Choosing a wetsuit can be as easy or complicated as you like. Last fall I did a video on choosing one for a colder climate. I covered my strategy, the pros and cons of different thicknesses, and how to pick if you are on a budget.
Having spent a winter living in Florida, I wanted to share my thoughts on the best way to stay warm and save a buck if you need to. Now, obviously, if you live somewhere very tropical, a Neo top is all you will need! If you're somewhere like Florida with some fluctuation, you'll want to be prepared.
When it comes to warmer locations, most often the coldest days are well above freezing. In Florida, the coldest sessions I had were in the 50's F, maybe the upper 40's.
For a location like this, most riders opt for two suits, the most common being a 4/3 and a 2 mill spring suit. This actually might be the most cost-effective strategy, as far as comfort goes. I know a couple riders who only own a 3mill full suit, and they use that most of the year. Once it's somewhat warm, they are trunking it!
My Mystic 5 mill suit has been more versatile than I ever imagined
For me personally, I am more concerned with comfort than budget. I have a 5/3 high-end full suit that is flexible. I've used this in 40 degrees and up to 60 degrees F. I really do not care to be cold. I've had a few locations where other riders were shivering in their 3 mill, yet were surprised I was in a 5 mill. I point out that I'm toasty while they are shivering. Then it clicks for them. Beyond that, I have a 3 mill full suit, a 2 mill shorty, and a Neo top. I find this has me covered for just about everything so I'm never cold or hot on the water.
A 2 mill shorty wetsuit is popular and useful
That said, this comes down to how well you tolerate cold and what kind of budget you have. A good 4 mill suit is usually more affordable and can be quite warm. A good 2 mill shorty is going to be really affordable. Pair this with a good Neo top and you should be set for most of what Mother Nature will throw at you. If you absolutely can't tolerate cold, adding the 5 mill is going to be magic on those rare frosty days.
One consideration is that less material is more flexible
On a budget
The 3 mill full suit will go reasonably far and be bearable when it's not too cold. You might shiver or sweat depending what the sun does on some days. A 3 mill and a Neo top could cost around 200 bucks total, and you would be comfortable most of the time.
Ryan (Rygo) Goloversic
Many people dream of quitting their job, traveling the world and pursuing their passions. Rygo is one of those people who pulled the trigger. A few years into his career, he decided to change everything and travel as a kiteboarder, freelance videographer & writer. His mission is to share the stoke & help people put the boarding into their kiteboarding. Get outside and kite!
Producer of: Ride with Blake I Sessions I Versus I Destinations I Foil Fridays