Best Kids' Wetsuits

Updated August 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

13 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
179 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best kids' wetsuits

Last Updated August 2019

Children love spending time in the water, but cooler waters can be too chilly to swim in or engage in water sports for long stretches of time. A kids' wetsuit helps to insulate the child by trapping a thin layer of water between the body and the suit, which is warmed by body heat. The insulated suit then traps this warmth inside. You can also find lightweight kids' wetsuits that won't warm the wearer up too much but will protect against jellyfish stings and sharp, rocky areas.

There are a few things to consider when shopping, such as size and whether your child needs a full-length or shorty wetsuit. It's also important to choose the correct thickness so that your little swimmer won't be too hot or too cold.

You can learn about that and more in our shopping guide to kids' wetsuits, or you can pick from one of our top options.

All kids' wetsuits can be used in fresh water or saltwater, but some aren't suitable for use in chlorinated pools.

Key considerations

Full-length vs. shorty wetsuits

  • Full-length: These kids' wetsuits cover the arms to the wrists and the legs to the ankles. These are great for cool water or for times when you want your child to have more protection from rocky reefs, jellyfish, or the sun. On the downside, a full-length wetsuit can feel restrictive, especially for a child who isn't used to wearing one.

  • Shorty: These wetsuits have short arms (they extend to between the shoulder and elbow, and short legs (to mid-thigh). They give the wearer a greater range of motion and are cooler overall, which makes one perfect for summer use. On the flipside, a shorty doesn't offer enough warmth for cooler water, and it gives less protection from hazards in the water and the sun's rays.

Construction

  • Size: Kids' wetsuits are generally available in sizes to fit children from toddler to tween and early teens. It can be tricky to get the fit of a kids' wetsuit exactly right because it needs to be tight over the body, and this sometimes means the arms and legs are slightly too long or too short. Since kids of the same age can vary widely in height and weight, we recommend looking at the wetsuit’s measurements rather than at the target age group listed by the manufacturer for each size.

  • Thickness: The thickness of a kids' wetsuit is listed in millimeters (mm). The thicker the suit, the greater the insulating properties, so thicker wetsuits are best for cooler waters, and thinner suits are better for warmer conditions.

    • Thin: Wetsuits that measure 1 mm or 2 mm thick are best suited to warm water, such as that found in the Caribbean or Mediterranean at the height of summer, when your child needs a wetsuit for protection rather than to keep warm.

    • Thick: For cooler waters in the summer (such as those you might find in the UK or the Pacific Northwest), a 3 mm wetsuit is ideal, while 4 mm to 6 mm kids' wetsuits are usually only for winter use. Some wetsuits use a thinner material for the limbs than for the body to keep the core warm while giving more flexibility in the arms.

  • Seams: Flatlock seams are generally found on thinner kids' wetsuits. The flat stitching helps avoid chafing, but these seams do let in water, which is better for keeping cool than for staying warm. Glued and blind-stitched seams are glued before stitching to help improve durability and keep water out. Some kids' wetsuits also have taped seams or liquid seams to help keep water from getting in.
DID YOU KNOW?

Some kids' wetsuits have a hidden key pocket. This generally isn't as useful for children as it is for adults (since most kids don't have keys to look after), but some young people may need one.

Kids’ wetsuit features

Closure style: Kids' wetsuits tend to have either front zippers or back zippers. Zip-free wetsuits, such as those made for adults, haven't yet taken off in the world of kids' wetsuits. While front zippers are easier for a child to do up and undo independently, they don't tend to extend as far down the suit as back zippers. This makes wetsuits with front zippers harder to wriggle into.

Sun protection: Some kids' wetsuits are made of material that reliably protects against UV rays. The degree of protection is known as ultraviolet protection factor (UPF). We'd recommend a kids' wetsuit with a UPF of 50 or higher.

Knee pads: If your child is into surfing or bodyboarding, we'd recommend a wetsuit with reinforced knee pads to keep the wetsuit knee areas from wearing out before the rest of the suit.

Kids’ wetsuit prices

Kids' wetsuits tend to cost significantly less than adult versions, which is lucky since your child will soon grow out of it. Prices may vary a little depending on the size you need, but you can generally expect to pay between $25 and $100.

Inexpensive: Basic kids' wetsuits cost $25 to $40. These are shorty models or full-length suits made from thin neoprene. They may be more simply constructed, such as with flatlock seams rather than glued and blind-stitched seams.

Mid-range: Kids' wetsuits priced between $40 and $60 are thicker and more durably constructed. These are great for regular use by kids who are growing quickly.

Expensive: High-end kids' wetsuits cost from $60 to $100. These tend to have a wider range of quality features, such as liquid seams or a polypropylene lining. This is quite a chunk of cash to spend on a wetsuit that might only last six months, so they're best for older kids whose growth has slowed a little or families with younger kids who will also be able to use them.

EXPERT TIP

Children can choose to wear a bathing suit underneath a wetsuit, but it's not a requirement. They should do whatever is more comfortable and makes changing easier.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

For use in cold weather, your child will also require a neoprene hood, boots, and gloves.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Choose a wetsuit with minimal seams. Fewer seams equals less chance of rubbing or chafing. Children can be extremely vocal about wearing anything even slightly uncomfortable and may refuse to put on a wetsuit with seams that rub or scratch a little. 

  • Think about where and when your child will use the wetsuit. The type of wetsuit your child needs for summers in southern Florida or Hawaii is significantly different from what’s needed in autumn in the Pacific Northwest or New England.

  • Don't spend a lot on a wetsuit for a rapidly growing child. A kids' wetsuit is likely to only fit your growing child for a single season, so durability isn't the be-all and end-all.

  • Consider a double-layered neck. The two layers move independently of one another as a child turns their head, which reduces chafing.

Other products we considered

If you’ve checked out our top five kids' wetsuits, but you’re looking for something else, there are more great choices out there. Any one of these would be an excellent alternative. The Seavenger Scout Kids Wetsuit is a solid mid-weight (3 mm) suit for summer use in cooler waters or winter use in warmer climes. Thanks to the extra-long zipper leash, it's easier for kids to put on and take off independently. The SailBee Neoprene One-Piece Full Wetsuit is a lightweight (2 mm) full-length wetsuit offered in three color choices. With UPF 50, it will protect your little one from the sun's rays. If you prefer a shorty option for your child, consider the Mountain Warehouse Junior Shorty Wetsuit, which is available in a range of sizes for kids between three and eight years, not to mention six color options. The smooth, easy-glide zip doesn't stick, while the flat seams prevent chafing. We also like the Realon Kids Shorty Wetsuit, which offers 50+ UV protection and uses 3 mm neoprene for added warmth and insulation.

Although they’re less common, there are some kids' wetsuits with short sleeves and full length legs or short legs and full-length sleeves.

FAQ

Q. What are kids' wetsuits made from?

A. Kids' wetsuits are predominantly made from neoprene, a type of synthetic rubber known for being flexible, waterproof, buoyant, and an excellent insulator. However, some lightweight suits feature Lycra sleeves for better range of motion.

Q. What's the difference between boys' wetsuits and girls' wetsuits?

A. Until they reach puberty, boys and girls have the same body types, so there really isn't any difference between boys' and girls' wetsuits other than the color choice. In fact, a large number of kids' wetsuits are labeled as unisex for this reason. If your child likes the color scheme on a particular wetsuit, it doesn't matter if it’s marketed for girls or boys.

Q. How should I care for a kids' wetsuit?

A. After each use, give the wetsuit a quick rinse in clean water (especially if it has been worn in the sea), wring it out, and let it air-dry. Don't fold it or put it away wet because it will soon become musty and may even grow mold. Never dry a kids' wetsuit in a dryer.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Kristin
    Kristin
    Writer
  • Lauren
    Lauren
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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