Wetsuit Thickness Guide

Recommended: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Wetsuit


Wetsuit thickness and budget – two key points to consider when selecting a wetsuit. But before you start thinking about the price, you need to know how thick your wetsuit should be, which can be determined by looking at how cold (or warm) the sea temperature is where you'll be surfing/swimming.

It's important to take into consideration that wetsuit suitability may vary by 5-10°C  depending on your weight, level of activity, and the temperature outside. These guidelines are in association with O'Neill's suggested Wetsuit Temperature Chart.  

  • 0–3°C | 6mm / 7mm – deep winter warriors.
  • 4–7°C | 4mm / 5mm / 6mm – the bitterly cold brave.
  • 8-11°C | 3mm / 4mm – crisp water comrades.
  • 12-17°C | 2mm / 3mm – seasonally smart surfers.
  • 18–26°C | UV lycra / Spring suit – endless summer embracers.

1 or 2mm Spring Shorty

  • It’s about as thin as a wetsuit comes and will keep your body protected
  • Minimal exhaustion and no overheating
  • Boardshorts and a wetsuit top are also an option

Shop shorty wetsuits.


  • Can be worn in the winter depending on how early into the colder months you’re going to be surfing
  • Can be worn in the summer – especially if in the UK or Ireland
  • Can be worn during winter in some spots around Europe

Hot tip: Refer to the water temperatures above to ensure that you can spend the most time in the water with a 3mm.

Shop 3mm wetsuits.


Shop 4mm wetsuits.


  • Deep winter and cold-water surfing
  • Booties and gloves become a necessity
  • Wetsuit hoods become an option

Shop 5mm wetsuits.


  • Extremely cold surfing conditions
  • Serious surfers who track winter swells
  • Booties, gloves and hoods become a necessity

Shop 6mm wetsuits.

Click here to view our full range of wetsuits.


Updated on 26th April 2023

Originally published on 6th August 2018 in Wetsuit Guides

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