you warm and allow you the flexibility to just keep swimming all day long. Reviewers love the bright colors. Makes it easy for parents to keep an eye out on their kids in the water. All day long comfort. There is a 3 year warranty on the stitching. The only downside is that it runs small so check out the sizing chart for more information there.
3. O’Neill Youth 2mm Hammer Short Sleeve Spring Suit Review
This is suit is made from 100% super stretch neoprene with 40% ultraflex DS and the other %60 is fluid flex. It features ergonomic seamless under sleeve panel that allows for unrestricted motion and eliminates rashing. The smoothie panel on the chest and back provide added wind protection and warmth. The two layer design neck features 360° smooth skin interior lining with wide adjustability and a secure lock down. The breathable overlapping flat stitched seam is non-chafing and super durable. This is a great suit for warmer water conditions.
This is a wonderful suit it offers warmth and is very comfortable for all day wear. Reviewers say that many liked it over the 30% stretch neoprene suits. Love the full range of motion the suit offers. It keeps the kids paddling and having fun. The downside many said that the sizes run small. Overall this is a great suit for the price.
4. Roxy 2mm Kid’s & Junior’s SYNCRO Shorty Springsuit Review
This suit is made from 100% super stretch neoprene for maximum mobility. The flatlock stitched seams provide great durability. The full length back zipper makes for easy entry and exit. It also features a adjustable neck, and convenient key loop. Roxy/Quicksilver are the same company however, Roxy is the girl’s line and Quicksilver is the boy’s line.
A wonderful suit at an affordable price. The suit is great for warmth and stretchiness. It is reviewed saying that it is of excellent quality. The variety of colors is great for having an eye on your child while playing. Some said that the suit runs small and is not as comfortable as it is perceived.
5. O’Neill Youth Epic 3/2mm Back Zip Full Wetsuit Review
The O’Neill EPIC offers the same features as the high end suits but at a great price. It is made from 100% ultraflex neoprene making it one of the softest and stretchiest O’Neill wetsuits. It comes with a double super seal neck closure and an LSD which is lumbar seamless design. The sealed seams are doubled stitched and triple glued to create a water tight seam which is then taped in critical areas. The re-engineered glued covert blackout zipper has offset zipper teeth which greatly reduces water entry. The internal lining is firewall insulation which is a lightweight jersey material that wicks moisture away thus increasing warmth. Greater movement is achieved with the seamless paddle zones which also eliminates chaffing. The last innovation is the krypto knee padz these are abrasion resistant, high stretchy neoprene with ergonomic shaping which is designed to extend the life of the wetsuit. I love this wetsuit it offers the most features at a great price. It is as close to a high end suit as possible, thanks to the updated and versatile features. I also love the one year warranty. The reviews on it are glowing and parents say it has a great fit and keeps the kids warm. It truly is the best value in the industry.
The reviews are great saying that it is a warm suit and offers great mobility. Also that many are happy that their kid’s are exciting to wear it and enjoy the activities day to day. One drawback is it is a bit hard to get into due to no zippers on the ankles or leg but many said that the suit is wonderful in spite of that. Great for smaller kids as well saying that they love how snug the fit is. This is truly a great value in a wetsuit.
6. Billabong Boy’s Foil 3/2 Back Zip Sealed Seam Full Wetsuit Review
The Billabong Foil wetsuit is made from 100% super stretch neoprene. It has double blindstitched and glued seams making them 100% waterproof. They added superflex to critical pivot points that eliminated some unnecessary seam panels. It features a chafe resistant collar and adjustable neck. Internal zip flaps and sealed seams that prevent flushing. The interior lining is silk touch. There is internal key loop and durable neoprene knee pads. This suit is very similar to the O’Neill EPIC but I ranked it number two. I do love the warranty which is one year. Billabong is a great company and they put a great deal of pride and craftsmanship into their suits. The suit has the stretch, sealed seams, and is good in 63F water. This is a great deal and will keep your kid warm and having fun.
This is a great suit. People love that it is easy to get on and off thanks to inner lining. They say that the sizes and fit are true and work great for slim children. Another thing to mention is that the reviews all say how nice it is, and how much their children enjoy wearing it. This suit is great for all general water activities and will keep your little happy and warm to enjoy the day with mom and dad.
7. Quiksilver Boys 3/2Mm Syncro Series Review
This wetsuit is made of superstretch neoprene making it lightweight and flexible. Key features are the flatlocked stitched seams, it has a full back zipper and ankle zippers. Another great thing is the adjustable neck closure this should prevent flushing into the suit. However, this suit may be more prone to flushing throughout just keep that in mind. The seams are stitched and not sealed but you can’t beat the price. You need to consider the type of activity and what the temperature is in the water to fully appreciate this suit. It is still a great suit for general water activities. Roxy is the line for girls and Quicksilver is the line for boys.
The reviews are glowing on this suit. People love the fit the most and say that it is true to size. Also that is great for young surfers, offers warmth and still maintain a great deal of mobility.Many would recommend it. There were only a few reviews that complained about the unfortunate cold that limited their seasonal use. This is more than likely due to the seams not being sealed. Something else is to consider layering if you purchase this suit for your child when the water and air temperature drop.
8. Rip Curl Kids Dawn Patrol 3/2 FL Wetsuit
This wetsuit is made from 100% superstretch E4 ultralite neoprene. It features durable flatlock seams which helps increase the mobility and warmth. The chest and back panels have a mesh skin which helps to block wind and reduces evaporative cooling. It has ankle zippers on the sizes 2-7 only for quick and easy entry and exit. It also has mesh arm and leg seals. Features a external key pocket. This is a great suit for the price. I ranked in number five due to the seams it may not prevent flushing into the suit. It doesn’t have the adjustable collar but is still a great suit.