Full neoprene wetsuit

Hi all,

I used my packraft a lot this summer, in warm weather, but things are getting less practical now that the temperatures are colder. I just thought about using a thick neoprene suit for keeping me warm even when wet.

You can get used 7mm diving suits (which are usually fine for swimming in waters down to 50°F) for less than 50$.

Has anyone already tried this, or have some insight on how it would perform for paddling ?


A wetsuit would work fine in terms of warmth and is highly functional although something that, in this case might be a little warm depending on the water temperature. You may also find that you can suffer chaffing under your arms from paddling. This is why many people who used wetsuits in the past would have a “farmer john” style suit. They work and for the money probably can’t be beat. However, there are much more comfortable as well as functional options out there although they cost a bit more. A 7mm one will at least get you out on the water and that’s the point, right?

I have an O’neil wetsuit designed for surfing I use for packrafting. It’s a full-length suit, I believe a “Heat” model, around 5mm I think.

I use it in Washington state, in mixed rain/snowmelt rivers. Overall, it’s been pretty good, and I’m happy with it. However, one day I spent a couple hours in a cold river on a rainy, chilly day, and had a good swim at the end in C III / IV water, and got cold fast.

My conclusion: good in sunny NW conditions, but on a drizzly, long day, it left me dressed for the paddle but not for the swim. The big defining element that’s emerged for me is that it’s great if I’m very active, but the longer the run and the less active I am during, the colder I got - so sustained activity makes it adequate in chilly conditions, but when I’m drifting or just plain out long enough to build a significant heat deficit, a drysuit or a 7mm starts looking really good.

In better conditions, though, I spent 8 hours in it at night, in rain, in Seattle in high summer, including a bunch of swamp-swims.

I also wear it for a lot of testing boats, including jumping in & out in cold water.