What type of wetsuits are there?

What Different Types of Wetsuits are There? (6 Known Types)

There are many types of wetsuits, like shorties, steamers, spring suits, etc. They all have their advantages and purposes.

In general, there are six different wetsuit types with many different names. But the most common are a full wetsuit, short arm steamer, long sleeve shorty, shorty, long john, and short john. There are some variations between them, like hooded or not hooded and longer and shorter legs and sleeves.

What kind or sort of wetsuit do I need?

Choosing the wetsuit you need or want depends on some factors, but is also a personal preference I think. My personal preference for kiting will always be a full wetsuit in any weather condition or temperature because I am always cold ;). Here below are the three factors to consider what type of wetsuit you need.

  • Sport activity
    For what sport are you out in the water? Surfing, kiting, diving, swimming, snorkeling or canyoning? Every sport has their challenges in the water and demands different qualities of the wetsuit. For surfing and kiting you need a really flexible wetsuit and for diving a less flexible wetsuit. But for diving you need a warmer wetsuit than for snorkeling. Another comparison is that you need a really strong wetsuit for canyoning, since you are often in contact with rocks.
  • Air temperature
    Imagine a day in cold weather, below 17 degrees you need more warmth and neoprene, so you need a full wetsuit or steamer. The warmer the weather, the less neoprene you need.
  • Water temperature
    This is the main reason to wear a wetsuit. The weather could be above 30 degrees, but if the water is freezing you need more neoprene on your body.

How many types of wetsuits are there?

There are six different wetsuit types with a lot of different names. Those are explained below.

1. Full Wetsuit / Steamer

This is the warmest variant and most used in colder weather and water. This wetsuit is probably the most popular and the most known. This wetsuit type is broadly used in all water sports.

Full wetsuit or full steamer
  • Sport: All water sports
  • Air temp: Below 15 degrees
  • Water temp: Below 15 degrees
  • Neoprene: Between 2mm and 5mm

2. Short Arm Steamer / Short Sleeve Full Wetsuit

The short arm steamer is also pretty warm but has shorter sleeves. This gives you more flexibility in the arms which could be handy for paddling during surfing or kayaking. The long neoprene legs give the surfer warmer legs in the water.

Short sleeve full wetsuit
  • Sport: surfing, kayaking, canoeing, SUP
  • Air temp: Around 15 degrees
  • Water temp: Around 15 degrees
  • Neoprene: Between 2mm and 4mm

3. Long Sleeve Shorty / Springy

This is more a summer or spring wetsuit with long sleeves and short legs. Mostly used in warm water temperature and slightly cold air. It is very popular with and bodyboarders.

Long sleeve shorty / spring wetsuit
  • Sport: bodyboarders, surfing, kitesurfing
  • Air temp: Above 15 degrees
  • Water temp: Above 15 degrees
  • Neoprene: 2mm and 3mm

4. Long John / Jane / Farmer John Wetsuit

A long John or Jane wetsuit has long legs and no sleeves. This gives you the most arm flexibility than any other wetsuit out there. The suit gives you enough warmth in the water and helps against the wind. It is often used for stand up paddling (SUP), kayaking and canoeing, or some other sport with your arms and a paddle.

Long john / jane wetsuit
  • Sport: surfing, kayaking, canoeing, SUP, triathlon, diving
  • Air temp: Above 15 degrees
  • Water temp: Above 15 degrees
  • Neoprene: 2mm and 3mm

5. Shorty / Springsuit / Summer Wetsuit

As the name says it is a wetsuit used in spring and summer. With the short arms and short legs, you have maximum flexibility but your core stays warm. This wetsuit is used in many water sports, like surfing, wakeboarding, kitesurfing, snorkeling, etc.

Shorty / summer wetsuit
  • Sport: All water sports
  • Air temp: Above 18 degrees
  • Water temp: Above 19 degrees
  • Neoprene: 2mm

6. Short John/Jane Wetsuit

This is the most basic wetsuit and most old-school wetsuit out there. With the short legs and no sleeves, it is less warm than the other wetsuits. It is great in tropical waters and gives you the maximum amount of flexibility. If you are getting cold anyway, you can easily put a neoprene jacket over this suit.

Short john / jane wetsuit
  • Sport: surfing, kayaking, canoeing, SUP, triathlon, diving
  • Air temp: Above 21 degrees
  • Water temp: Above 20 degrees
  • Neoprene: 1mm