Neoprene is a synthetic rubber material that has been around since the 1930s. It is highly versatile and can be used in a variety of applications, from protective clothing to orthopedic braces. It has many desirable properties, including being lightweight, waterproof, and resistant to abrasion, chemicals, and extreme temperatures. It is also flame retardant and has excellent insulating properties.
Neoprene is a great choice for stand-up paddlers, canoeists and kayakers alike because it is comfortable, durable, and keeps you warm even when the water is cold. It is also flexible and stretchy, which allows for a full range of movement while paddling. Additionally, its abrasion resistance helps keep the wearer safe from sharp objects.
Neoprene clothing provides excellent insulation. The material traps your body heat and helps prevents heat loss, keeping you cozy in cooler weather. Neoprene is also quite buoyant, which can help to keep you afloat in the event that you fall into the water.
How Does a Neoprene Wetsuit Work?
Wetsuits are designed to trap a thin layer of water between the suit and the skin. The warmth of the body is then used to heat the water, which in turn keeps the wearer warm.
The material of the wetsuit also helps to keep the heat in and the cold out. Neoprene wetsuits are a popular choice as they are lightweight and flexible while also providing excellent insulation. The thickness of the wetsuit can also play a role in its effectiveness at keeping the wearer warm, with thicker suits providing more insulation.The most common neoprene products are wetsuits, gloves and booties.
A wetsuit is a garment, usually made of foamed neoprene, which is worn by water sports enthusiasts. It traps a thin layer of water between the suit and the wearer’s skin, which is then heated by body heat, providing insulation. Wetsuits primarily provide thermal insulation, but also buoyancy, and protection from UV exposure and can even help prevent stings from marine organisms.
The Level Six Farmer Jane & John wetsuits are our thickest neoprene option designed with a 3mm Thermo-Stretch neoprene body and a full front entry zipper, the Farmer wetsuits are a durable layering wetsuit to keep you warm in your boat or in the water.
*If you are interested in Level Six dry suits instead, give us a shout and we can special order them for you!
Neoprene Gloves -These are specially designed gloves which keep your hands protected while you are out on the water. They are a great option for paddlers who want to keep their hands warm and dry in cooler temperatures.
Neoprene Booties and Socks -Much like the gloves, these booties are designed to keep your feet warm and protected while you are out on the water.
What are the Pros and Cons of Wearing a Wetsuit?
- Neoprene is lightweight and flexible, making it super comfy for paddlers
- It has great insulating properties, which will keep you warm on the water
- It can keep you free of scrapes from rocks or sticks
- It is resistant to oil and chemicals, which keeps your skin safe from anything funky floating in the water
- It is resistant to UV rays, so you can skip the sunscreen!
- It is resistant to mildew and mould, which is why it is ideal for wet environments
- They won’t keep you totally dry like a dry suit
- The coolest temperature to wear a wetsuit is around 10°C (50°F), if you are paddling in the winter, you may want to try a dry suit instead
- Neoprene can be prone to cracking and tearing if not cared for properly
- It is not as breathable as other materials, so you might not want to bring it on your trip down south
When to Wear Neoprene
The ideal temperature at which you should break out your neoprene clothing varies on the individual, as well as the articles of clothing. Generally speaking, wetsuits should be worn when the water temperature is below 16°C (60°F) which means you can easily extend your paddling season into the spring or fall! You can also opt for sleeveless neoprene if the air is warmer but the water temperature is cool. On warmer days, you may still want to throw on your neoprene gloves or booties to keep your hands and feet dry. Did you know that water can pull heat out of your body 25-30x faster than air can? This is why hypothermia is so much more common if you are submerged in water.
What Else Should I Wear?
Neoprene makes a fantastic base layer, but you will need to wear more clothing over top, especially in cold weather conditions. Neoprene provides great insulation and flexibility for your water adventures. However, depending on the temperature, time of year, and your specific activity, you will probably want to want to layer up. Consider adding a cozy fleece sweater to keep your upper body warm, and pair it with a splash jacket. Opt for windbreaker pants to shield yourself from chilly winds. Dry-fit shirts and pants are also great choices, offering moisture-wicking properties to keep you comfortable during your aquatic endeavours. Remember that the key is to strike a balance between staying warm and maintaining ease of movement, so choose clothing that suits both your needs and the conditions you'll be facing.
Neoprene for Fishing
When embarking on a kayak, canoe, or SUP fishing expedition in cooler temperatures, wearing neoprene clothing can be a game-changer for your safety and comfort. It can get chilly when sitting for an extended period of time waiting for that first bite. Neoprene provides excellent insulation and acts as a heat shield while you patiently wait. This is particularly beneficial when you're out on the water for extended periods. For optimum protection, consider wearing a neoprene wetsuit, gloves, and booties. The material is flexible, allowing for a wide range of motion which is essential when casting a line. Investing in good quality neoprene clothing can elevate your fishing experience by keeping you warm, giving you greater freedom of movement, and offering an added layer of buoyancy and safety.
How Thick Should My Neoprene Be?
The thickness of your neoprene clothing depends on the water temperature and personal preference. Generally speaking, for paddling in the spring or fall, a 2-3mm wetsuit should be sufficient. If you are thinking of paddling on a cooler day in the summer, a 0.5mm - 1.5 top, shorts, or Ieggings is also a great option. It’s important to consider the air temperature and other environmental factors when choosing the appropriate thickness of your wetsuit.
How to Care for Your Neoprene
To care for your wetsuit, gloves and booties properly, you should rinse them in cold water after each use to remove any dirt, sand, or other debris. After rinsing, hang your wetsuit in a dry, well-ventilated area to air dry. Though hand washing is best, it is possible to wash your neoprene in a washing machine on a gentle cycle. Be sure to use a neoprene-specific cleaning solution such as Revivex Wetsuit & Drysuit Shampoo Cleaner. For a comprehensive guide on cleaning your neoprene, check out this great guide by Gearaid.
What About Dry Suits?
Unlike a wetsuit, a drysuit is made from a fully waterproof material, such as nylon or latex. Dry suits are designed to keep the wearer completely dry. They keep you dry with an airtight seal which prevents any water from entering inside the suit. This type of suit is great for scuba divers or other water sports enthusiasts who are on the water in below-zero temperatures.
If you are interested in a Level Six Dry Suit, we can special order one of these bad boys for you. These suits are constructed using the toughest waterproof-breathable nylon; keeping you warm and dry in sub-zero temperatures. From hitting your SUP on a winter day, to whitewater canoeing and kayaking, the dry suits will keep you cozy and comfy on the chilliest of days.
Neoprene is best worn when paddling in cooler temperatures, such as in the spring or fall. If you are an avid paddler who wants to participate in your favourite water sport during the off-season, then neoprene products might be for you! Or, if you are looking for an outfit that will keep you safe from knicks and cuts as well as protect you from the harsh rays of the sun, you may also want to consider a wetsuit. All in all, we definitely recommend wearing protective neoprene gear when embarking on any sort of paddling adventure in water temperatures 16°C or cooler.
What to wear in the summertime? During warmer months, you can opt for lighter-weight, less insulated alternatives such as rash guards or board shorts.
Always remember to stay safe on the water at any time of the year, but take extra precaution when the temperatures are lower. Happy paddling!