Wetsuit shorts are very popular with water sports enthusiasts including scuba divers, snorkelers, surfers, and kayakers. Here, we’ll take a look at the two main types: –
- Neoprene Shorts: These can be worn under a wetsuit and, for warmer weather and water conditions, under board shorts or alone.
- Thermal Shorts: These are thermal polypropylene shorts, worn as undershorts for extra warmth.
Neoprene Wetsuit Shorts
These have two major benefits:-
1. Extra Warmth
For water sports such as sailing, canoeing or kayaking where you are sitting down, they help to keep the lower body, back and kidneys warm, especially if you choose a high cut back design.
2. Greater Comfort
These form-fitting garments with flat-lock seams provide good protection against skin irritation and rashes caused by salt water and chafing.
They come in a wide range of styles suitable for men and women and could be worn as regular shorts or swim trunks if required.
Features to Look For in Neoprene Shorts
For the times when you do not need a full wetsuit or the added thermal protection of undershorts, neoprene shorts designed to wear alone and give just the right amount of warmth without the bulk or restriction of a full suit.
Look for wetsuit material with a four-way stretch that gives complete freedom of movement, a soft, thermal lining, and even a heat-reflecting layer of titanium for chilly days.
If you are planning to wear your shorts as a replacement for board shorts or trunks, look for a pair with a water repellent exterior coating that will shed water and reduce cooling from water evaporation.
On a practical note, look for a pair that has a zippered waistband pocket for essentials such as keys, etc.
Particularly in the case of shorts that you intend wearing as wetsuit undershorts, check for fit and ensure nothing rides up when you put your suit on!
Thermal Shorts designed for colder weather and colder waters provide extra warmth to the lower body and keep you warm, by retaining body heat, just like regular, thermal underwear. These really work and seem particularly popular with kayakers, jet skiers, and stand-up paddle boarders.
Thermal wetsuit shorts are most commonly around 2mm in thickness and have a drawstring system to ensure a comfortable fit and that the shorts stay put.
Polypropylene, or polypro as it is more usually referred to, is a good choice for thermal insulation because it does not absorb much water. Any water that is absorbed spreads evenly through the garment. It has a low heat transfer rate. This means it will retain more heat than many other materials.
Because of the low melting point of polypro, please take note of the laundry instructions on any garment you buy. Usually, it needs washing in cool water and not to be tumble dried, or only on a cool setting. It is a great fabric choice for wearing next to the skin as it keeps the skin dry and dries very quickly.
Wetsuit shorts of both the neoprene and the thermal type are a popular accessory for both men and women for the comfort and versatility they provide. Wear them as a standalone garment in warmer weather or as an undergarment in colder conditions.